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The Bleacher Lassie of Kelvinhaugh

[ Roud 3325 ; G/D 5:1041 ; Ballad Index Ord077 ; Bodleian Roud 3325 ; trad.]

Jean Mathew sang The Bleacher Lassie to Seamus Ennis in Aberdeen on July 18, 1952. This recording was included in 2012 on the Topic anthology of ballads sung by British and Irish traditional singers, Good People, Take Warning (The Voice of the People Volume 23).

Ewan MacColl sang The Bleacher Lassie of Kelvinhaugh in ca. 1959 on his Riverside album English & Scottish Love Songs and in 1960 on his and Isla Cameron's Topic album Still I Love Him. The Broomielaw and Kelvinhaugh are a street and a neighbourhood in Glasgow. A.L. Lloyd commented in the album notes:

This song of the constant-hearted washer-girl probably began life as a Glasgow street song, but versions are now found in many parts of Scotland. The situation of the returned sailor, unrecognised, who tests his sweetheart and finds her faithful is one that country singers never tire of. Text and tune of this version come from the singing of one of the greatest living bothy-ballad singers, Jimmy McBeath, of Elgin in North-east Scotland. Additional verses are from Willie Mathieson, of Castleton, near Banff.

Isabel Sutherland sang The Bleacher Lassie o' Kelvinhaugh in a recording made by Peter Kennedy at Cecil Sharp House, London, on the 1960 HMV album A Pinch of Salt.

Alex Campbell sang Lass of Kelvinhaugh in 1965 on his eponymous Transatlantic album Alex Campbell.

Nigel Denver sang The Bleacher Lassie o' Kelvinhaugh in 1965 on his Decca album Moving On.

Dave Burland sang The Bleacher Lassie o' Kelvinhaugh in 1971 on his first Trailer album, A Dalesman's Litany. This track was also included in 2005 on the anthology Never the Same: Leave-Taking from the British Folk Revival 1970-1977.

June Tabor sang The Bleacher Lassie of Kelvinhaugh on Sunday March 26, 1972 at the Stagfolk Folk Club at Shackleford Social Centre, near Godalming. This concert was released later in the year on the album Stagfolk Live Folk and is the oldest recording I know of her; four years before her first solo album appeared. In 2011, June Tabor returned to this song on her most recent Topic album, Ashore. She commented in her album notes:

For any girl who fell in love with a sailor, long periods of separation were inevitable. This street ballad, collected in both Glasgow and Dundee, shows faithfulness on either side rewarded. Wishful thinking, perhaps, on the part of one or both?

Gordeanna McCulloch sang The Bleacher Lassie of Kelvinhaugh in 1973 on the Topic album The Streets of Glasgow. This track was also included in 1997 on the Fellside CD reissue of her 1978 Topic album Sheath and Knife.

Isabel Sutherland sang The Bleacher Lassie of Kelvinhaugh in 1976 on her eponymous EFDSS album, Isabel Sutherland.

Louis Killen sang The Bleacher Lass of Kelvin Hall at the Seattle Chantey Festival during the American Sail Training Association's 1978 Tall Ships Pacific. This recording was included a year later on the Folkways album Sea Songs Seattle.

Iain MacGillivray sang The Bleacher Lassie of Kelvinhaugh in 1986 on his Fellside album Rolling Home.

Alan Reid sang The Bleacher Lassie in 1998 on the anthology Scottish Love Songs.

Dick Gaughan sang Bleacher Lassie of Kelvinhaugh in 2006 on his CD Lucky for Some.

Gordon Easton sang The Bleacher Lassie o Kelvinhaugh at the Fife Traditional Singing Festival, Collessie, Fife in between May 2004 and May 2007. This recording was included in 2007 on his Autumn Harvest CD The Last of the Clydesdales.

Emily Smith sang The Bleacher Lassie o' Kelvinhaugh in 2008 on her CD Too Long Away.

Fiona Hunter sang The Bleacher Lass o' Kelvinhaugh on her eponymous 2014 CD Fiona Hunter. She commented in her liner notes:

The Bleacher Lass is a cheering tale of lovers reunited after a long absence. The ‘Bleaching Fields’ were formerly a huge industry in Glasgow. Up until the late eighteenth century the process of bleaching cotton involved soaking in stale urine and days of exposure to sunlight. In 1799 the process had a radical overhaul when Charles Tennant of Glasgow was granted a patent for bleaching powder. Charles Tennant & Co Ltd still exist today and my father is a former employee.

I learned this song from the singing of Alison McMorland. Alison's husband Geordie McIntyre collected this version in the nineteen sixties from Harry Blake of Cambuslang, Glasgow, and Geordie added some extra verses he found in a broadside.

This videos shown Emma Pollock singing The Bleacher Lassie of Kelvinhaugh at an exclusive session for the Daily Record in 2014:

Lyrics

Ewan MacColl sings
The Bleacher Lassie of Kelvinhaugh
June Tabor sings
The Bleacher Lassie of Kelvinhaugh

As I was walkin' one fine summer's evening
A-walkin' doon by the Broomielaw
It was there I met wi' a fair young maiden
She'd cherry cheeks and a skin like snaw.

As I was a-walking one fine summer's morning
All along by the Broomielaw
O it's there I met with a fair young maiden
She'd cherry cheeks and she'd skin like snow.

Says I, “My lassie, is it you that wanders
All alone by the Broomielaw?”
“Indeed it's the truth I'll tell ye,
I'm a bleacher lassie on Kelvinhaugh.”

Says I, “Fair lassie, why do you wander
along by the Broomielaw?”
“O indeed, kind sir, I will plainly tell you,
I'm a bleacher lassie on Kelvinhaugh.”

“O lassie, lassie do you remember
The ships that sailed by the Broomielaw,
And the sailor laddies they all admired
The bleacher lassie on Kelvinhaugh?”

“O laddie, laddie I do remember
The ships that sailed by the Broomielaw
And the sailor laddies they all got tipsy
With the bleacher lassie on Kelvinhaugh.”

Says I, “My lassie will ye gang wi' me?
I will dress you in fine satins braw.”
“Indeed, kind sir, I can plainly tell ye
I've a lad o' my ain and he's far awa.

“O lassie, lassie if you'll go with me
I'll dress you up in fine satins braw.”
“O indeed, kind sir, it's the truth I'll tell you
I've a lad of my own but he's far awa.”

“It's sieven lang years that I loo'ed a sailor;
It's sieven lang years that he gaed awa
And anither sieven I will wait upon him
And bleach my claes here on Kelvinhaugh.”

“O lassie, lassie, ye are hard-hairted
I wish your face I never saw;
For my heart's aye bleedin', baith nicht and mornin'
For the bleacher lassie on Kelvinhaugh.

“O lassie, lassie, you are hard-hearted
And I wish your fair face I never saw;
For my heart's aye bleeding, both night and morning
For the bleacher lassie on Kelvinhaugh.

“It's seven lang years that I've loved my sailor;
And seven long years since he went awa
Aye, and another seven I'll wait upon him
And I'll bleach my claes here on Kelvinhaugh.”

“O lassie, lassie, ye hae been faithful
And thocht on me when far awa;
Twa hairts will surely be rewarded,
We'll pairt nae mair here on Kelvinhaugh.”

“O lassie, lassie, you have proved faithful
And you thought on me while I was awa;
Two hearts will surely be rewarded,
We'll part no more here on Kelvinhaugh.”

It's now this couple, it's they've got marr-i-ed
And they keep an ale-house atween them twa
And the sailor laddies, they all come drinkin'
To see that lassie on sweet Kelvinhaugh.

And now this couple, they have gotten married
And they keep an ale-house atween them twa
And the sailor laddies, they all go drinking
At the bleacher lassie's on Kelvinhaugh.

Gordon Easton sings
The Bleacher Lassie o' Kelvinhaugh
 

Ae simmer's evening I went a-walking,
Awa doun by the Broomie Law;
It was there I met wi a fair young maiden,
She had cheeks like the rose and her skin like snaw.

Says I, “Fair lassie why dae ye wander
Aa by yer leen by the Broomie Law?”
“Indeed, kind sir, I will quickly tell ye,
I'm a bleacher lassie frae Kelvinhaugh.”

“O lassie, lassie if ye'll walk wi me,
I'll dress ye up in fine satins braw.”
“Indeed, kind sir, it's the truth I'll tell ye,
I've a lad o ma ain and he's far awa.”

“For seiven lang years I hae loed a sailor,
For seiven lang years he has been awa;
Anither seiven years I'll wait upon him,
And I'll bleach ma claes here on Kelvinhaugh.”

“O lassie, lassie ye are hard herted,
I wish yer fair face I never saw;
For its nicht an mornin ma herts been achin,
For the bleacher lassie o Kelvinhaugh.”

“But lassie, lassie ye dae remember,
On the ships that sailed by the Broomielaw;
And the sailor laddies wha did their courtin,
Wi the bleacher lassies o Kelvinhaugh.”

“And lassie, lassie ye hae been faithfull,
And thocht on me when I was far awa;
True herts maun surely be rewarded,
An we'll pairt nae mair here on Kelvinhaugh.”

So noo that pair they hae gotten married,
And they keep an ale hoose atween them twa;
And the sailor laddies they aye come drinkin,
At the bleacher lassie o Kelvinhaugh.

Links

See also the Mudcat Café thread Chord Req: Emily Smith tunes chord request please.