Taika’s Turns / Christmas Day

Here’s a new tune ‘Taika’s Turns’, paired with an older one, ‘Christmas Day’. Taika is my four legged friend, who lives next door with our neighbour Chris. Its pairing with the other tune is apt, as I first took her for a walk on Christmas Day (my birthday) three years ago, something which quickly became part of my daily routine!

Here’s Taika ‘Linda’ with me and our lovely Columbian friend Diana!

Tameside Lads – song

I wrote this song several years ago, but added a chorus, at the suggestion of my friend Esther Ferry Kennington a couple of summers ago.
Words & music by Michael Burns
Copyright Michael Burns 15 Nov 2010

The Clipper Route (Image from Wikipaedia Commons)

 Ben Nevis - advert for voyage

Where the rescue took place

Tameside Lads Lyrics click to read, return to site by back button.

Tameside Lads News report click to read 1853 news report, courtesy of the British Library, return to site by back button.

Welcome to michaelburns1 music.

All these songs and tunes are there to be sung and played, so feel free to do so; copyright applies to their performance or recording in a commercial context, all rights reserved.

Lyrics, links to recordings of the songs and tunes, and background information on the music is to be found further down the page, not in the list of contents.


‘The Swan Necked Maid’ A tune that came to me in Whitby.

‘Joseph Emidy’ A song about a largely forgotten black composer.

‘From the Low Mown Meadows to Los Llanos’ – song Jack Greenwell, Durham miner & international football coach

‘Ganders on the Green’ – tune

‘Melangell’ A song about a legendary Saint, us and the treatment of animals.

‘Two Voyages’ A song about immigrants at sea, then & now.

‘Will Reed’s Barn’ song – a Harvest Home in 1880s North West Durham

‘Dr Laura Bell’ tune a tune for another of my nieces

‘Walking in the Steps of Michael Davitt’ song – An Irish nationalist who grew
up in Lancashire

instrumental – Rise up John Gordon (with Bruce Rafeek)

‘The Maryport Mystery’ Song, an immigration ballad (B Rafeek on accordion)

‘Little News from Dunamore’ a song of famine and exile

‘Rise up John Gordon’ song – justice after 160 years, no to the death penalty (B Rafeek on accordion)

‘James Keogh’ song – A lad from Ashton who died fighting Fascism in Spain (B Rafeek on accordion)

1847 (with whistle intro) song, immigration, then & now.

Go to OLDER POSTS (in blue), at the bottom of the page)

‘Whittonstall Bank’ tune The first tune I wrote set in a village just over the Derwent from Ebchester

‘The Buck and Dog’ song Observations on Stockport from these two veterans (Kath Ratcliffe on piano)

‘The Blue Mountain’ My interpretation of Cajun Denbo’s interpretation of the
Steve Earl song, ‘The Mountain’. (Kath Ratcliffe on piano)

‘Capricorn’ tune

‘Reynard or Reynardine?’  song Their quarry escaped the North Durham hounds, but was it a fox?

‘Tir na nOg’  – (The Land of Youth) song – we need to respect the past and build a future for young people

‘Seraphino Pino’ a tune inspired by an Italian street musician

‘Letter from Guantanamo -’Shaker Aarmer’ as someone once wrote, ‘an innocent man in a living hell’.

‘Tony on the Wall’ – a tune about a Celtic North Eastern god

‘Paddy on the Railway’ the second of two pieces on the site not written by me, I’ve added a Pete Morton chorus (with Pete’s permission) to the traditional song

Go to OLDER POSTS (in blue) at the bottom of the page)

‘Dim Problem’ a song about a wonderful inclusive place in Wales.

‘Honest Tom Duncombe’ a tune about a model MP (from the 1840s!)

‘Christmas Day’ – my birthday, A polka? – I must learn to catagorising tunes!

‘’The Little Count’ a tune about Joseph  Borulaski, an early Polish immigrant to Durham, this won the James Hill composition prize at Sedgefield, 2011.

Burn Hall song, my memories of a Durham Seminary in the 1960s

Oh Marie’ song a traveller funeral in Gorton

‘Miss Joan Shorrocks’ Waltz

‘Mottram Wakes’ A traditional song from the area where I live.

‘The Ballad of Bart Monaghan’ The true story of a distant relative of mine who met a sad end in the River Tees.

‘Denton Train ‘ song – a green song with a bit of town history – also you Tube

‘Tameside Lads’ song rescues old and new

Go to OLDER POSTS (in blue) at the bottom of the page)

‘Back in 1847’ song –immigration, then and now

‘Oh Marie’ song  You tube – a traveller funeral in Manchester

‘Here’s to the Women of the Working Class’ song

‘Happyland’ hornpipe tune

‘The Dish ran away with the Spoon’ tune

‘¼ to 4’ tune

‘The Naked Rambler’ song – the persecution of an eccentric

‘Picnic at Edmundbyers’ hornpipe

‘All  As for Alex’ A jig for one of my beautiful nieces

‘The Convoy’ march

Go to OLDER POSTS (in blue) at the bottom of the page)

‘The Basket of Figs’ tune – exotic fruit in 1840s Shotley Bridge

‘Different Paths’ song – the Lough brothers of Greenhead, Shotley Bridge

‘Allensford’ tune about a beauty spot on the Durham Northumberland border.

‘The Belles of Cookstown’ tune

The Cullercoats Cobles’ tune – a tune about my cousins, the Shippens’ home town

‘Dooky Apple night’ tune (a schottische?) – It’s what we call Halloween in the North East

‘Barbara and Bill’ waltz – for my good friends, the Scholes of Westhaughton,
for their wedding anniversary

Go to OLDER POSTS (in blue) at the bottom of the page)

‘Alex Barrass’ song a pitman poet and mental illness

‘Sean Morgan’  Song a Manchester Republican

‘Cartegena’ Tune – Memories of an expedition to a Spanish wedding

‘Voyage down the Derwent’ tune

‘Harvest Home at Knitsley’ tune, hornpipe – see above

‘The Rats of Morpeth Gaol’ tune

‘Whittonstall Bank’ tune

‘Caitlin’s Ceilidh’ a tune for the eldest of my nieces

‘The Gill Bridge’ – slow air

Go to OLDER POSTS (in blue) at the bottom of the page)

‘The Trolley Bus’ hornpipe –  set in the incomparable Newcastle

‘Gannin’ for the Pink’ hornpipe I won the James Hill composition prize at Sedgefield with this tune in 2012

In Agege

A story from my father in law, Gerald Wild about an incident during his days in Nigeria in the 1950s

In Agege town, a little while ago,
Gerald wanted some eggs,
so Moussa brought him six fine hens
and a cockerel with a mighty crow

but very soon the birds began to flag
all the people asked why
‘Agege’s too cold for these birds’
said Moussa with a sigh

Oh no it’s fowl pest they all realised
the birds must surely die
fear not, I’m confident I have the cure,
said Moussa by and by

Mousa headed for the market stalls
came back and took a look
the birds were settled in the dust
with no strength for a cluck

I’ve threepence worth of small red chilies here
wrapped in a paper cone
I know that surely it’s nature’s cure
it will strengthen beak and comb

The birds had just the strength to peck the pods
then with time to spare
they were up and scratching round on their feet
and clucking filled the air

The cockerel flew onto the highest perch
and proudly filled his chest
but a cock without a doodle the only sound
although he did his best

and that’s how Moussa saved the birds
confounding veterinary advice
at just 3d and ½ a cockerel’s crow
it seemed a trivial price

Derwent Kites and Medlock Buzzards

Red KIte (Milvus milvus) in flight, with a halo of light, in Sierra de Gredos, in Avila, Spain.    Buzzard_UK

Buzzard By Aviceda – Own work, CC BY-SA 3.0, https://commons.wikimedia.org/w/index.php?curid=6614247

This tune, named after the iconic birds of my native north east, and my adopted city Manchester, reflects my affection for both these facets of the North.

The Royal Charter


The Royal Charter w&m M Burns July 2016 ‘D’

I was told the story of the Royal Charter by some of the helpers & parents at ‘Folk on the Farm’, Tyddn Mon, Anglesey in 2015. The loss was the worst in British merchant maritime history, until the sinking of the Titanic.

Launched on the River Dee
Sandycroft works made me
I’m iron and steam and mast,
no other ship so fast,
in my you’ll sail with ease,
from the Antipodes
I am the Royal Charter,
I am the Royal Charter.

August left Australia’s shore
for the Mersey in two months, no more
my strong room filled with gold
prospected by the brave and bold
The Cape soon at my stern
sails billow, pistons churn
I flew the Royal Charter
I flew, the Royal Charter

Will Gardiner’s my name
From Melbourne I set sail
At Cork I left the ship
to make a business trip
I took the pilot boat
while my wife stayed afloat
safe on the Royal Charter
safe on the Royal Charter

I’m captain of this ship
anxious to end the trip
put into Holyhead,
or Mersey run instead
I think we’ll beat this gale
god help us if we fail
Tom Taylor of the Royal Charter
Tom Taylor of the Royal Charter
I was a howling gale
now I’m a hurricane
grounded her on the sand
and then with help at hand,
hurled her onto that rock
where with a shivering shock
I smashed the Royal Charter
I smashed the Royal Charter

Guzzi Rugier*’s my name
from Valetta port I came
I knelt and said a prayer
with all my shipmates there
tied rope around my waist
and as the breakers chased
swam from the Royal Charter
swam from the Royal Charter

We risked our lives to save
near 40 from a watery grave
branded a thieving gang
some wrote that we should hang
the Moelfre 28 (Moilvre)
our courage met with hate
heroes of the Royal Charter
Heroes of the Royal Charter

I’m Rev Steven Hughes
I conveyed the tragic news
I buried 7 score
my colleagues many more
elsewhere along the shore
300 maybe more
lost on the Royal Charter
lost on the Royal Charter

* The Kendal Mercury of 5 Nov 1859 gives the sailor’s name as Joseph Rodgieurs, he is also referred to as Joseph Rodgers in some accounts. The Kendal Mercury also reported that a Mrs Barratt identified a battered corpse as that of her husband by recognising the waistcoat she had made him.
Among the passengers of the Royal Charter was the musician Mr TS Witchett. He was one of the most talented violin players in the North of England and his melancholy fate is deeply felt amongst his professional brethren, both of Sunderland & Newcastle. He left England in the latter part of last year and was returning again to settle in the old country and amongst his old friends. (Newcastle Chronicle – quoted in the Kendal Mercury.)

Glacken’s Pack


My gt gt granda, John Glacken was a peddler, from the west of Ireland who settled on Tyneside in the 1840s. The law required that peddlers must have their name and address stenciled in italics on the back of their packs.