Bung Your Eye

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X:1 T:Bung your Eye M:6/8 L:1/8 R:Jig B:Robert Ross – Choice Collection of Scots Reels or Country Dances B:& Strathspeys (Edinburgh, 1780, p. 1) Z:AK/Fiddler’s Companion K:Amin V:1 E|ABA c2d|edc TB2A|GAG B2c|dge dBG| ABA c2d|edc Bcd|e2(A A)B^G|A3c2:| |:G|c>(de/f/ g2)a|gec gec|G>(AB/c/ d2)e|dge dBG| c>(de/f/ g2)a|gec de^g|a2(A A)B^G|A3 c2:|] V:2 clef = bass z|A,2z E,2z|C,B,,A,, G,,3|B,,3 G,G,,A,,|B,,2C B,,2G,| C,3E,3|A,3D,3|C,2D, E,2E,|A,,C,E, A,,2:| |:z|E,3 E,A,F,|C,3 E,3|G,,3 G,3|B,2C B,3| C,3 E,CF,|E,3B,,3|C,2D,E,2 E,|A,,C,E, A,,2:|]

BUNG YOUR EYE. AKA - "Bung Her Eye." AKA and see "Bang Your Eye," "Brisk Young Lad's (The)," "High Cauld Cap," "Jolly Old Man (The)," "Mary the Maid." Scottish, Jig. A Minor. Standard tuning (fiddle). ABB (Sharp): AABB (Gow, Karpeles, Kennedy, Ross, Williamson). This once popular melody was published in the "Bodleian MS" (1740) {named for the library in which it resides--the Bodleian Library, Oxford} and is inscribed A Collection of the Newest Country Dances Performed in Scotland written at Edinburgh by D.A. Young, W.M. 1740. Originally set by Young as a country dance (to which he gives directions). Another early country dance version appears in John Johnson's Choice Collection of 200 Favourite Country Dances, vol. III (London, 1744, as "Bung Her Eye"). Karpeles notes that this tune is also suitable as an accompaniment to Rapper Sword Dance. Glen (1891) reported he found the tune earliest in print in Robert Ross's 1780 collection (p. 1), and evidently did not know of the Bodleian MS. Samuel Bayard (1981) believes the piece to be a "recognizable version" of a tune family that includes "Lan(n)igan's Ball," "Lumps of Pudding," "Kitty Alone," "Muirland Willie," and "O as I was kiss'd yestreen (1)." Close variants of the "Bung Your Eye" strain of the family are: "Off to the Hunt", "Antrim Lasses (The)," "Tatter Jack," "Boys of Carrigallen (The)," "Mount Your Baggage (1)," "Push about the Jugg," and "Bonnie Strathmore."

The term 'bung your eye' means to 'shut your eye', a meaning taken from the bung or cork used to stopper a hole in a cask, for example. 'Bung your eye' was one euphemism for gin (along with 'strip-me-naked' and others), an alcoholic beverage the English populace nearly drowned in during the mid-18th century. In this sense an excess of gin will 'shut (bung) your eye(s)' through blind drunkenness. Another sense of the term is revealed in the song "The Bold Irishman," an early 19th century broadside sheet ballad that relates the perils of an immigrant in a new land. Here the phrase 'bung your eye' implies a threat to beat the protagonist until his eyes are shut:

A blustering bully with a head like a Turk
Says welcome from Ireland, sweet Paddy from Cork
Arrah turn you round Pat, for I've been a kin
For I never yet see a coat buttoned behind

A beef headed butcher was then standing by
Cries Paddy you rogue I'll bung up your eye
Such blustering words made my heart ache
For fear of my eyes not a word dare I speak

Paddy prevails in the end, turning the tables on the two bullies:

The bully that said he'd bung up my eye,
I tipt him a grinder as I passed by,
I let him to know as he lay in his gore,
That an Irishmans coat was buttoned before

The melody appears (almost note-for-note with Gow's version) in the c. 1785 music manuscript collection (p. 135) of pastoral piper John Sutherland, Aberdeenshire. Early 19th century 37th Regiment (British) fifer John Buttery's version (which he indicates was used for a quickstep) was probably copied from Aird. See also notes to "Lanigan's Ball" and O'Neill's "Jolly Old Man (The)."

Additional notes

Printed sources : - Aird (Selection of Scotch, English, Irish and Foreign Airs, vol. 1), 1782; No. 15, p. 6. Gow (Complete Repository, Part 1), 1799; p. 21. Johnson (A Further Collection of Dances, Marches, Minuetts and Duetts of the Latter 18th Century), 1998; p. 13. Karpeles & Schofield (A Selection of 100 English Folk Dance Airs), 1951; p. 26. Kennedy (Fiddler's Tune Book, vol. 2), 1954; p. 42 (appears as "Mary the Maid"). Robert Ross (Choice Collection of Scots Reels or Country Dances & Strathspeys), Edinburgh, 1780; p. 1. Sharp (Country Dance Tunes), 1909; p. 58. Williamson (English, Welsh, Scottish and Irish Fiddle Tunes), 1976, p. 50.

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