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The Yellow On The Broom

  • (Adam McNaughtan)

       When the yellow's on the broom
       When the yellow's on the broom
       (I'll tak' ye on the road again)
       When the yellow's on the broom

    I ken ye dinna like it, lass,
    Tae winter here in toon
    For the scaldies aye miscry us
    And they try tae put us doon
    But it's hard to raise three bairns
    In a single flea-box room
    So I'll tak' ye on the road again
    When yellow's on the broom

    The scaldies call us 'tinker dirt'
    And strike our bairns in school
    Who cares what a scaldy thinks
    A scaldy's just a fool
    He never hears the yorlin's song
    Nor sees the flax in bloom
    For they're a' cooped up in hooses
    When the yellow's on the broom

    No sale for pegs or baskets
    So just to stay alive
    We have tae work at scaldy jobs
    From nine o'clock till five
    But we call no man our master
    For we own the world's room
    And we'll bid fareweel tae Brechin
    When the yellow's on the broom

    I'm weary for the springtime
    Tae tak' the road yince mair
    For the plantin' and the pearlin'
    And the berry fields of Blair
    We'll meet up wi' oor kinfolk
    From a' the country roon'
    When the ganaboot folk tak' the road
    And the yellow's on the broom

    (as sung by Iain MacKintosh)

Susannes Folksong-Notizen

  • [1983:] Betsy Whyte's book about her childhood inspired me to write this song with the same title. The tune is The Female Drummer as sung by Harry Cox. (Notes Adam McNaughtan, 'WordsWordsWords')

  • [1985:] For many years it had been traditional for country folk and travelling people to harvest the acres of soft fruit in Perthshire, but [in the Second World War] many of them were called up or placed in essential work. and so it fell to school children to do the berry-picking. "We went every summer for about four years to the berry-picking at Blairgowrie. We got paid a penny-a-pound for rasps, and some got quite quick at it, but not like some of the tinks that were the real pickers. They could fill two or three luggies for every one of ours. They were interesting people and they used to sing and play fiddle music in the bothy-place at night." (Blair, Tea at Miss Cranston's 193)

  • [1989:] [A] song version of Bessie White's prose autobiography [...] informed by my love of traditional songs and especially the other "broom" refrains: Lay the bent to the bonnie broom; she'll never gang doon to the broom ony mair; the birk and the broom bloom bonnie. (Adam McNaughtan in Bell, Poetry 119)

  • [1990:] The travellers all move into Brechin and winter there, but they can't wait to get back on the road in springtime. The townspeople call them tinkers, the tinkers call them scaldies in return, that's just an equally insulting term. They call themselves travelling people. First they help farmers planting, then they go to the River Tay to look for shellfish, and if they're lucky they find a few pearls, take them to the jewellers in Perth and make a little money that way. And when the raspberries and strawberries are ripe they all go to Blairgowrie - that's the heart of the fruit-growing area in Scotland. It's a big festival time for them all. (Intro Iain MacKintosh)

  • [1990:] Adam McNaughtan wrote these stirring words, set to the traditional tune of 'The Female Drummer', after reading Betsy Whyte's autobiography [...]. Betsy was proudly of the travelling people, a gifted story-teller and a warm, wonderful lady. She died suddenly at the Auchtermuchty Folk Festival in August 1988 [...]. (Notes Sheena Wellington, 'Clearsong')

  • [1992:] At a traditional song festival some years ago, Betsy Whyte herself sang Adam's song. But after the song was over she was feeling unwell. She went home, and within an hour she was dead. So the last thing she did was sing the song about the book that she wrote. (Iain MacKintosh, intro Wesselburen)

  • Cf Betsy Whyte, The Yellow On the Broom; same, Red Rowans and Wild Honey

    Further notes see 'Terror Time'

Tune: The Female Drummer

Quelle: Scotland

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