Spinning Yarns

by Norah Rendell

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    Comes with 16-page booklet including lyrics, liner notes written by Brian Miller, photos by Natalie Champa-Jennings and images of yarn from Suzy Brown, woolwench. Designed by Colleen Cody.

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A collection of traditional songs from Canada's countryside with a strong connection to Ireland. Featuring Norah Rendell on vocals, whistle, flute and harmonium, Brian Miller on guitar and bouzouki, Randy Gosa on guitar and mandola, Ailie Robertson of the Outside Track on harp and Dáithí Sproule on guitar.


released March 17, 2015

Norah Rendell – vocals, flutes, whistles, harmonium
Brian Miller – guitar, bouzouki, vocals
Randy Gosa - guitar, mandola
Ailie Robertson - harp

With special guests Dáithí Sproule on guitar and Adam Kiesling on bass.

Produced by Norah Rendell
Recorded and mixed by Joe Mabbott at Hideaway Studios
Mastered by Bruce Templeton
Liner notes by Brian Miller
Photos by Natalie Champa-Jennings
Graphic design by Colleen Cody

2015 / Two Tap Music. All tracks traditional, arranged by Norah Rendell



all rights reserved


Norah Rendell Saint Paul, Minnesota

Originally from Vancouver, British Columbia, Norah Rendell is a consummate musician that specializes in the traditional folk songs and dance music of Ireland and Canada. Norah was named "Best Vocalist of the Year" by the Live Ireland Awards in 2011 and 2012 and was nominated for "Best Traditional Singer of the Year" by the Canadian Folk Music Awards in 2009. ... more

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Track Name: Letty Lee
Letty Lee

In the spring of the year when Flora the hills
did adorn,
The birds in the forest sang sweet in the morn,
The fleet-footed hare that skipped through the corn,
All nature enchanted in every degree.

As she sat by a bush so warm and cozy,
Pulling blue vines and likewise the primrosy,
Said I to myself, “You’re inclined for a posy,
To bring to your lover whoe’er he may be.”

Oh, said I, “Pretty fair maid, the fairest of lasses,
Pray when did you leave that sweet place
called Parnassus?
Had I but the wealth of the rich ruling classes,
I’d lavish the bulk of my fortune on thee.”

Oh, she said “My young man to me you’re
a stranger,
You may be a saint and you may be a ranger.
I don’t wish to expose myself to any danger,
And the name I go under is young Letty Lee.”

Oh, said I, “Pretty fair maid such talk you
must smother,
If I am a stranger then you are another.
I pray you give over from such simple bother,
Consent to our marriage that’s plenty for me.”

“Oh, but if I get married your love may prove
You might drink all your earnings and then you’d
mistreat me,
And if you should do so, with regret I’d be grieving,
I’ll never take a husband,” said young Letty Lee,
“And if you should do so, with regret I’d be grieving,”
Said this matchless creature called sweet Letty Lee.

“Does the cat like new milk, does the fish love
the water,
The birds the forest or the mother her daughter?
The fire that is burning can’t be any hotter,
Than your love for a husband, my sweet Letty Lee.”

Oh, she said, “My young man with your manner
so pleasing,
You capture my heart while you baffle my reason,
So here is my hand and I think it no treason,
To marry a young man so well-learned as thee.”

Source: Angelo Dornan of Elgin, New Brunswick
Track Name: The Sailor's Bride
The sun was setting in the west,
All nature had retired to rest,
A sailor and his lovely bride,
Stood weeping by the waterside.

It’s scarce six months since we were wed,
Alas how swift those moments fled,
Now we must part by the dawn of day,
And the proud ship bears my love away.

The storm came on before its time,
The snow fell hissing in the brine,
The sailor lad, so brave and true,
Was carried away in the waters blue.

’Tis Autumn now and I’m alone,
Flowers have bloomed, the birds have flown,
All is sad, but none as I,
My sailor lad no more is nigh.

Willie, I wish I was with you,
Beneath the waves of the ocean blue,
My soul to God, my body in the sea,
And the dark blue waves rolling over me.

Oh, would that I were buried too,
Beneath the waves of the ocean blue,
My soul to God, my body in the sea,
And the mermaids weeping over me.
Track Name: The Carrion Crow
An old carrion crow was sitting on an oak,
Fol the riddle, rol the riddle, hey ding oh,
Watching a tailor cutting out a coat.
Sing hey, sing ho, the old carrion crow,
Fol the riddle, rol the riddle, hey ding oh.

“Oh wife, oh wife, bring me my cross bow,
So that I may shoot yon carrion crow.”
Oh, the tailor shot and he missed his mark,
And he shot the miller’s sow right through the heart.

“Oh wife, oh wife, bring brandy in a spoon,
For the miller’s old sow is in a swoon.”
The old sow died and the bells did toll,
And the little pigs they all prayed for her soul.
Track Name: Lost Jimmie Whalen
Slowly and sadly I strayed by the river,
Watching the sunbeams as evening drew nigh,
All alone as I rambled I spied a fair damsel,
She was weeping and wailing with many’s a sigh.

Sighing for one who is now lying lonely,
Mourning for one who no mortal can save,
As the dark foaming waters flow sadly around her,
As onward they roll o’er young Jimmie’s grave.

“Jimmie,” said she, “won’t you come to my arms,
And give me sweet kisses as ofttimes you gave?
You promised you’d meet me this evening, my darling,
Oh, come, dearest Jimmie, love, come from the grave.”

Then slowly there rose from the depths of the river,
A vision of beauty far fairer than sun,
While red robes of crimson encircled around him,
Unto this fair maiden to speak he’s begun.

“Why did you raise me from the realms of glory,
Back to this place where I once I had to leave,
To hold you once more in my fond loving arms,
To see you once more I have come from my grave.”

“Jimmie,” said she, “why not stay on earth with me?
Don’t leave me alone for to weep and to rave.
If you won’t mind me and bide here beside me,
Oh Jimmie, take me to your cold silent grave.”

“Darling, to me you are asking a favour,
That no earthly mortal can grant unto thee,
For death is the dagger that holds us asunder,
And wide is the gulf, love, between you and me.”

“One fond embrace, love, and then I must leave you,
One loving kiss, pet, and then we must part,
And cold were the arms he encircled around her,
While cold was the bosom she pressed to her heart.”

Then straightway the vision did vanish before her,
Straightway to the sky he then seemed to go,
Leaving his loved one distracted and lonely,
Weeping and wailing in sadness and woe.

Throwing herself on the banks the river,
Weeping and wailing her poor heart would break,
Sighing, “My loved one, my lost Jimmie Whalen,
I will lie down and die by the side of your grave.”
Track Name: Pretty Susan
When first from sea I landed I had a roving mind,
I rambled undaunted my true love to find,
Then I met pretty Susan with her cheeks like the rose,
And her skin was like the lilies fair or the flower that grows,
And her skin was like the lilies fair or the flower that grows.

A long time I courted her ’til I wasted my store,
Her love turned to hatred because I was poor,
She said “I love another one whose fortune I’ll share,
So be gone from Pretty Susan, the pride of Kildare,
So be gone from Pretty Susan, the pride of Kildare.”

Broken-hearted next morning as I strolled by the way,
I met Pretty Susan with her young man so gay,
And as I passed by her with my heart full of care,
I sighed for Pretty Susan, the pride of Kildare,
I sighed for Pretty Susan, the pride of Kildare.

Once more to the ocean I’m resolved for to go,
I am bound for the Easter’d with my heart full of woe,
It’s there I’ll see pretty girls with jewels rare,
But there’s none like Pretty Susan the pride of Kildare,
But there’s none like Pretty Susan the pride of Kildare.

Source: Angelo Dornan of Elgin, New Brunswick
Track Name: Biddy Rooney
Biddy Rooney, you drive me loony,
Biddy Rooney, where have you gone?
Biddy Rooney, for you I’m spoony,
And did you see my Biddy Rooney anyone?

I will put it in the daily paper,
She’s got drunk or stole somehow,
I will put it in the daily paper,
My Biddy’s got lost in a row somehow.

Shouldn’t be too hard to know her,
Though she’s gone for one full week,
Bottle of brandy in each hand,
And a plug of tobacco in each cheek.

Shouldn’t be so hard to find her,
She goes walking down the street,
You’ll be sure to know our Biddy,
For she walks left-handed with both feet.

Anyone who chance to meet her,
From them may she never part,
You can take her bag and baggage,
Take her to the devil with all my heart.
Track Name: Sir Neil and Glengyle
On yon dark isle, beyond rock isle,
Where flocks and herds were plenty,
There lived a squire and his sister Anne,
Was the pride of all that country.
’Twas young Glengyle who courted her,
Intending for to marry,
But a Highland lad she did prefer,
He was handsome, brisk and merry.

When tidings came to young Advan,
How Neil had boasted proudly,
Of favours gained by Lady Anne,
Which made him swear thus rudely:
“By all the friends that I possess,
If I live to see the morning,
This youth or I shall breathe our last,
I’ll stand no more such scorning.”

On yon seashore where the proud waves roar,
He challenged Neil to fight him,
These two men met before the sun,
Not a living creature nigh them.
“What’s ill, what’s ill, my friend?” Neil cried,
“That you should want to destroy me?”
“I will not flattered be, Sir Neil,
Unsheath your sword and fight me.”

“Sheath up your sword, Advan” Neil said,
“Don’t you resume to fight me,
For well you know in Scotland there’s none,
That can wave the broadsword like me.”
“I know your boasting courage, Neil,
But why should you despise me?
And if you do refuse to fight,
Like a dog I will chastise thee.”

It was many the savage and deadly thrust,
This generous man he warded,
For to take the life of such a dear friend,
Himself he only guarded.
But being vexed and sore abused,
His angry passion started,
And through the heart of young Advan,
His sword he quickly darted.

“Curse on my skill, what have I done?
Rash man that thou would have this!
For to take the life of such a dear friend,
When I would have spilled blood to save it!
To some far isle I will exile,
To fly I know not whither,
How can I face my lady Anne,
Since I have slain her brother?”

Then turning himself thus round about,
To see if there was anyone nigh him,
Who should he see but young Glengyle,
Like a bird thus he came flying.
“I come, I come to stop the strife,
But since you’ve been victorious,
I’ll have revenge or lose my life,
My honour bids me do this.”

“Sheath up your sword, Glengyle,” Neil says,
“Where is this quarrel grounded?
Three times I could have pierced your breast,
Three times I’d have you wounded.”
Then saying this he quit his guard,
And young Glengyle advanced,
And through the heart of brave Sir Neil,
The sword behind him glanced.

Then falling down Neil cried, “I’m slain!
Adieu, to all things earthly,
Adieu, Glengyle, you have won the day,
But you have won it basely.”
When tidings came to Lady Anne,
Time after time she fainted,
She ran and kissed their clay cold lips,
And o’er their fate lamented.

Melody Source: Robert Langille of Tatamagouche,
Nova Scotia and Captain Charles Cates of North Vancouver, British Columbia
Text Source: Stanley Finnemore of Bridgewater, Maine, USA
Track Name: St. Patrick's Day
Come all of ye true sons of Erin,
Come listen awhile unto me,
You’ll find I’m a poor worn out creature,
Condoling here under a tree.
While the heart from my bosom was torn,
The truth unto you I’ll declare,
Young James was the flower of this island,
And he’s left me in grief and despair.

When first I beheld that young hero,
The hills and the valleys were green,
And the leaves they were all in full blossom,
Most beautiful there to be seen.
As she sat in her lone shady bower,
Those charming sweet notes she did play,
And the blackbird and thrush joined in chorus,
With her on St. Patrick’s Day.

Now my friends and my parents consulted,
And they found l was so well inclined,
False stories they told to my true love,
To banish me out of his mind.
But all that they said was a folly,
Every morning and evening I’ll pray,
I’m in hopes for to meet him with pleasure,
Once more on St. Patrick’s Day.

Now young James is the flower of this island,
The same I will never deny,
And the beautiful words that he told me,
I’ll never forget till I’ll die.
But now he is crossing the ocean,
Every morning and evening I’ll pray,
I’m in hopes for to meet him with pleasure,
Once more on St. Patrick’s Day.
Track Name: Here's A Health Unto All True Lovers
Here’s a health unto all true lovers,
And unto mine where’er she be,
This very night, love, I mean to be with you,
It’s many’s a long mile she is from me.

It’s let this night be as dark as dungeons,
And there no gay light all to appear,
My steps shall guide thee without a stumble,
All in the arms of you, my dear.

It’s when he came to his true love’s window,
He gently knelt down all on a stone,
And through the keyhole he whispered softly,
Saying, “My jewel, are you alone?”

She rose her head from soft white pillow,
And almost naked was her lilywhite breast,
“Who’s there, who’s there tapping at my window,
Disturbing me from a long night’s rest?”

“It’s your own true love, pray don’t discover,
But open the door, love, and let me in,
For I am wet after my long night’s journey,
Besides I am wet love unto the skin.”

It’s when this long night was passed and over,
And then the cocks they began to crow,
We kissed, shook hands, I in sorrow parted,
I took my leave and from her did go.

Source: William Gilkie and his mother
Mrs. Sandy Gilkie in Sambro, Nova Scotia
Track Name: Forty Fishermen
The wind with fury it did blow that fatal Thursday morn,
They raised their mainsail and their jib for to ride out the storm,
But all in vain their tiny craft the fury could not stand,
And these brave heroes lost their lives while trying to make the land.

The bone and sinew of the land around Placentia Bay,
And on that wild and treacherous coast gave up their lives that day,
Like daring sons of Newfoundland all hardships they must stand,
At duty’s call in spring and fall their lives take in their hands.

It’s seldom do we have to tell of such a heavy toll,
All schooners lost upon that day with every precious soul,
Whilst empty boats turned bottom up and not a soul did save,
Some forty fishermen or more to meet a watery grave.

It is a hard and a trying blow for those who are left to weep,
The sole provider of the home sleeps quiet ’neath the deep,
The wives and orphans left to mourn; the widow’s only son,
Are also numbered with the dead; God’s will it must be done.

So let us pray for those away who on the sea must roam,
To guide them in their tiny crafts and send them safe at home,
And put your trust in providence who’ll always heed your prayer,
And give you strength and fortitude, your heavy cross to bear.

Source: Mike Molloy of St. Shott’s, Newfoundland, Canada
Track Name: When I Wake in the Morning
When I wake in the morning I go to my window,
I take a fond look o’er the place that I know,
I’m surrounded by sorrow, will I ever see tomorrow,
Oh, Jimmy, lovely Jimmy if you knew what I know.

When the boys come to court me they all swear they love me,
But I like a hero I do them disdain,
My love’s gone and left me, no other man will get me,
And I never will marry till he comes back again.

The day that we parted we were both broken-hearted,
And homeward I started with a pain in my heart,
To war he’s been taken our love is forsaken,
And I never will rest ’till he comes back again.

No warmth do the days bring no more do the birds sing,
As they did when my Jimmy was here by my side,
And cold will my heart lie till that day comes that I die,
Oh, Jimmy, lovely Jimmy, if you knew what I know.