Oor Hamlet (aka The Three-Minute Hamlet) was written by Adam
McNaughton of Glasgow, Scotland. It was recorded on McNaughton's album
Words, Words, Words which is apparently long out of print. Here's
what McNaughton has to say about the song (taken from the liner notes of
"The first 'act' of Oor Hamlet was written when I was reading the
play with a fifth-year class at Cathakin High School. It then lay untouched
for a year, until I saw a letter in 'Sandy Bell's Broadsheet' which I felt
overstated the case for singing more ballads in folk clubs. The writer, Sheila
Douglas, had made a comparison between the plots of the ballads and the plot
of Hamlet. This proved to be the stimulus I needed and I finished off
the 'poem' very quickly. Even before I sent it off, however, I realized with
slight amendments and additions it could be sung to the tune of
The Mason's Apron."
Words by : Adam McNaughton
(aka The Three-Minute Hamlet)
Tune of : The Mason's Apron
There was a king nodding in his garden all alone,
When his brother in his ear poured a little bit of henbane,
Stole his brother's crown and his money and his widow,
But the dead king walked and got his son and said, "Now listen kiddo,
I've been killed and it's your duty to take revenge on Claudius,
Kill him quick and clean and tell the nation what a fraud he is."
The kid says, "Right I'll do it, but I'll have to play it crafty,
So that no will suspect me I'll kid on that I'm a dafty."
So for all except Horatio, and he counts him as a friend,
Hamlet, that's the kid, he kids on he's 'round the bend,
And because he's not yet willing for obligatory killing,
He tries to make his uncle think he's tuppence off a shilling.
Takes a rise out of Polonius, treats poor Ophelia vile,
Tells Rosencrantz and Guildenstern that Denmark's blooded bile,
Then a troupe of traveling actors local seven eighty four,
Arrive to do a special one-night gig in Elsinore.
Hamlet, Hamlet, acting balmy,
Hamlet, Hamlet, loves his mommy,
Hamlet, Hamlet, hesitating,
He wonders if the ghost's a fake,
And that is why he's waiting.
So Hamlet wrote a scene for the players to enact,
So Horatio and he could see if Claudius cracked,
The play was called "The Mousetrap" (not the one that's running now),
And sure enough the king walked out before the scene was through.
So Hamlet's got the proof his uncle gave his dad the dose,
The only problem being now that Claudius knows he knows,
So while Hamlet tells his mother her new husband's not a fit man,
Uncle Claude takes out a contract with the English king as hit man.
Then when Hamlet killed Polonius, and the corpus was delecti,
Was the king's excuse to send him for an English hempen necktie,
With Rosencrantz and Guildenstern to make quite sure he got there,
But Hamlet jumped the boat and put the finger straight on that pair.
When Laertes heard his dad's killed in the bedroom in the arras,
He came running back to Elsinore tout-suite hot-foot from Paris.
When Ophelia heard her dad's killed by the man she was to marry,
After saying it with flowers, she committed hari-kari.
Hamlet, Hamlet, no messin'
Hamlet, Hamlet, learned his lesson
Hamlet, Hamlet, Yorick's crust
Convinced him all men good or bad,
At last must come to dust.
Then Laertes lost his cool and was demanding retribution,
The king said keep your head and I'll supply you a solution.
So the king arranged a swordfight for the interested parties,
With a blunted sword for Hamlet and a sharp sword for Laertes.
And to make double sure (the old belt-and-braces line),
He fixed up a poisoned sword-tip and a poisoned cup of wine.
The poisoned sword got Hamlet, but Laertes went and fluffed it,
Because he stabbed himself and he confessed before he snuffed it.
Then Hamlet's mommy drank the wine and as her face turned blue,
Hamlet said, "I think this king's a baddie through and through."
"Incestuous, murderous, damned Dane," he said, to be precise,
Then made up for hesitating once, by killing Claudius twice.
He stabbed him with his knife and forced the wine between his lips
He said, "The rest is silence," and he cashed in all his chips.
They fired a volley over him that shook the topmost rafter,
And Fortinbras, knee deep in Danes, lived happily ever after.
Hamlet, Hamlet, end of story
Hamlet, Hamlet, very gory
Hamlet, Hamlet, I'm on my way
And if you think that was confusing,
You should read the bloody play.
to Bard Book.
to Dagonell's Page.
to David's Homepage.