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