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Origins: RL Stevenson - Skye Boat Song

DigiTrad:
OVER THE SEA TO SKYE (VARIANT)
SKYE BOAT SONG
SKYE BOAT SONG (Parody)


Related threads:
Skye Boat Song in Gaelic? (12)
Outlander: Mary of souls? (4)
(origins) Origin: Skye Boat Song confusion (18)
(origins) Origins: The Skye Boat Song (55)
Tune Req: Sing Me a Song of a Lad That is Gone (2)
(origins) Origins: Skye Boat Song (26)


GUEST,Miranda 30 Jan 19 - 08:04 PM
Joe Offer 30 Jan 19 - 08:39 PM
Jack Campin 31 Jan 19 - 10:20 AM
meself 31 Jan 19 - 12:37 PM
GUEST,DTM 31 Jan 19 - 02:17 PM
meself 31 Jan 19 - 03:20 PM
GUEST,Rossey 01 Feb 19 - 08:45 AM
GUEST,Miranda 01 Feb 19 - 10:50 AM
meself 01 Feb 19 - 12:01 PM
leeneia 01 Feb 19 - 12:44 PM
Tattie Bogle 01 Feb 19 - 06:46 PM
Leadfingers 01 Feb 19 - 07:45 PM
meself 01 Feb 19 - 08:41 PM
GUEST,Rossey 01 Feb 19 - 11:47 PM
GUEST,Miranda 02 Feb 19 - 01:56 AM
GUEST,Rossey 02 Feb 19 - 04:02 AM
GUEST,Mike Rogers 02 Feb 19 - 05:04 AM
Jack Campin 02 Feb 19 - 06:45 AM
GUEST,Tim M 08 Feb 19 - 06:23 AM
Jack Campin 08 Feb 19 - 07:06 AM
GUEST,Allan Conn 08 Feb 19 - 07:34 AM
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Subject: Origins: RL Stevenson - Skye Boat Song
From: GUEST,Miranda
Date: 30 Jan 19 - 08:04 PM

Does anyone know why Stevenson wrote this poem? It's more officially known as "Sing me a Song of a Lad that is Gone". I have some idea, but I can't be sure. Does anyone have any sources that might explain the context?

There's a thread that says he thought the tune was pure folk, but nothing about why he wrote the words he did. Anyone know?


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Subject: RE: Origins: RL Stevenson - Skye Boat Song
From: Joe Offer
Date: 30 Jan 19 - 08:39 PM

The Robert Louis Stevenson poem is here:
Sing Me a Song of a Lad That Is Gone
(Robert Louis Stevenson)

Sing me a song of a lad that is gone,
Say, could that lad be I?
Merry of soul he sailed on a day
Over the sea to Skye.

Mull was astern, Rum on the port,
Eigg on the starboard bow;
Glory of youth glowed in his soul;
Where is that glory now?

Sing me a song of a lad that is gone,
Say, could that lad be I?
Merry of soul he sailed on a day
Over the sea to Skye.

Give me again all that was there,
Give me the sun that shone!
Give me the eyes, give me the soul,
Give me the lad that's gone!

Sing me a song of a lad that is gone,
Say, could that lad be I?
Merry of soul he sailed on a day
Over the sea to Skye.

Billow and breeze, islands and seas,
Mountains of rain and sun,
All that was good, all that was fair,
All that was me is gone.



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Subject: RE: Origins: RL Stevenson - Skye Boat Song
From: Jack Campin
Date: 31 Jan 19 - 10:20 AM

He presumably wrote it because he knew he could do better than Boulton and liked the tune. He must have known where it came from, Songs of the North must have been in half the piano stools of Scotland..


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Subject: RE: Origins: RL Stevenson - Skye Boat Song
From: meself
Date: 31 Jan 19 - 12:37 PM

Now, I like RLS as much if not better than the next man - but those lyrics ... well, I do like "Rum on the port" ... think I might use that one ....


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Subject: RE: Origins: RL Stevenson - Skye Boat Song
From: GUEST,DTM
Date: 31 Jan 19 - 02:17 PM

Here's a starter for you, meself.

"Rum on the port, Eigg on the chin" ;-)


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Subject: RE: Origins: RL Stevenson - Skye Boat Song
From: meself
Date: 31 Jan 19 - 03:20 PM

Hey - were you peeking in my kitchen window this morning??


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Subject: RE: Origins: RL Stevenson - Skye Boat Song
From: GUEST,Rossey
Date: 01 Feb 19 - 08:45 AM

Of course a re-write of RL Stevenson's clunky lyric was used as the theme song for the equally dire Outlander TV series.   The other altered lyrics to the Skye Boat Song are appallingly twee, and don't scan.. but Outlander fans would lynch me for saying that! At least Boulton's lyrics trip off the tongue more easily, and make good use of pleasant alliteration in telling a whole romantic story. The other lyrics are very clumsy. Stevenson may have been a fine novelist.. but he stank as a lyricist.


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Subject: RE: Origins: RL Stevenson - Skye Boat Song
From: GUEST,Miranda
Date: 01 Feb 19 - 10:50 AM

Outlander is actually the reason I got into folk music. A few Mudcatters will probably crucify me to hear that I got from the Skye Boat Song to the Corries version, but then it's part of why I found Mudcat.

That led to finding more Corries songs, and then eventually to the Clancys, Tannahill Weavers, etc... Anyhow, the way I got here should be expected because I'm less than twenty years old.

Anyhow I wouldn't lynch you for calling Outlander dire. I can see where you might be coming from.

Why don't you like Stevenson's version? I mean, I thought it gave off a sense of adventure to me at least. Boulton's has a patriotic air, so it's equally as good I think. Personally though, my opinions are formed based on who I've heard sing it.


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Subject: RE: Origins: RL Stevenson - Skye Boat Song
From: meself
Date: 01 Feb 19 - 12:01 PM

Hey, if a young naif like you and an old hard-nose like Jack Campin like those lyrics, there must be something in them I'm missing. But I find them ... lacking. Unconvincing. Unmemorable. Almost as if he can't decide if he's trying to write verse for children or for adults.

I can understand how someone born and bred in Scotland might tire of the whole Bonnie Charlie thing - but the imagery, sentiment, and lyricism of Boulton are effective, if not particularly original.

But I'm not trying to change anyone's mind - if you like those lyrics, like them!


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Subject: RE: Origins: RL Stevenson - Skye Boat Song
From: leeneia
Date: 01 Feb 19 - 12:44 PM

This has a good tune. I've added it to my collection of music for accordion.


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Subject: RE: Origins: RL Stevenson - Skye Boat Song
From: Tattie Bogle
Date: 01 Feb 19 - 06:46 PM

Stephen Quigg, who was with the McCalmans before they retired, sings the "Sing me a Song" verse, but then, I think goes into the Harold Boulton version. (Stephen is, of course, still out there performing, either solo or in a duo with his wife, Pernille.)


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Subject: RE: Origins: RL Stevenson - Skye Boat Song
From: Leadfingers
Date: 01 Feb 19 - 07:45 PM

RLS was , as I understand , the originator of Fifteen men on a dead man's chest rhyme , so he does have some 'folk' in him


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Subject: RE: Origins: RL Stevenson - Skye Boat Song
From: meself
Date: 01 Feb 19 - 08:41 PM

'Fifteen Men' is a fine piece of work - especially compared to Sing Me a Song. I know which song I'll sing ... !

RLS was brilliant - Jekyll & Hyde is one the great novels of English lit., as far as I'm concerned.


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Subject: RE: Origins: RL Stevenson - Skye Boat Song
From: GUEST,Rossey
Date: 01 Feb 19 - 11:47 PM

Miranda some of my Outlander comment was because I am Invernessian, and a Highlander. There is nothing worse than when you see an American representation of your history and culture, purporting to be authentic but littered with inaccuracies, and inauthentic representations of your home town, local monuments and accents. They spent so much effort getting some things spot on, then get other silly details wrong. You kind of know what you are in for right from the use of the altered Skye Boat Song theme..a deliberate targeted naffness that captures the hearts of Americans and Canadians who want their period drama dose of 'Bonnie Scotland, served in a certain way. I shouldn't knock success.. if it wasn't for the fact I am local to the area portrayed in the initial series - and also a trained archaeologist, then I'm sure it would strike a chord! Anyway,I've gone off on one... As Victorian and twee the Boulton lyrics are - at least they scan. They fit into the whole Victorian movement of romanticising anything to do with Bonnie Prince Charlie, but they are memorable and trip off the tongue. With lyric settings of trad songs, it is though, whatever floats your boat!


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Subject: RE: Origins: RL Stevenson - Skye Boat Song
From: GUEST,Miranda
Date: 02 Feb 19 - 01:56 AM

I've gone to read reliable texts to educate myself, and Outlander only missed a few details (Sir John Cope for one). The Skye Boat Song does lead a few to trad folk ballads, however. It furthered my interest after I found a small niche of interest in Scottish history.
As for the portrayal of Scotland, what is missing? I've never been there as much as I'd like to one day... Certainly I've met and had a few Scottish teachers, but that's only a small insight into life in Scotland. What's not accurate?


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Subject: RE: Origins: RL Stevenson - Skye Boat Song
From: GUEST,Rossey
Date: 02 Feb 19 - 04:02 AM

Oh things like Witch burnings (that actually stopped before the time that it's set in) , accents, some props, occasionally buildings the representation of my home town, the naff representation of prehistoric monuments in the area.. just general niggles from a local's point of view. I am not a great person to watch a period film or programme with! Anyway, you know what you are in for from the opening title music, a concoction. But I'll stop..as this is about Skye Boat song.


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Subject: RE: Origins: RL Stevenson - Skye Boat Song
From: GUEST,Mike Rogers
Date: 02 Feb 19 - 05:04 AM

Give me Sing Me A Song Anytime.
As to authenticity the main thrust (oops) of Outlander is about a rather attractive girl who time travels thanks to some clever stones, and engages in steamy sex, generally before a disaster of some type strikes. What's not to like?


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Subject: RE: Origins: RL Stevenson - Skye Boat Song
From: Jack Campin
Date: 02 Feb 19 - 06:45 AM

Time travel could be a great get-out if you really go for it. There are quite a few SF stories where the traveller gets it slightly wrong and ends up in a slightly twisted alternate history. Imagine "The Favourite" or the new Mary Queen of Scots movie with added Margaret Thatcher.


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Subject: RE: Origins: RL Stevenson - Skye Boat Song
From: GUEST,Tim M
Date: 08 Feb 19 - 06:23 AM

Well, whatever the literary quality, there is a nice ambiguity about Stevenson’s words. Are they about him, or are they about the Bonnie Prince? The detailed description of the neighbouring islands evoke a personal journey. Did RLS - a known and chronic invalid - actually make such a boat trip? I remember my own trip to Skye. A bus journey to the Cuillins and the bus drivers amusement at my sassenach attempted pronunciation of ’Sligachan’.


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Subject: RE: Origins: RL Stevenson - Skye Boat Song
From: Jack Campin
Date: 08 Feb 19 - 07:06 AM

It's deliberately ambiguous, but the song's emotional tone suggests that Stevenson was travelling to Skye in his imagination. RLS seems not to have been anywhere near Skye until he went to Mull to help on his father's Dubh Heartach lighthouse project in his late teens.


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Subject: RE: Origins: RL Stevenson - Skye Boat Song
From: GUEST,Allan Conn
Date: 08 Feb 19 - 07:34 AM

Tim he did take various trips to the Hebrides and did a cruise on a boat called The Heron which took him to Skye though he didn't appear to be that impressed with the island which he described as "hatefully bleak and cold" though the weather is everything up there! It can totally colour your perception of the place.

http://robert-louis-stevenson.org/highlands-and-islands/


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