Wild Mountain Thyme
"Wild Mountain Thyme" (also known as "Purple Heather" and "Will Ye Go, Lassie, Go?") is a folk song written by Francis McPeake, a member of a well known musical family in Belfast, Ireland, and is of Scottish origin. McPeake's lyrics and melody are a variant of the song "The Braes of Balquhither" by Scottish poet Robert Tannahill (1774–1810), a contemporary of Robert Burns. Tannahill's original song, first published in Robert Archibald Smith's Scottish Minstrel (1821–24), is about the hills (braes) around Balquhidder near Lochearnhead. Like Burns, Tannahill collected and adapted traditional songs, and "The Braes of Balquhither" may have been based on the traditional song "The Braes o' Bowhether".
"Wild Mountain Thyme" performed by Christoph Nolte
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The tune of McPeake's "Wild Mountain Thyme" is significantly different from Tannahill's "The Braes of Balquhither", which was most likely based on a traditional air. In an 1854 publication, George Farquhar Graham notes that Tannahill's song was set to the air "Bochuiddar" (Balquidder), as found in Captain Simon Fraser's Collection of melodies of the Highlands and Islands of Scotland (1816). Others scholars suggest the melody is based on an old Scottish traditional tune "The Three Carls o' Buchanan".
McPeake dedicated "Wild Mountain Thyme" to his first wife. Many years after she died, McPeake remarried, and his son, Francis McPeake II, wrote an extra verse to celebrate the marriage. "Wild Mountain Thyme" was first recorded by McPeake's nephew, also named Francis McPeake, in 1957 for the BBC series As I Roved Out.
While Francis McPeake holds the copyright to the song, it is generally believed that rather than writing the song, he arranged an already-extant folk version based on traditional lyrics into a version with a different melody that he popularised. When interviewed on radio, Francis McPeake said it was based on a song he heard whilst travelling in Scotland, and he rewrote it later when back in Ireland. Bob Dylan's recording of the song cited it as traditional, with the arranger unknown, though Dylan's copyright records indicate that the song is sometimes "attributed to" McPeake.
McPeake's version of the song, published in 1957, closely paraphrases the Tannahill version, which was published posthumously in 1821. Tannahill's original lyrics include a number of phrases that McPeake carried over into his song, including the lines "Let us go, lassie, go" and "And the wild mountain thyme".
The following is a list of recordings of the song.
- Thin Lizzy on Black Rose: A Rock Legend (1979)
- Francis McPeake for the BBC series As I Roved Out (1957)
- David Hammond on I Am the Wee Falorie Man (1958)
- Sandy Paton on Many Sides of Sandy Paton (1959)
- The McPeake Family on McPeake Family of Belfast (1961)
- Judy Collins on A Maid of Constant Sorrow (1961)
- The Clancy Brothers (as "Will Ye Go, Lassie, Go?") on The Boys Won't Leave the Girls Alone (1962), Live on St. Patrick's Day (1973), and Reunion (1984), and the video/DVD Farewell to Ireland (1996)
- The Courriers on Carry On (1963)
- Paul Clayton on Folk Singer (1965)
- Joan Baez on Farewell, Angelina (1965)
- The New Christy Minstrels (as "Go, Lassie, Go") on Wandering Minstrels (1965)
- Lee Mallory on unreleased recording with producer Curt Boettcher & The Ballroom (1966), later released on Mallory's collections "That's the Way It's Gonna Be" and "Many Are the Times" (2003)
- The Byrds on Fifth Dimension (1966)
- Marianne Faithfull on North Country Maid (1966)
- Bob Dylan on various bootleg albums of his Isle of Wight performance (1969)
- Nana Mouskouri on Turn on the Sun (1970)
- Long John Baldry on Everything Stops for Tea (1972)
- The Alexander Brothers on Married by the Bible (1972)
- Van Morrison (as "Purple Heather") on Hard Nose the Highway (1973)
- Brenda Wootton and Robert Bartlett (as Brenda and Robert) on Tin In The Stream (1974)
- George Hamilton IV on Forever Young (1979)
- Bert Jansch on Heartbreak (1982)
- Marianne Faithfull on North Country Maid Faithfull Sings Folk Songs (1983)
- Rick Stanley on On English Hills (1983)
- Bernadette on Back on the Road Again (1984)
- Penelope Houston on Birdboys (1987)
- The Tannahill Weavers on Dancing Feet (1987)
- Nigel & the Crosses on Time Between – A Tribute to The Byrds (1989)
- Meg Davis on Meg Davis Live at Dennos (1992)
- Strawbs (as "Will You Go") on Halcyon Days
- Tommy Makem, Barley Bree, Cherish the Ladies, and Ronnie D'addario (as "Go Lassie Go") on Tommy Makem and Friends in Concert (1992)
- Glenn Frey on Glenn Frey Live (1993)
- The Silencers on So Be It (1994) and Real (2008)
- Jim Diamond on Sugarolly Days (1994)
- Brother (as "Will You Go") on Pipe Dreams (1994)
- The Corries on The Corries: In Concert (1995)
- Rod Stewart (as "Purple Heather") on A Spanner in the Works (1995)
- The Irish Rovers on The Irish Rovers' Gems (1996)
- John McDermott on When I Grow Too Old to Dream (1997)
- Lisa Lynne on Quiet Heart (1997)
- Big Country (instrumental) on "Fields of Fire" on the Final Fling Tour (1999–2000)
- Real McKenzies on Clash of the Tartans (2000)
- Mark Knopfler on A Shot at Glory (2001)
- Enter the Haggis on Live! (2002)
- Papa M on Three (2003)
- The Chieftains on Further Down the Old Plank Road (2003)
- Emerald Rose on Celtic Crescent (2003)
- James Taylor on Telluride Bluegrass Festival: Reflections, Vol. 1 (2003) and Before This World (2015)
- Brian Kennedy (as "Will Ye Go Lassie Go") on On Song (2003)
- Broadside Electric on Black-edged Visiting Card
- Albert Kuvezin and Yat-Kha on Re-Covers (2005)
- Keltik Elektrik with Jim Malcolm on Putumayo Presents Celtic Crossroads (2005)
- Kate Rusby (as "Blooming Heather") on Awkward Annie (2007)
- Lucy Wainwright Roche on 8 Songs (2007)
- Moira Nelson on Echoes of Another Time (2007)
- Maggie Reilly on Rowan (2007)
- The High Kings (as "Will Ye Go, Lassie Go") on their first, self-titled album (2008)
- Lauren Yason, Richard Fox, and Caroline Dale for the film Stone of Destiny (2008)
- Blake on And So it Goes (2008)
- Fotheringay on Fotheringay 2 (2008)
- Lark & Spur on Once in France (2008)
- Ronan Keating on Songs for My Mother (2009)
- Robin Pecknold (as White Antelope) (2009)
- Denis Ryan on Denis Ryan Mist Covered Mountains
- Jean Redpath
- Amanda on Amanda: Tres (2005)
- Damh the Bard on Tales from the Crow Man (2009)
- Stuart Murdoch recorded the song with another set of lyrics, on the "Dark Was the Night" compilation (2009)
- The Real McKenzies on Shine Not Burn (2010)
- Chelsea House Orchestra on Crossing the Border (2010)
- Ben Folds on Download for Good (2011)
- Mudmen on Donegal Danny (2012)
- The Rumjacks on Crosses for Eyes (2012)
- The Dolmen on Whispering Winds (2012)
- Derek Ryan on The Simple Things (2014)
- Devin Townsend (adaptation/new lyrics) on Synchestra 2006
- 10,000 Maniacs, on the album Twice Told Tales (2015)
- James Taylor, on the album Before This World (2015)
- Ferguson, Jim (2011). "A weaver in wartime: a biographical study and the letters of Paisley weaver-poet Robert Tannahill (1774–1810).". University of Glasgow.
- "The Braes o' Balquhidder" arr. J.T. Surrene, in The Songs of Scotland vol. 1 (1865) George Farquhar Graham (ed.) pp. 112-113
- "Bochuiddar" as performed by Major Logan. no.77 in The Airs and Melodies Peculiar to the Highlands of Scotland and the Isles Captain Simon Fraser (ed.)
- Grant, Stewart. "Wild Mountain Thyme (Francis McPeake)". More Roots of Bob. Retrieved 27 December 2012.
- Hickerson, Joe (March 2008). "New questions with answers.". Sing Out!.
- BBC Radio 2 program "Folk on Two", broadcast in the 1970s by Jim Lloyd
- Dunn, Tim (2008). The Bob Dylan Copyright Files, 1962–2007. AuthorHouse. p. 397. ISBN 1438915896.
- Smith, R. A. (1821). Scottish Minstrel.
- Graham, George Farquhar (1850). Scottish Songs.
- "Cantaria: Traditional: Wild Mountain Thyme". Chivalry. Retrieved 23 January 2008.
- "Renaissance Festival Lyrics: The Braes of Balquhidder (Wild Mountain Thyme)". Renaissance Festival Music. Retrieved 23 January 2008.
- Tannahill, Robert (1877). Complete Songs and Poems of Robert Tannahill. Paisley: William Wilson. pp. 6–7. OCLC 262462998.
- "Wild Mountain Thyme". Discogs. Retrieved 26 December 2012.
- "Fifth Dimension". AllMusic. Retrieved 10 December 2009.
- "The Minnesota Tapes". Agent EB's Bob Dylan Page. Archived from the original on 6 August 2009. Retrieved 24 July 2009.
- "Bob Dylan & The Band – 31 August 1969 Isle of Wight". The Bootleg Zone. Retrieved 24 July 2009.
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- Wild Mountain Thyme (lyrics and MP3 file)