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Ythanside

[ Roud 3783 ; G/D 5:951 ; Ballad Index Ord032 ; John Gordon, Mansfield, ca. 1830]

Daisy Chapman sang the lovely bothy ballad Ythanside at the Aberdeen Folk Festival in 1968. This recording made by Peter Shepheard was included in 2000 as the title track of her Musical Traditions anthology Ythanside. The accompanying booklet noted:

This lovely song was sung by Daisy Chapman at the Aberdeen Folk Festival Sunday afternoon traditional concert in October 1968 shortly after returning from her successful first appearance at the Blairgowrie Festival in August. This was one of Daisy's favourite songs and it was clearly also very popular in the north east at the turn of the century, since there are fourteen versions in the Greig-Duncan Collection and a total of 21 in Roud—all from Scotland. Gavin Greig considered the song to be fairly recent when he first commented on it in his retiring presidential address to the Buchan Field Club in December 1905. However, Daisy's tune is clearly old, and is a beautiful pentatonic melody lacking both the 3rd and 6th of the scale and so relates to the three flattened 7th modes, the myxolydian, dorian and aeolian, and the melody is similar to several of those in the Greig Duncan Collection.

Only two other sound recordings are known; by Frank Steele and Jimmy McBeath. Daisy's will be, we think, the only available recording.

Jimmy McBeath sang Ythanside to Peter Hall in a private house in Scotland in July 1971. This recording was included in 1978 on his Topic album Bound to Be a Row. Peter Hall commented in the sleeve notes:

On to the simple rural love song have been grafted the sort of realistic details that belong to the classic bothy ballad and so we can fairly confidently date this piece to the latter part of the nineteenth century. It is often encountered today and the text is quite stable except for the end which varies considerably, as if the singers were uncertain of the emotional direction of the song.

Barbara Dickson sang Ythanside in a folk club performance recorded in between 1969 and 1973. This was included in 2015 on her CD B4 Seventy-Four: The Folkclub Tapes.

Cathy Lesurf sang Ythanside in 1978 on Fiddler's Dram's album To See the Play.

Scotch Measure sang Ythanside on their 1985 eponymous Topic album Scotch Measure.

Tom Spiers sang Ythanside n 2001 on his Tradition Bearers CD of Scots songs and ballads, Allan Water.

Jock Duncan sang Ythanside during the Fife Traditional Singing Festival, Collessie, Fife in May 2005. This recording was included in the following year on the festival anthology For Friendship and for Harmony (Old Songs & Bothy Ballads Volume 2). The liner notes commented:

Jock understands the song to have been composed by John Gordon of Mansfield around 1830. There are fourteen versions in the Greig-Duncan Collection (GD 5:951) and a total of 21 in Roud—all from Scotland. Gavin Greig considered the song to be fairly recent when he first commented on it in his retiring presidential address to the Buchan Field Club in December 1905.

The river Ythan rises 7 miles east of Huntly in Aberdeenshire. It flows east to Bruckhills, northeast to Mains of Towie and then south to Fyvie from where it meanders generally southwards to Ellon before reaching one of the most unspoiled river estuaries in the British Isles at Newburgh Bar 12 miles north of Aberdeen.

Lyrics

Daisy Chapman sings Ythanside

As I gaed in be Ythanside,
Where gently flows the rollin tide,
A bonnie lass passed by my side,
Her looks to me, an smiled.

Oh but she was a beauty bricht,
That iver trod the braes o' Gight,
I could hae spent a leelang nicht
Wi her on Ythanside.

I turned my back on Fyvie's bells,
An my poor heart gave mony a knell,
An I spiered the wey be Saint John's wells,
An hame be Ythanside.

The maid replied without delay,
She turned tae me an this did say,
“I only go two miles that way,
Young man, I'll tell ye plain.”

She took me 'til her father's hame,
Sae bashfully as we gaed ben,
The auldwife, she took oot a seat,
An bad ma 'til sit doun.

I sat doon the auld folks tae please,
They treated me wi breid an cheese,
The bairnies aa aroon ma knees,
It wis a blythesome sicht.

Nine o'clock began tae strick,
An I bad them aa a blythe sweet nicht,
An I spiered the wey be Mains o' Gight,
An hame be Ythanside.

She showed me til the barn door,
Oh, but oor twa herts were sore;
We parted there to meet no more,
Wi her on Ythanside.

When he came back it was into Spring,
An on her finger he placed a ring,
An frae her hame he haes her taen,
On bonnie Ythanside.

Noo this couple's mairried noo,
They've as muckle grund's would keep a coo,
An they hae bairnies—quite a few,
An dwell on Ythanside.

Cathy Lesurf sings Ythanside

As I came in by Ythanside
Where gently flows the rolling tide
A bonny lass passed by my side,
Her looks did me ensnare.

That maid she was of beauty bright
As ever trod the Braes of Gight.
Now I could have spent the leelong night
With her on Ythanside.

I turned me back on Fyvie's bells,
My poor heart gave many a knell.
I asked the road to St John's Wells
With courage stout and bold.

The maid she turned without delay,
Thus to me began to say,
“I scarcely go two miles this way,
Young man I'll tell you plain.

“But gin ye gang the gate ye come,
I'll get a man will show ye home
Out over yon bonny flowery glen,
And home by Ythanside.”

I thanked the maid and turned right bold,
And the flocks they were driving to the fold,
And many a lively tale she told
Just as we passed along.

Till at length we reached her father's home,
So bashfully as I went in.
Says I to myself, I'm away from home
Although on Ythanside.

But the people all there seemed discreet,
Everyone about there did creep.
And the old good wife brought me a seat
And bade me to sit me down.

I sat me down right well content,
The old goodman for news was bent.
To view the maid was my intent,
The truth I'll tell you plain.

But the ploughmen lads began to spit
And gather all up to their feet,
Says I, my lad, you're going to flit
And go back home again.

And home I started straight outright
And bade them all a blithe goodnight,
And asked the road to Mains o Gight,
To which the maid replied,

“Oh I'll show you by the barn door.”
Judge you if our two hearts were sore,
To think we'd part to meet no more
On bonny Ythanside.

I took the fair maid by the hand,
The time it was short, we had to stand.
I got a kiss upon demand.
These words to me she said,

“When you come back this road again
With you then I will be going.”
And I went whistling down the lane
And home by Ythanside.

Jock Duncan sings Ythanside

As I cam in by Ythanside,
Whaur swiftly flows the rolling tide,
A fair young maid passed by ma side,
She looked at me and smiled.
She was a maid of beauty bricht,
That ever trod the Braes o Gight,
I could hae spent a leelang nicht,
Wi her on Ythanside.

I turned my back on Fyvie's bells,
And my peer hert gaed many a knell,
And I spiered her on tae St John's Wells,
Wi courage stout an bold,
The maid she turned withoot delay,
And thus to me began to say,
“I scarcely go two miles this way,
Young man I'll tell ye plain.

“But gin ye gang the gate ye came,
I'll get a man tae show ye hame,
Oot ower yon bonnie flooery glen,
And hame by Ythanside.”
I thanked the maid and turned richt bold,
The flocks were driving to the fauld,
And many a lively tale she told,
Jist as we passed along.

Till at length we reached her faither's hame,
Sae bashfully as I gaed ben,
Thocht I ma lad I'm fae fae hame,
Although on Ythanside.
The folkies there they seemed discrete,
And ilkae een about did creep,
The auld gweedwife brocht ben a seat,
And bad me tae sit doon.

As I sat there weel content,
The auld gweedman on news wis bent,
But to coort the maid wis my intent,
The truth I'll tell ye plain.
As I sat there at ma ease,
They treated me tae breid an cheese,
The bairnies they played roond my knees,
Wasn't that a blythsome sight.

Then up I started stracht oot richt,
An bid them aa a blyth gweednicht,
An I spiered the road tae Mains o Gight,
At which the maid replied:
“I'll show you by the barn door.”
Judge ye gin oor twa herts were sore,
Tae think we'd pairt and meet no more,
On bonnie Ythanside.

I took the fair maid by the hand,
Oor time wis short we had tae stand
And I got a kiss upon demand,
This words tae me she said:
“When you come back this road again,
It's wi you that I'll be gaein.”
And I gaed whistlin through the glen,
And hame by Ythanside.

When he came back was in the Spring,
He on her finger put a ring,
And from her hame he has her taen,
On bonnie Ythanside.
This couple they've got mairried noo,
And they hae bairnies one or two,
And as much land as keeps a coo,
On bonnie Ythanside.