#00838
Herring's Head (Eliza Carthy) (The Red Herring)
See also: The Herring (Collected by Lehr/Best)

There once was a man who came from Kinsale,
Sing aber o vane, sing aber o linn;
And he had a herring, a herring for sale,
Sing aber o vane, sing aber o linn.

Sing man of Kinsale, sing herring for sale,
Sing aber o vane, sing aber o linn;
And indeed I have more of my herring to sing,
Sing aber o vane, sing aber o linn.

So what do you think they made of his head?
The finest oven that ever baked bread,
Sing herring, sing head, sing oven, sing bread;
And indeed I have more of my herring to sing.

So what do you think they made of his back?
A nice little man and his name it was Jack,
Sing herring, sing back, sing man, sing Jack;
And indeed I have more of my herring to sing.

So what do you think they made of his eyes?
The finest dishes that ever held pies,
Sing herring, sing eyes, sing dishes, sing pies;
And indeed I have more of my her ring to sing.

So what do you think they made of his scales?
The finest ships that ever set sail,
Sing herring, sing scales, sing ships, sing sails;
And indeed I have more of my herring to sing.

So what do you think they made of his fins?
The finest cases for needles and pins,
Sing herring, sing fins, sing needles and pins;
And indeed I have more of my herring to sing.

Sing man of Kinsale, sing herring for sale,
Sing aber o vane, sing aber o linn;
And indeed I have more of my herring to sing,
Sing aber o vane, sing aber o linn.

####.... Author unknown. Variant of The Red Herring, a cumulative British song of the sea transcribed from the singing of Eliza Carthy on her album Rice. ....####
This song was discussed at length in the Mudcat Discussion Forum and posters were not able to agree on the lyrics in the chorus. Eliza Carthy herself clarified what she sings in the chorus in that Mudcat thread. She believes the Welsh words mean something like "over the hills and over the bridge."

A variant was collected in 1977 from Ernest Barter of Ramea, NL, by Genevieve Lehr and Anita Best and published as #50, The Herring in Come And I Will Sing You: A Newfoundland Songbook edited by Genevieve Lehr (University of Toronto Press, 1985/2003).

Genevieve Lehr noted that The Herring song comes from a late eighteenth-century broadsheet, The Fishes' Lamentation, subtitled A New Song. It seems the song originally contained allusions to the idea that the herring, being the king of the fish, was the embodiment of some ancient regeneration ritual. However, the song has since been modified somewhat and, according to Mr Barter, his version was very often sung to children.

Note: Kinsale is a seaside resort in County Cork on the southwest coast of Ireland.



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