more from
Orcadian Recordings

Notes From An Island

by Ivan Drever

Remember 04:12
I remember Johnno Goar, from the far side of the island and Isa told me so much more than she would ever know, I remember Bobo Grieve, driving through the snow horizontal rain I know would take us to HQ, but I'm dammed, if I can remember you. I remember Billy Ward in a haunted house at Scar and all the tangles gathered for collection from the pier, I remember Billy's father, on his tractor in the field sky rats by the thousand, swooping as they do, but I'm damned, if I can remember you. I remember Billy Drever, in the class with me at school home to work the land where he was happiest, I know, and as far as I can tell, he toils there to this day underneath a sky that's sometimes blue. I remember Tommy Garrioch, and his mother by the stove fixing my transistor that got broke the day before, I recall a conversation by the harbourmaster's store with a man who knew about the sea and all that it could do, but I'm damned, if I can remember you. I remember cousin Stewart, who's whole life was the sea running with his brothers just before the day was through, roughshod over pebbles, before the tide came in glistening with a thousand shades of blue. I remember Sergeant Peace, in his uniform so fine telling me to get my house in order, so to speak, if my memory serves me well, as far as I can tell there wasn't anything I couldn't do, but I'm damned, if I can remember you. And oh, won't you take me home, And oh, won't you take me home.
They spent their lives alone, days of pain and hardship, proper people without any malice in their hearts, I don't think that I told you how hard it was for them but then again, they wouldn't have it any other way. Turn the stone, turn the soil, hold the horses steady now, heed the wind, heed the land, this song is for my children. He'd sit with hardened hands, thinking of the water Mademoiselle from Armentieres a distant memory, she'd brew a peck o' malt, while he spat at the fire she gently said she'd kill him; he had heard it all before. Four children had to work, the land, the farm the ocean Willie left the nest to farm the unforgiving land, my mother's loving hand took care of all the children Hamish sang of cowboys and of Oklahoma hills. Young Duncan went to sea, the times they were a changing old Whip sat by the fire cursing news on the TV, Isa hands out beer, laughing at the memory of when she was a little girl, running fast and free.
In the spring I'm going to Pomona, me and my guitar will see you there, In my mind I'd travel there to see her, in my mind I see her everywhere. We will wake the storm, we will lie, we will lie us down, For now, I'm going home, I am Pomona's, Pomona's hardy son. Summer time will see me back in Sanday watching terns above me swoop and glide, I wonder if Start Point will recognise me I'm thinking that she never left my side. Autumn leaves lie thick and still in Birsay all her charms will come to say hello, my mother's love lies waiting still there for me my brother's voices they will let me know. Wild the weather waits for you on Stronsay warm the welcome waits there in the rain, hardy souls will take you to their bosoms and say it's nice to see you once again.
Long ago a northern fisher, in a storm was left alone an tae Boray Isle was driven, on the eve of good Saint John, there he says the ghostly revels, music wild fell on his ears and he snatched a cast-off sealskin, and he hid in mortal fear. At the solemn knell the dancers, in wild haste their guise regain all save one, a fair sea maiden, seeking for her robe in vain, flung his fisher mantle round her, wi' the cross he signed her o'er and wi' loving words addressed her, bidding her tae fear no more. Fairest one, no longer fated as a wild sea beast to roam come and be my bride, my treasure, mistress o' my hearth and home, so, he spoke and so he won her, and he took her to his home Margaret was the name they gave her, her pearl cast from oceans foam. Three bright years they dwelt together, love and joy around her grew every day she blessed the tempest, that his bark on Boray threw, then she spake and thus she bade him, death’s cold touch is on my heart but in peace from this dear homestead, soul and body cannot part. Row me in your skiff dear husband, on the eve of good Saint John take me back to Boray Island, lay me on the sands of down, all her bidding he accomplished, tho his heart was sad and sore on the fated eve he took her, laid her down on Boray shore.
I've seen what sits under a blue Orkney sky I've sat there and heard all her songs come alive, on a warm night, under moonlight, I drove through her islands and run with her streams I've listened to tales from her daydreamer’s dreams, on a clear night, close to midnight. Under a blue Orkney sky pictures that fade in the blink of an eye, catching the well that will never run dry under a blue Orkney sky. I've heard voices close to an angel that sing I've witnessed these songs on some old guitar strings, on a warm day, in an old way, I've witnessed her friendship, I've shaken her hand they came to her islands from far distant lands, It's a long way, to your highway. I answered a prayer that I heard late one day I conquered my fear in the old-fashioned way, In my own time, in a straight line, I harnessed the power that you gave me in June and for my return I will give you this tune, and I thank you, I will see you.
I suppose we could talk about Kirkwall; I suppose we could meet one more time, I could tell you a hundred old stories, I could sing you a song that would rhyme I had hoped that you’d be better looking, I can tell by your smile that you're real, in a bar on the front called the Ola, when we sang of the old spinning wheel. So, don't talk to me now about lonesome, cause my heroes were all countrified, I suppose we could talk about Kirkwall, cause that's where my mother resides. I'd surmise that you've been here before love, and I guess that you'd come back again I'd regale you with stories from Westray, where they breed only titans of men, I once played with a man who was lonesome, and whose fingers were wide as your thumb He's still bending these notes round the mainland, he still catches the beat of the drum. I suppose we could travel to Birsay, I would guess that they'd welcome us there I'd assume that you're fond of a snifter, it's the way that what they have, they'll share, It's a long way from Burwick to Boston, it's a short hop from Burray to Holm I'll meet you in Rousay on Monday, I'll get there as fast as I can. I suppose we could think about Stronsay, I'd imagine we'd go there again and I guess that the ladies are waiting, oh standing out there in the rain, I once stood on the dance floor together, wi' the boys wi' their quarties in hand I once played with a legend from Sanday, with the wonderful Hilda Miel band.
Songs handed down from my uncle's guitar on an island called Sanday near the Kettletoft bar, to the old Holms of Ire and my grandfather's hand and the love of my life, by the white shifting sand. And the old man was singing by the shoreline on Hoy all the songs he recalled, from when he was a boy, and the brave souls remembered from a long time ago and a little boy dreaming of horses in the snow. I'll send you notes from an island, fruits from the sea lessons in longing from where I used to be, I'll send you sounds from an ocean, gifts from the land words from an old country that you can understand. And time has forgotten all the old Stronsay songs the darlings of Egilsay all now long gone, the lights now from Start Point, no longer to see take me to Tresness, where I'd like to be, and the jewel that is Westray where my father came from people say, who are you, I say I am my father's son, and the ghost of the Norseman, claiming his land with the oar of his longship dragging in the sand. Hear the strains of the air that's the old Rowan tree in my grandmother's time, she would sing it to me, and the road home to Burness with the light fading fast and the glint of the moon, that would sing of the past.
No barking of dogs can be heard through the night, no howling, no noises no sound and no fight the Strynd she lies empty, not even leaves fall, where once Isa walked, now there's no one at all. Houses and palaces, bishops and earls stand tall in the moonlight, watched over by Jarls, St Ola stands quietly, waiting for dawn Wideford stands eerily hoping for morn. For the old mill she sits all alone as the moss takes its grip on her stone, when the kestrel moves in for the kill and the night over Kirkwall, the night over Kirkwall was still. Where fleets would come in, now there's no fish at all where heartbeats were skipped, as they wait for nightfall, where dreamers lay thinking of good days long past and thinkers lay dreaming of plans that would last. Dark is the night when there's no one around cold is the snow as it lays on the ground, hard was the chill as it found its way here and the outskirts of Kirkwall were still drawing near. Dark grows the sky as the people go home keen blows the wind where the seahorses roam, harbour lights dimmed when the fishermen go far out to sea, where the wild north wind blows. The old days are gone, no knights and no kings no castles on hills, only ruins and things, but I dreamt of St Magnus, I dreamt of his war I dreamt of his gods, of Odin and Thor.
Dances with Grulie Belkies, waltzes in snow, half way to paradise, where only they would know, shouting at starlings, when the old Sigurd sails wide eyed the children wait, light the wind prevails. Take your partners my friends we'll keep on dancing right to the end, take your cue from the band and we'll keep on dancing tonight. Dances with Hilda Miel, Eddie Sinclair and me coins lie on empty floors, no one there to see, long forgotten romances, lie still on Lady's road ghosts of those are walking here, shedding their heavy load. Dances with Edwin Flaws, down Clouston way over the Knowe O' Deil, Rousay she was grey, falling in love at nine, that's how it goes I gave my everything, oh she did not know. Dances on Gairsay's waves, catching the tide landscapes are sketched with love, they'll seek and they'll hide, Rumba is fine and fair, Sambas don't frown quick step to Rendall Hall, strip the willow down.
Lead me to your green, green pastures, there we'll walk and take the pleasure, so, lead me to the water, where I'll fish with you, my brother. We will turn again, harvest comes again, we will take the song home. All things must work together so, we are joined as one, let love and joy abound, seek ye no destructive hand. Leave what you see behind take good care of you and yours, so, all is good forever, take me to the land of plenty. Look for the seam of treasure there you will find your people, all roads will lead you down, paths that you can walk together. Lead me to your patchwork islands there we can talk as one, I will ask you what you see, so that we can work together. Lead me to your golden vision hearts and voices sing as one, all the splendour you are given, cross the border into heaven.


The album is a collection of songs and tunes reflecting on Ivan's birthplace, Orkney. Ivan describes the making of the record in thus:

“I started writing the songs for this album almost two years ago and, having completed about six songs, realised there was a common thread amongst them, i.e., Orkney. It was then I realised it might be nice to complete the record on that theme.

“What you have then, is a few songs and tunes that reflect where I come from, and what it means to me. Given the history between Orkney, where I’m from, and Norway, where I now live, it seemed ironic that most of the album was written in the land of the Norseman, then taken back home for recording.

“It had also been at the back of my mind for some time to do the album with Owen Tierney, back in his studio in Finstown, twenty-five years after we first worked together. Again, it wasn’t intentional, but pretty much everyone who worked with me on the project is from Orkney which is special.”


released March 17, 2021

Ivan Drever – guitar, lead and harmony vocals
Stuart Shearer – guitars, mandolin, bass, piano, electronic keyboard, harmony vocals
Graham Simpson – drums percussion
Seona Dunsmuir – piano, fiddle
Tina Wood – accordion
Dawn Stout – fiddle
Colin Wilson – snare drum
Aimee Leonard and the Song Shop Choir – harmony vocals
Ivan, Stuart and Linda – hand clap
Andy Cant – fiddle
Kirkwall City Pipe band – pipes and drums

Originally released on Attic records CD 077
all songs written by Ivan Drever © 2010 MCPS


all rights reserved



Ivan Drever Kirkwall, UK

contact / help

Contact Ivan Drever

Streaming and
Download help

Redeem code

Report this album or account

If you like Ivan Drever, you may also like: