Here we have another Scottish border ballad that came from the singing of the traveler and singer Belle Stuart, and likewise to SOTI in this recording by Archie Fisher.
The Traditional Ballad Index gives these notes:
This song is very close to “Heather Down the Moor“; they have similar plots and occasional common lyrics. Roud lumps them. There will be versions where it is almost impossible to tell which is which. I thought about listing them as one song. But on consideration, “Heather Down the Moor” has two characteristics rarely seen in “Queen among the Heather.” First, “Heather Down the Moor” tends to follow a complex stanza pattern of eight-line stanzas with complex internal chorus and repeats (see sample with that song). “Queen among the Heather” usually has simple four-line stanzas. “Heather down the Moor” also tends to end with the lines,
“But if I were a king,
I would make her a queen,
The bonnie lass I met among the heather
Down the moor.”
In “Queen Among the Heather,” he is a nobleman, so that obviously isn’t a concern.
Queen Among the Heather
Noo as I roved out one summer’s morn,
among lof-ty hills, moorland and mountain.
It was there I spied a weel faurt maid,
whilst I with others was out a hunting.
No shoes nor stockin’s did she wear,
Neither had she hat nor had she feathes.
But her golden hair hung in ringlets fair,
An’ the gentle breeze played round her shoulders.
This song was composed by Dòmhnall Ruadh Chorùna during the Battle of the Somme (July 1-November 18, 1916) – a battle in which over one million were wounded or killed. It is addressed to Magaidh NicLeòid (Maggie MacLeod), his sweetheart during the time of the war.
Here it’s sung by Karen Matheson.
An Eala Bhàn
Gur duilich leam mar tha mi
‘S mo chridhe ‘n sas aig bron
Bhon an uair a dh’fhag mi
Beanntan ard a’ cheo
Nan loch, nam bagh ‘s nan srom
‘S an eala bhan tha tamh ann
Gach la air ‘m bheil mi ‘n toir.
A Mhagaidh na bi tursach
A ruin, ged gheibhinn bas-
Co am fear am measg an t-sluaigh
A mhaireas buan gu brath?
Chan eil sinn uile ach air chuairt
Mar dhithein buaile fas
Bheir siantannan na blianna sios
‘S nach tog a’ ghrian an aird.
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