[1977:] [This] was written to an adaptation of the pipe march, The Bloody Fields of Flanders for the CND movement and the anti-Polaris campaign, and sung by Jackie O'Connor on the LP 'Ding Dong Dollar'. But the values it celebrates are more permanent than those of any one decade; they are those of the entire socialist movement from Marx's time to our own. The song quickly moves from a real scene, with a rough wind blowing clouds in chaos across the bay, to the more orderly wind of people's power that will sweep away the warmongers and oppressors from every land. Of course, the Wind is a great permanent symbol for man, and its strength is increased by reminiscences of the 'high' literary tradition, of Shelley's 'Ode to the West Wind' and William Morris's 'The Message of the March Wind', qualified by ironical glances at Harold MacMillan's now forgotten political campaign around the phrase 'the wind of change', and by memories of other, more 'liberal' peace- songs of the late fifties and early sixties like Blowin' In the Wind. Most of Henderson's positives are present, cunningly woven into a texture of sometimes remarkable originality. For example, 'gallus, fresh and gay', adjectives appropriate to debonair lovers of life, are applied to 'oor rottans' - the parasitic practitioners of a false dolce vita nourished by the sufferings and degradation of common folk. In the second stanza, by a subtle modulation, a similar phrase - 'the bonnie callants', with its slightly romantic overtones - is applied with compassionate tenderness to working class adolescents, and the blatant 'rogues' of the first verse are now metamorphosed into braggarts who 'crousely craw'.
Finally, these boastful publicists appear as 'hoodies' (scavenging birds of prey) croaking for doom, and the poem's final vision of liberation is sustained by three heroic figures - Adam, our primeval father from Judaeo-Christian myth; Maclean meeting with his ordinary friends in Springburn - the solution advanced in the John Maclean March; and an anonymous 'black boy frae yont Nyanga', who 'dings the fell gallows o' the burghers doon'. (Thomas Crawford, notes 'Freedom come all ye - Poems and Songs of Hamish Henderson')
[1984:] The most beautiful and the most famous of all these [sixties 'protest'] songs was written a year before Polaris: "For the Glasgow Peace Marchers, May 1960". [...] It is still sung frequently all over Scotland and beyond. The language is richer [than that of the average 'protest' song], yet so graphically used that the meaning is substantially clear before any glossary is consulted. It rightly took its place among the anti-Polaris songs, although - or perhaps because - its theme is broader, and the 'roch wind' is depicted as sweeping away oppression and war over the whole world. (Munro, Revival 74)
[1989:] [This] is a product of the Scottish folksong revival; it was composed for CND demonstrators in 1960. In it I have tried to express my hopes for Scotland, and for the survival of humanity on this beleaguered planet. (Hamish Henderson in Bell, Poetry 64)
[1989:] One of the most important of [Henderson's] songs, which gives a non-romantic, revisionist view of the role of the Scots in the world today [...]. This song clearly breaks with the romantic tradition. It describes a harsh wind of change blowing through Scotland and the world at large, sweeping away the exploiters and parasites. It renounces the tradition of the Scottish soldier both as imperial cannon-fodder and colonial oppressor (breaking a powerful taboo concerning his real role in world history), and ends with a vision of a future global society which is multiracial and just. (Olson, Music 154)
This song is largely written in the Mid-Scots dialect. [...] A number of the words have no equivalent in English. (Olson, Music 163)
[1990:] Springburn [...] was famous for heavy industry, particularly the railway engine works. (McVicar, ISIS 88)
[Dick Gaughan] sang this song on the big stage on Glasgow Green, May Sunday, 1990, the hundredth anniversary of Mayday as a people's holiday. Dick introduced it by saying "I've been singing this song a long time to try and get people to think of adopting it as a Scottish anthem. Because apart from anything else it does not once mention England or the English. It talks about the human race, and the fact that although there are only five million of us and we are just a wee country we should be proud to be equal partners in the human race with everyone else."
Hamish Henderson's magnificent song is indeed Scotland's alternative national anthem for many people who find Flower of Scotland depressing and negative. However, Hamish hopes it never becomes an 'official' anthem; part of its strength he feels lies in the fact that it is alternative. [...] The song was written for Scottish CND marchers in 1960 - one of the songs coaxed out of writers by Morris Blythman. The tune is called The Bloody Fields of Flanders, a First World War pipe tune which Hamish first heard played on the Anzio beachhead [...]. Hamish notes that the Flanders tune itself stems from the Perthshire folksong Busk Busk Bonnie Lassie [or Bonnie Glenshee]. (McVicar, One Singer One Song 132)
Dick Gaughan's lyrics and notes