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Green Grow the Rashes/Rushes

[ Roud 2772 ; G/D 7:1297 ; Ballad Index SBoA097 ; Bodleian Roud 2772 ; DT GRRASH ; Mudcat 45563 ; Robert Burns]

Ewan MacColl sang Green Grow the Rashes, O on his 1959 Folkways album Songs of Robert Burns. Ralph Knight commented in the liner notes:

Burns knew “the merry old tune,” Green Grow the Rashes, O as a bawdy song that had been long current in Scotland. When Jean Armour delivered a set of twins from her first pregnancy, Burns, in an excess of pride and happiness, send a bawdy version of his own to a friend to signalise the event. The chorus, possibly traditional, went:

Green grow the rashes, O;
Green grow the rashes, O;
The lasses they hae wimble bores,
The widows they hae gashes, O.

Earlier, Burns had written the masterpiece known to all the world, one of the two songs contributed to the first volume of Scots Musical Museum [1787].

Ian Campbell sang Green Grow the Rashes O in 1968 on his Transatlantic album of songs and poems from Robert Burns, Tam o’ Shanter. He noted:

There is no doubt that effective love songs usually address themselves to their object in the particular rather than the general, yet, here it is: a love song to the whole of womankind, and completely effective.

Jean Redpath sang Green Grow the Rashes, O in 1981 on her Philo/Greentrax album The Songs of Robert Burns Volume 3 Serge and Esther Hovey noted:

This song has a long and varied history. The tune has been a popular one since the early part of the seventeenth century (Straloch MS., 1627). In addition to the traditional bawdy verses, Burns collected or wrote at least two more in this genre. In this album, Jean Redpath sings the lyrics that Burns wrote in his early twenties. During that period, he kept a notebook of his thoughts and poetry, known as The First Commonplace Book. In connection with Green Grow The Rashes, O, Burns commented:

I do not see that the turn of mind, and pursuits of such a one as the above verses describe—one who spends the hours and thoughts which the vocations of the day can spare with Ossian, Shakespeare, Thomson, Shenstone, Sterne &c. or as the maggot takes him, a gun, a fiddle, or a Song to make, or mend; and at all times some heartsdear bony lass in view—I say I do not see that the turn of mind & pursuits of such a one are in the least more inimical to the sacred interests of Piety & Virtue, that the, even lawful, bustling, & straining after the world’s riches & honors: and I do not see but he may gain Heaven as well…

Andy M. Stewart sang Green Grow the Rashes O in 1989 on his album Songs of Robert Burns. The liner notes commented:

This is one of the most characteristic of all Burns’ songs, although one of his earliest. Founded on an old and licentious song with the same chorus, he set it down in his “Commonplace Book” in August 1784. During this period, Burns kept a notebook of his thoughts and poetry known as “The First Commonplace Book”, with some rambling remarks on “the various species of young men” whom he divides into two classes—“the grave and the merry”. The last stanza is not included in the copy inserted in the first “Commonplace Book”, therefore, the presumption is that he added it while in Edinburgh.

(From The People’s Edition of the Poetical Works of Robert Burns, as arranged and annotated by W. Douglas. Revised, corrected and condensed by D. McNaught, Kilmaurs, Scotland, published 1903)

The Cast (Mairi Campbell and Dave Francis) sang Green Grow the Rashes in 1993 on their Culburnie album The Winnowing.

Gill Bowman sang Green Grow the Rashes in 1994 on her Greentrax album of love songs of Roberts Burns, Toasting the Lassies.

Rod Paterson sang Green Grow the Rashes on his 1996 Greentrax album of Robert Burns songs, Songs From the Bottom Drawer.

John Morran sang Green Grow the Rashes, O on the 2000 Linn Records anthology The Complete Songs of Robert Burns Volume 8, and Wendy Weatherby sang a bawdy version of it in 2002 on The Complete Songs of Robert Burns Volume 11.

Ed Miller sang Green Grow the Rashes O in 2009 on his album of songs written or collected by Robert Burns, Lyrics of Gold.

Eddi Reader sang Green Grow the Rashes O in 2009 on the second CD of the deluxe edition of her album The Songs of Robert Burns.

Ian Bruce sang Green Grow the Rashes in 2010 on his Lochshore album Rhythm & Burns.

Jim Malcolm sang Green Grow the Rashes O on his 2011 CD Sparkling Flash. He noted:

My favourite myth about the legend of the term “gringo” involves this song, supposedly sung by a regiment of Irish Americans in the 1846-1848 Mexican war—thus known as “Green Grows”. Even though it is unlikely to be true, I love this idea, and I have tried not to let the truth get in the way of a good story. (Shouts of “Rubbish!” and “Google!”)

Co-cheòl sang Green Grow the Rashes on their eponymous 2014 EP Co-cheòl.

Siobhan Miller sang Green Grow the Rashes, O live at GloWorm Recording for Burns Night 2017, as shown in this video. I also saw her singing it at her gig in the Buchcafé Bad Hersfeld on 25 March 2017.

Band of Burns sang Green Grow the Rashes in January 2017 at Union Chapel in London. A concert recording was released in the following year on their CD Live at the Union Chapel.

Lyrics

Green Grow the Rashes in The Scots Musical Museum

There’s nought but care on ev’ry han’
In ev’ry hour that passes, O:
What signifies the life o’ man,
An’ ’twere not for the lasses, O?

Chorus (repeated after each verse):
Green grow the rashes, O;
Green grow the rashes, O;
The sweetest hours that e’er I spend,
Are spent amang the lasses O.

The warly race may riches chase,
An’ riches still may fly them, O,
An’ tho’ at last they catch them fast,
Their hearts can ne’er enjoy them, O.

But gie me a cannie hour at e’en,
My arms about my Dearie, O,
An’ warly cares an’ warly men
May a’ gae tapsalteerie, O!

For you sae douce! ye sneer at this,
Ye’re nought but senseless asses, O:
The wisest man the warl’ saw,
He dearly lov’d the lasses, O.

Auld Nature swears, the lovely dears
Her noblest work she classes, O:
Her prentice han’ she try’d on man,
An’ then she made the lasses, O.