Calder’s Clear Stream

On Springthyme SPRCD 1042
Shepheard, Spiers & Watson - They Smiled as We Cam In

Pete Shepheard: In the early 1960s we would often travel up from St Andrews to visit the Stewart family at New Alyth outside Blairgowrie and, during the berrypicking season in late July/ August, we would join the berrypicking and camp beside Belle and Alex or on Marshall’s field where many of the traveller families would gather each year for the season. In the evening there was always singing and music around the camp fires and it was on such a night in August 1965 that I recorded this song from Bathgate based traveller Hughie Stewart - his favourite song (GD 5:947; Roud 3778).

The song presumably dates from the early 1800s and may well be based on a historical event. A young miner leaves his sweetheart to fight for the King. When he is wounded in battle he thinks longingly of his sweetheart and wishes she was at his side. The word stound (pain) is pronounced by traditional singers to rhyme with the old pronunciation of wound as wownd. The Bonnie Woodha mentioned in the song (and the title of the text-only version in Greig-Duncan) is on the east bank of the North Calder water in Lanarkshire as it flows north to join the Clyde. I added the last verse myself.

Pete (vocal) with Tom (fiddle)

1: It was down by yon green bushes by Calder’s clear stream,
Where me and my Annie dear had often times been;
Where the hours flew past as quite happy were we,
And it’s little did my Annie think a sodger I’d be.

2: O fare thee weel Annie for I must away,
For the King he needs sodgers and I must obey;
But if fortune shines on me and I do return,
Then I will walk wi ye my Annie dear by Calder’s clear burn.

3: It was on the eighteenth of August our regiment was lost,
When a bullet from the enemy our lines quickly crossed;
Caught me on the forehead and the blood come trickling down,
I reeled and I staggered and I fell unto the ground.

4: Up then stepped our captain he came up with great speed,
“O I fear by yon bullet young Dinsmore lays deid.”
Two men with a stretcher they quickly appeared,
And they carried me off to a hospital there.

5: They turned me all over my wownds for to see,
Cold water and brandy they poured around so free;
If I had my Annie dear to wash all my wownds,
Then I know that by her sweet kiss she would soon cure the stound. [pain

6: When I am alone and I think on lang syne,
When I was a miner and wrocht in the mine;
The tears they do trickle and doun they do fa,
When I think on the gowans roon bonnie Woodha. [wrocht=worked; gowans=daisies

7: Now the fighting is over, the fighting is done,
And I will return to my own native home;
I will walk with my Annie dear, my Annie by my side,
And by the Calder's clear water I'll make her my bride.

c p 2006 Springthyme Records • Springthyme Music