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The Guise o' Tough

[ Roud 3800 ; G/D 3:378 ; Ballad Index Ord236 ; trad.]

John Strachan sang The Guise o' Tough to Alan Lomax and Hamish Henderson in Fyvie, Aberdeenshire, Scotland, on July 16, 1951. This recording was included in 2002 on his Rounder anthology Songs from Aberdeenshire.

John Mearns of Aberdeen sang The Guise o' Tough on his ca. 1964 Scottish Records EP Folk-Songs of the North-East. The album's sleeve notes commented:

Four of the songs in this record—The Guise o' Tough, Drumdelgie, The Barnyards o' Delgaty and Sleepytoun—are typical Aberdeenshire ‘Bothy Ballads’. These were the songs made up by the farm-servants and sung by them in the bothies—their living quarters—or around the fire in the farm kitchen. Two features are characteristic. The words all concern the farm servant's lot—the bargain he struck with his employer; the conditions under which he works; his horses; his plough—and they give a vivid picture of farm life fifty years ago. Again the words were nearly always set to simple tunes with rhythms which could be easily adapted to fit the rhythms of many everyday farm jobs. This was important for the songs not only helped to pass the long winter evenings in the bothy but also lightened the day's work.

Rob Watt sang The Guise o' Tough on the 1968 Topic album of songs and ballads from the lowland east of Scotland, Back o' Benachie. Peter Hall noted:

A favourite bothy song. Its tune is widely used for similar pieces. The form is a common one, but here direct protest is rather replaced by a general irony. Rob Watt delivers the song in a thrustful yet deadpan style that makes the ploughman-hero an almost Schwejk-like character satirising the world's foibles.

Norman Kennedy sang The Guise o' Tough in 1968 on the Folk-Legacy album Ballads & Songs of Scotland. Peter Hall commented in the album's sleeve notes:

Although there are no work songs proper in present day lowland Scots tradition, there are many about work. Some of the best of these are the bothy ballads. The farm servants were hired for a term of six months and if the farmer was a hard man there was nothing to do but tighten the belt and grimly see it through to the next feeing market. It was only in the few leisure hours in the men's sleeping quarters, the bothies, that they could give vent to their feelings.

Ian Manuel sang The Guise o' Tough in 1972 on his Topic album of bothy songs and ballads, The Frosty Ploughshare. A.L. Lloyd commented in the album's sleeve notes.

“One of the best songs of the ploughman class”, says Gavin Greig. Like Sleepytoon, it comes from the Alford district, and its maker obligingly dates it for us, telling us the events happened “in the year o’ 91”. The song is more sardonic than protesting, and the fellow who made it had a quirky view of the world.

Cilla Fisher and Artie Trezise sang The Guise o' Tough in 1976 on their eponymous album Cilla Fisher and Artie Trezise.

Charlie Murray sang The Guise o' Tough on the 1977 album of songs from Jean Redpath's BBC television series Ballad Folk.

Isla St Clair sang Guise o' Tough in the BC Radio 2 series Tatties & Herrin', transmitted in 1995. It was included in 1997 on her Greentrax CD Tatties & Herrin': The Land.

The Guise o' Tough was also sung on the TMSA Young Trad Tour 2004.

Jock Duncan sang Guise o' Tough, “one of the most popular and widely known of the older bothy ballads”, during the Fife Traditional Singing Festival, Collessie, Fife in May 2005. This recording was included in the following year on the festival anthology For Friendship and for Harmony (Old Songs & Bothy Ballads Volume 2).

Geordie Murison sang Guise o' Tough in 2017 on his Tradition Bearers album The Term Time Is Comin Roon. His album's liner notes commented:

A classic plooman song with a great chorus. The Guise o' Tough lies just south of Alford. Until recently it was farmed by a McCombie family, related to William McCombie, MP of Tillyfour, who pioneered the Aberdeen Angus breed of cattle.

Iona Fyfe sang The Guise of Tough on her 2018 CD Away from My Window. She noted:

This is a song I would often hear at singarounds, sessions and bothy ballad competitions. Growing up, I'd attend many Traditional Music and Song Association and Buchan Heritage Society events, in which I met many singers such as Joe Aitken, Geordie Murison, Jim Taylor and Scott Gardiner, all of whom would often offer the audience a great rendition of this bothy ballad (and an even greater swalley of fusky!) The song is about a man who is hired by ‘Jimmy Broon’, after an initial feed of bread and cheese, he soon finds that he is disappointed in the quality of his horses, and the plough doesn't work either! I met the legendary Jock Duncan in 2012 at Turriff Bothy Ballad Competition where he was adjudicating the senior bothy ballad competition, and the terrified 14-year-old me.

Found in John Ord's Bothy Songs and Ballads, Greig-Duncan 3:378, Roud 3800.

This video shows her at Celtic Connections 2018:

Lyrics

Norman Kennedy sings The Guise o' Tough

I gaed up tae Alford for tae get a fee,
An' I fell in wi' Jamie Brown an' wi' him did agree.

Chorus (repeated after each verse):
Tum a hie doo doe, tum a ho doo day,
Tum a hie doo doe, tum a ho doo day

I agreed wi' Jamie Brown, the year of ninety-one,
For to ca' his second pair and be his orra man.

We gaed hame tae Guise o' Tough, 'twas on an evening clear,
An' oot aboot an orra hoose the grieve he did appear.

“Noo, I'm the master o' this place, there's the mistress there,
Ye'll get plenty bread an' cheese an' plenty mair tae spare.”

I gaed tae the stable, my pairie for tae view,
Faith, they were a dandy pair, a chestnut an' a blue.

We hae a gallant kitchen dame, Jamieson it's her name,
But for to tell her pedigree, 'twould rather be a shame.

We ahe a gallant baillie, McDonald it's his name,
An' he can fair redd up the kye when he tak's doon the kaim.

Noo, that's the end o' my song, I canna sing any mair,
Gin ye be affronted, ye can walk outside the door.

Cilla Fisher and Artie Trezise sing The Guise o' Tough

I gaed up tae Alford fir tae get a fee,
And I fell in wi' Jamie Broon and wi' him did agree.

Chorus (repeated after each verse):
Tae ma hi tum do tae ma hi tum day
Tae ma hi tae ma do tae ma hi tum day

I engaged wi' Jamie Broon, in the year o' ninety-one,
Tae gang hame an' ca' his second pair an' be his orra man.

When I gaed hame tae Guise o' Tough, 'twas on an evening clear.
An' oot aboot some orra hoose the gaffer did appear.

“I'm the maister o' this place an' that's the mistress there,
An' ye'll get plenty cheese an' breid an' plenty mair tae spare.”

I sat an' ate at cheese an' breid till they did roon' me stare,
An' then I thocht that it wis time tae gang an' see my pair.

I gaed tae the stable my pairie fir tae view,
An' aye they were a dandy pair, a chestnut and a blue.

On the followin' mornin' I gaed tae the ploo,
But lang lang ower lowsin' time my pairie gart me rue.

My ploo she wisna workin' weel, she widna throw the fur,
The gaffer says a better yin at the smiddy tae gang fir.

When I got hame the new ploo she pleased me unco weel,
But I thought she wid be better gin she had a cuttin' wheel.

I wrocht awa' a month or twa wi' unco little clatter,
Till I played up some nasty tricks and broke the tattie chapper.

The gaffer he got word o' this and orders did lay doon,
That if I did the like again he wad pit me frae the toon.

Noo my song is ended and I won't sing any more,
An' if ony o' you be offended ye can walk ootside the door.

Geordie Murison sings Guise o' Tough

I gaed up bi Alford for tae get a fee,
I fell in wi' Jamie Broon, wi him I did agree.

Chorus (repeated after each verse):
Tim-a-hie dam doo, hie dum dae,
Hie fum a doo, tim-a-hie dum dae

I agreed wi Broon, the year o ninety-one,
Tae ging hame tae ca his second pair, an be his orra man.

I gaed hame tae Guise o' Tough, 'twas on an evenin clear,
Oot aboot some orra hoose, the gaffer did appear.

“I'm the maister o the place, ats the mistress ere,
Ye'll hae plenty cheese an breid, aye plenty mair tae spare.”

I sat an ate at cheese an breid til they did roon me stare,
Fegs I thocht it's time tae ging an see my pair.

I gaed tae the stable, my pairie for tae view,
Fegs they were a dandy pair, a chestnut an a blue.

Early in the morning, I yoked tae the ploo,
Lang lang er lowsin time, my pairie gart ma rue.

My ploo she wisna workin weel, she widna throw the fur,
The gaffer says ere's a better ane at the smiddy tae gang for.

I got hame my new ploo, she pleased me unco weel,
But I thocht she wid be better gin she had a cuttin wheel.

I wrocht awa a month or twa wi unco little clatter,
Till I played up some nesty tricks, I broke the tattie chapper.

The grieve he come to hear o this, orders did lay doon,
Gin I iver did the like again, he'd pit me fae the toon.

We hae a muckle Baillie, Wallace is his name,
He can fair red up the nowt fin he taks doon the kaim.

We hae a litte Baillie, Jamieson's his name,
He's gaen doon tae Alford, o he's raised an affa fame.

He's gane doon tae Charlie Watt's for tae hae a dram,
But lang, lang or I wan there, the laddie cwidna stan.

We hae a gallant kitchie deem, Simpson it's her name,
But ocht tae tell herpedigree, twid be an affa shame.

She dresses up un Sunday, her heid abeen the level,
Wi twa raw o ivory, twid scare the vey deil.

It's the eyne o ma sang, I'll nae sing ony mair,
Gin ye've been offended, ye can walk ootside the door.