The Black Cook​/​Blackies Polka

from by Richard Moss

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    Recorded at The Grand Studio, Clitheroe Lancashire

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A great ballad from the Irish Tradition, I first heard this from the singing of Dave Burland. The song is an amazing story with a great melody. The polka I learnt from a good mate Chris Black (Blackie) a fantastic banjo player and singer with East Lancashire roots who was living in county Cork an now resides in Australia.


If you listen a while I'll tell you a story,
Of an eminent doctor that lived in Cork town,
By seamen so bold he was fairly outwitted,
And fifty gold guineas he had to lay down.
Three jolly Jack Tars and their messmates, being groggy,
Their money all spent, and their credit far gone, From Patrick Street to the freeport they rambled,
They was bent to procure it, some money for fun.

Now the cook of the ship, being one of the party,
A bold lad he was and his color was black,
With wit and contrivements he always was ready
And soon found the way to get cash in a crack.
Said he to his messmates: I've heard people talking,
A corpse can be sold very readily here,
So take me alive, wrap me up in your hammock,
And sell me to buy all your whiskey and beer.

The sailors agreed, and accepted the offer,
And away to the house where the doctor did dwell,
And into his ears they boldly did whisper,
Saying: Doctor, we've got a fine corpse here to sell.
A corpse! said the doctor, like a man in amazement,
Oh where did you get it? Come tell me, I pray.
If you'll bring it here I will buy it quite ready
And fifty gold guineas to you I will pay.

Well the sailors agreed, and accepted the offer,
And it's back to the ship, they quickly did steer.
Come pay great attention, to all I may mention.
And the rest of the story you quickly shall hear.
They took the black cook, tied him up in his hammock,
But he being a lad both sturdy and strong,
It's under his waistcoat, by way of protection,
He carried a blade about half a yard long.

It's round about midnight, the streets were deserted,
The sailors set out with the cook on their back,
And into the house, oh, they boldly did enter,
And in the back room they concealed the poor black.
The doctor soon paid the bold seamen their money,
They told him: The cook, he had died on the sea,
And rather than have his dead body to bury
We've sold him to you, sir, now he's out of our way.

Well, the doctor soon went for some tools to dissect him,
And then came downstairs with his saw in his hand,
When he went to the room where the corpse had been lying
The black stood before him with his cutlass in hand.
The doctor cried out, like one in amazement,
A-thinking the corpse was in very rich prime,
With a voice loud as thunder the black he approached him,
Crying: Damn your eyes, doctor, I'll skin you alive!

Well, the doctor was forced to retreat in a hurry,
And of his late bargain was soon to lament,
And Jack hurried off to where his comrades were drinking,
And the rest of that evening was merrily spent.


from Back To the Yellow Hills, released May 20, 2016



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Richard Moss Blackburn, UK

Richard is a powerful guitar player and a fine singer from Blackburn equally at ease with folk, ragtime, blues and contempory fingerstyle. His driving percussive and rhythmic guitar skills are blended with subtle fingerstyle playing making him in high demand as a soloist and as a skilled accompanist for singers and traditional melody players. ... more

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