I wrote "The Piper's Refrain" around 1980 while living in Saratoga Springs, NY. The story was first told to me by the Honorable John Driemiller, mayor of Ticonderoga, NY. The first recording of this song is on my 1983 album "The Pencil Line". I taught the song to Margaret MacArthur of Vermont. The MacArthur Family band recorded it on their "MacArthur Road" album. I believe that Margaret taught the song to Gordon Bok who also recorded it along with Ed Trickett and Ann Muir on their "And So Will We Yet" album. All in all there are another 5-6 recordings of this song.
The lyrics listed on this site are slight altered from the original version below:
THE PIPER'S REFRAIN
Copyright 1983, Bop Talk Music
I'll tell it to you as they told it to me
In the glow of the campfire burning.
By the banks of the water where we sported and played,
They once faced the fury of battle.
And up to the Champlain came the Highland Brigade
The pipes and the drummers played "Scotland the Brave."
But when they sailed home the piper's refrain
Was, Oh, how cruel the volley."
To one Duncan Campbell it came in a dream
That he'd meet his fate where he never had been;
Where the blue waters roll and the stickerbush tear,
It's "Travel well, Duncan, I'll wait for you there.
"For the French and the Indian have challenged our King."
(To a soldier like Duncan, no need to explain.)
"It's many a time I've travelled the waves
To find my fate in the fire."
From Fort William Henry their boats pushed away
To the North of Lake George in the morning;
To the place the Frenchmen call Carillon,
And the Indians: Ticonderoga.
And the word struck Duncan like a thunderbolt there;
Everyone knew of the warning.
"Oh, give us a tune to remember me by,
For tomorrow I'll not be returning."
When the gunpowder flashed, the Highlanders died,
Never again to sit by the Clyde.
In the wilderness green, in the sun and the rain,
It's here they're forever remaining.
And I've told it to you as they told it to me,
Of one Duncan Campbell and the Highland Brigade.
When the campfires crackle in the summertime's wane,
through the mist on the water comes the piper's refrain.
Thanks for your interest in my song,