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The Rainbow

from Fond Desire Farewell by Debra Cowan

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(Traditional-from the singing of Swan Arcade)
Collected from George Orton of Barrow-on-Humber by Percy Grainger, this is a wonderful song about how a woman takes charge and wins the day. A large nod to the trio Swan Arcade- Jim Boyes, the late Dave Brady and Heather Brady- for providing the inspiration that gave us this version.


As we were a-sailing down by the Spanish shore
Where the drums they did beat and loud the cannons roared
We spied a lofty army, come bearing down the main
And it caused us to hoist our topmost sails again

Now there was a gallant damsel, a damsel of great fame
She was the Captain's daughter and Nancy was her name
She stood upon the deck me boys and loudly she did call
“O hoist up the colours and load the cannonballs”

“Now”, our captain said, “Be ready, boys, be ready and stand true
To face the Spanish army we lately did pursue
For to face the Spanish army lay along the ocean wide
And without a good protection, boys, we'll take the first broadside.”

Well, it's broadside to broadside these vessels o'er they went
A-sinking one another, it was their full intent
And at the very second broadside, our captain he was slain
And the damsel jumped in his place to fetch command again

O, we fought for nearly four hours, for four hours or more
'Til we had scarce a man on board our gallant ship to steer
'Til we had scarce a man on board to fire off a gun
And the blood on our decks like a river it did run

“O for quarters, for quarters!” these Spanish lads did cry
“You have had the best of quarters,” this damsel did reply
“You have had the best of quarters that e'er we can afford
You must fight, sink, or swim, me boys, or jump overboard”

And now the war is over and we'll take a glass of wine
You can drink to your true love, and I will drink to mine
Here's a health unto that damsel that damsel of great fame
And a health unto that royal ship, the Rainbow was her name


from Fond Desire Farewell, released April 28, 2009
Debra Cowan-Vocals, English Concertina
Duke Levine-Guitar
Marty Ballou-Acoustic Bass
Joyce Andersen-Fiddle
Dave Mattacks-Drums and Percussion
Mike Barry-Additional Vocals


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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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