by Ewan McVicar
Tune: The South Wind
Lay down the borrowed guitar
Lay down the fiddle and bow
You'd like one more drink at the bar
But the manager says you must go
All the tunes in the world
Are dancing around in your head
But the clock on the gantry says playtime is done
You'll just have to sing them instead
Lay down the jig and the reel
Lay down the planxty and slide
Everyone knows how you feel
But there's no time to take one more ride
The barmaid has put on her coat
The barman has emptied the slops
The manager's pals are afraid
That the music might bring in the cops
Everyone here feels the same
Yes you deserve one more tune
But you know the rules of the game
It's time to go howl at the moon
Gantry: bottle stand in a bar
Planxty: tune for the Irish harp
Slide: Irish polka
In his book, One Singer, One Song, Ewan tells how this song came to be written for his friend, fiddler Jim Daily. Ewan was sitting beside singer Iain Mackintosh one afternoon in the Star Club in Glasgow when an instrumental group began to play the Irish tune “The South Wind”. As he and Iain hummed along with the tune, both said “There ought to be words.” With this in mind, Ewan thought of his friend, fiddler and piper Jim Dailey:
“At the end of a night, after ‘time’ had been bawled Jim would keep playing tunes. The publican would appeal to me since there was obviously no use speaking to Jim.
“So I’d say ‘Jim, that had to be the last tune.’ And Jim would answer ‘Fine – did you ever hear this tune called ‘Around The House And Mind The Dresser’? He’d play that one. Then another called ‘When Sick Is It Tea You Want?’ Then three more.
“Eventually he’d be cajoled into laying his fiddle down. Sighs of relief all round.”
“Then Jim would say ‘Do you know ‘Paddy In The Smoke’? It goes diddle dyah did daddle de, dow diddy ah dum ‘ – and away he’d go again” – singing this time.
Iain Mackintosh heard the song from Ewan a couple of months later, and made it part of his repertoire.