Bleacher Lassie O Kelvinhaugh

Lyric as sung by Dick Gaughan

As I gaed out on a fine simmer's evenin
A-walkin doun by the Broomielaw
It wis thair I spied the fairest lassie
She'd cherrie cheeks an a skin like snaw

Says I, "My lassie, is it you that wanders
All alane by the Broomielaw?"
"O, indeed, kind sir, it's the truth I'll tell ye
I'm the bleacher lassie on Kelvinhaugh"

"O lassie, lassie, dae ye remember
The ships that sailed doun the Broomielaw
An the sailor laddie wha nou admires
The bleacher lassie on Kelvinhaugh?"

"O laddie, laddie, I weill remember
The ships that sailed doun the Broomielaw
But the sailor laddies thae aye got tipsy
Wi the bleacher lassie on Kelvinhaugh"

"O lassie, lassie, will ye gang wi me
An A'll cleid ye up in fine satins braw?"
"O indeed, kind sir, I maun plainly tell ye
I've a laud o my ain an he's faur awa"

"Tis seiven lang years sin a loued a sailor
Tis seiven lang years sin he's gaed awa
Aye, but anither seiven seiven I wad wait upon him
An I'll bleach my claes here on Kelvinhaugh"

"O lassie, lassie, ye hae been faithfu
An ye've thocht on me whan I'm faur awa
Twa herts will surely be rewardit
We'll pairt nae mair here on Kelvinhaugh"

An it's this couple, thae hae got mairriet
An thae keep an alehous atween thaim twa
An the sailor laddies thae aa gang drinkin
At the bleacher lassie's on Kelvinhaugh

Song Notes

(When I came to record this recently, the text as I sang it differed marginally from the way I had given it so I've altered it here to bring it into line with the one I sang.)

As an aspiring young singer, round about '65, I came across one of those ancient objects, a vinyl EP, called "Glasgow Street Songs". They were sung by the late Robin Hall who was gifted with one of the finest voices to have graced the world and that is where I learned this. I regard it as the most beautiful by far of all the "broken token" type songs and with few peers as a romantic narrative song.

The city of Glasgow tends to present a one-dimensional face to the world but, while Rab C Nesbitt does represent a true picture of the in-your-face cut-through-the-crap earthiness and honesty that is so much a part of Glasgow, it is not the whole story by a long way. Like Liverpool and Belfast - with both of which Glasgow has a great deal in common - it is a city with a big soul filled with romance and this song is perhaps the perfect example of that.

It might come as a surprise to hear an East-coaster express affection for Glasgow but the truth is that, contrary to what most Glaswegians imagine, most Forth dwellers do actually have a lot of affection for our sister on the Clyde.

celtic knotwork

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