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> Louis Killen > Songs > The Clancy Brothers: Will You Go, Lassie

The Braes o' Balquhidder /
Wild Mountain Thyme (Will You Go Lassie, Go?)

[ Roud 541 ; G/D 4:862 ; Ballad Index FSWB141A , SmHa084 ; Bodleian Roud 541 ; Robert Tannahill / Francis McPeake]

Jeannie Robertson sang Braes o' Balquidder in a recording made by Hamish Henderson on her 1960 Collector album Lord Donald Hamish Henderson commented in sleeve notes:

A number of composed songs by such writers as Burns, Hogg and Tannahill are found in the repertoire of Scottish folksingers, most of them reduced to a sort of “singer's digest”. Typical examples are Hogg's Birnie Bouzle and Tannahill's Braes o' Balquidder. In Jeannie's two stanza digest of the latter, Tannahill's appeal to the ‘lassie’ to go with him to a sort of Highland weekend jaunt has been transformed into a lover's meeting song of breath-taking loveliness.

John MacDonald sang The Braes o' Balquhidder on his 1975 Topic album The Singing Molecatcher of Morayshire. Hamish Henderson commented in the album's liner notes:

A song by the Paisley weaver-poet Robert Tannahill (1774-1810), to an old air The Three Carles o' Buchanan. This exquisite song became very popular in the 19th century throughout Scotland and Ireland. It was in the repertoire of the celebrated ballad-singer Mrs Elizabeth Cronin of Macroom, Co. Cork, and the version recorded by the McPeake family of Belfast—now known throughout the modern folk revival as The Wild Mountain Thyme—continues to enjoy widespread popularity. It belongs to a well-known class of courtship songs in which the lover appeals to his girl to leave the city and enjoy the pleasures of country life. These songs gained added pathos in the period of the Industrial Revolution, when so many of the Lowland towns turned into smokey hell-holes.

Besides The Wild Mountain Thyme, this song is also known as Purple Heather and Will You Go Lassie, Go?. Francis McPeake and son sang it with the latter title in a recording made by Peter Kennedy on his 1955 anthology Folk Song Today and the whole McPeake family sang it as the title track of on their 1963 Topic EP Wild Mountain Thyme. Francis McPeake (son) accompanied on the uilleann pipes and sang with Francis (father), Francis (grandson) Tommy McCrudden, Kathleen and James, who also accompanied on the harp.

The Halliard (Nic Jones, Dave Moran, Nigel Patterson) sang The Wild Mountain Thyme in 1967 on their first album, It's the Irish in Me.

Fotheringay played Will You Go Lassie, Go at a “Sounds of the Seventies” BBC Radio 1 session broadcast on November 15, 1970. In 2008 Fledg'ling Records published a version of Fotheringay's Wild Mountain Thyme from the 1970 Sound Techniques studio recordings on the Fotheringay 2 CD.

The Clancy Brothers with Louis Killen sang Will You Go, Lassie live at the Bushnell Auditorium in Hartford, Connecticut in 1972. This concert recording was released a year later on their album Live on St. Patrick's Day.

Another recording by Bert Jansch from his 1982 album Heartbreak was included in 1996 on the anthology New Electric Muse: The Story of Folk into Rock.

Swan Arcade sang Wild Mountain Thyme in 1990 on their CD Full Circle.

Maggie Reilly sang Wild Mountain Thyme in 2007 on her CD Rowan.

Kate Rusby sang Blooming Heather in 2007 on her CD Awkward Annie.

Jon Boden sang Wild Mountain Thyme as the June 13, 2011 entry of his project A Folk Song a Day. He noted in his blog

Sung a lot on Forest School Camps (and everywhere else of course). Recently heard a wonderful version by the McPeakes on the Topic re-release—a fair bit more bite than the Rod Stewart version that’s for sure.

Lyrics

Robert Tannahill's poem The Braes o' Balquhither John MacDonald sings The Braes o' Balquhidder

Let us go, lassie go
To the braes of Balquhither,
Where the blae-berries grow,
'Mang the bonnie Highland heather;
Where the deer and the rae,
Lightly bounding together,
Sport the lang summer day
On the braes o' Balquhither.

Will ye go, lassie go,
To the braes o' Balquhidder?
Where the blaeberries grow,
'Mangst the bonnie powerful heather;
Where the roe and the deer,
Lightly bounding together,
Sport the lang summer's e'en
'Mang the braes o' Balquhidder.
Will you go, lassie, go?

I will twine thee a bower
By the clear siller fountain,
And I'll cover it o'er
Wi' the flow'rs o' the mountain.
I will range through the wilds,
And the deep glens sae drearie,
And return wi' the spoils
To the bower o' my dearie.

I will build thee a bower
By the clear silver fountain,
An' I'll cover it o'er
Wi' the flowers o' the mountain;
I will hunt o'er the hills,
An' the deep glens sae dreary,
An' return wi' their spoils
To the bower o' my deary
Will you go, lassie, go?

When the rude wintry win'
Idly raves round our dwelling,
And the roar o' the linn
On the night-breeze is swelling,
So merrily we'll sing,
As the storm rattles o'er us,
Till the dear sheiling ring
Wi' the light lilting chorus.

As the rude wintry win'
Idly hows round my dwellin',
An' the roar o' the linn
On the night breeze is swellin',
It is merrily we'll sing,
As the storm rages o'er us,
And the dear sheeling ring
To' the light liltin' chorus.
Will you go, lassie, go?

Now the summer is in prime,
Wi' the flow'rs richly blooming,
An' the wild mountain thyme
A' the moorlands perfuming.
To our dear native scenes
Let us journey together,
Where glad Innocence reigns
'Mang the braes o' Balquhither.

Now the summer's in its prime,
An' the flowers highly bloomin',
An' the wild mountain thyme
A' the hillsides perfumin',-
To our dear native land
Let us journey together,
Where the blaeberries grow,
'Mang the braes o' Balquhidder.
Will you go, lassie, go?

The McPeake Family sings Will Ye Go Lassie, Go Fotheringay sings Wild Mountain Thyme

The summer time is coming
And the trees are sweetly blooming,
And the wild mountain thyme
All around the blooming heather
Will you go, lassie, go?

Oh, the summer is in its prime
And the leaves are sweetly blooming,
And the wild mountain thyme
All the mountains is perfuming
Will you go, lassie, go?

Chorus (repeated after each verse):
And we'll all go together
To pull wild mountain thyme
All around the blooming heather,
Will you go, lassie, go?

Chorus (repeated after each verse):
And we'll all go together
To pull wild mountain thyme
All around the blooming heather,
Will you go, lassie, go?

I will build my love a tower
By yon clear crystal fountain.
And on it I will build
All the flowers of the mountain.
Will you go, lassie, go?

I will build my love a bower
By yon clear crystal fountain.
And on it I will pile
All the flowers of the mountain.
Will you go, lassie, go?

If my true love she were gone,
I will surely find another
To pull wild mountain thyme
All around the blooming heather.
Will you go, lassie, go?

If my true love he were gone,
I will surely find no other
To pull wild mountain thyme
All around the blooming heather.
Will you go, lassie, go?

Jon Boden sings Wild Mountain Thyme

Oh, the summer time has come
And the trees are sweetly blooming,
And the wild mountain thyme
Grows around the blooming heather
Will you go, lassie, go?

Chorus (repeated after each verse):
And we'll all go together
To pull wild mountain thyme
All around the blooming heather,
Will you go, lassie, go?

I will build my love a fountain
By yon clear crystal stream.
And my love will be the fairest
That the summer sun has seen.
Will you go, lassie, go?

I will build my love a bower
By yon clear crystal fountain.
And on it I shall plant
All the flowers of the mountain.
Will you go, lassie, go?

And if my true love won't come,
I will surely find another
To pull wild mountain thyme
All around the blooming heather.
Will you go, lassie, go?

Links

I copied Robert Tannahill's verses from The Scottish Songs, edited by Robert Chambers, Edinburgh: William Tait, 1829, as shown in the Mudcat Café thread Lyr Add: Braes o' Balquidder.