Pooka
(1986)
    
As in some vast starlit dream elves and fairies, banshees, leprechauns, giants and witches of Ireland and Scotland all gather together on the magical festival of Samain. The Pooka draws them into frantic dances.

     1 - Eiri na Greine   3.06
     2 - The leprechaun   1.30
     3 - Da Luan Da Mort   2.25
     4 - Pooka   6.14
     5 - Way Haul Away   6.12
     6 - Witch's Curses   2.09
     7 - Agata   5.57
     8 - Mermaid's Croon   5.09
     9 - Never Wed an Auld Man   1.18
     10 - Green Hills   1.18
     11 - Fairy Nurse   4.15
Folk Roots, London, 1997, Bob Walton

'...I found the whole album immensely satisfying...I think this may well be one of this year's top six interesting albums.'

As in some vast starlit dream elves and fairies, banshees, leprechauns, giants and witches of Ireland and Scotland all gather together on the magical festival of Samain.
The Pooka draws them into frantic dances: and against the dark depths of the night his impudent goatish profile looms mighty, erect and menacing.

Morose and wild, goat shaped, hairy and hoofed, the Pooka roams in the solitary mountains among old ruins and ancient oaks.
It can happen to the luckiest ones to see him on the first day of May when the return of summer is being celebrated in the forest furtively drawing near to observe the feast, hiding behind a gooseberry bush.
But it is difficult to imagine him on the first day of November during the last season's feast become suddenly sociable and shining and throw himself in a frenzied dance taking with him fairies and elves.
The noise made by the tapping of the little hammer of the leprechaun, the fairy shoemaker, an amusing joker who hides great riches in his pot of gold, the lullaby sung to a small elf who falls asleep dreaming of 'feet, white as snow, dancing lightly', these things become the plot of the story told by the Whisky Trail in an unique record re-edited to celebrate their 30th anniversary.

Stefano Corsi
Celtic harp, harmonium, 12-string guitar, mandolin, pedal bass & backing vocals
Giulia Lorimer
Vocals, fiddle, bowed psaltery&small percussions
Lorenzo Greppi
Highland bagpipe, uilleann pipes, whistles, low whistle, jew's harp, dulcimer, accordion, bodhran & backing vocals
Pietro Sabatini
Guitars, bouzouki & vocals

We'd like to thank Jane Waller for translation, Michele Sangineto for his harps, Alan Ginsberg for the pipes and Valerio Gorla for his Irish bouzouki

Produced by: Whisky Trail
Executive producer: Livio Giacomi
Recorded& mixed Marzio Benelli at Studio Emme, Calenzano (Firenze)Italia-January 1986
Graphic design: Fabio Arangio & Tracy Liu
Photos by: Paolo Lamuraglia
Text by: Whisky Trail

The Goat Mask on the original cover is by Paola Russo
All titles are traditional except *by Corsi, Daneo, Greppi, Sabatini
Distribuited by: Fanzines srl
 
1. Eiri na Greine - Paddy's Leather Breeches

Once upon a time there was a wood...as every year, in the wood, from the benning of time, the sweet season melody resounds, winter ends...
 
2. The leprechaun

And, as every year, every springtime, in the woods, the Leprechaun is the first to shake off the numbness of winter. Yawning and rubbing his eyes, the little fairy shoemaker stretches, satisfied, goes through the steps of a jig to wriggle his legs. Then eagerly he sets to work, happily singing and tapping with his tiny little hammer on the special shoes of 'the little people'. The truth is that he'll have to get through a good many pairs before he can go around dancing, merry-making and mischief-making in every way. This is the right moment to take him by surprise, while he is busy absorbed in his work, and try to steal away his mythical 'crock of gold', brimming with fabulous riches. This is what a na?ve shepherdess tries to do:

By the shady moonlight night
A leprechaun I spied
With a scarlet cap and a coat of green
A cruskin by his side
Tap-tap-tap-tap- his hammer went upon a tiny shoe
And I laughed to think of his pot of gold
But the fairy was laughing too

With a quick footstep and a bated breath
Quite softly I drew nigh
There was mischief in his merry face a twinkle in his eye
He hammered and sang with his tiny voice
While sipping his mountain brew
And I laughed to think he was caught at last
But the fairy was laughing too

As quick as thought I seized the elf
"Give me your purse I cried"
"My purse-said he-'tis in her hand
That lady by your side
I turned around the elf was gone so what was I to do?
And I laughed to think what a fool I had been
And the fairy was laughing too
 
3. Da Luan Da Mort

It happened one night in May, while the 'good neighbours' were busy dancing under the big oak tree to the sound of their favorite song 'Da Luan, da Mort' (Monday, Tuesday). When all of a sudden they heard a little voice rounding off the melody adding the words "agus da Dardeen" (and Wednesday too)-just the variation that was needed.
Who could the unexpected singer be but a poor little hunchback who happened to be passing near the festivities. At once he was drawn into the midst of the dancers...
And dancing and dancing...all night long...at dawn the ugly hump on his back was gone! He was now a well shaped dapper little fellow!
When he heard this, a second hunchback absolutely wanted to avail himself of the same miracle...So he went straight into the woods, and when at last he too heard the fairies chanting "Monday, Tuesday and Wednesday too", he piped up with "and Thursday too!", which made everyone jump out of their skins. The next moment there he is among the dancers. But dancing and dancing...the whole night through...in the morning the humps on his back were two!
The leprechaun laughs, the mischievous fairies laugh, and with them laugh the whole happy band of enchanted characters who gather together in May Day Eve to celebrate the return of Spring with the scintillating festival of Cetamon.(Fairy Polka)

On this special occasion, in the depth of the forest, the bright red coats and splendid green jerkins of the fairies mingle with the fearsome cloaks of the witches and the pale funereal veils of the banshees, dancing to the sound of pipes and harps...
 
4. Pooka

Under the moon, little scarlet liveries whirl about, each with seven rows of buttons, and seven gold buttons in every row. And multicoloured garments, scarves, shawls, strange three-cornered hats, berets and headgear of every shape and size bob around...Funny dresses, waistcoats, stockings, breeches and colourful trousers throw themselves wildly into the dance, long ones, big ones, short ones and too tight ones.
And above all, round the big bonfires, tripping highly go the thousand of heels and toes, moving daintily and gracefully weaving in and out, now forwards, now sideways, then backwards and forwards again: the agile, restless shoes of the enchanted people.

Shaggy. Dirty. Monstrous to behold.
Attracted by the twinkling of the lights and the beauty of the music, the solitary Pooka silently draws near the festivities.(Tweedside/The River Lee)

His uneasy goatish nature and the strong mistrust of the wild animal prevent him from joining in the dances.(Applecross)

Envious. Tremulous: Hidden in the dark, he looks on. And blacker than dark itself, his presence weighs on the great long night of Cetamon, his impudent goatish profile shaking feverishly.
Awkward. Dreadful. Unnoticed the Pooka, furtively indulges in his solitary primitive dance: and there where he dances his hard hooves tear the ground leaving deep prints.(Pooka)
 
5. Fairy Love Song-Way Haul Away

When the wind blows (When the Wind Blows), and in the long hot summer days is heard the "voice of the wind/ against the branchy wood/under grey clouds/cascades of the river/the swan's glory/lovely music/fair white birds come/cranes seagulls/the sea sings for them/no mournful music" (from an old Irish lyric)

When the wind blows (Fairy Love Song) and spreads in the air the sweet notes of an enchanted love melody.
When the Wind Blows (Way Haul Away), and dispels the thick ocean mist, lingering on the decks of old ships and hemming in the busy sounds and muddle of life on board...and the sailor's song:

... Way haul away

Way haul away we'll haul away together way haul away we'll haul away Joe
Way haul away we'll haul away together way haul away we'll haul away Joe

When I was a little boy me mother always told me way haul away we'll haul away Joe
That if I didn't kiss the girls me lips would all get mouldy way haul away we'll haul away Joe

Way haul away we'll haul away together way haul away we'll haul away Joe
Way haul away we'll haul away together way haul away we'll haul away Joe

King Louis was the king of France before the revolution way haul away we'll haul away Joe
King Louis got his head cut off and spoiled his constitution way haul away we'll haul away Joe

Way haul away we'll haul away together way haul away we'll haul away Joe
Way haul away we'll haul away together way haul away we'll haul away Joe

Saint Patrick was a gentleman he came from Dublin city way haul away we'll haul away Joe
He built a fine cathedral and gave it to his people way haul away we'll haul away Joe
 
6. Witch's curses

Frogs, toads and awful things and wings of bats and curragh sticks
Who'd like to buy seven awful witches' curses
When I was young I gave many charms and philtres
I didn't need them I was young and loved once
Frogs toads and awful things and wings of bats and curragh sticks
Who'd like to buy seven awful witches' curses

When the wind blows (Witch's Curses) and bends the tree tops whipped by the terrible curses of the old red-haired witch...Once the old hag was young and beautiful, sought after for her magic draughts and feared for her potent spells, but now that she's old and grumpy no one takes any notice of her. They even said she brought bad luck. So no one bothered to invite her to the great Midsummer's Feast.
And so there she is, towering threateningly down on the ungrateful dancers from the tops of the rocks and showering them with her terrible curses, uglier and more wizened than an old bean forgotten in the larder...

A flood of loud music pours forth suddenly, underscored by an obsessive rhythm. The witch, tall and imposing in her black mantle, bursts into a mad dance. Her feet stamping the ground with a measured beat develop an incredible endless energy, until...there is a loud sound: on the meadow only the cawing crows are left...thousand of crows cawing together...
 
7. Agata

When the wind finally dies down, and in the magical Midsummer's Night as in some great starlit dream, fairies, elves, banshees, leprechauns, giants and witches, of Ireland and Scotland gather together...(Sweet Molly/Granny Duncan)

Round the great ritual bonfires they all dance to welcome in the summer in the fullness of its warm strength, and they dance and dance...the whole night through...like so many little peas bouncing on the taunt skin of a great drum.(Agata)
 
8. Mermaid's Croon

In winter solitude is far greater. Without the comforting presence of a loved-one the days seem even more monotonous and the nights even longer: everything is harder to bear. And many are those who feel lonely.
And alone they sing of their sad and solitary existence...

The mermaid sings...she sings, amidst the frozen seas, entrusting to the winter wind the eery sound of her sweet bewitching lament.(Mermaid's Croon)

The Leanhaun- Shee sings...she sings, the charmed beauty, condemned by destiny to kill her own lovers, roaming in search of impossible loves: and the alluring promises of her words, sweeter than honey, seduce the listener.(Fairy Love Song:Reprise)

Fairy love song (reprise)

Leave your world mortal man come with me and love forever
Come with me mortal man love me and live forever.

In my world time's suspended and your life is never ended
All your cares vanish there buried in my long blonde hair


Leave your house and soft white pillow leave your honours wealth and fame
All these things are short and hollow bound to finish like a flame
 
9. Never Wed an Old Man

The young girl sings...She sings, lamenting the fate which forced her to marry a man much older than her. And her song, with its veiled irony and unconcealed bitterness, is a warning to many (Never Wed an Auld Man)... her steps fade softly in the night.

Never wed an auld man

For an auld man came courting me hi diddle derry oh
An auld man came courting me hi diddle day
An auld auld man came courting me hi diddle derry oh
Maids when you're young never wed an auld man

When we went into tea he stayed right back of me
When we went into tea me being young
When we went into tea he stayed right back of me
Maids when you're young never wed an auld man

When he went into bed he lay as he was dead
When he went into to bed me being young
When we went into bed he lay as he was dead
maids when you're young never wed an auld man
 
10. Green Hills-Gooseberry Bush

A cold wind steals among the trees carrying away the dead leaves, the green hills are tinged with autumn colours and the chilly animals retire to their dens to prepare for the long winter sleep.
It is the Eve of November , Samain Day, when spirits of every breed and kind meet together to celebrate the last festival of the year, the farewell to the sweet summer.
The ruthless frost which draws closer inflicts its wounds, increasing nostalgia for the departing warm season, enlarging melancholic thoughts of the merry midsummer gatherings.
Despite the certainty that spring will return, there is the growing desire to indulge once more in the gaiety of dance and the magic of music.(Green Hills)

And here he is. Glittering. Scintillating.
The long-horned Pooka finally joins in the merrymaking breaking through the ritual circle. In the black of the night the moon projects its goatish form monstrously enlarged. All eyes are focused on him: his satyr's profile looms mighty, erect and menacing.
For the last festival of the year he unleashes all his energy and with an agile leap he draws everyone into the frenzied vortex of pirouettes, crazy turns and steps which succeed one another with amazing speed, in an unequalled dance. (Gooseberry Bush)

A tireless dancer, the Pooka strikes the ground unceasingly as he weaves a frantic course leading with him banshees, witches, leprechauns, fairies of land and sea, friendly and solitary spirits...and the dance goes on, prancing, pressing, unwinding, rebounding...losing itself far away in the silence of the night in the autumn woods, where...a mother-fairy sings her little-one to sleep with a sweet lullaby. (Fairy Nurse)
 
11. Fairy nurse

Sleep for the weeping flowers
Have shed their fragrant tears upon thy head
The voice of love has soothed thy rest
While a feather pillow is your mother's breast

Sleep my child for the rustling trees
Stirred by the breath of summer breeze
And fairy songs of sweetest note
All around us gently float

In our magic halls of brightness
Dances many a foot of snowy whiteness
Stolen maidens and queens of fairy
And kings and queens of sluagh-shee airy

(Text taken from verses by W.B.Yeats)