- TALES FROM A TRAVELLER
In which Jeannie talks about her life as a tinker, tells stories and rhymes,
a folktale about "Silly John" and a song, "Jimmy Raeburn". Her
life story tells about her parents, when she cried for hunger, the freedom at
the berry-picking, a raid on their camp, love, courtship and elopement, of sex,
hawking and canvassing in summer, mischievous farm-servants, traveller's laws,
learning songs, Davie Stewart and Jimmy MacBeath, birth, death, drink and children.
1. TALK ABOUT HER LIFE: Her own birth when her mother was out hawking/ very
big child with black hair ("Earl of Hell's night-cap")/ good speaker/ 9 months
old when her father died (mother 28)/ good father but weakness for drink/ mother
re- married - a soldier, James Higgins/ 1914 War breaks out/ move to Perthshire
(aged 5)/ only time she was hungry/ "greeting" (crying)/ the berryfields/ camping
meant freedom from school/ crowded in Aberdeen/ after housework there were stories
- "as old as Jerusalem"/ strange happenings/ men coming/ temptations of mischievous
farm-servants/ protection with dogs/ "country yokels"/ stupid after drinking
at bars/ traveller's laws/ nowadays new houses replacing market stances and
greens - 15'33"
2. STORY OF A GANG RAID ON THEIR CAMP - 3.47"
3. TYPES OF STORIES and how they started with opening rhyme 1'36"
4. Folk tale: SILLY JOHN AND THE FACTOR - 7'00"
5. TALK CONTINUED Separating lovers was a sin/ her first courtship/ parents
against marriage/ ran away to Aberdeen to marry/ poor and humble/ worked hard/
family/ 9 years before began to travel/ summer canvassing soft-goods/ children
6. Song: JIMMY RAEBURN - 4'13"
7. TALK CONTINUED AGAIN: Talk about song/ what makes a good singer/ learning
songs and memory/ Davie Stewart ("The Galoot") compared with Jimmy McBeath/
Geordie Stewart/ the Stewart family/ father/ her mother's gifts/ brothers and
drink/ mother's temper & occasional beatings - 19'02"
Recorded by Peter Kennedy and Alan Lomax 1953. Edited by Peter Kennedy and
first published by Folktrax 1979. Phonographic copyright control. Unauthorised
public performance, broadcasting or copying is prohibited except by permission.
SILLY JOHN AND THE FACTOR has been transcribed from Jeannie Robertson
by Hamish Henderson and appears in TOCHER No. 6 (1972) published by The School
of Scottish Studies in Edinburgh. Hamish adds the following note:- "This
international comic tale is well-known in Gaelic and versions in Scots have
been recorded as far afield as Shetland. The burial of the goat in place of
the murdered man, and the rain of porridge, may both appear or be used by itself.
Sometimes the factor is deliberately killed at the mother's instigation to prevent
JEANNIE ROBERTSON (1906-1975) was awarded an M.B.E. for her service
to Scottish music. Alan Lomax said of her: "Jeannie was one of the great
ones. She had the refined mouth and the powerful throat that's typical of the
great singer, and out of it came trumpet-notes suitable to the big ballad and
soft flute-like tones suited to the sweet randy love-songs.....she had a great
sense of how to lay a tune along the words, to make both shine more brightly,
and she knew how to put in the delicate brush of embellishment, to make the
song come to life in the most important parts" - see also FT-067 & FT-186
JIMMY MacBEATH - see FTX-058, FTX-059 & FTX-060
DAVIE STEWART - see FTX-180, FTX-461 & FTX-462