Mudcat Café message #2129456 The Mudcat Café TM
Thread #2157   Message #2129456
Posted By: GUEST,Will Mathieson
19-Aug-07 - 11:38 PM
Thread Name: Lyr Req: Cod Liver Oil
Subject: RE: Lyr Req: Cod Liver Oil
What a wonderful thread. I loved this song. I saw Hamish do this live at least a dozen times, when he and Matt McGinn were the leaders of the Glasgow Folk Music scene, heroes and role-models for aspiring would-be guitarists, singers and song-writers like Billy Connolly, my brother Alistair and myself. Hamish, usually obviously drunk, infectiously giggly with that fantastic filthy belly laugh, would ad-lib through his performances, so new details might enter the song from one gig to another.
In the nearest alley to the gig Ali and I (about 15 and 16) would quickly guzzle a bottle of Lannie (LanLiq) and get in past the ticket desk and bouncers before the full effects hit us. We bought it at the 101 - an off-sales at 101 Union Street - like Kevin & Perry bluffing we were 18 and used to this all the time. It was nauseatingly foul stuff - but every schoolboy and alkie knew from the advert on the front page of every Glasgow evening newspaper it was the cheapest way of getting drunk. We would come home to Castlemilk on the last 37 (or 31) hot, flushed, laughing and re-singing as much as we could remember of this song.
Nearly everyone present at these gigs would be intoxicated (folk over 18 could buy drinks at the intervals), we're all watching Hamish through a cloud of smoke (most of us chain-smoking) even more funky if we all arrived in wet raincoats! We all loved to roar along with any chorus. We thought we had our money's worth if we came away hoarse, blinded and stained by tears of laughter and with aching jaws. Hamish gave us our money's worth. He was the first before Billy Connolly
to use foul language and openly cock a snoot at the system, or respectability.
This song had everything: Glasgow's incestuous love of itself, a fantastic marching strum Hamish might have knocked off a Dave Van Ronk EP, locations, situations and local dialect familiar to everyone present, social comment (including a revelation of the inadequate
Sexual Education being dished out to us then even in the finest schools like mine!) and it dealt with exactly the sort of issues my brother and I were wrestling with - getting drunk cheaply so one could survive the violent dangers of the dance-hall long enough to meet an equally drunk woman, ignore her ugliness long enough to get back to her close for a shag in the dark, then get off your mark before the horrible consequences caught up with you. I reckon the funniest humour is that which allows you to laugh at your own weaknesses and follies, so you can either overcome them or at least learn to live with them, realising all the other folk laughing have got the same problems. I actually remember Billy Connolly's first gig. He was introduced as a bluegrass banjo player to play between the sets of one of Scotland's leading Folk acts of the time (MacLellan Galleries, it might have been one of the Campbells, Ian. Josh or Alex?) After his first few songs he stopped to re-tune his guitar and admitted to us he was absolutely shitting himself with stage-fright. Then he started joking about how he was subconsciously picking his nose. From then on he never looked back, since he had Hamish's eye for the detail of Glaswegian life plus the latest fashionable Hippy 'Jesus' look.
Imagine my surprise to find out, sorting through my late father's effects around the millennium, that back in the late 60s at what was probably a crucial point in both their careers, my Dad, a founding member of Glasgow's Dangerous Drugs Squad, busted Hamish for pot (marijuana, ganja, cannabis!) at a flat in Renfrew Street, near the Art School! Dad must have told him he was our idol and we had his LPs, as Hamish gave him a signed publicity photograph dedicated to us - which the Old Man never passed on or told us about! Ironic that years later Alistair and I became activists/campaigners for legalisation of marijuana, recognising amongs other things its part in the Social Revolution of the 60s, most notably through composing musicians.
If I'm not mistaken (and I could be since some of these 40 year memories are a little vague now) there was a rather strong additional verse on this song that didn't make it to the record, for obvious reasons. The last verse described the offspring.... something like "...swinging a medallion, hairy chest and hung like a stallion"?
Last word: it was commonly assumed by the 16-year-old Glasgow Cognoscenti that Mary's noticeable hirsuteness was in her nether regions. I seem to recall some other jokes in circulation about "Herry Mary" at the time.
OK, final word: Brigton is Bridgeton, the notoriously violently Protestant area of Glasgow's East End (from which issued the Brigton Billy Boys armed gang to engage in street battle with their Catholic counterparts in the Gorbals). Refs: "No Mean City" and the song "Hello, Hello, we are the Billy Boys. Hello, Hello, you'll know us by our noise", etc. In my estimation, there is no need for a bus from Brigton to Denniston. It can't be more than half a mile, a short walk for a healthy young man!