Ewan and the Gold

Words & Music : Brian McNeill
©Grian Music
Lyric as sung by Dick Gaughan

You caught the line they threw you,
You helped to make her fast
You heard the sailors talking in the rigging
And when the captain said he'd take
Another hand before the mast
You knew you were halfway to the diggings
So you rode the ocean swell
To Bendigo and living hell
In the camps and the creeks of Castlemane
For like a million other souls
You were haunted by the gold
And you'd never know a peaceful day again

And tell me Ewan Gillies did you still believe the dream
When the hard men of Victoria bought and sold you?
When you had to sell the farm that you'd sifted from the seams
Did you curse the tale the sailor laddies told you?
And did you fight against the call of the island
You knew would never hold you?

For all the gold Ewan Gillies ever found
Could not buy him peace or freedom
From the memory of the sound
Of the waves on St Kilda's rocky shore

And when the dream was done
You'd lost your children and your wife
And every single thing you'd ever had
But you told your friends the gold
Was still the centre of your life
And they told you one and all that you were mad
So you wandered through the years
Never stopping once to rue
And St Kilda heard your footsteps as you passed
Old Glory even put you
In a coat of faded blue
Till the older glory claimed you back at last

And tell me Ewan Gillies did you give the Lord your thanks
When he showed you where the gold and riches lay?
Or did you bow your head in prayer on the Sacramento banks
And ask him should you go or should you stay?
And did St Kilda call you home across the mountains
At the dawn of every day?

For all the gold Ewan Gillies ever found
Could not buy him peace or freedom
From the memory of the sound
Of the waves on St Kilda's rocky shore

So once more you made the journey
To that bare and barren land
To end your days among your kith and kin
To a winter when the devil
Held the island in his hand
And the shadow of starvation rode the wind
For it's hard upon St Kilda
For the folk to keep their pride
When every season brings them to despair
And to hear you tell the tale
Of a different ocean's tide
Made their bitter burden harder still to bear

Though they knew you for their own you were forced to stand alone
In a solitude that no one could endure
They made your home a living grave until the bravest of the brave
Was forced to leave the poorest of the poor
So you reached out once again and took hold of
The bonnie golden lure

For all the gold Ewan Gillies ever found
Could not buy him peace or freedom
From the memory of the sound
Of the waves on St Kilda's rocky shore

When first I heard the tale
Of Ewan and the gold
I was filled with bitter anger and with tears
To hear a traveller return
And be shut out from the fold
Drove a shaft into the deepest of my fears
For God made Ewan Gillies
And God gave him wings to fly
But only from the land where he belonged
But I'd fight with God himself
For the light in Ewan's eye
Or with anyone who tells me he was wrong

For there's some who use their dreams to tear themselves apart
And some who never find a dream at all
But how many find the courage to look deepest in their hearts
To find a dream they can follow till they fall
And when my heart cries out to wander I can hear him
Answering the call

For all the gold Ewan Gillies ever found
Could not buy him peace or freedom
From the memory of the sound
Of the waves on St Kilda's rocky shore

And on the island the greatest story ever told
It was always Ewan Gillies,
California and the gold
So far from St Kilda's rocky shore


Song Notes

True story.

St Kilda, often mistakenly refered to as "an island", is actually the name given to the small archipelago which form the most Westerly of the Western Isles of Scotland some 40 miles to the west of Lewis/Harris.

The largest of the St Kilda islands is Hirta and was populated until the mass evacuation in 1930.

celtic knotwork


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