Piggy Picture

Nothing that's left but the Squeal

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This song appears on a CD of traditional and contemporary songs of farming and countryside life "Songs for the Farmland Museum" recorded in July 2015 by Mike Ruff specially for the Denny Abbey Farmland Museum
There are plans to install suitable audio equipment at the museum so that tracks from the CD can be used to help bring some of the displays to life. Details of how you can support this project (and get a copy of the CD in return ) can be found here

I once had a pig - and a very fine pig,
And we fed him the scraps of each meal.
But I'm sorry to say he's been tekken away.
And there's nothing that's left but the squeal
- me brave boys,
There is.... nothing that's left but the squeal.

So I went to the market to search for me pig
As fast as me trotters would go
And the Butcher, the Tanner, the Candlestick Maker
Were standing there all in a row
- me brave boys
They..were standing there all in a row.

Says the Butcher "I'm sad for the loss of your pig
But here's pork chops and sausage as well
And there's bacon and ham
And jelly and jam
And the best of black pudding to sell
- me brave boys
And.... the best of black pudding to sell.'

"Young lad" said the Tanner, "the tale of your pig
Is enough to make a man cry
But here's shoes that look neat
on the biggest of feet
And a hide that'll keep your back dry
- me brave boys
And.... a hide that'll keep your back dry."

Then the Chandler he showed me his kettles and vats
No sign of me pig there at all
But we've candles to light up
The darkest of nights
And there's oil for the lamp in the hall
- me brave boys
And...there's oil for the lamp in the hall

So.. I once had a pig - and a mighty fine pig,
And we toast him at every meal.....

For we've shoes on our feet
and the finest of meat
We've bacon and ham
And jelly and jam
We've candles to light up
The darkest of nights

and there's nothing that's left but the squeal
- me brave boys,
There is... nothing that's left but the squeal

© Tim Brooks June 2013


Origin of the Song

This song was composed as an entry in the Watford Folk Club's 2013 songwriting competition. "This Working Life". The competition was won by Emma Scarr with her song "Kathy O'Toole" about a female Irish painter and decorator.

Inspired by the phrase 'nothing left but the squeal' , which is a common enough saying, this song alludes to the great number of trades connected with the meat processing industry, condensed down to just the three most obvious ones, with the help of a large dollop of poetic licence. It's also a historic reference to the fact that families frequently kept pigs, which when slaughtered provided them with fresh and preserved meats, and other products as well, as every part of the animal was used for something: with nothing left but the squeal!

The lyrics were originally crafted against the tune of another song, then finally to a new melody developed loosely from the the first two bars of Northumbrian Jig ' The Drunken Drummer'.

The idea for the song came to me in May 2013, and I quickly put together the first and last verses. It was while attending the English Country Music festival in Winster in June that I hit upon a way to build on the story line to fit the beginning and end that I already had. Having woken up early on the Sunday Morning I sat in the tent with a coffee and soon had the complete song, before everyone else arose and the melodeons started up. (and the larks they played melodeons?)

Associated downloadable Media files.

A recording of me singing the song!

    Nothing that's left but the Squeal mp3 file

A printable lyric Sheet

    pdf lyric sheet

Emma Scarr performing "Kathy O'Toole", as filmed by Julian Mount.

    Live at the Watford Folk Club