> Folk Music > Songs > The Yowie wi the Crookit Horn

The Yowie wi the Crookit Horn

[ Roud 2140 ; Ballad Index K271 ; GlosTrad Roud 2140 ; John Skinner]

Norman Buchan and Peter Hall: The Scottish Folksinger

Lucy Stewart of Fetterangus, Aberdeenshire, sang The Ewie wi the Crookit Horn in 1955 to Peter Kennedy. This recording was included on the anthology Songs of Animal and other Marvels (The Folk Songs of Britain Volume 10).

Jeannie Robertson sang The Yowie wi' the Crookit Horn in 1958 on her Collector EP The Gallowa' Hills. Hamish Henderson wrote in the album's sleeve notes:

This rare spirited song, to a bonny strathspey tune, is about the misfortune of a moonshiner, or distiller, of illicit whisky. The “yowie” (= little ewe) was the pet-name for the still in which Highland potcheen was produced.

The original song, of which Jeannie's version is a variant, was composed by [the Rev. John] Skinner of Lonmay, author of Tullochgorm [on the same EP].

Gordeanna McCulloch sang The Yowie wi the Crookit Horn on her 1978 Topic album with The Clutha, Sheath and Knife. She commented in her album's sleeve notes:

Written by Rev. John Skinner of Longmay, Aberdeenshire, and published in Robert Chambers's Songs of Scotland Prior to Robert Burns (Edinburgh, 1862).

Tony Cuffe sang The Ewie wi the Crookit Horn on his posthumous 2003 Greentrax CD Sae Will We Yet.

Elizabeth Stewart sang The Yowie wi the Crookit Horn in 2004 on her Elphinstone Institute CD Binnorie. She also sang it at the Fife Traditional Singing Festival, Collessie, Fife in May 2005, which was issued in the following year on the festival CD For Friendship and for Harmony (Old Songs & Bothy Ballads Volume 2).

Fiona Ross sang Yowie wi the Crookit Horn in 2017 on her Tradition Bearers album with Tony McManus, Clyde's Water. She noted:

This is one of the songs I was taught to sing by Andrew Hunter, who learned it from Jeannie Robertson. It’s an older version of Ewie Wi The Crookit Horn that was written by the Rev. John Skinner (1721-1807), pastor of Longside in Aberdeenshire. Older versions of the song like this one indicate that the Yowie wi the Crookit Horn was an illicit still, not an actual sheep—as it became in the good pastor’s re-working.

Lyrics

Gordeanna McCulloch sings The Yowie wi the Crookit Horn

Oh were I able tae rehearse
Ma yowie's praise in proper verse,
I'd sound it oot sae loud and fierce,
As ever piper's drones could blaw.

Chorus (after each verse):
Yowie wi the crookit horn,
As that kent her could haw sworn,
Sic a yowie ne'er was born,
Hearabouts nor far awa.

A better nor a thriftier beast
Nae honest man could e'er hae wished,
For, silly thing, she never missed
Tae hae ilk year a lamb or twa.

The first she had I gae to Jock,
Tae be toae him a kind of stock,
An noo the laddie has a flock
O mair than thirty heaid an twa.

The neist I gae to Jean an noo
The bairn's sae braw, wi faulds so fu'
That lads sae thick come her tae woo,
They're fain tae sleep on haw or straw.

But last week for aa ma keepin,
Wha can tell o't wi oot greetin?
A villain cam when aa were sleepin,
Staw ma yowie, horn an aa.

I never met wi sic a turn,
At e'en I had baith yow and horn,
Safe steekit up, but gain the morn,
Baith yow and horn were flown awa.

Come aa ye bards ayont Kinghorn,
Caa up yer Muses, let them mourn,
Oor yowie wi the crookit horn,
Frae us stawn an felled an aa.

Fiona Ross sings Yowie wi the Crookit Horn

The yowie wi the crookit horn
Sic a yowie was never born
Sic a yowie was never born
Here aboot nor there ava
When a’ the yowies loup’t the dyke
And ate my kail for a’ their might
My yowie never did the like
But pickit at the barn wa’

What dae ye think for a’ my keepin?
There cam the nickums when I was sleepin
There cam the nickums when I was sleepin
Stole my yowie and horn and a’
For it’s doon by the bush o thorn
There I found my yowie’s horn
There I found my yowie’s horn
But my yowie was awa

The nicht is dark, the hoolets screamin
There’s thirsty men and thirsty weemin
There’s thirsty men and thirsty weemin
Sin the nickums ta’en my yowie awa
But gin I got the lad that did it
I wad kill him as sure as I said it
I wad kill him as sure as I said it
I wad gie his neck a thraw