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Lyr Req: Cairnamount / Cairn o' Mount

25 Sep 01 - 11:16 AM (#558269)
Subject: Cairnamount
From: Dunc

Can anyone help with the words to the wonderful ballad "Cairnamount"

25 Sep 01 - 07:56 PM (#558741)
Subject: RE: Lyr Req: Cairnamount
From: Malcolm Douglas

Offhand, I can't think of anything by that title.  Do you perhaps mean Cairney Mount?  Have a look at:


Notes re. Tunes

...and see if you recognise anything.  Burns wrote a song called As I Cam O'er the Cairney Mount, based on The Highland Laddie, which might also be a candidate.

26 Sep 01 - 04:01 PM (#559293)
Subject: RE: Lyr Req: Cairnamount
From: GUEST,Janice

Is this the song with lyrics 'though Cairnamount is bleak and bare ...... I'd rather meet my Donald there than be fair Scotland's queen' I have the words of this one - let me know if it's what you're looking for.

28 Sep 01 - 11:36 AM (#560794)
Subject: RE: Lyr Req: Cairnamount
From: Dunc

Oh Cairnamount is bleak and bare
And as cold as Clach na Ben
And you can see the snow lay there
Alang the summer's end.

These are the only words I know and it seems to be the same one that Janice is thinking off.

28 Sep 01 - 02:20 PM (#560871)
Subject: Lyr Add: CAIRN O' MOUNT (Balfour)
From: Malcolm Douglas

A phrase or two from the text can make all the difference when searching for a song; titles are often misunderstood or mis-spelled, as is the case with this one, which is properly called Cairn O' Mount.  Armed with the bit you quote, it was easy to find; evidently it is a poem written by Alexander Balfour (1767-1829).  It can be seen at Brechin: The Ancient City: Cairn O' Mount.

The site compilers describe it as "From A North Country Garland"; there have been several publications of this title, but I take the book in question to be James Maidment's A North Countrie Garland (1824).  Can you provide any information about the tune you've heard it sung to?

(Words by Alexander Balfour, 1767 - 1829)

As I rode down by the Brig o' Dye
And past yon hill o' broom,
A maiden sang right merrily,
Just as the sun gaed down.

"It's Cairn o' Mount is bleak and bare,
And cauld is Clochnaben'
And you will see the snow lie there
Alang the summer's end."

I lighted off my dapple grey
And walked by her side,
Saying, "Lassie, I have lost my way
Upon your moors so wide.

"Oh war me o' your face so fair,
Your een so bonnie blue,
The longest day I'd blythely share
To kiss your cherry mou'.

"Oh, lassie, will you gang wi' me,
And leave your cauldrich glen?
Wi' a' my kin ye'll bear the gree,
There's wealth baith but and ben."

"Wi' silks and satins buskit braw,
And ribbons for your hair,
And maids to answer when you ca',
So, can you wish for mair?"

"O lassie, ye maun think a wee,
My lands are far and wide,
I've gold in banks, and ships at sea,
So come and be my bride."

"My father left me lairdships twa,
A coach at my command,
I'll make you lady o'er them a',
If you'll give me your hand."

"Though Cairn o' Mount is bleak and bare,
You're no a match for me;
My Donald he is a' my care,
Ride on and let me be."

"He meets me on yon hill so green
His heart is leal and true
If Donald heard my angry scream
He soon would make you rue."

"O, lassie, think, your Donald's poor,
Has neither horse nor coo;
A shepherd straggling o'er the moor
Is not a match for you."

"Cairn o' Mount is bleak and bare,
And cauld is Clochnaben;
I'd rather meet my Donald here
Than be fair Scotland's queen."

"O lassie, I am loathe to tell,
You throw your love awa;
Your Donald brawly kens himsel'
Last gloamin' what I saw."

"As I rode by his shielin' door
I spied a Highland maid,
Your Donald kissed her o'er and o'er,
And rolled her in his plaid."

"Though you would swear wi' solemn oath
What you have told to me,
I would not dread my Donald's faith
But say, 'Base loon, ye lee."

It's he's thrown off his lowland dress,
Combed down his yellow hair,
Saying, "Lassie ye've been true to me,
And now we'll part nae mair."

"Nae mair I'm shepherd o' the glen,
But laird ayont the Dee;
And since ye have been true to me,
I'll aye prove true to thee."

Presumably from James Maidment's A North Countrie Garland (1824).  I don't know whether there's a long-standing tune associated with it, or whether it has been recently set.

28 Sep 01 - 02:41 PM (#560894)
Subject: RE: Lyr Req: Cairnamount
From: Malcolm Douglas

Further information: the song appears on Bob Blair's record in Pete Heywood's "Tradition Bearers" series: Reaching for the High, High Lands (Living Tradition LTCD1001).  You can hear him singing it at the "Living Tradition" site:  Reaching for the High, High Lands.

The tune used is a modern one, written by Tony Cuffe; so it may be that the song is not known in tradition.

29 Sep 01 - 10:10 AM (#561348)
Subject: RE: Lyr Req: Cairnamount
From: Dunc

Thanks for that Malcolm - Duty Hero once again.

30 Oct 13 - 09:12 AM (#3571389)
Subject: RE: Lyr Req: Cairnamount
From: GUEST,Chris B (Born Again Scouser)

Hi Janice.

If you have the lyrics for Tony Cuffe's version I'd love to have sight of them. I've transcribed most of it myself but I'm struggling with a few bits. Gorgeous song.



30 Oct 13 - 11:55 AM (#3571431)
Subject: RE: Lyr Req: Cairnamount
From: Jim Carroll

Would highly recommend Bob Blair's version on 'Reaching for the High, High Lands'.
Bob's exquisite rendition (along with Bonnie Lassie of the Mornin') puts this album right up there with the biggies as far as I'm concerned.
Unfortunately Malcolm's link no longer works, but worth the effort of a further search.
Jim Carroll

31 Oct 13 - 07:11 PM (#3571834)
Subject: Lyr Add: CAIRN O' MOUNT (from Tony Cuffe)
From: Jim Dixon

Here's my attempt at a transcription. Caveat: I am not a native speaker. A few of these words are pure guesswork, or spelled phonetically with only a vague concept of their meaning. I have marked the more doubtful ones with (?).

As recorded by Tony Cuffe on "Sae Will We Yet" (2003)

1. I left the banks o winding Dee and hausle(?) bonnie green,
Where birds sang blithe through ilka tree and flooers bloomed fair atween.
As I gaed down by brig o Dee just as the sun gaed doon,
A lassie sang sae merrily amang the heather broon.

CHORUS: Though Cairn o Mount is bleak and bare, and cauld is Clochnaben,
I'd rather meet my Donald there than be fair Scotland's queen.

2. I jumpit off my dappled grey; I walked doon by her side.
Said, lassie, I hae lost my way amang yer muirs sae wide.
Yet leeze me o yer bonnie face, yer een sae bonnie blue.
The langest day I'd blithely spare(?) tae be alane wi you.

3. O bonnie lassie, think o me; my lands stretch far and wide.
I've gowd in banks; I've ships at sea, sae will ye be my bride?
My faither left me lairdships twa, a hoose at my command,
And I'll mak ye lady oer them a' if ye'll gie me yer hand.

4. I flung aside my lowland coat, kamed doon my yella hair,
Cried leeze me on, leal bonnie Bess; we meet tae pairt nae mair.
Nae langer Donald o the glen, I'm laird ayont the Dee,
And a hairt that proved thee forrit syne, I'll aye prove true to thee.

31 Oct 13 - 10:09 PM (#3571871)
Subject: RE: Lyr Req: Cairnamount
From: Tattie Bogle

The Cairn o Mount Road rises to nearly 1500 FT between Banchory, on Deeside, and Fettercairn. In good weather, really beautiful, but it is always one of the first roads to be mentioned on the weather and travel reports as being closed by snow!
The longer version of the song is a favourite of several singers from the NE of Scotland, such as Geordie Murieson, Jock Duncan, Joe Aitken (I think I've heard them all do it!)
Sadly Malcolm Douglas is no longer with us, hence the link not working.

14 Jan 21 - 08:42 AM (#4087891)
Subject: RE: Lyr Req: Cairnamount / Cairn o' Mount
From: GeoffLawes

YouTube Cairn O' Mount · Tony Cuffe

14 Jan 21 - 12:15 PM (#4087929)
Subject: RE: Lyr Req: Cairnamount / Cairn o' Mount
From: GUEST,Kenny B (inactive)

Notes from Alastair Brown's version on his CD "Swan Necked Valve"

Cairnomount Words: Alexander Balfour. Tune: Tony Cuffe

Cairnomount was originally published in the early 1800s as Donald, a Ballad by Alexander Balfour. It follows the classic broken token plot (minus the token). A lover returns in disguise to test his sweetheart's fidelity. He hints that she might as well transfer her affections to him, for her absent Donald is busy wrapping other women in his plaidie. She doesn't fall for this ruse and on learning his true identity, falls into his arms instead. She'd have been better off slugging him for playing such a dirty trick.

14 Jan 21 - 12:52 PM (#4087936)
Subject: RE: Lyr Req: Cairnamount / Cairn o' Mount
From: leeneia

Geoff, thank you for the link to the Tony Cuffe version. It's a lovely melody.

Kenny B, I agree with you that it was a dirty trick. I have known two people, both men, who thought it was funny to tell lies calculated to make other people upset. Neither one would make a good husband, in my opinion.