land of light

tannahill weavers
Bustles and Bonnets
Lyrics and melody by R. Gullane
This song is, quite simply, a potted history tracing the demise of that most majestic of creatures, the whale. It is a horrible indictment of man's "carry on regardless" attitude that there are so many endangered species in the world today. A few years ago we performed at a save the whale rally in London's Trafalgar Square. Amongst the audience were persons unknown who inflated a life size rubber whale while we played. It was subsequently used to block the world-famous Tower Bridge. This song is for these people who did that and so much more in an effort to draw our attention to what is going on around us. The song is so entitled because bustles and bonnets were constructed from whale bone. For this and other fairly uselss items whales were killed in the hundreds. Perfume is also mentioned in the song; this is because part of a whale's brain secretes a musk which was used in the manufacture of scent. Bustles, incidentally were that part of a dress which stuck out at the back, giving the impression of something large beneath. Just goes to show you how fashion changes. Nowadays, at the slightest hint of something large beneath, people start jogging like mad.


The humpback, the bowhead, the blue and the gray
The right whale, the spermwhale have near had their day
But here in their twilight there must be a way
To bring the kings back to the ocean

It's five thousand years they've been hunted and chased
From the warm Bay of Biscay to the Antarctic waste
Oft times to make shapely those ladies of taste
Whose perfume brought death to the ocean

  The seven seas are deep and wide
  Four ancient winds blow restlessly
  There's neither peace nor place to hide
  All for your bustles and bonnets

Gone are the days of the kayak and spear
The old sailing ships when a sailor knew fear
The harpoon explodes and the cannon's the gear
Wreaks the death some would still call a harvest

No more are the days when we netted and hauled
The factory ships slaughter what floats, swims or crawls
The law of the sea now is leave bugger all
To reap without sowing's the fashion


But for every vessel that weathered the gale
Tossed like a cork between harpoon and whale
It's you shall be free and you'll flourish your tail
Once more to be king of the ocean




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tannahill weavers