Glesga Jean

from the singing of Gordeanna McCulloch

There was a brisk young sailor boy
And he was bound for sea
Sayin “Lassie, leave your milkin pails
An come alang wi me.”

“It’s I’ll no leave my milkin pails
For a’ the lads on sea.
An I’ll no leave my milkin pails
Tae go alang wi ye.”

“Then can ye wash a sailor’s shirt
An can ye wash it clean?
An can ye wash a sailor’s shirt
An bleach it on yon green.

An can ye range yon merry green woods
An can ye range yon glen?
An wad ye lie ae nicht in my airms
My bonnie Glesca Jean?”

“It’s I can range yon merry green woods
An I can range yon glen.
Bit afore I’d lie ae nicht in your airms
I’d raither lie my lane.”

Sae he’s turned his back a’ tae dry land
An his face towards yon sea.
Says “Fare ye weel my Glesca Jean
Wherever ye may be.

For the green, green grass is doon in my ee
But it will rise gin spring.
And a broken hairt will mend again
And maybe so will mine.”

Ae: one
Glesga: Glasgow
Lie my lane: lie by myself
Range: travel or wander over a wide area

This song was brought to Sangschule by Gordeanna McCulloch, who sang it when she was part of Glasgow group The Clutha in the 60s. It is included on their CD On The Braes where the note says: “An old courtship song still to be found in oral tradition. This version collected by Peter Shepheard mainly from the singing of Fife traveller John Kelbie.”

It does not seem to have been collected for the standard works, but there is a connection in ww.tobarandualchais, the Kist O Riches, the website which makes available Scottish music and folklore with input from the School of Scottish Studies. Three verses were recorded by Hamish Henderson in the parish of Ellon, Aberdeenshire, from John Argo, of a song called “O Lassie Leave Your Milking Pail.”

John Argo used to hear his mother sing this song while she was milking. The note in Kist O Riches also says: “This is an intriguing fragment of a love song. The song does not appear in any of the standard works, but a version, to a different tune, called “Glesca Jean” is sung by the group (Clutha) and recorded on their CD On The Braes”.