6)    THE BALLAD OF JOHN RAE 3:16

 

The Ballad of John Rae: "It's good to hear a song that tells the story of John Rae - we're very proud of him here in Orkney. It will go some way to giving him the status that he deserves."  - Robbie Fraser, Producer, BBC Radio Orkney.

 

This ballad tells the story of John Rae, the great Orcadian-born Arctic Explorer who discovered the location of the last navigable link in the Northwest Passage and the fate of the doomed Franklin Expedition.


 

 

You may well have heard of Franklin’s fate, of Parry, Ross and McClure
Explorers brave who roamed the North, each gallant men of worth
Though, of all the bold adventurers to comb the Arctic range
The greatest of all was an Orkneyman from the Hall of Clestrain

Drawn to the North, was bold John Rae, shining star of the Hudson’s Bay


The whaling men were first to mark these Northwest Passage straights
A trade route to the Orient that merchants sought for freight
Many’s the banker tried his luck, Many’s the ship would go
And many’s the lad was led to die on the blinding ice and snow

Drawn to the North, was bold John Rae, shining star of the Hudson’s Bay
If was ever a man who could find his way
The name of that man is John Rae

He’d scarcely nigh a dozen men, he put them to the test
And learning from the Esquimeaux he sought the noble quest
12 thousand miles he roamed the North, by oar and sail and march
He made it look a morning stroll from the Ayre to Highland Park

Drawn to the North, was bold John Rae, shining star of the Hudson’s Bay
If was ever a man who could find his way
The name of that man is John Rae

Grave news had reached the Hudson’s Bay that Franklin’s men were lost
John Rae was sent to seek them out no matter what the cost
In learning from the Inuit, a true and honest source
How Franklin’s crew was driven to their desperate last recourse

 

Drawn to the North, was bold John Rae, shining star of the Hudson’s Bay
If was ever a man who could find his way
The name of that man is John Rae

 

Seething with ambition strove the ruthless Lady Jane
With wickedness & cunning, John Rae she would defame
She robbed him of the knighthood, so rightfully his due
For he’d found the Northwest Passage and the fate of Franklin’s crew

 
Now at St. Magnus’ holy ground, my thoughts to you do stray
The greatest man of all the North, the pride of Hudson’s Bay
Who solved the Arctic riddle, Let Scotsmen praise his name!
That truth and time cannot deny so great a man of fame



Raise your glass to bold John Rae, darling pride of the Hudson’s Bay
If was ever a man who could find his way
The name of that man is John Rae
The name of that man is John Rae

 

Music & lyrics by Bruce Coughlan & Jim Smith (SOCAN)
From Tiller’s Folly: Buchan Bluegrass CD (2005)

 

Bruce Coughlan: lead vocals, guitar
Laurence Knight: electric bass
Nolan Murray: fiddle
Eric Reed: mandolin

 

Produced by Bruce Coughlan
Engineered and mixed by Eric Reed at NAL Studios, North Vancouver, BC
Mastered by Jamie Sitar at Suite Sound, Vancouver, BC
Re-mastered by Joby Baker, Baker Studios, Victoria, BC.