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User Name Thread Name Subject Posted
GUEST,rossey Origins/Author: Dark Island (43) Lyr Add: DARK ISLAND (Stewart Ross) 01 Jul 01

This is not the one you're looking for but - my late father Stewart Ross (1929-1993) of Inverness, Scotland - wrote a very well known version of the song in 1963, after being assured that the tune was traditional. It was published on sheet music and record, where he was formally registered as the author of the lyric alone.

There is a very long story involved. The tune had two earlier titles before becoming known as Dark Island for the TV series. Disputes arose over the origin of the tune and the two larger selling vocal versions. This situation has never been fully resolved and there are rights and wrongs on both sides, as the publishers exploited both versions of the song at the time, without payment and credited to the wrong author. Catch-22: to be credited today, artists and record companies have to know whose version they are using in the first place - and not put it down as the other version. Back in the 60's and 70's, the record company, artists, and publishers knew whose version they were using (and I have legal papers which prove it).

My father did win one court case in Scotland against a small record company for the use of the lyric, but the whole thing became a mess when the larger record company PYE became defunct.

The Ross version has appeared on over 40 albums, singles, TV advertised samplers etc. The Silver version is now the most widely used and recorded - but the ghost versions always come back. Both of these lyrics were written within one month each other. The Ross version was the first set to be published. The Mudcat site, however, has planted a bit of a time-bomb for my family by including it on their Digi site without credit or permission - and with misheard lyrics which do not scan, and don't do it any justice.

There were at least 4 English lyrics that I know of written in the 60's to versions of the tune. Each have different properties and suit singers in various ways. The Ross words were written to a very different version of the tune and are not a straight fit to the accordion tune.

Words PRS copyrighted, Stewart Ross (c) 1963

In the years long gone by when I first left my home,
I was young and I wanted the wide world to roam,
But now I am older and wiser you see,
That lovely Dark Island is calling to me.

CHORUS: Though I've wandered away from the land of my birth,
And been roaming around to the ends of the earth.
Still my heart is at home in a land far away,
That lovely Dark Island where memories stray.

[This verse is usually axed for length's sake:]

With a sorrowful heart I look back through the years.
When I think of that Island, my eyes fill with tears.
Once again then I long for the land I adore,
That lovely Dark Island I long for once more.

CHORUS: Though...

LAST VERSE: One day I'll return to that far distant shore,
And from that Dark Island I'll wander no more.
Till the day that I die, I will no longer roam,
For that lovely Dark Island will be my last home.

CHORUS: Though...
That lovely dark island where memories stray.

My father went on to write other less problematic copyright works where he wrote both words and music. Mostly he wrote in the country music vein - and Scottish/Irish emigration songs. 'My Bonnie Maureen' is one really nice song recorded by Daniel O'Donnell on platinum selling 'From the Heart'. Another, 'Here's to Scottish Whisky' has become very big on Scottish samplers, - but nothing eclipses the sales of his version of 'dark island' at its peak in the 60's and 70's.

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