Mudcat Café message #1762610 The Mudcat Café TM
Thread #40279   Message #1762610
Posted By: Malcolm Douglas
18-Jun-06 - 01:03 AM
Thread Name: Help: American songs from Scotland?
Subject: RE: Help: American songs from Scotland?
In a way it's a pity that SRS revived this old thread (please all note the date of the original question), as a lot of it is superceded by later discussions. Back in 2001 I didn't know, for instance, that the Beers set of 'Dumbarton's Drums' uses a completely different tune from the Scottish one.

Other misapprehensions corrected elsewhere include the suggestion that Pepys heard 'Barbara Allen' in Scotland (he didn't; he heard it at a posh do in London, sung by an actress he was keen on. When he described it as a "little Scotch song", he was probably referring to the genre, not the country of origin; as at other times he might have said "northern song" or "country song". It was likely written in London for the stage. It's been found in tradition in Ireland, naturally; but it has also been found almost everywhere else where English is spoken, including Tristan da Cunha. Nobody, I think, has suggested on the strength of that that it originated there.

'The Water is Wide' is, in the form most people know it, very specifically English: again, see other threads for full details.

There are more misapprehensions, but for now I'll just address a new (for this thread) one brought up by 'Leadfingers'. Although forms of 'The Farmers's Curst Wife' have been found in Scotland (Burns re-wrote one, quite extensively, as 'The Carle o' Killyburn Braes'), it's also been found practically everywhere else as well. The earliest recorded text is an English broadside registered in 1630, and there seems no particular reason to think that wasn't the "original".

A great many Scottish songs were enormously popular in the USA from its earliest days, of course, but these are usually pretty obvious. There's no particular need to grasp at speculative straws when there is so much genuine information available if you care to look for it.