The Johnstons   •   Bitter Green

  • Bitter Green
    • 1969 - Transatlantic TRA 211 LP (UK)
  • Side One
    1. Jesus Was a Carpenter (Ewan MacColl)
    2. The Gypsy (Gordon Lightfoot)
    3. Lord Thomas and Fair Ellender
    4. The Kilfenora Jig
    5. Fiddler's Green (Connolly, Arr. Johnston, Moloney, Brady)
  • Side Two
    1. The Story of Isaac (Leonard Cohen)
    2. Bitter Green (Gordon Lightfoot)
    3. The Penny Wager
    4. Marcie (Joni Mitchell, Arr. David G. Palmer)
    5. Reels:
      1. The Fair Haired Boy
      2. Kiss The Maiden Behind The Barrel
      3. The Dawn
    6. The Spanish Lady

  • The Johnstons
    • Adrienne Johnston: Vocals
    • Mick Moloney: Guitars, Tenor Banjo, Mandolin, Vocals
    • Paul Brady: Guitars, Dulcimer, Harmonica, Vocals
  • Musicians
    • Daryl Runswick: Bass
    • Clement Alford: Sitar (Track: 1)
    • Keith Bleasby: Turkish Finger Drum (Track: 1), Tablas (Track: 6)
    • Paddy McEvoy: Whistle (Track: 8)
  • Credits
    • Producer: Nathan Joseph
    • Engineer: John Wood
    • Recorded at Sound Techniques, London
    • Design, Photography: Peter Smith
    • Tracks: Trad. Arr. Johnston, Moloney, Brady, unless otherwise noted.
  • Notes
    • Information on this release comes from outside sources.

JESUS WAS A CARPENTER (Also known as 'The Ballad Of Christ The Worker'): Ewan MacColl's striking vision of a Marxist Messiah. Mick takes the vocal lead.

THE GYPSY: A whimsical glance at a fortune teller seen through the eyes of Canada's Gordon Lightfoot.

LORD THOMAS & FAIR ELLENDER: One of the greatest of all American tragic ballads. Paul was drawn to it through the singing of Mike and Peggy Seeger.

THE KILFENORA JIG: The little town of Kilfenora in County Clare gives its name to the tune. It's unusual to have an Irish jig with seven parts — five originally, with two more of another jig "Is fearr port na paidir" (A tune is better than a prayer), added on gradually by the musicians of the Kilfenora Ceili Band until they became an integral part of the jig. Paul uses the dulcimer and guitar to provide the drone element which the mandolin essentially needs to be relevant to the Irish tradition.

FIDDLERS GREEN: An old sailors dream of the after-life, written by John Connolly of Grimsby.

THE STORY OF ISAAC: A far ciy from some of the effete hackneyed anti-war standards, Leonard Cohen at his very best.

BITTER GREEN: A young woman emigrates from France to Canada and waits, for her true love to join her. He arrives, alas, too late. Based on an actual occurrence by Gordon Lightfoot.

THE PENNY WAGER: Two con-men swindled by a "tidy young fella". The last verse would seem to indicate that his nocturnal activities weren't entirely confined to gambling!

MARCIE: Joni Mitchell writes with delicate sensitivity of the life of a lonely girl.

REELS: The Fair Haired Boy, Kiss The Maid Behind The Barrel, The Dawn: Mick learnt the first of these reels from one of the most humble and gentle of men — Miko Russell from the barren sea-swept village of Doolin on the rocky coastline of West Glare. The second from the majestic piping of Irelands greatest young piper Liam Og O'Floinn. The third is a favourite among accordion players because of its particular chordal suitability for that instrument.

THE SPANISH LADY: Lost love and lost youth. I suppose in everybody's life there's a Spanish lady. Add a rollicking chorus and you get this captivating Dublin street song.