Both sides the Tweed

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"Both sides the Tweed" is a song about the Treaty of Union between Scotland and England. Dick Gaughan made minor changes to the words and added his own tune. [1] The song was written in 1979 and first appeared on Gaughan's 1981 album Handful of Earth . [2] Though Gaughan's recording was embraced by music critics at the time,[ citation needed ] the song achieved wide popularity only later when it was recorded by the Scottish group Capercaillie on their album Sidewaulk .

Treaty of Union An agreement in 1706 uniting England and Scotland into the Kingdom of Great Britain

The Treaty of Union is the name usually now given to the agreement which led to the creation of the new state of Great Britain, stating that England and Scotland were to be "United into One Kingdom by the Name of Great Britain", At the time it was more often referred to as the Articles of Union.

Dick Gaughan British musician

Richard Peter Gaughan is a Scottish musician, singer and songwriter, particularly of folk and social protest songs. He is regarded as one of Scotland's leading singer-songwriters.

<i>Handful of Earth</i> 1981 studio album by Dick Gaughan

Handful of Earth is the fifth solo studio album by Scottish folk musician and singer Dick Gaughan, released in 1981 by Topic Records. The album was Gaughan's first after spending several years largely avoiding playing music while regaining his health following a mental breakdown in 1979. Containing an array of traditional and contemporary folk songs performed on guitar with open tunings, Handful of Earth was by far Gaughan's most political to that point, and was inspired by the political turmoil in Scotland following the Conservative Party victory at the 1979 general election.


Gaughan wrote the song in response[ citation needed ] to the result of the first Scottish Parliament referendum in 1979, which had the controversial ruling whereby a simple majority was not enough to win a devolved parliament for Scotland. Instead it required that 40% of the entire Scottish electorate, not just those who voted, had to vote yes.[ citation needed ] A non-vote was therefore effectively a "no" vote. In the referendum 52% of those who voted voted yes, but as this only amounted to 33% of the electorate, the scheme could not be realised.[ citation needed ]

Scottish Parliament Devolved parliament of Scotland

The Scottish Parliament is the unicameral legislature of Scotland. Located in the Holyrood area of the capital city, Edinburgh, it is frequently referred to by the metonym Holyrood.

1979 Scottish devolution referendum

The Scottish referendum of 1979 was a post-legislative referendum to decide whether there was sufficient support for a Scottish Assembly proposed in the Scotland Act 1978 among the Scottish electorate. This was an act to create a devolved deliberative assembly for Scotland. An amendment to the Act stipulated that it would be repealed if less than 40% of the total electorate voted "Yes" in the referendum. The result was that 51.6% supported the proposal, but with a turnout of 64%, this represented only 32.9% of the registered electorate. The Act was subsequently repealed. A second referendum to create a devolved legislature in Scotland was held in 1997 under a newly elected Labour government, which led to the enactment of the Scotland Act 1998 and the creation of a devolved Scottish Parliament in 1999.

"Both sides the Tweed" speaks of the corruption involved in the negotiations leading up to the Act of Union of 1707, which linked Scotland and England on terms that nationalists believe did much damage to Scottish culture. The tone of the song, however, is conciliatory and may be read as a reaction against the anti-Englishness of some Scottish nationalistic songs. The title refers to the River Tweed, which marks part of the border between Scotland and England. The song has been mentioned as a candidate in discussions about a possible new Scottish national anthem. [3]

Acts of Union 1707 Acts of Parliament creating the United Kingdom of Great Britain

The Acts of Union were two Acts of Parliament: the Union with Scotland Act 1706 passed by the Parliament of England, and the Union with England Act passed in 1707 by the Parliament of Scotland. They put into effect the terms of the Treaty of Union that had been agreed on 22 July 1706, following negotiation between commissioners representing the parliaments of the two countries. By the two Acts, the Kingdom of England and the Kingdom of Scotland—which at the time were separate states with separate legislatures, but with the same monarch—were, in the words of the Treaty, "United into One Kingdom by the Name of Great Britain".

Scotland Country in Northwest Europe, part of the United Kingdom

Scotland is a country that is part of the United Kingdom. It covers the northern third of the island of Great Britain, with a border with England to the southeast, and is surrounded by the Atlantic Ocean to the north and west, the North Sea to the northeast, the Irish Sea to the south, and more than 790 islands, including the Northern Isles and the Hebrides.

England Country in north-west Europe, part of the United Kingdom

England is a country that is part of the United Kingdom. It shares land borders with Wales to the west and Scotland to the north. The Irish Sea lies west of England and the Celtic Sea to the southwest. England is separated from continental Europe by the North Sea to the east and the English Channel to the south. The country covers five-eighths of the island of Great Britain, which lies in the North Atlantic, and includes over 100 smaller islands, such as the Isles of Scilly and the Isle of Wight.

The song was covered by Mary Black and can be found on her albums Collected (1984) and the compilation Song for Ireland (1998).

Mary Black Irish singer

Mary Black is an Irish folk singer. She is well known as an interpreter of both traditional folk and modern material which has made her a major recording artist in her native Ireland.


The song was adapted by Gaughan from a traditional song attributed to James Hogg. The historic version of the song can be found in The Jacobite Relics of Scotland [4] by James Hogg, published in 1819. Quoting a local Borders press article on the festival of the same name, Lori Watson notes that: "I've heard Dick himself acknowledge, 'when I came across it, it didn't have his name on it but Hogg's fingerprints are all over it'". Gaughan changed some lyrics and replaced the tune but the song's message is essentially the same. Gaughan himself says he is the composer, stating "So far as I am aware, I actually composed it and am highly flattered by the presumption that it is traditional, with people claiming to have known it for several decades, if not centuries...if someone can provide a printed or recorded source to prove the existence of this tune prior to 1979 then I'd be delighted to acknowledge that I unconsciously used a traditional tune." [5]

James Hogg British writer

James Hogg was a Scottish poet, novelist and essayist who wrote in both Scots and English. As a young man he worked as a shepherd and farmhand, and was largely self-educated through reading. He was a friend of many of the great writers of his day, including Sir Walter Scott, of whom he later wrote an unauthorized biography. He became widely known as the "Ettrick Shepherd", a nickname under which some of his works were published, and the character name he was given in the widely read series Noctes Ambrosianae, published in Blackwood's Magazine. He is best known today for his novel The Private Memoirs and Confessions of a Justified Sinner. His other works include the long poem The Queen's Wake (1813), his collection of songs Jacobite Reliques (1819), and his two novels The Three Perils of Man (1822), and The Three Perils of Woman (1823).

Hogg's Jacobite Reliques is a two volume collection of songs related to the Jacobite risings, compiled by the Scottish poet and novelist James Hogg on commission from the Highland Society of London in 1817. Most of the songs in the collection are Jacobite, and a minority are Whig. A number of the songs were written or adapted by Robert Burns and scholars speculate as to how many of them were authored or at least substantially altered by Hogg himself.

Original Song Text

Several performers have covered this song - all with slightly different lyrics. Following is the text of the original song from The Jacobite Relics of Scotland [6] mentioned previously. Note the thematic coherence of the original words in the stanza beginning with "No sweetness".

 What's the spring-breathing jas'mine and rose,    What's the summer, with all its gay train,  Or the splendour of autumn, to those    Who've barter'd their freedom for gain?    Let the love of our land's sacred rights,    To the love of our country succeed;  Let friendship and honour unite,    And flourish on both sides the Tweed.    No sweetness the senses can cheer,    Which corruption and bribery blind;  No brightness that gloom can e'er clear,    For honour's the sun of the mind.        Let the love, &c.    Let virtue distinguish the brave,    Place riches in lowest degree;  Think him poorest who can be a slave,    Him richest who dares to be free.        Let the love, &c.    Let us think how our ancestors rose,    Let us think how our ancestors fell,  The rights they defended, and those    They bought with their blood we'll ne'er sell.        Let the love, &c.


  1. "Both sides the Tweed". Dick Gaughan. Archived from the original on 2017-01-15. Retrieved 2011-07-04.
  2. "This was originally a comment on the Act of Union of 1707, an act of political and economic expediency which it is an understatement to say was unpopular at the time in Scotland. I didn't like the original tune (Hogg's Jacobite Relics) and rewrote the words to make of more contemporary relevance. The only way forward is by mutual respect and understanding."--Sleevenote by Dick Gaughan (Topic Records 12TS419)
  3. Borland, Ben (October 12, 2013). "Scottish pupils taught to sing for separation".
  4. "The Jacobite relics of Scotland". pp. 126–127.
  5. "Both sides the Tweed; songheader-bar". Dick Gaughan. Archived from the original on 2017-01-15. Retrieved 2011-07-04.
  6. "The Jacobite Relics of Scotland: Being the Songs, Airs, and Legends, of the Adherents to the House of Stuart" . Retrieved 2016-02-20.

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