Henry's Songbook

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Oor Hamlet

  • (Trad / Adam McNaughtan)

    There was this king sleepin' in his gairten all alane
    When his brither in his ear drapped a wee tate o' henbane
    He stole his brither's crown an' his money an' his widow
    But the deid king walked an' got his son and said, Noo listen, kiddo
    I've been killed and it's yer duty tae take revenge on Claudius
    So kill him quick an' clean an' show the nation what a fraud he is
    The boy said, Right, I'll dae it but I'll have tae play it crafty
    And so naeb'dy will suspect me I'll kid on that I'm a dafty

    So to all except Horatio, an' he trusts him as a friend
    Hamlet, that's the boy, kids on he's roon' the bend
    An' because he wisnae ready for obligatory killin'
    He tried tae mak' the king think he was tuppence aff the shillin'
    Took the micky oot Polonius, treated poor Ophelia vile
    Tell't Rosencrantz an' Guildenstern Denmark was a jile
    Then a troop of travelling actors, like Seven-Eighty-Four         
    Arrived tae dae a special one-night gig in Elsinore

    Hamlet, Hamlet loved his mammy
    Hamlet, Hamlet, actin' barmy
    Hamlet, Hamlet, hesitatin'
    Wonders if the ghost's a cheat
    An' that is why he's waitin'

    So Hamlet writes a scene for the players to enact
    So Horatio an' him could watch to see if Claudius cracked
    The play was ca'd 'The Moosetrap' - no' the one that's runnin' noo
    An' sure enough, the king walked oot before the scene was through
    So Hamlet's got the proof that Claudius gie'd his Da' the dose
    The only problem bein' noo Claudius knows he knows
    While Hamlet tells his mammy her new husband's no' a fit one
    Uncle Claud puts oot a contract with the English king as hit-man

    When Hamlet killed Polonius, the concealed Corpus Delicti
    Was the king's excuse tae send him for an English hempen necktie
    Wi' Rosencrantz an' Guildenstern tae make sure he'd get there
    But Hamlet jumped the boat an' put the finger on that pair
    Then Laertes heard his Da' had been stabbed through the arras
    He came racin' back tae Elsinore tout-d'-suite hot-foot frae Paris
    Ophelia wi' her Da' killed by the man she wished tae marry
    After sayin' it wi' flooers she committed hari-kari

    Hamlet, Hamlet, nae messin'
    Hamlet, Hamlet learned his lesson
    Hamlet, Hamlet, Yorick's crust
    Convinced him that men good or bad
    At last return tae dust

    Then Laertes lost his place an' wis demandin' retribution
    But the king said, Keep the heid, I'll provide ye a solution
    So he arranged a swordfight for the interested pairties
    Wi' a blunt sword for Hamlet an' a shairp sword for Laertes
    To make things double sure - the old belt-'n'-braces line
    He fixed a poisoned sword-tip and a poisoned cup o' wine
    The poisoned sword got Hamlet but Laertes went an' muffed it
    Cos' he got stabbed hissel' an' he confessed before he snuffed it

    Then Hamlet's mammy drank the wine an' as her face turned blue
    Hamlet said, I quite believe the king's a baddie noo
    Incestuous, treacherous, damned Dane, he said, to be precise
    An' made up for hesitatin' by killin' Claudius twice
    Cos' he stabbed him wi' the sword, forced the wine between his lips
    He said, The rest is silence - that was, Hamlet had his chips
    They fired a volley o'er him that shook the topmost rafters
    An' Fortinbras, knee-deep in Danes, lived happy ever after

    Hamlet, Hamlet, a' the gory
    Hamlet, Hamlet, end o' story
    Hamlet, Hamlet, I'm away
    And if you think this is borin'
    You should read the bloody play

    (as sung by Iain MacKintosh)

    Tune: The Mason's Apron

Susannes Folksong-Notizen

  • 7:84 - Left-wing Scottish theatre group, taking its name from the fact that 7% of the population own 84% of its wealth
    Cambridge University Library: 7:84 Theatre Company Archives
    'The Mousetrap' - Play by Agatha Christie, running in London theatres since the early Fifties

  • [1983:] The first "act" of Oor Hamlet was written when I was reading the play with a fifth-year class at Cathkin High School. It then lay untouched for a year, until I saw a letter in 'Sandy Bell's Broadsheet' which I felt overstated the case for singing more ballads in folk clubs. The writer, Sheila Douglas, had made a comparison between the plots of the ballads and the plot of 'Hamlet'. This proved to be the stimulus I needed and I finished the "poem" very quickly. Even before I sent it off, however, I realised that with slight amendments and additions it could be sung to the tune of The Mason's Apron. (Notes Adam McNaughtan, 'WordsWordsWords')

  • [1983:] [The author] is an English teacher in a very tough school in Glasgow. He despaired of getting his schoolkids interested in Shakespeare. So he wrote a Glasgow version of a Shakespeare play. It's the most inspired piece of songwriting I have heard in many a year. (Iain MacKintosh, intro Münster)

  • [1989:] Oor Hamlet is [fairly] typical [of my songwriting], from the somewhat laboured pun of the title onwards. The language, like the speech of most Glaswegians, is the local dialect salted with phrases from extraneous sources. The humour is largely verbal, from the outrageous rhymes to the reductive effect of the chosen language. [It] owes something to music-hall [...]. (Adam McNaughtan in Bell, Poetry 119)

  • [2000:] The theatre of the absurd, Hamlet reduced to half a dozen verses and rewritten by Raymond Chandler with a Scottish accent. There are very few real masterpieces in any kind of music, but Adam McNaughton's inspired reworking of The Prince of Denmark's tragedy as Glaswegian comedy is definitely one. It was written when Adam was working as an English teacher in a Glasgow school [and] was faced with the prospect of teaching the dreaded Shakespeare to children who were, to say the least, highly unimpressed with The Bard and his works, so he decided a rewrite was necessary - if the kids could have the story in their own dialect, perhaps they'd take to it. The result, set to the traditional tune The Mason's Apron, has taken on a life of its own, with a vitality Shakespeare himself would definitely envy. (Notes Iain MacKintosh & Brian McNeill, 'Live and Kicking')

  • [2000:] The world's longest running play, Agatha Christie's The Mousetrap, has celebrated its 20,000th performance. The play, a murder mystery, opened in 1952 when Winston Churchill governed Britain and Stalin ruled Russia. The show has become something of a national institution in Britain and is as popular with tourists as attractions like Westminster Abbey and Big Ben.

    The play boasts an impressive record. It has been translated into more than 20 languages, performed in more than 40 countries, and an estimated 10m people have seen it. But in a business where shows can close overnight or Hollywood stars are brought in to boost ticket sales, the success of this rather English play has left many critics a little bemused.

    [...] The show's longevity has not been without criticism. Some critics argue that such a coveted theatrical venue should be freed up for new and cutting edge shows. But that argument appears out of step with public opinion. When closure was once threatened, the theatre was inundated with people rushing to catch the final performances. That was in 1955. And there is little sign the Mousetrap will wind up now. It is part of London theatrical history and home to the West End's best kept secret. Unless you see it, no-one will tell you who the murderer is. (Jo Episcopo, BBC News Online, 17 dec)

Quelle: Scotland

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aktualisiert am 26.04.2002