The Modern Folk Musician

11. Hamlet

(original title: "Oor Hamlet")

Lyrics: Adam MacNaughton
Music: Traditional fiddle tune, "The Mason's Apron"
Extensively edited for American audiences by Mike Agranoff

Note: This song as originally penned by Mr. MacNaughton was in a very thick Glaswegian Scots dialect. In order to make it at all intelligible to American listeners, I softened it considerably. Here my edited version, as on the recording, is shown side by side with McNaughton's original. I'll leave it to you to figure out which is which.

Vocal: Mike Agranoff

Oh, the King, he was sitting in his garden all alane
When his brother, in his ear, he poured a wee bit of henbane,
Then his brother stole his crown and his money and his widow
But the dead king walked and got his son and said, "Hey, listen, Kiddo.
I've been murdered. It's your duty now to take revenge on Claudius.
Kill him neat and clean and show the nation what a fraud he is."
The boy says, "Right! I'll do it! But I'll have to play it crafty.
So that no one will suspect me, I'll pretend that I'm a dafty."

So with all except Horatio, whom he counts as a friend,
Hamlet (that's the kid) he pretends he's round the bend.
And because he wasn't ready for obligatory killing
He tried to make the king think that he's tuppence off the shilling.
Made a monkey of Polonius, treated poor Ophelia vile.
Told Rosencranz and Guildenstern that Denmark was a jail.
Then a troupe of travelling players, like in 7-84
Arrived to do a special one night gig in Elsinore.

Hamlet, Hamlet, acting balmy.
Hamlet, Hamlet, wants his mommy.
Hamlet, Hamlet, hesitating,
Wondering if the ghost's a fraud, and that is why he's waiting.

So Hamlet writes a scene for the players to enact
While Horatio and he would watch to see if Claudius cracked.
The play was called "The Mousetrap" (not the one that's running now)
And sure enough, the king walked out before the scene was through.
Now Hamlet knows that Claudius was the one that gave his pa the dose.
The only trouble being now that Claudius now knows he knows,
When Hamlet told his mammy her new husband's not a fit man
Uncle Claudius puts a contract out with English king as hit man.

And when Hamlet killed Polonius, the concealed corpus delecti
T'was the king's excuse to send out for an English hempen necktie
With Rosencranz and Guildenstern to make sure that he got there.
But Hamlet jumped the ship and put the finger straight on that pair.
And when Laertes heard his old man had been stabbed through the arras
He came running back to Elsinore, tout d'suite, hot-foot from Paris.
And Ophelia, with her pa killed by the man she meant to marry,
After saying it with flowers, she committed hari-kari.

Hamlet, Hamlet, he ain't messin'.
Hamlet, Hamlet, learned his lesson.
Hamlet, Hamlet, Yorick's crust
Convinced him that man, good or bad, at length must turn to dust.

So Laertes lost his cool and was demanding retribution.
But the king says "Keep a lid on, I'll provide you a solution."
So he arranged a sword fight with the interested parties
With a blunted sword for Hamlet and a sharp one for Laertes.
Then to make things double-sure, the old belt-and-braces line,
He arranged a poisoned sword-tip and a poisoned cup of wine.
The poisoned sword got Hamlet, but then Laertes muffed it,
'Cause the stupid bugger stabbed himself, confessed before he snuffed it.

Then Hamlet's mammy drank the wine, and as her face turned blue,
Hamlet said, "Ooh, I can see the king's a baddie now!"
"Incestuous treacherous damned Dane!" said he to be precise
And made up for hesitating once by killing Claudius twice.
Then he said, "The rest is silence!" as he cashed in all his chips.
Made Claudius confess, and poured the wine between his lips.
They fired a volley over him, which shook the topmost rafter,
And Fortinbras, knee-deep in Danes, lived happily ever after.

Hamlet,. Hamlet, ain't it gory.
Hamlet, Hamlet, end of story
Hamlet, Hamlet, I'm away.
If you think the song's confusing, you should read the bloody play!

There was this king sitting in his gairden a' alane,
When his brither in his ear poured a wee tate o' henbane.
Then he stole his brither's crown an' his money an' his widow,
But the deid king walked an' goat his son an' said, "Hey, listen, kiddo,
Ah've been kilt an' it's your duty to take revenge on Claudius,
Kill him quick an' clean an' show the nation whit a fraud he is."
The boay says, "Right, Ah'll dae it but Ah'll need to play it crafty -
So that naeb'dy will suspect me, Ah'll kid oan that Ah'm a dafty.

So wi' a' excep' Horatio - an' he trusts him as a friend -
Hamlet, that's the boay, kids oan he's roon' the bend,
An' because he wisnae ready for obligatory killin',
He tried to make the king think he was tuppence aff the shillin'.
Took the mickey oot Polonius, treatit poor Ophelia vile,
Tellt Rosencrantz an' Guildenstern that Denmark was a jile.
Then a troupe o' travellin' actors like 7.84
Arrived to dae a special wan-night gig in Elsinore.

Hamlet! Hamlet! Loved his mammy!
Hamlet! Hamlet! Acting balmy!
Hamlet! Hamlet! Hesitatin',
Wonders if the ghost's a cheat an' that is how he's waitin'.

Then Hamlet wrote a scene for the players to enact
While Horatio an' him watch to see if Claudius cracked.
The play was ca'd "The Mousetrap" - no the wan that's runnin' noo -
An' sure enough the king walked oot afore the scene was through.
So Hamlet's goat the proof that Claudius gi'ed his da the dose,
The only problem being noo that Claudius knows he knows.
So while Hamlet tells his ma that her new husband's no a fit wan,
Uncle Claud pits oot a contract wi' the English king as hit-man.

Then when Hamlet kilt Polonius, the concealed corpus delecti
Was the king's excuse to send him for an English hempen neck-tie,
Wi' Rosencrantz an' Gildenstrern to make sure that he goat there,
But Hamlet jumped the boat an' pit the finger oan that pair.
Meanwhile Laertes heard his da had been stabbed through the arras.
He came racin' back to Elsinore tout suite, hotfoot fae Paris,
An' Ophelia wi' her da kilt by the man she wished to marry -
Eftir sayin' it wi' flooers, she comittit hari-kari.

Hamlet! Hamlet! Nae messin'!
Hamlet! Hamlet! Learnt his lesson!
Hamlet! Hamlet! Yorick's crust
Convinced him that men, good or bad, at last must come to dust.

Then Laertes loast the place an' was demandin' retribution,
An' the king says, "Keep the heid an' Ah'll provide ye a solution."
He arranged a sword-fight for the interestit pairties,
Wi' a bluntit sword for Hamlet an' a shairp sword for Laertes.
An' to make things double sure (the auld belt-an'-braces line)
He fixed a poisont sword-tip an' a poisont cup o' wine.
The poisont sword goat Hamlet but Laertes went an' muffed it,
'Cause he goat stabbed hissel, an' he confessed afore he snuffed it.

Hamlet's mammy drank the wine an' as her face turnt blue,
Hamlet says, "Ah quite believe the king's a baddy noo."
"Incestuous, treacherous, damned Dane," he said, to be precise,
An' made up for hesitatin' by killin' Claudius twice.
'Cause he stabbed him wi' the sword an' forced the wine atween his lips.
Then he cried, "The rest is silence!" That was Hamlet hud his chips.
They firet a volley over him that shook the topmaist rafter,
An' Fortinbras, knee-deep in Danes, lived happy ever after.

Hamlet! Hamlet! A' the gory!
Hamlet! Hamlet! End of story!
Hamlet! Hamlet! Ah'm away!
If you think this is borin', ye should read the bloody play.