Dougie MacLean‘s Caledonia is one of the most celebrated songs of the modern “Celtic” folk era, but it wasn’t Dougie’s singing that made it famous. A single verse and the chorus were used in a TV advertisement for Tennent’s Lager sung by Frankie Miller, who later rerecorded the song and released it as a single. It seems, however, that Dougie MacLean has now firmly reclaimed the song as his own, and he can been seen performing it all over the world.
Dougie wrote the song on a beach in France, feeling homesick for Scotland. He told the Daily Record:
I was in my early 20s and had been busking around with some Irish guys. I was genuinely homesick. I’d always lived in Perthshire. I played it to the guys when I got back to the youth hostel where we were staying and that was the final straw – we all went home the next day. It took about 10 minutes but sometimes that’s how songs happen. I’m still amazed at how much it has become part of common culture. There’s not a pub singer, busker or pipe band that doesn’t play it.
Music & Lyrics by Dougie MacLean. Published by Limetree Arts and Music
I don’t know if you can see the changes that have come over me
In these last few days I’ve been afraid that I might drift away
So I’ve been telling old stories, singing songs that make me think about where I came from
And that’s the reason why I seem so far away today
Ah but let me tell you that I love you and I think about you all the time
Caledonia you’re calling me and now I’m going home
But if I should become a stranger you know that it would make me more than sad
Caledonia’s been everything I’ve ever had
I have moved and kept on moving proved the points that I needed proving
Lost the friends that I needed losing found others on the way
I have tried and I’ve kept on trying stolen dreams, yes there’s no denying
I have travelled hard, sometimes with conscience flying somewhere in the wind
Now I’m sitting here before the fire, the empty room, the forest choir
The flames that couldn’t get any higher they’ve withered, now they’ve gone
But I’m steady thinking, my way is clear and I know what I will do tomorrow
When the hands have shaken and the kisses flow Oh I will disappear
3 thoughts on “Caledonia (MacLean)”
A wonderful song with a universal message. I believe it’s even been translated into several other languages. Dougie is an amazing songwriter. I particularly love “Eternity”, “Feel So Near” and “Turning Away.”
Wee County folk singer/songwriter
I love this song. I heard it many years ago sung by Dolores Keane on a great cd compilation of Irish women singers: “A Woman’s Heart, ” one of my all time favorite CDs.
Oh..meant to invite you to visit my blog some time. I did a posting this morning for Tom Paxton’s 76th birthday today. Thanks!