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The Road (and the Miles) to Dundee

[ Roud 2300 ; G/D 5:971 ; Ballad Index Ord152 ; trad.]

Ewan MacColl sang The Road to Dundee on his 1961 album Bothy Ballads of Scotland. He commented:

This singularly innocent song is deservedly popular throughout the whole of northeast Scotland. It is one of those pieces which belong to that part of a social gathering when drink and good fellowship demand the somewhat pleasant feelings of nostalgia which such a song can create.

Betty Campbell of Aberdeen sang The Road and the Miles to Dundee in 1965 on the Campbell Family's Topic album, The Singing Campbells. Peter A. Hall and Arthur Argo commented in the sleeve notes:

One of the most common carriers of folksong has been the semi-professional singer who would do the rounds of socials and weddings. Such a person was Jess Paterson from whom Betty Campbell learned this song about 40 years ago in Aberdeen. It is still one of the most popular romantic songs in the area, known by young and old alike.

Ian Manuel sang The Road to Dundee live at Folk Union One, Hull, in 1969. This recording was included in the same year on the privately issued album Blue Bell Folk Sing. This album was re-issued on CD by Hallamshire Traditions in 2014.

Max Boyce sang The Road and the Miles to Dundee in 1977 as the title track of his EMI LP The Road and the Miles ….

Both Charlie Lamb and Jim Reid sang The Road and the Miles to Dundee on the 1985 Springthyme album of songs and ballads of Dundee, Coorse and Fine.

Cy Laurie sang The Road to Dundee on the 1994 Greentrax anthology of songs from the Tron Tavern, Edinburgh, Ceilidh House Sessions.

Bert Jansch sang The Road tae Dundee in 1990 on his Run River album The Ornament Tree.

Fred Jordan sang The Road to Dundee on his 1991 VWML cassette, In Course of Time.

Linde Nijland sang The Road to Dundee in 2007 on her CD with Henk Scholte and Bert Ridderbos, Winterliederen. Their liner notes commented laconically:

A meeting on the road to Dundee in Scotland. A man shows a woman the way, but does not win her heart.

Roy Bailey sang Road to Dundee in 2009 on his CD Below the Radar, accompanied by John Kirkpatrick on button accordion and Martin Simpson on guitar.


Ewan MacColl sings The Road to Dundee

The winter was howling o'er moor and o'er mountain,
And wild was the surge o' the dark rolling sea,
When I met aboot daybreak a bonnie young lassie
Wha asked me the road and the miles tae Dundee.

Says I tae the lassie, “I cannae weel tell ye,
The road and the distance I cannae weel gie.
But gin ye permit me tae gang a wee bittie,
I will show you the road and the miles tae Dundee.”

She fairly consented and gied me her airm,
Nae a word did I speir wha the lassie might be.
She appeared like an angel in feature and form
As she walked by my side on the road tae Dundee.

At length wi' the Howe o' St Martin's behind us
And the spires o' the toon in full view we could see,
She said, “Gentle sir, I can never forget ye
For showing me sae far on the road tae Dundee.

“This ring and this purse tak tae prove I am grateful
And some simple token I trust ye gie me.
And in times to come I'll the laddie remember
That showed me the road and the miles tae Dundee.”

I took a gold pin from the scarf in my bosom
And said, “Tak this in remembrance o' me.”
Then bravely I kissed the sweet lips o' this lassie,
Then pairted frae her on the road tae Dundee.

Then here's tae the lassie, I ne'er can forget her,
And every young laddie that's listenin' tae me
And never be sweir tae convoy a young lassie
Tho' it's only to show her the road tae Dundee.


See also the Mudcat Café thread Info on: The Road and the Miles to Dundee.