Henry's Songbook

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The Rovin' Dies Hard

  • (Brian McNeill)

    My name's John Mackenzie, I'm a master-at-arms
    I carry my sword and my shield on my shoulder
    I've fought every fight from the Don to the Danube
    None braver, none better, none bolder
    I've stood with Montrose and against him
    I've battled with Swedes and with Danes
    And I've carried the standard of many's the army
    Through many's the bloody campaign
    But now as I sit in the firelight it seems
    There's a distant horizon to the sword buckle's gleam
    Till a pull at the wine brings an old soldier's dream from afar
    For the rovin' dies hard

    I'm Calum McLean, I'm a trapper to trade
    And it's forty long years since I saw Tobermory
    Through Canada's forests I've carried my blade
    And its pine trees could tell you my story
    Now my wandering days they are over
    But I'm thankful to still be alive
    For I've many's the kinsman who died in the hulks
    At the end of the bold forty-five
    I've an Indian lass now, I'll never deceive her
    But there's nights when I'd up with my gun and I'd leave her
    For the land where the bear and the fox and the beaver are lord
    For the rovin' dies hard

    My name's Robert Johnston, I'm a man of the cloth
    And I'll carry my Bible as long as I'm breathing
    I've preached the Lord's Gospel from Shanghai to Glasgow
    Where'er He saw fit to make heathens
    But now the Kirk's calling me homewards
    It's the manse and the elders for me
    But the sins of the Session will no' be so far
    From the sins of the South China Seas
    And perhaps it's the voice of the Devil I've heard
    For it speaks of the clipper ships flying like birds
    Till a man's only comfort is Scripture and the word of the Lord
    For the rovin' dies hard

    My name's Willie Campbell, I'm a ship's engineer
    And I know every berth between Lisbon and Largo
    I've sweated more diesel in thirty-five years
    Than a big tanker takes for a cargo
    Of the good times I've always had plenty
    When the whisky and the women were wild
    And there's many's the wean wi' the red locks o' the Campbells
    Who's ne'er seen the coast of Argyll
    But now as the freighters unload on the quay
    The sound of the engines is calling to me
    And it sings me a song of the sun and the sea and the stars
    For the rovin' dies hard

    I've tuned up my fiddle, and I've rosined my bow
    And I've sung of the clans and the clear crystal fountains
    I can tell you the road and the miles frae Dundee
    To the back of Alaska's wild mountains
    And when my travelling days they are over
    And the next of the rovers has come
    He'll take all my songs and he'll sing them again
    To the beat of a different drum
    And if ever I'm asked why the Scots are beguiled
    I'll lift up my glass in a health, and I'll smile
    And I'll tell them that fortune's dealt Scotland the wildest of cards
    For the rovin' dies hard

    (as sung by The Battlefield Band)

Susannes Folksong-Notizen

  • [1775:] It has been a question often agitated without solution, why those northern regions [the Highlands] are now so thinly peopled, which formerly overwhelmed with their armies the Roman empire. The question supposes what I believe is not true, that they had once more inhabitants than they could maintain, and overflowed only because they were full. [...] The religion of the north was military; if they could not find enemies, it was their duty to make them: they travelled in quest of danger, and willingly took the chance of Empire or Death. [...] Their country was not deserted for want of room, because it was covered with forests of vast extent; and the first effect of plenitude of inhabitants is the destruction of wood. [...] I would not be understood to say, that necessity had never any part in their expeditions. A nation, whose agriculture is scanty or unskilful, may be driven out by famine. A nation of hunters may have exhausted their game. [...] That causes very different from want of room may produce a general disposition to seek another country is apparent from the present conduct of the highlanders, who are in some places ready to threaten a total secession. The numbers which have already gone [...] are very great [...]. Nor are they only the lowest and most indigent; many men of considerable wealth have taken with them their train of labourers and dependants [...]. That the immediate motives of their desertion must be imputed to their landlords, may be reasonably concluded, because some lairds of more prudence and less rapacity have kept their vassals undiminished. (Dr Samuel Johnson, A Journey to the Western Isles of Scotland, Penguin ed., 103ff.)

  • [1987:] Each wave of emigration in Scotland's history seems to wash home the seeds of the next one. Generations of this process have bred a kind of Scotsman who is driven to roam, a compulsive traveller whose personality becomes more identifiably Scottish the further it gets from home. This song which looks across three centuries of wanderers depicts the current generation of Scotland's musicians as the latest group to follow the lead. (Notes Battlefield Band, 'Celtic Hotel')

  • [1989:] About all the people who have left Scotland over the centuries and made reputations for themselves in other parts of the world, in America and Canada and Australia, and the reasons why they left home. It started off with the mercenary soldiers who went to fight in the Lowlands, in Germany and Holland and Belgium. This was back in the sixteenth, seventeenth century. Then the men who were forced to emigrate after Scotland lost the final battle to the English in 1746 because they had fought against the English. Many went to Canada and America. (Intro Iain MacKintosh)

  • [1994:] That song took me two and a half years to write. (Brian McNeill, pr. comm.)

  • [1996:] In den USA erhielt [Brian McNeill] 1990 den Texas Music Award für The Roving Dies Hard. (Progammheft ScFF '97, p. 7)

Quelle: Scotland

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aktualisiert am 02.05.2002