> Folk > Songs > The Shearin's Not for You / Tak' the Buckles Frae Your Sheen / Bonnie Lassie O

The Shearin's Not for You /
Tak' the Buckles Frae Your Sheen / Bonnie Lassie O

[ Roud 4845 ; G/D 7:1486 ; Ballad Index RcShNaYo ; trad.]

Jeannie Robertson sang Tak' the Buckles Frae Your Sheen in 1960 on her Prestige International album Scottish Ballads and Folk Songs, and in a recording made by Peter Kennedy in 1953 titled Bonnie Lassie O on the 1994 Saydisc CD Songs of the Travelling People. James Porter noted in her biography on this song:

These verses are a later variant of the traditional song, O the Shearin's No' for You, from which John Sim and Thomas Lyle cobbled the sentimental text of Kelvin Grove. The words of Kelvin Grove first appeared in The Harp of Renfrewshire (1819), the editor of which was none other than the ballad collector William Motherwell. It seems that Lyle wrote the first draft of the text, while Sim, who died shortly after The Harp was published, made additions and alterations. The tune was included in R.A. Smith's Scottish Minstrel (1821), where it is called Kelvin Water, the original title and words now replaced.

Ray and Archie Fisher sang What's Poor Mary Weeping For? / Bonnie Lassie O in 1966 on the Fisher Family's Topic album Traditional & New Songs from Scotland. Norman Buchan commented in the sleeve notes:

From the singing of Jeannie Robertson. The first needs no comment—it’s a children’s play song known in one form or another all over Britain. Bonnie Lassie O is a dry mordant comment on the lassie who cannot quite grasp that her dancing days are over, and that she had better get on with the job of looking after her weans. It’s an infinitely better song than the one that has replaced it to that tune Kelvin Grove by Thomas Lyle, which could stand as a model for the ‘verdant greenery’ school of Scottish writers. Sample lines:

Where the rose in all her pride
Paints the hollow dingle side

Needless to say, it is the Kelvin Grove version which gets taught in our schools.

The Clutha sang The Shearin's No for You in 1971 on their Argo album Scotia!.

John Goodluck sang The Shearin's Not for You in 1974 on his Traditional Sound Recordings album The Suffolk Miracle.

Frankie Armstrong, Kathy Henderson, Sandra Kerr, Alison McMorland printed O the Shearing's Not for You, a dialogue between an itinerant soldier and his pregnant rape victim, in 1979 in their book of 100 women's songs, My Song Is My Own. The book comments:

Shearing is not sheep-shearing here, but corn harvesting. Traditionally this was women's work and taken over by men only in the mid-nineteenth century. The song probably dates from the early nineteenth century.

Sheena Wellington sang The Shearin in a concert at Nitten (Newtongrange) Folk Club, Scotland, that was published in 1995 on her Greentrax CD Strong Women. She commented in her liner notes:

My perjink music teacher, attempting to teach us Thomas Lyle's gentle Kelvin Grove, had the eight year old me removed from the classroom when I sang the ‘belly's rowin fu’ verse. There are many versions, some with rape, desertion and murder involved, but I like the rueful tenderness of this one.

Sheena Wellington, Alison McMorland, Elspeth Cowie and Stravaig sang The Shearin's No for You at Celtic Collections at the Glasgow Royal Concert Hall in January 2001. This concert was published a year later on the Greentrax CD Scots Women.

Ewan McLennan sang The Shearing in 2014 on his third Fellside CD, Stories Still Untold. He commented:

There are many versions of this traditional Scottish song. This one, as with so many folk songs, seems to be an amalgamation of several songs' verses—The Shearin's No for You [Roud 4845], Kelvin Grove and The Shearing [Roud 1524]. In this version there are verses from the commonly known The Shearin's No for You, but it bares closer resemblance to the first, and slightly less dramatic, collected version of the song found in The Greig-Duncan Folk Song Collection [3:406].

The shearing here refers to the cutting of wheat and corn and the story taps into the common folk tale of a young woman being abandoned by a soldier.

Pete Wood sang The Shearing's Not for You on his 2014 CD Young Edwin. He noted:

A popular Scottish traditional song of somewhat ambiguous theme. The tune is Kelvin Grove, used for many Scots songs, but Shearing may be the original.

Lyrics

O the Shearing's Not for You in My Song Is My Own

O the shearing's not for you, my bonnie lassie O,
O the shearing's not for you, my bonnie lassie O,
O the shearing's not for you, for your back it wouldna' bow,
And your belly's o'er full, my bonnie lassie O.

It was in the month of May, my bonnie lassie O,
It was in the month of May, my bonnie lassie O,
It was in the month of May, when the flowers they were gay,
And the lambs did sport and play, my bonnie lassie O'

Do you mind on yonder hill, my bonnie laddie O,
Do you mind on yonder hill, my bonnie laddie O,
D'you mind on yonder hill where you swore you would me kill,
If you did'na have your will? my bonnie laddie O.

Do you mind the banks of Ayr, my bonnie laddie O,
Do you mind the banks of Ayr, my bonnie laddie O,
Do you mind the banks of Ayr, where you drew me in your snare,
And you left me in despair, my bonnie laddie O?

O it's you may kill me dead, my bonnie laddie O,
O it's you may kill me dead, my bonnie laddie O,
O I'll not kill you dead nor make your body bleed,
Nor marry you with speed my bonnie lassie O.

For the pipes do sweetly play, my bonnie lassie O,
For the pipes do sweetly play, my bonnie lassie O,
O the pipes do sweetly play and the troops do march away,
And it's here I will not stay, my bonnie lassie O.

O the shearing's not for you, my bonnie lassie O,
O the shearing's not for you, my bonnie lassie O,
O the shearing's not for you, for your back it wouldna' bow,
And your belly's o'er full my bonnie lassie O.

Jeannie Robertson sings Tak' the Buckles frae Your Sheen

Tak' the buckles frae your sheen, bonnie lassie O.
Tak' the buckles frae your sheen, for your dancin' days are deen,
For your dancin' days are deen, bonnie lassie O.

Tak' the flounces frae your goun, bonnie lassie O.
Tak' the flounces frae your goun, mak' a frockie tae your loon,
Mak' a frockie tae your loon, bonnie lassie O.

Dae yer min' on Glesca Green, bonnie lassie O?
Dae yer min' on Glesca Green, when I played on your machine?
Dae yer min' on Glesca Green, bonnie lassie O?

Ray and Archie Fisher sing Bonnie Lassie O

Tak the buckles frae your shoon, my bonnie lassie O (×3)
For ye've married sich a loon
That your dancin' days are doon, my bonnie lassie O.

Tak the ribbons frae your hair, my bonnie lassie O (×3)
And cut off your ringlets fair,
For ye've naught but want and care, my bonnie lassie O.

Tak the flooncies frae your knee, my bonnie lassie O (×3)
For it's better far for ye,
To look out your bairnies three, my bonnie lassie O.

Links

See also the Mudcat Café thread Origins: O the Shearing's Not For You.