I Can Hear A Siren

The earliest mention of this song is in an advertisement for a "chapbook" (an inexpensive book of song lyrics) in 1856.  The following recording was made on phonograph around 1914, by an unknown singer, and was featured on a test pressing of "Wor Nanny's A Mazer: Early Recordings Of Artists From The North East 1904-1933↗" (Phonograph, PHCD2K1)

I Can Hear A Siren - 1914 - Unknown Artist
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I can hear a siren

A skrike o’er roaky Seaton

A bonny way te end me days

Nothin left but hyem to lay

An feel the kelpie’s fingers ways

Aroun me pow aroun me neck

An slip me slip me doon the beck

An scumfish all me thropple noo

An end me days alone wi you

scream*; foggy**



mermaid; move


float; down the stream

smother; throat

The chromatic ostinato is a common theme in many songs and recordings that came out of Seaton Snook, resembling the incessant and inescapable sound of the waves.  The sense of inevitable doom, as well, is something that comes up again and again in Snookish music.  


The song was later covered by Peoples Mass, and the sound of the waves are also replicated in Gaynor Leigh's Piano Primer

* A scream from the sea as a portent of doom, of course, reminds us of Jacob Cox's horse. This song, however, predates the horse incidents, which happened in 1868.  

** Edit:  roaky was originally mistranslated here as "rocky". Corrected 28.08.2019.