I Know Where I'm Going (song)

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"I Know Where I'm Going" is a traditional Scottish or Irish ballad about a woman pining for her "bonnie" lover Johnny.[1] It is Roud number 5701. It was recorded by Burl Ives on 31 March 1941[2] for his debut album Okeh Presents the Wayfaring Stranger. It has also been recorded by Kathleen Ferrier, Odetta, The Weavers, The Clancy Brothers, Judy Collins, Barbara Dane, The Highwaymen, The New Christy Minstrels, Harry Belafonte, Carolyn Hester, and English singer Laura Wright.[3]

The Michael Powell and Emeric Pressburger film I Know Where I'm Going! (1945) got its title from this song at the suggestion of Powell's wife Frankie Reidy, and the song was orchestrated and used in the film.[4]

This folk song should not be confused with other songs that have the same title and are sung by The Judds, Jay Linden, Michel'le, Ann Zimmerman, etc.[3]


As with all folk music, there are now multiple versions of the lyrics after years of these lyrics being passed down the generations primarily by word of mouth. However, a common version is reproduced below.

I know where I'm going
And I know who's going with me
I know who I love
And the de'il knows who I'll marry.

I have stockings of silk
Shoes of bright green leather
Combs to buckle my hair
And a ring for every finger.

Some say he's black
But I say he's bonnie
The fairest of them all
My handsome winsome Johnny.

Feather beds are soft
And painted rooms are bonny
But I would leave them all
To go with my love Johnny.

I know where I'm going
And I know who's going with me
I know who I love
But the de'il knows who I'll marry.


de'il means devil
black means swarthy


  1. ^ Digital Tradition Folk Music Database: link
  2. ^ Naxos: link
  3. ^ a b iTunes Music Store
  4. ^ Powell, Michael (1986). A Life in Movies. London: Heinemann. p. 459-460. ISBN 0-434-59945-X.