the mermaid's song

tannahill weavers

Logie o' Buchan

Traditional, arranged by the Tannahill Weavers

Here is one of two songs on this recording dealing with the same problem: that of choosing a partner.  In this case, the lady chooses (and rightly so, we feel) for Jamie, who plays pipes and fiddle (something like giving a cat its own fishmonger) in preference to Sandy, who is only rich and has cattle and sheep, a house and other boring stuff.

You may notice here the custom of the broken token: "He had but ae saxpence, he broke it in twa, and he gied me the hauf o't when he gaed awa'."  When a couple were going to part for any length of time, a token of their love (in this case a sixpenny piece) would be broken in half.  Each partner would then carry one half with them wherever they went until they met again.

The Scottish custom of using half coins was very practical, especially for sailors, who would come home after ten years at sea, their faces a hazy memory to their partners, and soldiers, who would return with their faces rearranged.  When the two halves of the token were fitted together you knew the person with the second half was your true love!  The whole token had also the added advantage of being negotiable currency for a bottle of cheap plonk and a Chinese takeaway for two.

This tradition was in every way much more efficient and labor saving than the English custom of tying trees round their bonnets, as in: "All around my hat I will wear a green willow, all around my hat for twelve months and a day.  If anyone should ask me the reason I'm wearing it, it's all because my true love is far far away".


Logie o' Buchan, oh Logie the laird
They hae ta'en awa' Jamie who delved in the yaird
Wha played on the pipes and the fiddle sae sma'
They ha'e ta'en awa' Jamie the flo'er o' them a'

  He said think na' lang lassie though I gang awa'
  For I'll come and see ye in spite o' them a'

Sandy has owsen has hear and has kye
A hoose and a haddin and siller for bye
But I'll ha'e my ain lad wi' his staff in his hand
Before I'll ha'e him wi' his hooses and land


I sit on my creepie and spin at my wheel
And think on the laddie that lo'ed me sae weel
He had but ae saxpence he broke it in twa
And gied me the hauf o't when he gaed awa'


Then haste ye back Jamie and bide nae awa'
Then haste ye back Jamie and bide nae awa'
The summer is coming, cauld winter's awa'
And ye'll come and see me in spite o' them a'




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