dinsdag 17 oktober 2017

The Braes of Balquhither (1814) / Will You Go Lassie Go (1952) / Wild Mountain Thyme (1957)

"Wild Mountain Thyme" (also known as "Purple Heather" and "Will Ye Go, Lassie, Go?") is a Scottish folk song that was collected by Francis McPeake 1st, who wrote the song himself for his wife. The McPeake family claim recognition for the writing of the song. Francis McPeake is a member of a well known musical family in Belfast, Northern Ireland.
The lyrics and melody are a variant of the song "The Braes of Balquhither" by Scottish poet Robert Tannahill (1774–1810), a contemporary of Robert Burns. Tannahill's original song is about the hills (braes) around Balquhidder near Lochearnhead.
Like Burns, Tannahill collected and adapted traditional songs, and "The Braes of Balquhither" may have been based on the traditional song "The Braes o' Bowhether" (SEE NOTE on the bottom of this post)

Wild Mountain Thyme - Wikipedia

The Braes o' Balquhidder / Wild Mountain Thyme / Will You Go Lassie, Go? [Robert Tannahill] (Roud 541; G/D 4:862)

(c) Frank McPeake and Son (1952)  (as "Will You Go, Lassie, Go")
Recorded July 7, 1952 at the O'Boyle Family home in Belfast.

(Photograph) Frank McPeake. Belfast, Northern Ireland, 1952 - Peter Kennedy Collection - World and traditional music | British Library - Sounds

Charles O'Boyle had invited a number of performers to meet Peter Kennedy for his first evening of music collecting in Belfast.
In particular Peter was struck by the song, "Will You Go, Lassie Go?", the tune of which was composed by Francie I, recorded it in a cupboard under the stairs, and, when he returned to London, persuaded George Martin and the Educational Dept. of The Gramophone Company to issue this track on a 10" LP called "Folk Song Today" (His Master's Voice DLP 1143)

On the back-sleeve we can read: "Their song is a version of "The Braes of Balquidder"

Various - Folk Song Today (Songs And Ballads Of England And Scotland) (Vinyl, LP) at Discogs

Various Artists: Folk Song Today

Listen here:

As I said above "Wild Mountain Thyme" is a reworded arrangement of "The Braes of Balquhither",
which also includes the lines "Let us go, lassie, go" and "And the wild mountain thyme".

"The Braes of Balquhither" was first published at Falkirk in 1814, together with "Jamie frae Dundee", "Blyth was she", "M’Pherson’s farewel", and "Highland Rover" - held in the British Library at shelfmark 11621.b.10.(35.)

The song was also published in 1815 in the 3rd edition of "Poems and Songs, Chiefly in the Scottish Dialect" by Robert Tannahill.
"The Braes Of Balquhither" is on page 154, with "The Three Carls o' Buchanan" mentioned as accompanying air (which, some suggest. is the same melody that Francis McPeake used for "Wild Mountain Thyme", but as we see later on in this post, it's not)


A five-verse voice and piano arrangement was published by J.A. and W. Geib in New York circa 1818-1821. as we see below this is another melody, than the one used for "Wild Mountain Thyme"

Catalog Record: The Braes of Balquhither | Hathi Trust Digital Library

Then it received a new arrangement, attributed to John Davies, in 1821, also not the tune later used for "Wild Mountain Thyme".

The Braes o' Balquhither. A Favorite Scotch Ballad. - The Lester S. Levy Sheet Music Collection

The tune was most certainly not composed by McPeake, as it is and was an ancient Scots air even in Robert Tannahill's time!
Furthermore, in a BBC Radio interview in 1957, Francie McPeake Snr, admitted he learned the song from an Uncle, and made no claims to have written or composed it!

Robert Tannahill clearly wrote and published the lyrics, and they were included twice in Robert Archibald Smith's "Scotish Minstrel" (1821).

Vol I, p. 49 (appears in index as "Will ye go, lassie, go" to the air of "Braes o'Balquither")



and Vol. IV, p. 89 (has another tune marked "2nd set", appears in index as "Let us go, lassie, go" and set to the air: "The Three Carls o Buchanan"



"Will ye go, lassie, go" to the air of "Braes o'Balquither" from Vol I of the Scotish Minstrel, was most likely the source for Francis McPeake to write his adaption of "Wild Mountain Thyme".
But even before that, in 1816, the song was published as "Bochuiddar" or "Balquhidder" (song # 77 on page 38) in Captain S. Fraser's "Collection of Melodies of the Highlands and Islands of Scotland".


This is confirmed on page 113 in George Farguhar Graham's "The Songs of Scotland Adapted to Their Appropriate Melodies" (1850).
It says: "In Captain S. Fraser's Collection of Melodies of the Highlands and Islands of Scotland, 1816, we find, No. 77, Bochuiddar - Balquidder - which is the air applied to Tannahill's song, with some slight differences, as found in vol. I, p. 49 of R.A. Smith's "Scottish Minstrel"


Some sheets on Bodleian (as Roud # 541):  http://ballads.bodleian.ox.ac.uk/search/roud/541

The first recorded version of "The Braes o' Balqu(h)idder" seems to be

(o) P.S. Richardson (1911)
Recorded January 1911 in London
Released on Columbia Rena 1692 and on Regal G-6573


The first recorded version of "The Braes o' Balquhidder" I could find, is by Alma Gluck.
Recorded: March 6, 1914 in Camden, New Jersey
Released on Victor 64416

Victor matrix B-14554. The braes o' Ballquhidder / Alma Gluck - Discography of American Historical Recordings

Listen here:

In the 1950's Elizabeth Cronin sang a version (recorded by Alan Lomax in 1951 and Seamus Ennis in 1952).
In "The Songs of Elizabeth Cronin", the notes say the song was set to music by Robert Archibald Smith himself, which.may or may not be quite accurate since it is known that Tannahill set the tunes himself to many of his other songs.


(c) John MacDonald (1974)  (as "The Braes O' Balquhidder").

John MacDonald sang The Braes o' Balquhidder on his 1975 Topic album "The Singing Molecatcher of Morayshire".
Hamish Henderson commented in the album's liner notes: A song by the Paisley weaver-poet Robert Tannahill (1774-1810), to an old air "The Three Carles o' Buchanan". This exquisite song became very popular in the 19th century throughout Scotland and Ireland. It was in the repertoire of the celebrated ballad-singer Mrs Elizabeth Cronin of Macroom, Co. Cork, and the version recorded by the McPeake family of Belfast—now known throughout the modern folk revival as "The Wild Mountain Thyme"—continues to enjoy widespread popularity. It belongs to a well-known class of courtship songs in which the lover appeals to his girl to leave the city and enjoy the pleasures of country life. These songs gained added pathos in the period of the Industrial Revolution, when so many of the Lowland towns turned into smokey hell-holes.

John MacDonald - The Singing Molecatcher Of Morayshire (Vinyl, LP, Album) at Discogs

John MacDonald

Listen here:

(c) Tannahill Weavers (1994)  (as "The Braes o' Balquhidder")


Listen here:

(c) Sandy Paton (1959) (as "Wild Mountain Thyme")

Sandy Paton - The Many Sides Of Sandy Paton (Vinyl, LP, Album) at Discogs

Jac Holzman's Follow The Music: Elektra Records Discography 1951-1968

Quoting Sandy Paton on the Mudat Cafe: "I recorded it for Elektra Records in 1959 (and taught it to Judy Collins in that year when she and I worked together at the Exodus in Denver). I had learned it from a field recording made of the McPeakes which I found in the BBC Recorded Programmes Library which was then housed at the Cecil Sharp House in London".

(c) Judy Collins (1961)  (as "Wild Mountain Thyme")

Judy Collins - A Maid Of Constant Sorrow (Vinyl, LP, Album) at Discogs

Here's Judy singing an accapella version on Pete Seeger's "Rainbow Quest" show in 1966.


(c) Bob Dylan (1961)  (as "Wild Mountain Thyme")
Recorded May 1961 in Minnesota

The Minnesota Tapes - Bootleg CD-

Bob also performed the song in 1969 on the Isle of Wight Festival in the UK
And on June 22, 1988 in Cincinnati, Ohio

And here's Bob with Joan Baez live in 1975.

(c) Simon Sisters (1965) (as "Will You Go Laddie Go")

The Simon Sisters (Lucy & Carly)* - Winkin', Blinkin' And Nod (Vinyl, LP) at Discogs

Winkin', Blinkin' and Nod: The Kapp Recordings - Wikipedia

Listen here:

(c) Joan Baez (1965)  (as "Wild Mountain Thyme")

Vinyl Album - Joan Baez - Farewell, Angelina - Vanguard - USA

Joan Baez - Farewell, Angelina (Vinyl, LP, Album) at Discogs

Here Joan performs the song live in Edinburgh in 1965.

(c) Marianne Faithfull (1965) (as "Wild Mountasin Thyme")
Released in 1965 on het album "Go Away From My World" (USA)

Vinyl Album - Marianne Faithfull - Go Away From My World - London - USA

Also released in 1966 on her album "North Country Maid" (UK)

North Country Maid | Marianne Faithfull

(c) The Byrds (1966) (as "Wild Mountain Thyme")

Vinyl Album - The Byrds - Fifth Dimension - Columbia - USA

(c) Fotheringay (1970) (as "Wild Mountain Thyme")
Released in 2008 on the CD "Fotheringay 2".

Fotheringay 2 - Wikipedia

(c) Van Morrison (1973)  (as "Purple Heather")
Released on the album "Hard Nose The Highway"

Hard Nose the Highway - Wikipedia

(c) Rod Stewart (1995)  (as "Purple Heather")
Released on the album "A Spanner In The Works".

CD Album - Rod Stewart - A Spanner In The Works - Warner Bros. - Europe

A Spanner in the Works - Wikipedia

Listen here:

(c) Mark Knopfler (2002)
Released in 2002 on the soundtrack of "A Shot At Glory")

Listen here:

(c) James Taylor (2015)  (as "Wild Mountain Thyme")

CD Album - James Taylor - Before This World - Concord - Europe

(c) Ed Sheeran (2017) (as "Wild Mountain Thyme")

Sheeran paying tribute to his Irish roots. (and maybe a bit Scottish too !)

More versions here:

Cover versions of Wild Mountain Thyme written by Francis McPeake,Robert Tannahill | SecondHandSongs

The Originals © by Arnold Rypens - WILD MOUNTAIN THYME

NOTE: Robert Tannahill's "The Braes o'Balquhither" might have been inspired by John Hamilton's "The Braes O'Bowhether" (1796)

(13) Page 5 - Braes o' Bowhether - Glen Collection of printed music > Printed music > Collection of twenty-four Scots songs (chiefly pastoral) - Special collections of printed music - National Library of Scotland

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