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Celtic Mayhem ~ "When The Old Dun Cow Caught Fire" ~ Pub Song ~ Camelot Days 2009

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Uploaded on Nov 21, 2009

Celtic Mayhem perform the classic comedic pub song "When the Old Dun Cow Caught Fire". This has been a popular audience participation song since the 1890s. This performance was filmed during the Camelot Days Medieval Festival on Nov 15, 2009 at Topeekeegee Yugnee (T.Y.) Park in Hollywood, Florida. Featuring Ty Billings on lead vocals and guitar, Jack Stamates on violin (with audience-encouraging-gestures), and Martyn Wylde on bass guitar. Best viewed in HD.


This is one of the almost innumerable comedic music hall and pub songs written by Harry Wincott (oft described as the "King of Comic Song") who wrote many famous tunes but was paid so little for his work that he died a poor man in 1947 and was buried in an unmarked grave in Yeovil. His most prolific period was between 1890 and 1920, and included many other famous tunes such as "All on the fidgety fudge", "Mademoiselle from Armentieres", "Any Old Iron", "How's Your Father?" and "Boiled Beef and Carrots".

Even though "When The Old Dun Cow Caught Fire" was tremendously popular since its introduction and sold more than 250,000 copies during his life, Harry (born Alfred James Walden in 1867) was only paid one guinea for this hit song. After a Yeovil Newpaper article about him in 2004, he has recently received renewed attention and admiration, and his gravesite has been honored with a new memorial marker.

Also of interest in this song is the substitution of the word "McIntyre" that the audience yells instead of "fire", since it was illegal to yell "fire" in public in the London of the 1890s.


There are of course numerous variants of this song now. Typical lyrics go something like this:

Some friends and I in a public house
Was playing a game of chance one night
When into the pub a fireman ran
His face all a chalky white.
"What's up", says Brown, "Have you seen a ghost,
Or have you seen your Aunt Mariah?"
"Me Aunt Mariah be buggered!", says he,
"The bleedin' pub's on fire!" And there was Brown upside down Lappin'' up the whiskey on the floor. "Booze, booze!" The firemen cried As they came knockin' on the door (clap clap) Oh don't let 'em in till it's all drunk up And somebody shouted MacIntyre! MACINTYRE! And we all got blue-blind paralytic drunk When the Old Dun Cow caught fire.

"Oh well," says Brown, "What a bit of luck.
Everybody follow me.
And it's down to the cellar
If the fire's not there
Then we'll have a grand old spree."
So we went on down after good old Brown
The booze we could not miss
And we hadn't been there ten minutes or more
Till we were quite pissed.

Then, Smith walked over to the port wine tub
And gave it just a few hard knocks (clap clap)
Started takin' off his pantaloons
Likewise his shoes and socks.
"Hold on, " says Brown, "that ain't allowed
Ya cannot do that thing here.
Don't go washin' trousers in the port wine tub
When we got Guinness beer."

Then there came from the old back door
The Vicar of the local church.
And when he saw our drunken ways,
He began to scream and curse.
"Ah, you drunken sods! You heathen clods!
You've taken to a drunken spree!
You drank up all the Benedictine wine
And you didn't save a drop for me!"

And then there came a mighty crash
Half the bloody roof caved in.
We were almost drowned in the firemen's hose
But still we were gonna stay.
So we got some tacks and some old wet sacks
And we nailed ourselves inside
And we sat drinking the finest Rum
Till we were bleary-eyed.

Later that night, when the fire was out
We came up from the cellar below.
Our pub was burned. Our booze was drunk.
Our heads was hanging low.
"Oh look", says Brown with a look quite queer.
Seems something raised his ire.
"Now we gotta get down to Murphy's Pub,
It closes on the hour!"

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