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Whisky You're The Devil

from battleplan by Bella Hardy

  • Compact Disc (CD) + Digital Album

    Winner: Best Singer BBC Radio 2 Folk Awards 2014 Bella Hardy's new studio album battleplan, the brooding follow-up to the award winning Songs Lost & Stolen. On battleplan, traditional ballads are re-imagined from a female perspective, and personal experiences are reflected against fairy tales and folklore. Allowing the old and the new to mingle more than on previous albums, Bella has chosen to record some of her favourite traditional songs; songs which would be familiar to many had they not undergone a fair amount of repurposing, amalgamating and, in some cases, entire tune transplants – as is essential to the folk process. In Hardy's hands, songs some hundreds of years old could've been written yesterday, while those from her own pen have the echoes of history behind them. Of her own songs, Bella says: "I've always snuck bits of my own life into songs - that's just the way I write. But in the past I've altered it enough so it's no longer about me. I don't feel the need to turn songwriting into my therapy, although I enjoy it in others. But on this album I've been more honest, which I don't regret." Produced by Mattie Foulds (responsible for recordings by Karine Polwart, Alasdair Roberts, Lau and many more), Bella is backed on battleplan by her band The Midnight Watch, featuring the top drawer talents of Mattie himself on drums, Anna Massie on guitar & banjo, Angus Lyon on keys & accordion, and James Lindsay on bass.

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I first came across this in a songbook called 'The Cruel Wars' (Karl Dallas, 1972, Wolfe Publishing Ltd). It's often credited to Jerry Barrington, who published the song in 1873 in New York, but it seems there's a publication in 1868 of a very similar set of words for 'Whisky, You're a Villyan', sung by Frank Drew of Philadelphia. It shares some lyrics with 'Love Farewell' which I've heard sung by Eliza Carthy, lyrics which can also be found in the ballad 'John and Moll'. I've re-written the tune and most of the verses, and unashamedly girlified it.


Oh now brave boys, you're marching off to foreign wars
Drums a' beating, banners flying
The Devil, tonight my home you'll see
Love fare thee well

Oh, whisky you're the devil, you're leading me astray
Over hills and mountains and to Americay
You're sweeter, stronger, decenter than any man my way
Whisky you're my darling drunk or sober

If you've no taste for whisky, let wormwood steal your soul
If you're looking for false hearted girls
The Devil, tonight my home you'll see
Love fare thee well

The sea's too full of witchcraft, you'll sooner sink than swim
But if you reach the furthest shore
The Devil, tonight my home you'll see
Love fare thee well

They say new friends are silver, and old friends they are gold
But when your friends have drunk you dry
The Devil, tonight my home you'll see
Love fare thee well


from battleplan, released April 22, 2013
Words: Verse 1 and Chorus Trad, Verses 2-4 Bella Hardy
Tune by Bella Hardy


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Bella Hardy UK

“Brit folk's finest” Mojo Magazine • “Enduringly seductive” The Telegraph • “A fine, no-nonsense interpreter of traditional music and an excellent songwriter” The Guardian • “An aura of sophisti-cation that will win over listeners who never set foot in a folk club” The Sunday Times • “…a shining star in the folk scene’s firmament” fRoots Magazine • “A triumph of folk art-pop” Songlines Magazine ... more

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