MacEdward Leach and the Songs of Atlantic Canada
Finnegan's Wake (Version I)
Jack Swain NFLD 1 Tape 6A Track 2
Calvert Audio:
Comic song

(speaks) Rearin' to go.

Leach: (speaks) Now let her go.

Female voice: (speaks) Okay.

Tim Finnegan lived in Walker Street
A gentle Irishman mighty odd
Since the date that he was born
With the rising o' the world he carried a hod
But Tim had a sort of a tripling way
With a love for the liquor poor Tim was born
And to help him through his work each day
He took a drop of the craythur every morn

CHORUS:
Whack fol-or-I dance to your partner
Welt the floor 'til your trotters shake
Wasn't that the truth I told you
Lots o' fun at Finnegan's wake

One morning Tim felt rather full
His head felt rather heavy which made him shake
He fell from the ladder and broke his skull
They carried him home his corpse to wake
They rolled him up in a nice clean sheet
And laid him out upon the bed
With a couple o' candles at his feet
And a couple o' dozen at his head

CHORUS:
Whack fol-or-I dance to your partner
Welt the floor 'til your trotters shake
Wasn't that the truth I told you
Lots o' fun at Finnegan's wake

His friends assembled at the spree
Mrs. Finnegan then called out for lunch
First there came in cakes and tea
Pipes tobacco and whisky punch
And Biddy O'Connor began to cry
"Such a pretty corpse ye never see
Ah now Tim why did you die?"
"Why and hold your gab!" says Julia McGee

And Biddy O'Connor took up the job
Saying her at "Julia you're wrong I'm sure!"
But Julia gave her a belt in the gob
And left her sprawling on the floor

CHORUS:
Whack fol-or-I dance to your partner
Welt the floor 'til your trotters shake
Wasn't that the truth I told you
Lots o' fun at Finnegan's wake

Tim Finnegan he ducked his head
As a gallon o' whiskey was threw at him
It missed him and it fell on the bed
And the whiskey spattered over Tim
Oh, how it revives him and see how he rises
Timothy jumped up from the bed
And while he lathered round like blazes
Bad luck to your souls do you think I'm dead

CHORUS:
Whack fol-or-I dance to your partner
Welt the floor 'til your trotters shake
Wasn't that the truth I told you
Lots o' fun at Finnegan's wake

(laughter)


Notes

Sources: Laws Q17; 2 versions recorded by Jack Swain, Calvert, NL, 1950 for Songs From the Out-Ports of Newfoundland (1966, Folkways FE 4075), as tracks B6 and B7; Taft 48; Roud 1009

History:

Text notes:   The first version is a comic song. Tom Finnegan falls from a ladder and hits his head. He is thought dead but, at his wake, a splash of whiskey revives him. On the liner notes of the Folkways recording, Leach writes the following: "This song did not need Joyce to make it famous in Ireland. It was widely sung as a street song; the tune was a popular jig. The singer often, as here, danced the refrain to jig time. The second "Finnigans Wake" (this is a local title; it is more generally known as Molly McGlocklin) was not so popular."

Tune notes: 6A/1 is a quick 4/4 metre, major key melody with many repeated notes, all set syllabically. 6A/5, on the other hand, has a minor flavour (although the pitch of this performance meanders somewhat.   The second tune is in 6/8 meter. During the choruses, one can hear that Mr. Swain is step dancing in accompaniment.

Follow this link for the second version.

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