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Dance The Rock and the wee pickle tow 5641

Jig · 32 bars · 2 couples · Longwise - 4

Devised by
80 88 80 88 = 75% (1 turn), 52% (whole dance)
  • Pas-de-Basque, Skip-Change, Slip-Step
Published in
Recommended Music
Extra Info
The Rock And The Wee Pickle Tow

There was an auld wife had a wee pickle tow,
Adn she wad gae try the spinning o’t,
But looten her down, her rock took a low,
And that was the ill beginning o’t.
She spat on’t, she flet on’t and tramp’t on its pate
But a’ she could do it wad hae its ain gate,
At last she sat down on’t and bitterly grat,
For e’er having try’d the spinning o’t.

I hae been a wife these three score of years,
And never did try the spinning o’t,
But how I was sarked foul fa’ them that speirs
To mind me o’ the beginning o’t.
The women are now a days turned sae bra’
That ilk ane maun hae a sark, some maun hae twa
But better the warld was when sint ane ava
To hinder the first beginning o’t.

Foul f’ them that e’er advis’d me to spin
It minds me o’ the beginning o’t.
I well might have ended as I begun
And never have try’d the spinning o’t.
But she’s a wise wife wha kens her ain weird
I though anes a day it wad never be speir’d,
How let you the low tack the rock by the beard
When you gaed to try the spinning o’t.

The spinning, the spinning, it gars my heart sab
To think on the ill beginning o’t.
I took’t in my head to make me a wab
And this was the first beginning o’t.
But had I nine Daughters as I hae but three
The safest and soundest advice I wad gie
That they wad frae spinning still keep their hands free
For fear of an ill beginning o’t.

But if they in spite of my counsel wad run
The dreary sad task o’ the spinning o’t,
Let them find a loun seat light up by the sun
Syne venture on the beginning o’t:
For wha’s done as I’ve done alake and avow
To busk up a rock at the cheek of a low,
They’ll say that I had little wit in my pow,
The meikle Deil tak the spinning o’t.

The “rock” is a distaff, the stick that held the wool or flax in the ancient method of hand spinning. When spinning thus the thread was twisted and lengthened by a heavy, hanging spindle and the thread was wound onto the rock which was carried in one arm. “Tow” is the prepared flax or hemp.

This song was written by Alexander Ross and appeared first in David Herd’s Ancient and Modern Scottish Songs of 1776. It was reprinted in James Johnson’s The Scots Musical Museum, Volume 5, of 1796. Ross was born in Kincardine O’Neil in Aberdeenshire on 13 April, 1699. He received his degree from Marischal College in 1718 and for fifty-six years he was schoolmaster at Lochlee in old Forfarshire. Among Ross’ other works were “Helenore or The Fortunate Shepherdess”, “The Bridal o’t”, “Woo’d and Married and A’”, and “What Ails the Lasses at Me”. He died in May, 1784.

The tune to which the verses were set appeared in 1678 in John Playford’s Musick’s Hand-Maid and was called “A Scottish March”. There was an old set of verses and it was upon this that Ross based his song, as did Allan Ramsay in his “I Hae a Green Purse wi’ a Wee Pickle Gowd” published in the Tea Table Miscellany of 1724.

It should be noted that there are many variations in the reprinting of “The Rock and the Wee Pickle Tow” in various collections. This is because Ross’ original song ran to nineteen stanzas of eight lines each. The version used here is from The Scots Musical Museum.

The Rock and the wee pickle tow 2/4L · J32
1c cross RH | cast off ; turn LH ½ and lead up to 1pl in the middle facing down
1c+2c circle4 and back
1c lead down the middle and up
1c+2c Poussette
The Rock and the wee pickle tow 2/4L · J32
1s cross RH, cast 1 place, 1/2 turn LH & lead (LH) up to top, staying in middle facing down
1s+2s circle 4H round & back
1s lead down the middle & back
1s+2s dance Poussette. 2 1

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Added on: 2023-02-21 (Ilana Steiner)
Quality: Demonstration quality

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"The Rock and the Wee Pickle Tow" is …

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