By the Left

Published: January 25, 2024

Address to an MSR

This Robert Burns Day, we resurrect a brilliant parody of the bard’s “Address to a Haggis” by the redoubtable Iain MacDonald of Regina, Saskatchewan.

Initially published in 2010 with “Anon.” as the author, it’s another example of the thousands of excellent pieces from hundreds of contributors to pipes|drums over our nearly 40 years of publishing.

If you’re interested in contributing, please do get in touch with us. We love to hear from our readers.

Address to an MSR

Fair fa’ your honest, sonsie face,
Great MSR o’ the pipe band-race!
Aboon them a’ yet tak your place,
Jigs, hornpipes, suites:
Weel are ye wordy o’a grace
As lang’s my arm.

The spectator benches ye dinna fill,
Nae bugger cares tae hear yer trill,
And yet no band to the final goes
Unless thro’ your scores they carefu’ tread
One wee slip and sure they’re dead.

His pencil see rustic judge dight,
An’ cut you up wi’ ready sleight,
Trenching your gushing entrails bright,
On the crit sheet;
And then, O what a glorious sight,
The ensemble judge’s sheet is white!

Then, tune for tune, they stretch an’ strive:
Deil tak the hindmost! on they drive,
Till a’ their weel-play’d doublings ring
And too many tenor drums do sing;
Then auld bassface, maist like to jive,
Bethankit! hums.

Is there that owre his French gavotte
Or some damn suite that someone wrought,
Or mazurkas that dinnae mak full sense
Wi’ perfect time,
Looks down wi’ sneering, scornfu’ view
On sic a tune?

Poor devil! see him play that trash,
As tenors twirl and drummers bash,
The whole band, a guid whip-lash;
Needed on the back;
Thro’ the qualifier to dash,
O how unfit!

But mark the Rustic, MSR,
The trembling earth resounds his tread.
Clap in his chanter a fulsome reed,
He’ll mak it whissle;
An’ legs an’ arms, an’ hands will fly,
Tae the beer tent, to get dry.

Ye Pow’rs, wha mak pipe bands your care,
And dish them out their bill o’ fare,
Auld Scotland wants nae musical sludge
Like suites and such;
But, if ye wish her gratefu’ prayer
Gie her an MSR!

– Iain MacDonald, Regina


1 thought on “By the Left

  1. No matter the quality or nature of the medium, a recording simply cannot capture the full harmonics of the instrument. I attended one of the Dan Reid performances several years ago. Willie McCallum came into the room, blew up his pipes, and I thought, Wow! He kept tuning and I really felt that all Willie was doing was taking the time to calm his nerves as his pipe was great. Then it happened: perfection! Never heard anything like that before. The sound was exquisite. No: stunning. I bought a CD of the competition when it became available and while a great recording that I still play, it simply couldn’t capture that incredible sound. Nothing like hearing it live. Besides, there’s no interplay with your fellow enthusiasts while watching YouTube.



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