From the recording Wild And Wicked Youth
Mark Clavey: vocals, guitar
Mary Hanover: vocals, hammered dulcimer
Rachel Gaither: lead vocals, fiddle
The first of four pieces that fit our title-theme, it is unlike the other three highwayman songs. It is an anti-recruitment song… not one of the passive kind that bemoan the tragic misfortunes of war… but one of the aggressive ones that repudiate the abuse of the Irish peasant--dispossessed, destitute, and forced by need to fight for a power he despised. From early-1800s Ireland, the song was collected by Henry Payne and Patrick Joyce. It was popularized by Planxty, Paul Brady, and Bob Dylan, and has been recorded by countless others. The opening tune, "Andy Renwick's Ferret", is a reel from the late Gordon Duncan, one of Scotland's most innovative pipers/composers and alum of the bands Capercaillie, Wolfstone, and Ceolbeg. The closing tune, "The Fishermen's Song for Attracting Seals", is a Scottish air. It appeared in the Rev. Patrick McDonald's "A Collection of Highland Vocal Airs", and was popularized by Ossian in their 1981 recording "Seal Song".
I had a first cousin called Arthur McBride. He and I took a stroll down by the seaside a-seeking good fortune and what might betide - 'twas just as the day was a-dawning. Then after resting we both took a tramp, and we met Sergeant Harper and Corporal Cramp and besides a wee drummer, who beat up our camp with his rowdy-dow-dow in the morning.
"Well now," says the sergeant, "if you will enlist it's ten guineas I quickly shall shove in your fist. And besides the crown for to kick up the dust and drink the King's health in the morning." "Had we been such fools as to take the advance, with a wee bit of warning we'd barter our chance - for you have no scruples but to send us to France where we would be killed without warning."
"Well now," says the sergeant, "if I hear one more word, I instantly now and will out with my sword and into your bodies as strength will afford - so now, my gay devils, take warning!" But Arthur and I we took up the odds, and we gave them no chance for to launch out their swords - our whacking shillelaghs came over their heads, and we bade them take that as fair warning.
As for the wee drummer - we rifled his pou, and we made a football of his rowdy-dow-dow, and into the ocean to rock and to roll and bade it a tedious returning. As for the old rapier that hung by his side - we flung it as far as we could in the tide. "To the devil I pitch you," says Arthur McBride, "to temper your steel in the morning."