Cape Breton's Magazine

> Issue 41 > Page 16 - Searching for Cape Breton Folk Songs

Page 16 - Searching for Cape Breton Folk Songs

Published by Ronald Caplan on 1986/1/1 (2768 reads)

JOHNNY NICHOLSON 'Twas on the fifth of August, oh loving friends draw near A sad accident did occur which cast a gloom 'round here When three of our brave comrades they left their native shore But sad to say one of the three he'll never return no more. With gentle smiles and spirits high he left his mother's side But little she thought she'd see no more her dear and only child. A gentle breeze from the westward blew which did those men beguile When a treacherous squall capsized their boat before they went a mile. Upon the waves they struggled hard upon a mast and oar Until their cries for help were heard by a female on the shore. A boat was launched by three brave men who pulled with all their might And when they reached that awful spot oh what a solemn sight. Upon the angry waves ahead that now began to roar Were two exhausted human beings upon a mast and oar Poor John was gone, he lost his hold, all by some cruel wave He sank beneath the briny deep down to a watery grave. And when his mother heard the news her senses soon was gone She rang her hands, she tore her hair and called her loving son. His body had been searched for but it could not be found 'Twould ease his mother's aching heart if he lay in the ground. No enemy he left behind but loving friends who'll weep And long remember his sad fate while sailing o'er the deep. He's on that bright and heavenly shore where angels dwell on high So weep no more but fervently pray for your well-cherished boy. And you that in your youth and bloom it's up this steep hill climb So come dear friends take my advice and do prepare in time For if this song I have composed will lead your steps to light It will lead you on that narrow path, 'tis there you will rejoice. And everything you've said or done will appear before your eyes. It's then you'll answer for the past when far beyond the skies His body it lies in the deep where his struggle first began So pray he'll sleep his last long sleep in happiness. Amen. (Regarding "Johnny Nicholson" and "The Fate of Daniel Gwinn," sung below by John D. MacDonald) Helen Curtis: Those are two important 'songs. Two real life, real things, real facts. Happenings. I think they were important because, well, I imag? ine they're two human beings, those people. And both of them met a very sudden death-- Johnny Nicholson, and so did Dannie Gwinn, a young man, he was only very young. (Rose: They were our people.) Most certainly, they were our people. (Rose: Local people.) And the Dunphy man was very near to my fa? ther. Something happens like that, it brings it right to you when you hear. (And do you think they are good songs musical? ly?) They are most certainly. And I have to give credit to the man who would put a song like that together, would compose it. (That Andrew Dunphy--I don't suppose would be living today.) Oh no. He's dead. I was going to tell you about him. Each one of those brothers were bom with a bit of deformity, like a lot of people, thank God for not... could be in our fam? ily too, I suppose. Andrew, he often came to my father's, to our house--because he was a relative to our father. And he had one arm, there was no feeling in it--lit- tle small hand on the arm. And Dad, when he'd be taking his coat off for him, when he'd come to the house, when he'd be going to bed--he had to take the hand out and put it in the pocket of his pants. That's where he would keep it. And they were both boat builders--those two men used to build small boats, you know--like what we'd call a "punk." And Bill was the other fellow. And he had a small hand and a cleft lip. And she went with them, the sister--her name was Selina. And she was a big rugged woman and she went to help to row the boat to rescue those people, and launch the boat. You know where Maynard MacAskill has Ncrth Sydney/Hall 116 King St, North Sydney, Nova Scotia • Climate Controlled Atmosphere • Plenty of Free Parking • Friendly Courteous Staff • 30 Stores and Services • Many Mall Activities A Place for Friends and Family" (17)
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