> Folk Music > Songs > Galloway Tam

Galloway Tam

[ Roud V31014 ; Robert Burns]

Ewan MacColl sang Galloway Tam in 1959 on his Folkways album Songs of Robert Burns. He noted:

Galloway Tam, again, was an old song, little changed by Burns.

Jean Redpath sang Galloway Tam on her 1987 album The Songs of Robert Burns Volumes 6. Esther Hovey noted:

That Burns was enthusiastic about his work with James Johnson on the creation of The Scots Musical Museum can be seen from these excerpts from letters to his friends (October 1787):

An engraver, James Johnson, in Edin’ has, not from mercenary views but from an honest Scotch enthusiasm, set about collecting all our native songs and setting them to music; particularly those that have never been set before… and your humble servt to the utmost of his small power, assist in collecting the old poetry, or sometimes to a fine air to make a stanza, when it has no words… I have been absolutely crazed about it, collecting old stanzas, and every information remaining respecting their origin, authors, &c., &c.

The tune, Galloway Tam, is in Atkinson’s MS. (1694) and later in Oswald’s Caledonian Pocket Companion (1754). The lyrics, an 8-line folk fragment, seems to have been passed on to editor Johnson without alteration and with the notation, “Mr. Burns’s old words”.

Ian Bruce sang Galloway Tam in 1999 on his Linn album Alloway Tales and in 2000 on the Linn anthology The Complete Songs of Robert Burns Volume 5.

Johnny Campbell sang Galloway Tam in 2014 on his EP Robbie Burns (Vol 1).


Ewan MacColl sings Galloway Tam

O, Galloway Tam cam here to woo;
I’d rather we’d gien him the brawnit cow;
For our lass Bess may curse and ban
The wanton wit o’ Galloway Tam.

O, Galloway Tam cam here to shear;
I’d rather we’d gien him the gude grey mare;
He kist the gudewife and strack the gudeman;
And that’s the tricks o’ Galloway Tam.