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Spanish Lady
Traditional. Scheduled for an upcoming Darby CD.
notes: So much has been written about this song, speculating as to its meaning, that I feel
compelled to offer my own.
   There are versions that guide the piece into the realm of the bawdy, making the subject a
prostitute. Others have the location as Galway, instead of Dublin, so that the Spanish
makes sense to them.
   These translations are not wrong, and they all make for fine songs.
   As I sing the words I’m translating the song as a piece about the progress of life,
leading, by current or swell, to death. The Spanish Lady is one’s youth, or ones
dreams and haughty aspirations.
   There is another translation that forces my attention. In the early part of the last century,
about the time this song was written in its original form, there occurred an influenza
pandemic that slaughtered millions. It was known as the Spanish Lady. There is likely no
connection, but it gives me pause, just a bit.
Spanish Lady

   C                    Am            F                  G           G7
As I went down to Dublin City at the hour at twelve at night
C                                   Am               F                                    G            G7
Who should I spy but the Spanish Lady washin’ her feet ‘neath the pale moonlight
C                                Am                       C                 Am
First she washed them, then she dried them o’er a fire of ambre coals
  C               Am                  F                  G          G7
In all me life I ne’er did meet a maid so neat about the soles

Whack for the toora loora laddie, whack for the toora loora lae
Whack for the toora loora laddie, whack for the toora loora lae

Then as I went in to Dublin City
At the hour of half-past eight
Who should I spy but the Spanish Lady
Washin’ her hair in the broad daylight
First she washed it, then she tossed it
On her lap was a silvery comb
And in all me life I ne’er did see
A maid so sweet since I did roam

Then as I came back to Dublin City
As the sun began to set
Who should I spy but the Spanish Lady
Catchin’ a moth in a golden net
First she spied me, then she fled me
She lifted her petticoats o’er her knee
In all me life I ne’er did meet
A maid so shy as the Spanish Lady

I’ve wandered north and I’ve wandered south
Through Stonybatter and Patrick’s Close
Up and around by the Glouster Diamond
And back by Napper Tandy’s house
Old age has laid its hands upon me
Icy cold as they could be...
But where was the lovely Spanish Lady
Neat and sweet and thrillin’ me