Caledonia (MacLean)

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

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Ye Banks And Braes (O’ Bonie Doon)

River Doon, Ayrshire, Scotland

A lovely performance by Holly Tomás of another song written by Robert Burns. From Sangstories:

This lyric was first printed in Johnson’s Scots Musical Museum, Vol.4, 13th August 1792, when Burns was 33. Johnson notes that Burns wrote it for this volume, and adds “ the Music by Mr. James Millar, Writer in Edinburgh.”

The flowering rose with its hidden thorn is a metaphor for the pain of love betrayed.

“Ye Banks and Braes” is the third set of verses Burns produced on this theme. The first began Sweet are the banks, the banks o’ Doon / The spreading flowers are fair to the tune “Cambdelmore”. Burns wrote in March 1792 to Allan Cunningham that he intended this for volume 4 of the Museum, but it does not appear there.

The second version, “Ye Flowery Banks o’ Bonie Doon”, to the same tune “Cambdelmore”, has often been preferred by academic commentators to “Ye Banks and Braes”. It was also written in 1791 but not printed until 1808, after Burns’s death, in Cromek’s Reliques of Robert Burns

Ye Banks and Braes O’ Bonie Doon

Ye Flowery Banks o’ Bonie Doon

Ye flowery banks o’ bonie Doon,
How can ye blume sae fair;
How can ye chant, ye little birds,
And I sae fu’ o’ care!

Thou’ll break my heart, thou bonie bird
That sings upon the bough;
Thou minds me o’ the happy days
When my fause luve was true.

Thou’ll break my heart, thou bonie bird
That sings beside thy mate;
For sae I sat, and sae I sang,
And wist na o’ my fate (knew not)

Aft hae I rov’d by bonie Doon,
To see the woodbine twine,
And ilka bird sang o’ its luve,
And sae did I o’ mine.

Wi lightsome heart I pu’d a rose
Frae aff its thorny tree,
And my fause luver staw my rose,
But left the thorn wi’ me.

Wi lightsome heart I pu’d a rose,
Upon a morn in June:
And sae I flourish’d on the morn,
And sae was pu’d or noon!
But, ah! he left the thorn wi’ me.

Plooman Laddies

Lucy Kemp Welch – Hinger dem pflug behind the plow

Another song from the Scottish Lowlands/Borders where the plooman (ploughman) life was one all of it’s own.  Elizabeth Stewart sings, with a bit of help and harmony from the audience.

Another song in praise of the glamorous ploughboy and the girl in love with him. Here the affair is still joyful without the disappointment of his moving on without her – and perhaps this time he won’t. –

Plooman Laddies

Doon yonder den there’s a plooman lad
Some simmer’s day he’ll be aa my ain

And sing laddie aye, and sing laddie o
The plooman laddies are aa the go

I love his teeth, an I love his skin
I love the verra cairt he hurls in

In yonder toon ah could hae gotten a merchant
But aa his gear wisna worth a groat

Doon yonder den ah could hae gotten a miller
But aa his dust wad hae deen me ill

It’s ilka time I gyang tae the stack
I hear his wheep gie the ither crack

I see him comin frae the toon
Wi aa his ribbons hingin roon and roon

Aa the go: in fashion, all the rage
Deen me ill: made me sick
Den: narrow wooded valley
Groat: archaic Scottish coin of low value
Gyang: go
Hurls: rides (in a wheeled vehicle)
Ilka: every
Stack: peat stack
Verra: very