Eric Bogle (of ‘And The Band Played Waltzing Matilda’ and ‘No Man’s Land’ [aka. Green Fields of France] fame) couldn’t decide whether to be a poet or a musician so he became both. A Scot by birth, later Australian by nationality, Bogle has an almost supernatural power to humanize his ideas so broadly we hear them as inherently credible, as if muttered in the mystic, compelling tongue of the primordial brain stem.
In ‘Glasgow Lullaby’ Bogle presents a tale of two people, mother and father; the setting (divined by prejudice) a depressed, heartless, industrial Glasgow. The audience –their baby– is both object and subject for the mother, whereas for father everything is drink, to the effects of which he has surrendered his identity. Issues not only of substance abuse but violence, trust, delusion arise, yielding only the promise of further disappointment. In the end you come to suspect it’s not about the binary between mother and father, but the delusion of Babby’s present and the reality of his future as he takes instruction in ‘the Glasgow way’ of life.
Hush wee babby, for yer daddy’s comin’ in
Stumblin’ up the stair and missin’ every yin
Rotten wi’ beer and stinkin’ o’ gin
He’s drunk again — as usual
Oh my God, it’s a weary, weary life
Who wid be a drinkin’ man’s wife
Who wid thole a’ this trouble and this strife
Who but a silly woman
Hush wee babby, he’s comin’ in the door
Drunken big feet are skitin’ over the floor
He’s had a bucket, but he’s thirstin’ for more
He disnae ken when he’s beaten
Hush wee babby, listen tae him sittin’ there
Wi his bloodshot eyes and his tangled hair
Mooth fu’ o’ big talk and eyes fu’ o’ despair
And blaming me — as usual
Hush wee babby, yer daddy’s gone tae bed
The morn he’ll no’ remember a’ the things he said
But his tongue wis sharp and a’ the wounds they bled
But then I’m used tae bleedin’
Hush wee babby and close yer weary eyes
Cuddle intae mammy and stop yer tired wee cries
And in the mornin’ when ye decide ta arise
Yer mammy will be here waitin’.
I apologize in advance for the cheesy crying baby graphics OP used to bed this recording. What’re you gonna’ do? Click play, close your eyes, and just imagine Eric Bogle’s smiling mug.
All lyrics & music © Eric Bogle. All rights reserved.