The Mudcat Café TM
Thread #48865   Message #823307
Posted By: GUEST,Alan Ross
11-Nov-02 - 09:48 AM
Thread Name: DTStudy: The Dark Island
Subject: RE: DTStudy: The Dark Island
Sorry to muddy the waters all over again! I do have fresh information on the origins of the tune. Legally Ian Maclachlan wrote it - and Westminster Music own the copyright of the standard tune.

However, I now have information from a woman who is in her late 80's and comes from a piping family, that she knew the tune as a child (so it's now supposedly dating from around the 1940's or before). Ian Maclachan is credited as having written or re-arranged it c1958 - before it became Dark Island in 1963. All vocal versions using the words Dark Island date from after 1963.

The woman who wrote and published her memoirs gave me a very similar title to the one I knew without any prompting. She knew it as 'Doctor Macarthur's Farewell to South Uist'. As Ian Maclachlan got to the tune first and recorded, "composed", or collected the melody, this has no legal bearing on the current confusion.

I do have documentary material on the matter available for the long-term folk music experts who have been writing for years on the subject.

For my postal address I can currently be contacted at: (if I remember my e-mail correctly) I only have an e-mail phone. I would like to share some of the legal paperwork or any other information/queries on my father's full songs with the long-term correspondents. (My mother and family get sick of me talking about it!)

Incidentally, my father wrote another song called 'Here's to Scottish Whisky'. This was written in 1974 and is a pure heather and haggis effort. In this case Stewart Ross wrote both the words and music - and it is a full copyright work. However, there have been misspellings of the title such as "Here's to Scottish Whiskey", and at least one botch up on medley versions with a spurious 'trad' credit. The consequences are now filtering down the Internet. It's extremely upsetting. In case the subject ever crops up, it was written in Inverness by my father and originally recorded by the Tartan Lads on EMI.

I took legal action against a record company called 'Scotdisc' and they are supposed to have agreed not to produce any more copies of the song with the wrong credit information. However, copies have already been retailed, so much damage has been done - even though we have many correctly credited Scottish samplers which use the track.

Finally, many thanks to those responsible for correcting the lyric credit for 'Dark Island' (even though it's still a legal mess!).

Alan Ross

Thread #36086   Message #496220
Posted By: GUEST,rossey
01-Jul-01 - 09:46 PM
Thread Name: Lyr Req: Dark Island
Subject: Lyr Add: DARK ISLAND (Stewart Ross)

This is not the one you're looking for but - my late father Stewart Ross (1929-1993) of Inverness, Scotland - wrote a very well known version of the song in 1963, after being assured that the tune was traditional. It was published on sheet music and record, where he was formally registered as the author of the lyric alone.

There is a very long story involved. The tune had two earlier titles before becoming known as Dark Island for the TV series. Disputes arose over the origin of the tune and the two larger selling vocal versions. This situation has never been fully resolved and there are rights and wrongs on both sides, as the publishers exploited both versions of the song at the time, without payment and credited to the wrong author. Catch-22: to be credited today, artists and record companies have to know whose version they are using in the first place - and not put it down as the other version. Back in the 60's and 70's, the record company, artists, and publishers knew whose version they were using (and I have legal papers which prove it).

My father did win one court case in Scotland against a small record company for the use of the lyric, but the whole thing became a mess when the larger record company PYE became defunct.

The Ross version has appeared on over 40 albums, singles, TV advertised samplers etc. The Silver version is now the most widely used and recorded - but the ghost versions always come back. Both of these lyrics were written within one month each other. The Ross version was the first set to be published. The Mudcat site, however, has planted a bit of a time-bomb for my family by including it on their Digi site without credit or permission - and with misheard lyrics which do not scan, and don't do it any justice.

There were at least 4 English lyrics that I know of written in the 60's to versions of the tune. Each have different properties and suit singers in various ways. The Ross words were written to a very different version of the tune and are not a straight fit to the accordion tune.

Words PRS copyrighted, Stewart Ross (c) 1963

In the years long gone by when I first left my home,
I was young and I wanted the wide world to roam,
But now I am older and wiser you see,
That lovely Dark Island is calling to me.

CHORUS: Though I've wandered away from the land of my birth,
And been roaming around to the ends of the earth.
Still my heart is at home in a land far away,
That lovely Dark Island where memories stray.

[This verse is usually axed for length's sake:]

With a sorrowful heart I look back through the years.
When I think of that Island, my eyes fill with tears.
Once again then I long for the land I adore,
That lovely Dark Island I long for once more.

CHORUS: Though...

LAST VERSE: One day I'll return to that far distant shore,
And from that Dark Island I'll wander no more.
Till the day that I die, I will no longer roam,
For that lovely Dark Island will be my last home.

CHORUS: Though...
That lovely dark island where memories stray.

My father went on to write other less problematic copyright works where he wrote both words and music. Mostly he wrote in the country music vein - and Scottish/Irish emigration songs. 'My Bonnie Maureen' is one really nice song recorded by Daniel O'Donnell on platinum selling 'From the Heart'. Another, 'Here's to Scottish Whisky' has become very big on Scottish samplers, - but nothing eclipses the sales of his version of 'dark island' at its peak in the 60's and 70's.

Posted By: GUEST,Alan Ross
17-Dec-08 - 09:05 AM
Thread Name: DTStudy: The Dark Island
Subject: RE: DTStudy: The Dark Island

I have to correct my own innacuracy, repeated in many places. The TV series 'dark island' was first broadcast in July 1962.