Thursday, August 27, 2009

Sammy's Bar

I went down to Sammy's Bar
(Hey, the last boat's a-leavin')
By the shore at Pietà
(Call away the dghajsa.)

Maltese orthography is even worse than Gaelic. Paying attention to the letters will lead you far astray. How in the world do you pronounce "dghajsa?" I'd say "Die So," wouldn't you? You can reserve a dghajsa at Maltese Water Taxis dot com. And that beach. Eye 'n' Toughey, ya. Spelled Għajn Tuffieħa. And those haitches are not haitches, either, look close. Here's the best version (IMHO) currently on YouTube, sung by Jim Radford and friends:

There's a newish film in which some mimes sing this. They don't pronounce the Maltese right, and miss out on the English-language refrain. What would you expect, from mimes. A pleasant visual trip, though. But from xkcd, you would get some serious discussion. While I'm fussing about lyrics, I should mention that Jim Radford gets a word wrong in that video up above: The first line in the second verse should be, "And my real love, she was there." Not "true love." More poignant, less clichéd. As discussed at the next link.

The songwriter had this to say, about it all.

Cyril Tawney never wrote a bad song, not that I've heard, anyway. The Grey Funnel Line, for the tired, who wish they could escape; Chicken on a Raft, for the frustrated, who still manage to retain a sense of humor; On a Monday Morning, for the hung-over; The Oggie Man, for the wistful; Sally Free and Easy for the bitterly bereft.

In "The Grey Funnel Line," there is an image that I have found to be unforgettable.
Each time I gaze behind the screws
Makes me long for St Peter's shoes
I'd walk on down that silver lane
And take my love in my arms again
Saint Peter's Lane, which you need Saint Peter's shoes to walk on, is the silver path the full moon makes on the sea. I tried taking pictures last summer. They looked good in the camera, but not so good when uploaded to the computer. I need to figure out how to do longer exposures. "Grey funnel line" refers to the Royal Navy. Steamer lines such as Cunard, White Star, and the rest, painted the funnels of their ships distinctively. The Royal Navy paints everything grey, hence, "grey funnel line."

While I'm dumping links, there's a clever parody by Bob Williamson:
I went down to Sammy's Bar
(Hey, the lamp-posts are leaning)
Just went out to have a jar
(On me way up Hyde Road.)

1 comment:

Trooper York said...

I had an email from a woman who wanted to order a dress and have it sent to Malta. I looked up the price to mail it and it was almost as much as the dress cost.