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Bonnie Lassie

Posted by shanoah on September 17, 2008

You know, I listened to Tommy James singing Draggin’ the Line before posting, but the version I listened to was weaker then the copy you posted. I’m still a fan of the REM version, but definitely a great song either way.

And I could see a few things I could post right now. Songs about triangles seems like the logical escalation from lines, but it’s not a theme I feel like exploring tonight.

Or there’s the stock crash. I could even post something political, like posting about both Obama and McCain having accepted campaign contributions from Lehman Brothers[1].

And a post about Pink Floyd would be appropriate, given Richard Wrights death on Monday.

But, well, I’ve had a song stuck in my head all day, and to my surprise, there’s a youtube video. Despite the fact that I’m sure I looked for it before and couldn’t find it.

So here is Darcy Nair, singing Tony Cuffe’s “Bonnie Lassie”, which is on Darcy’s album “High Strung”:

Bonnie Lassie – Darcy Nair (with Gregory Lygon)

I love this song. I am very fond of songs with choruses that change meaning during the song, and this has such a powerful chorus:

Oh, said the Bonnie Lassie,
That can never be.
Oh, said the Bonnie Lass,
You never will take me.

Additionally, this is one of these relatively modern songs that sounds traditional, and is actually sending up several other traditional songs, to a certain extent.

There is a whole family of songs providing the base setup that this song starts from, like this one, for example:

As I Roved Out – Christy Moore

Variations on this specify the girls age as 17, 16, or even 15. And some specify at the end that the soldier is already married. Yes, this is the soldiers statutory rape set, though the variation here isn’t quite as bad.

Even at that, I’m sorry, but if you go up to a girl, ask her who she is, and she says “I am my mammy’s darling“, she’s too young.

And when I say variations, there must be a dozen different names, with a fair variation on lyrics. (Yon High High Hill is the closest, but I couldn’t find it.)

Of course, while that is more the framework the song is going off of, the tradition it is skewering is the one set forth by songs like John Riley:

John Riley – Judy Collins

The soldier, after being gone seven years, realizing that his love doesn’t recognize him, decides to test her fidelity, and then they are supposed to kiss, embrace, and go off into the sunset. Sentimental muck.

I much prefer the story as sung in Bonnie Lassie…

[1] Well, to be strictly accurate, “The organizations themselves did not donate , rather the money came from the organization’s PAC, its individual members or employees or owners, and those individuals’ immediate families.“, per www.opensecrets.org. Close enough for me.

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2 Responses to “Bonnie Lassie”

  1. […] Bonnie Lassie […]

  2. […] in 2008, I posted Darcy Nair singing a song called Bonnie Lassie, and I mentioned it was written by Tony […]

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