The Woods and Grandma

by Dead Lady

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  • Cassette + Digital Album

    White cassette tape with hand-finished cardstock case/cover. Made for US tour in January 2019. Available to deliver to US from 20 December 2018; available to deliver to Ireland from 15 January 2019. Only 50 copies available.

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    The Woods and Grandma January 2019 tour image, of some Dead Lady heads created by Isadora Epstein and a photo by Kalpana Paranjothy in Coole Park, Galway, in two colors on Gildan natural tees.

    Includes unlimited streaming of The Woods and Grandma via the free Bandcamp app, plus high-quality download in MP3, FLAC and more.
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a verbatim pop-opera about Lady Gregory
composed by Cal Folger Day

words from a 2002 RTÉ Doc on One interview
with Anne and Catherine Gregory

winner of the Little Gem award at the 2017 Dublin Fringe Festival
N.B. click on individual tracks above for a transcribed libretto


released December 16, 2018

recorded live by Christopher Barry, Ailfionn, Dublin Ireland
mixed and mastered by Forest Christenson, Los Angeles

Cal Folger Day, keys & vocals (Anne)
Naoise Roo, vocals (Catherine)
Bob Gallagher, vocals (W.B. Yeats)
Phil Christie, keys & vocals (George Bernard Shaw)
Nick Boon, guitar
Ailbhe Nic Oireachtaigh, viola
Daniel Fox, bass
Ben Engel, percussion & mandolin

lady heads artwork by Isadora Epstein


all rights reserved


Track Name: Act I. Coole
A. we were born and bred, bred and born, at Coole
and for all our early life, grandma was really the center of our lives, wasn't she

C. yes she was

A. completely.
she wasn't just grandmother really
I mean she was a sort of mother as well wasn't she

C. oh absolutely. absolutely.
Track Name: Absolute heaven
A. well this of course was absolute heaven, as you can imagine
the beginning of the nut wood
and of course the paths weren't solid like this
they may have been solid but not like nowadays
they were mossy

C. and of course there were far more big trees then

A. yes they were very

C. I don't say it was thick forest standing
but they were big trees I say against this rather

A. well there was none of these masses of growth here

C. scratchy stuff

A. they used to um, quite incredible
they used to bring trees from abroad didn't they

C. yeahp

A. a lot of the trees they bought were from abroad
brought in and planted
and they all seem to have liked this climate
but they certainly did very well
Track Name: Apples + reprise
A. we used to do it every day
cos if we went out in the woods we had to have something to eat
I mean you couldn't go out for a couple of hours and have nothing to eat
so we used to take apples with us
and if we did we went and picked them
of course picked them up out here
and we carried them in our knickers
we had knickers with elastic round the knees
and it was a wonderful way of carrying…
bzz bzz
it was a bit duck-like, walking
but I can remember vividly, they came out one day
out here, out this gate
and mum and, uh, john, augustus john
were coming up from the yard
and mum stopped -- I can remember the look of absolute horror
with us walking with our feet rather far apart
and she was saying,
what on earth's the matter with you children? what's wrong with you?
and I think we were rather nervous
we said "oh it's the apples you see"
"what apples"
and augustus john was absolutely frisking his sides with laughing at the sight of us

C. it must have been a damn sight stronger
or else we were much lighter

A. but Catherine, remember, it's about sixty years old
it's been bearing itself up sixty or seventy years since we climbed it
for heavens sake
it'd make a difference
we used to climb up

C. more than sixty, we weren't twenty when we were going up it

A. oh shush Cat, keep quiet
seventy years -- seventy three years since we climbed it

A. yeah mm
Track Name: Act II. G.B.S.
A. no it was a wonderful life, absolutely marvelous
oh -- GBS
yes, bernard shaw, every time
he was wonderful
he obviously liked children, I think, because he was a natural, he really was
he used to -- mind you, mind you
he used to play hunt the thimble with us, and he cheated
he used to look
and we were desperately upset when we found he was cheating

C. one visit which was during the first war
we weren't allowed bread with jam AND butter
you could have jam OR butter -- wartime
and GBS asked for jam
grandma looked at him and said "but you've got butter on your bread you can't have both"
so the next thing we spotted was
he sort of held up his plate to grandma and said look that's only a slice of dry bread
now can I have jam please
and she said yes, of course
but we'd seen him turn the slice of bread over, and the butter was on the underside

A. we were horrified

C. and we were horrified

A. I think -- and we were probably thinking, why on earth didn't WE think of that

C. absolutely, very envious

anyhow, we were all upset about this
and also he was ill I think afterwards
but anyhow we were upset about it
and grandma said, well you know he was very hurt that you thought he was cheating
so we'll -- you must send him some apples, some of your special apples
so we sent him off some apples
and we had a most marvelous poem
which he sent as thank you
and it was written in his own handwriting on post
on the back of postcards which have pictures on one side
and it um
it started

GBS. two ladies of Galway called Catherine and Anna
whom some call Acushla and some call Alanna
on finding the gate of the fruit garden undone
stole grandma's apples and sent them to London
and grandma said the poor village schoolchildren
were better behaved than the well-brought-up Coole children
and threatened them with the most merciless whippings
if ever again they laid hand on her pippins
in vain they explained that the man who was battening
on grandma's apples would die without fattening
she seized the piano and threw it at Anna
and shrieking at Catherine, “just let me catch you”
she walloped her hard with the drawing-room statue
god save us, herself has gone crazy, cried Marian
is that how a lady of title should carry on?
if you dare to address me like that, shouted granny
goodbye to your wages, you shan't have a penny
go back to your pots and your pans and your canisters
with that she threw Marian over the banisters
and now, declared granny, I feel so much better
that I'll write Mr Shaw a most beautiful letter
and tell him how happy our lives are at Coole
under grandmama darling's beneficent rule

A. it was absolutely wonderful getting that absolute

C. wasn't it marvelous

A. it was absolutely terrific
he was wonderful
but there you are
long time ago
Track Name: Friends of grandma's
A. he wasn't interested in children actually, why should he be
uh, he wasn't rude or anything, I mean he's

C. he just ignored one, really

A. he'd say hello, he'd take a morning

C. well I mean you know the story of

A. yes you don't

C. meeting the small boy coming down the stairs in his own house
when yeats was going up
he actually said oh hello young man, I don't know you, do I
it was his own son

A. yes, michael! haha
michael told us that

C. yep

A. of course you must remember, you know, while we're talking about Yeats and all these people
we were children, they were grown ups
we had no idea they were important people in any way
as far as we were concerned they were just adults

C. just adults

A. rather boring

C. just friends of grandma's
Track Name: The other end
C. when you look at photos of her
she was like a queen Victoria in a sense
you know, she was always in black
I suppose in a way, looked rather gloomy
she wasn't she had the most tremendous sense of humor

A. but she had a terrific sense of humor

C. she wasn't a prude in any way

A. oh no, that wonderful story
well, Cat, you -- you talk, and you say it better than I do
talking remember about the lamb

C. yes, I was just going to say
ah, at that time, instead of having a question time from just out of the blue
there were books, uh, of questions
we used to spend quite a few evenings having these questions
one of the questions was, why in public places --
this would be England of course --
does the water at drinking troughs, at stations and places,
always come out of the mouth of a lion?
dead silence from all of us
then suddenly Grandma said
well it'd look awful coming out the other end
she then realized what she said, and she'd laugh and she --
she couldn't stop laughing

A. no

C. nor could we of course

A. no

C. it was -- it was absolutely ga ti ih

A. I could still see her mopping her eyes from the tears streaming down her face from laughing
Track Name: Act III. Dada
A. well the two mantelpieces, one here and one in the sitting room opposite
they were put together and made by our father and
and also Augustus John, together
they used to build
they had a great time building them out on the sand
and we were told as children that
you know they'd been made
and we used to look at them
and we used to look and see if we could find anything slightly crooked
among one of the ricks or one of the things
if there was something a bit awry we used to be very loyal and say
oh dada couldn't have done that
'gustus Mr John must have done that and made a mistake
but aren't they lovely
Track Name: Airman
An Irish Airman Foresees His Death, W.B. Yeats

I know that I shall meet my fate,
Somewhere among the clouds above;
Those that I fight I do not hate,
Those that I guard I do not love;
My country is Kiltartan Cross,
My countrymen Kiltartan's poor,
No likely end could bring them loss
Or leave them happier than before.
Nor law, nor duty bade me fight,
Nor public men, nor cheering crowds,
A lonely impulse of delight
Drove to this tumult in the clouds;
I balanced all, brought all to mind,
The years to come seemed waste of breath,
A waste of breath the years behind
In balance with this life, this death.
Track Name: Six and four
A. I was six and you were four

C. yes

A. so we were young I mean but I
actually both of us can remember it very vividly

C. yes

A. um
horrifying really
seeing grandma crying

C. it was oh yes

A. you know, dreadful
and then um course
mum was in the
with godmother
I came out and I think
Cat saw all of us crying and she didn't really know why
and she began crying to be
in the swoon, you know

C. yes
I remember mum saying 'stop it, cos you don't know what you're crying for'
Track Name: Act IV. Yellow hair
A. just ignored one really

C. he didn't do it on purpose
he just was out of this world half the time
humming away

A. yes
he hummed a lot

C. it sounded actually more like moaning, doesn't it

A. it did, yes
well it was the mmmmmmmm
mm that sort of noise
cht! (ha)
I don't know
then it was a, one of the times he'd been humming
I can't think what sort of meter he was humming in
but this was -- I was sent up to the room he was sitting in
we used to have a sitting room upstairs
and told Mr Yeats wanted to see me
and I thought dear heavens what's happening now
and I went in and he said sit down
and then he suddenly began reading you know your poem about yellow hair [To Anne Gregory]

Yeats. “never shall a young man
thrown into despair
by those great honey-colored
ramparts at your ear
love you for yourself alone
and not your yellow hair”
“but I can get a hair dye
and set such color there
brown or black or carrot
that young men in despair
may love me for myself alone
and not my yellow hair”
“I heard an old religious man
but yesterday declare
that he had found a text to prove
that only God, my dear,
could love you for yourself alone
and not your yellow hair”

A. I was very embarrassed, I thought it was awful
you know doggerel
anyway, you know, I sort of said Oh marvelous Mr Yeats
read it again
um which of course he that was splendid
and then I rushed out saying something stupid like
I must go and wash my hair or something
but not very long after that
um Mr Yeats was um broadcasting from Belfast I think it was
and um this was on and Mr Yeats comes on and he says
and this is a poem to the daughter of my old friend Lady Gregory
and she has hair like a cornfield in the sun, or words to this effect
and then he did this 'never shall a young man' thing
well next morning we come down
and there's a envelope by my plate
um from this Austrian, Goulding, who was my boyfriend at the time
and I thought well this is absolutely marvelous
and opened it -- a poem
and I thought wonderful, made it at last
and the poem read
"if I was alone on an island
and only Anne with me there
I'd make myself cushions and bolsters
by stuffing her skin with her hair"
end of a lovely romance!

C. yes, you and your admirers, um
ha ha
Track Name: Sheep's eye
C. the only time I've ever been charged with dangerous driving
or anything wrong on the road

A. oh yes hahaha

C. I was aged about fifteen
and you kheeeeee
got a sheep's eye from the butcher
which you'd put into a um
matchbox and you were posting to
one of the gogherty's

A. yes

C. wasn't it? just through the post
it had gone, the postman had taken it
see, when he'd deliver the letters he'd take post out
I was mean enough to tell mum
and mum said Go into the post office and
stop it
take it out of the post
and I said well how do I get there
mum said take the car
it was a model T
go quickly, because the post goes out in whatever it was twenty minutes
and I drove FURIOUSLY through Gort and to the post office
which is on the road out
and I was caught for dangerous driving, what have you
and eh I
went to the post office and said look
there's a registered letter in the post it's to be sent can we have it back please
and blow me the post office DID
I mean a registered thing, I mean to come out, just like that
but uh, I was fined ten bob
lot of money in those days

A. and I was absolutely livid
because I thought this was a wonderful answer to something rude that the chap had said
and I was livid that it hadn't got there

C. and all the trouble you'd been to

A. to get one hehehe

C. to get a sheep's eye
from Finnegan the butcher
Track Name: Act V. Shawls
and that’s another thing
she was very particular about
the way you wore your shawl
she would say to me
you have never worn a shawl
and I said, no
well, she said, a shawl is a part
of a countrywoman’s life
now when she is happy
she puts it slightly off her shoulders
and her hands on her hips
when she’s annoyed she flicks it
over her shoulder
and when she’s in sorrow
she brings it straight across her forehead
with two points down
and just shows her face
and the rest of her is covered
now you must practice all these things
when you do the various parts
Track Name: Biddy Early
poor honest Biddy
a fresh clean looking woman
a medium-sized woman
in a frilly white bonnet

my mother was a next-door neighbor of Biddy
I always heard her say
that she was a good-living woman in her private life
and that she used to have her rosary beads in her hands
whenever she looked into the bottle

neighbors frowned on the idea that a young girl
should be heard humming and singing
in the year after her mother’s death
sure, she might be righter than what we are
Track Name: Class or creed
C. we were very very lucky

A. she really was quite fantastic

C. and how incredible
friendliness and nice outlook
you know
class or creed meant nothing to her

A. absolutely no

C. you know
everyone was equal
and it didn't matter if she was in the middle of doing her day's writing
if someone came to the door wanting apples
or can we go and gather some sticks or anything
she'd come down and pass the time of day with them

A. yep

C. nothing--

A. no
but you know, that was all the extraordinary thing
um all that time that we were here being brought up
and living here and having a wonderful life
she was writing
she was running the abbey theatre
she was going up overnight, coming back again
writing, writing
and going over to London for fighting
the Hugh Lane pictures
but she always had time for us
she never seemed, I mean
you'd go in at any time
it didn't matter whether she was in the middle of a play or anything
you'd go in and say something perfectly silly, like
you know, come and see we've found the blackbirds nest, or something
but she was with you at once, wasn't she

C. yep

A. about anything

C. yup
Track Name: End of the world
C. she wanted um
holy communion before she died
and would the uh
clergyman come out
and John Diveney was sent in
and the clergyman's wife
haha, don't let the priests ever get married
the clergyman's wife said oh well it
he'd come out the following day
cos she had him
the clergyman planting her bulbs
and poor grandma she was dead by the following day
that was a shocking thing

A. you know we weren't old for our age at all
and we'd never really mixed with youngsters except school which
you didn't stay at very long but
we never had young people out here to play or anything

C. there weren't any, really

A. there weren't any

C. was the answer

A. but you never felt you wanted anything at all except what we had
which was the woods and grandma

C. yeah

A. and so on
it was a perfect life

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