Oor Hamlet


Jon recalls “The Half Moon in Oxford is, as well as being the pub of choice for folkies, the regular haunt of the summer Shakespeare cast and crew gang. We had some pretty wild nights as a result (one with a stripper which is probably best glossed over) and, in honour of the thespian attendants, Ian Giles would occasionally attempt this one. That’s not always a wise move after 10 pints of Guinness, but he generally got through it. I haven’t attempted to sing this out yet as it’s a bit of a pig, but a fantastic piece of lyric writing though.”

Superbly chucklesome. Mainly Norfolk has Martin Cathy’s notes that rightly credit Adam Mc Naughtan, a school teacher from Glasgow, with this stunning bit of wit. It’s Shakespeare’s Hamlet in three minutes (or four for Jon and Martin) and is worth a quick YouTube of the original take on it, as the dialect sort of helps in cramming the words in. Great stuff. This reminds me of walking past the Globe Theatre a few years back. Their cafe had a board out advertising the fact that they did breakfast, which made me wonder whether Hamlet and eggs was on the menu!!

You can buy the February digital album now from all good download stores.


43 Responses to “Oor Hamlet”

  1. Shelley says:

    Brilliant – what more can I say?

  2. SRD says:

    One of those laugh out loud songs, excellent.

  3. John Wigley says:

    Quite brilliant…

  4. Lizzy Harrall says:

    some wild nights indeed! -like a pint of Guinness in landscape, as I recall! 😉 good times.

  5. edith lewis says:

    Great stuff. Sounds just as good in English

  6. SarahM says:

    Excellent. 😀

  7. Simon Dewsbury says:

    It’d bring the house down if Jon did do it live, I’m sure.

    Is there one about King Lear?

  8. Mike Armstrong says:

    I’m really enjoying the contemporary songs in this series and this is just brilliant – after I heard Martin Carthy sing this I was so struck I ended up buying the whole Carthy Cronicles boxed set just to be able to hear it again.

    Carthy also does several Leon Rosselson songs on that CD, which had me thinking, I’d love to hear Jon singing “Don’t Get Married Girls” or “The Man Who Puffs the Big Cigar”.

  9. Matthew Edwards says:

    Simon Dewsbury asked: “Is there one about King Lear?

    There is indeed a very good song written by the the Irish singer Con Fada O’Drisceoil; the lyrics are given “King Lear”, and you can hear a extract with Con singing it on the CD hereIt’s No Secret.

    There surely must be a potted version of the Scottish play out there somewhere! 🙂


  10. Jane Ramsden says:

    This could be the winner of this month’s vote, as everyone likes a bit of fun! Well sung, Jon!

    Contracted thus, the contrivance of the play’s dénouement comes out. Still, you can’t make an ‘amlet without breaking eggs… Hshahahahahahaha!

  11. Simon Dewsbury says:

    Matthew, thanks for that, I certainly didn’t expect a positive response.

    They’re great lyrics – I went to see Lear at Stratford last year and I think i might have taken it less seriously if I’d had the song in mind at that time.

    I don’t know of any songs about Macbeth, but there’s a sequel, which is playing at the RST later in the year.

  12. Matthew Edwards says:

    Well, Simon, I never expected to hear of a sequel – Macbeth II! (“What, will the line stretch out to th’ crack of doom?”), but the play, Dunsinane, by David Greig, got quite a good review from Michael Billington in the Guardian. It sounds worth seeing, but we’re still waiting for a song to encapsulate the original play!

    Con O’Drisceoil is a brilliant song writer; his Spoons Murder is a modern classic about the terrible fate inflicted on an ignorant spoons player who tries to barge into a session.

    Adam McNaughtan, the author of Oor Hamlet, has written some other fine songs too, such as The Jeelie Piece Song.

    Anyway, well done to Jon for singing this song. I’m thoroughly enjoying the great variety of songs on this site.


  13. John Bryson says:

    A great song, real pleasure to hear Jon sing this

  14. elfpix says:

    Thanks for the link to Adam singing his own ditty. I especially love the way he pronounces “Hamlet”. To this American it sounds distinctly like “omelet”. Perhaps you can go back and fix that sign at the Globe!

  15. LadyD says:

    Love it. Made me chuckle.

  16. Magpie says:

    A Minneapolis Morris Dance team, Uptown on Calhoun, uses this tune for a Morris dance in their own tradition (by the name of Hamlet).

    I enjoy visiting the site every few days to catch up on the songs.

  17. Diana says:

    What a wonderful precis of Hamlet. So easy to read and understand. I wish someone had done that when I had to play Lady Macbeth in class at school as a young teenager.
    As an adult one can comprehend what the Bard was about but not all those years ago.

  18. Muzza(NW Surrey.UK) says:

    Phew……….I’m out of breath listening to it…….
    Now…….where can I get one of those “English hempen neckties” to which he refers..sounds quite fashionable!

  19. Diana says:

    Muzza I do not think you would really like to be hung by your neck until dead and I am sure thats is a rough translation of what you consider to be quite fashionable.

  20. Helenbirder says:

    Can’t wait to use this with a group of students. It’s wonderful.

  21. Linda says:

    This is one if my favourites. Would love to see it done live.

  22. Muzza(NW Surrey.UK) says:

    Aha………Poor old Admin Simon didn’t realise how popular this site would be (it required a welcome repeat of the year)…….and ALONG COMES A BALLY LEAP YEAR!

  23. Dians says:

    Well Reynard, Linda’s, yours and my comments from the other day did not work. Today does not exist at AFSAD. Does this mean a quieter day for you?

  24. Diana says:

    Great I can’t even spell my name right now. I really should look at the keyboard more often.

    Muzza it poor everyone today

  25. Jane Ramsden says:

    Cracking! (Eggs, Hamlet… oh well, please yerselves!) If we’d had to hover with the same song for 2 days instead of one, this definitely bears repeating! I’m sure it would have attracted much attention if Jon had been recording this one on the funicular! If you’ve never done this live at a Bellowhead concert, Jon, I think it would go down a treat. You could dress up appropriately too!

  26. קרקע חקלאית, אדמות חקלאיות למכירה…

    […]Oor Hamlet « A Folk Song A Day[…]…

  27. Muzza (N.W.Surrey-UK) says:

    Wow….that last comment seems to have stopped us all in our tracks!!!..
    when translated it probably says…….’I was going to read the book but you infidels have spoiled it by telling me the ending in this song!’

  28. Diana says:

    Oh poor Muzza, your enjoyment spoilt because you now know the ending to the story.

  29. Diana says:

    And there you have the tale of Hamlet in a song.

  30. Linda says:

    Still brilliant!!!!

  31. Old Muzza(N.W surrey.UK) says:

    This little song really is cleverly written.well done Adam McNaughtan….anybody know WHEN it was written?

  32. Linda says:

    Another good chuckle to this one……

  33. Linda says:

    Followed the YouTube link spent an amusing half hour ……still have to chuckle at this one

  34. Linda says:

    Yep its that time of year again ….. Snow .more snow and Hamlet

  35. Linda says:

    Different this year sun sun sun. still a favourite

  36. Old Muzza (NW Surrey-UK) says:

    Lindy Lou…..you little rascal…..jumping ahead….yep…last year- snow and ice from the Beast from the East (that’s not me bye the way!) and this year(yesterday) record temp 21.2C (72F) in Kew Gardens….and a bally earthquake in Surrey yesterday…..we’re doomed I tell yer!

  37. John Bryson says:

    I’m at the White Horse Folk Club in the village of Seagrave in Leicestershire tonight for our monthly get together. It’s a singers club and I will be belting out a couple of numbers from this month’s fine selection from Jon

  38. Linda says:

    Still being a rascal Muzza and peeking a day early missed commenting on Fiddlers Green but couldn’t resist a quick look at an old favourite.

  39. OldMuzza (NWSurrey Uk) says:

    Blimey Guvnor….this is becoming more like an historical weather report…and this year we have poor folk around the country suffering from weeks of record breaking floods with no sign of a let up!!

  40. OldMuzza (NWSurrey UK) says:

    and I forgot to say that there is no song for the 29th tomorrow (leap year)…how time flies!

  41. Linda says:

    Couldn’t miss this one……Glad you’ve had your first jab and yes I’m a day ahead again

  42. OldMuzza(NWSurrey UK) says:

    Weh Hey Lindy Lou…..Good to hear that you are still out there….sorry that you young folk are having to wait for your jab

  43. Linda says:

    re yesterdays comment Muzza tis this wot ya meen….
    always enjoy this song….

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