The Weekends (Words by David Harley – Tune Traditional) All rights reserved The weekends (are the worst) MP3 (David Harley: vocal) Air (Dives and Lazarus)/Slip Jig (The Butterfly) Dives and Lazarus/The Butterfly MP3 (Traditional) Pete Wilkes, fiddle; David Harley, guitars; Gail Williams, boddhran
The world has changed since I was born in 1902.
Two World Wars have swept away the world that we once knew:
Two brothers and three sisters , long dead and gone to earth
Our lives were often hard, but now the weekends are the worst.
My old man died just 20 years past.
His health was never good since the Kaiser had him gassed,
But in the end it was cancer that carried him off so fast
I miss him all the time, and the weekends are the worst.
You might say I was lucky, though we never had much cash,
But we had 50-odd good years, more than I’d dare to ask.
I brought up three lovely kids, though another died at birth:
I miss them all a lot, and the weekends are the worst.
I’ve a son in Melbourne, he’s been there since ’62:
I’ve never seen his wife or kids, just a snapshot or two.
My eldest died in the last lot, on a convoy to Murmansk:
It still brings tears to my eyes, and the weekends are the worst.
I’ve a daughter in Glasgow: she writes when she has time,
But that’s a long way off, and I’ve not seen her for a while.
She’s got a son in the army, just been posted to Belfast:
We worry all the time, and the weekends are the worst.
My friends are mostly dead, or else they’ve moved like me
When the street I was brought up in was pulled down in ’63.
Sixty years I’d lived there, child, girl and wife:
Sheltered housing’s not so bad but it can be a lonely life.
Especially since Jim died: we weren’t too bad at first
But now I’m on my own the weekends are the worst.
There’s the club once a week, though it’s just from seven till nine,
And since my fall they only fetch me down from time to time.
There’s my knitting and the TV, for what that might be worth,
But I miss the company, and the weekends are the worst.
The tune is the well-used traditional tune associated with the ballad “Dives and Lazarus”, among many others. Though, digging back this evening through my notes at the time, I see I originally intended to use the tune mostly associated with “Musselburgh Fair”, which I guess would work too. The story is vaguely based on a composite of a number of people I met in the late 70s. In a way, it could be a companion piece to Ian Campbell’s “Old Man’s Song” but I never got around to learning that.
I sang this the first time I went to the Enterprise in Chalk Farm, and someone asked me if it was a song by Eric Bogle, writer of “The Band Played Waltzing Matilda” and “No Man’s Land”: one of the nicer compliments I’ve received.
When I used to work with guitarist and fiddle player Pete Wilkes we used to follow the song by playing the tune, then going into a slip jig called “The Butterfly”. This is the recorded version:there was a problem with the fiddle on the recording of Dives and Lazarus, so I re-recorded the air with my own double-tracked guitar and no fiddle, followed immediately by the slip jig as recorded with Pete (plus Gail Williams on boddhran). Gail sang the original vocal, but the quality of the recording was so low due to tape degradation that I re-recorded it.