A lovely ballad by the Scottish songwriter Brian McNeill from his collection Back O’ The North Wind. It tells the true story of his uncle’s immigration to the United States where he found work as a woodworker in 1920s Michigan–successfully finding drink even in the midst of Prohibition. (“To find a dram in a foreign land is the natural gift of a Falkirk man/and Lady Liberty looked the other way”). He endured the depression and returned to his native Scotland to serve in the Second World War and storm the beaches at Normandy. He married a girl he had waved at from the deck of the ship on one of his voyages. McNeill’s lyrics tell a powerful story of resilience and persistence in the face of adversity.
I learned the song from a recording by Ed Miller a Scottish singer, songwriter, and folklorist from Austin, Texas. When I was a kid, Ed would occasionally host the “Folkways” show on KUT on Saturday mornings. As a performer, he is wonderfully funny and engaging. (more…)