Greening The Dark

by Debra Cowan

/
1.
There's a woman down the back street She leaves a trail of feathers She's carrying a suitcase Ivory and leather She's rummaging the dustbins She's looking but not finding I see her at the bus stop She holds a leather suitcase Her eyes are like two street lights They flicker in her furrowed face She mutters and she murmers There's a rattling, a rasping She might be singing something But it's lost in traffic roaring She's weaving up the high street Against a tide of faces They’re looking but not seeing People going places She's searching for something She's looking but not finding I walk home through the back street As night turns into morning There's a little fire To the eastward, burning I turn round the corner There's a rattling, a rasping She's underneath the street light Singing while she's working Her suitcase is wide open It's spilling out it's treasure Yellow bones a-glowing Ivory and leather She's looking and she's finding She's knitting them together And the dawn is breaking The ragged bones are mending They're growing flesh and feathers They're breathing and they're stirring They're stirring and they're waking They're rising and they're singing They fly into the morning The street lights are buzzing And the sky is full of ringing The woman down the back street Has vanished with her suitcase And all the birds are singing All the birds are singing All the birds are singing
2.
One fine winter's morning me horn I did blow To the green hills of Kielder for hours we did go We gathered our dogs, we circled around For who loves the sport more than the boys of the town. And when we arrived they were all standing there We set off for the fields in search of a hare We didn't get far ‘til someone gave a cheer Over high hills and valleys the sweet puss did steer As we flew o'er the hills, 'twas a beautiful sight There was dogs black and yeller, there were dogs black and white She took the black bank to try them once more Oh it was her last lank ‘round the hills of Greenmore. In a field of wheat stubble this sweet puss did lie And Rory and Charmer they did pass her by And there where we stood at the foot of the brae Oh, we heard the last words that this sweet puss did say: “Oh, no more o'er the green hills of Kielder I'll roam Nor skip through the fields in sport and in fun Nor hear the loud horn your toner does play I'll go back to me den by the clear light of day.” You may blame MacMahon for killing the hare He's been at his ol' capers this many's the year Well, Saturdays, Sundays he'll never give o'er With a pack of strange dogs round the hills of Greenmore.
3.
I'm Darby the tinker and my brother is Tam We go where the work is, me boys, and we work where we can With the mending and fixing, it's together we’d stay Intending our fortunes to try on the old changing way
 We come to your cities and we call on your wives We'll fix up your kettles, please dear missus, we'll sharpen your knives And we always agreed that together we'd stay Intending our fortunes to try on the old changing way Now times they grew scanty and the money grew thin We worked for a song but the money it didn't come in Now brothers are kindred but hard times betray And so we stumbled apart on the old changing way We never agreed to divide our tin When you're out of love with your brother, Then your hard times begin For the spikes and the brothels, They're shameful to see But don't you travel alone, boys, This warning you take from me You must share with your nearest till the end of your days Or else it's forever you'll roam on the old changing way
4.
A yeoman farmer he loved me dearly So did my father but not that clearly Trying to spoil things for my man and me He set a trap would break the back of any tree Now my man and me went walking My man did all of the talking Down by Bosworth Park Greening the dark Taking the long way back I fell in my father's trap Causing the birds above to wake up Over there and under him The horse supporting Richard my king Began galloping too fast for him The horse's hooves came tumbling down Close by my burying ground Forever we are bound on Redmore plain Oh my name is Anna Dixie My father killed me Resting peacefully Oh no not me Lay me beyond Cheyney lest I come search for thee Dress me up grandly lest I scare thee
 A yeoman farmer he loved me dearly So did my father but not that clearly
5.
She was used she was abused she never knew she was a victim A father’s drunken pleasure before she was half grown Her ma ignored and she endured until one night in anger She broke the bottle on his head, struck out on her own She headed down to sailor town began her education For Polly knew the only way to win was fighting back She learned the ropes, fleeced the dopes, dreamed above her station And she kept half of everything she ever stole from jack So you can think that she’s your Polly on the shore She’ll be your mother or your sister or your whore She’ll be waving till you’re safely out of view Then she’s looking for another sailor gullible as you When the crimp said her ma was dead she wished she could have cried As rumours of a drunken murder spread to sailor town But pa went free with drunken glee so Polly had him Shanghaied He woke up on a hell ship Yokahama bound Now Polly dines on finest wine and she is quite the lady She owns almost everything in dirty sailor town Polly hires and Polly fires and Polly says what maybe Oh but maybe Polly can’t forget enough to settle down So you can think that she’s your Polly on the shore She’ll be your mother or your sister or your whore She’ll be waving till you’re safely out of view Then she’s looking for another sailor gullible as you So you can think that she’s your Polly on the shore She’ll be your mother or your sister or your whore She’ll be waving till you’re safely out of view Then she’s looking for another sailor (Ghost or fisherman or whaler) Looking for another sailor gullible as you
6.
See the barley moving as the mowers find their pace See the line advancing with a steady timeless grace There's passion in their eyes and there's honour in their face As they scythe down the castles and the courts Smell the smoke of stubble when the harvest is brought down See the fire burning as it purges all around And the field is turned to ashes and the only living sound Are the skylarks as they try to reach the sun Blame it on the fathers, blame it on their sons Blame it on the poppies and the pain Blame it on the generals, blame it on their guns Blame it on the scarecrow in the rain See the barbed wire growing like a bramble on the land See a farm turned to a fortress and a future turn to sand See a meadow turn to mud and from it grows a hand Like a scarecrow that is fallen in the rain Blame it on the fathers, blame it on the sons Blame it on the poppies and the pain Blame it on the generals, blame it on their guns Blame it on the scarecrow in the rain Blame it on the scarecrow in the rain

about

" Debra's finest work to date"- Nigel Schofield, Tykes News
Debra Cowan's second collaboration with Dave "DM" Mattacks contains six songs, five composed and one traditional. Composers include Emily Portman, Richard Thompson, John Tams, Lester Simpson and the late Lal Waterson. All songs arranged and produced by Dave Mattacks.

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released September 3, 2019

Arranged and Produced by Dave Mattacks
Engineered and Recorded by Mike Barry
at Babyland Studios, Medford, MA
and by Sean Cahalin at Q Division Studios, Somerville, MA
Mixed by Huck Bennert
Mastered By Mark Donahue
at Sound Mirror, Jamaica Plain, MA
Artwork, Design, Cover Photo by Lisa Deupree
Back Cover Photo by Louie Tomás Velez

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Debra Cowan Shrewsbury, Massachusetts

Singer Debra Cowan performs a cappella and with guitar, interpreting a wide range of folk songs. Debra has two acclaimed solo recordings to her credit, and her third, “Fond Desire Farewell” was produced by former Fairport Convention drummer Dave Mattacks. A former California resident, she now resides in Massachusetts and tours all over North America and the United Kingdom. ... more

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