The Wild Rover

Last updated
The Wild Rover
Song
Catalogue Roud 1173
Genre Folk
Writtenc.1600s

"The Wild Rover" (Roud 1173) is a very popular and well-travelled folk song. Many territories have laid claim to have the original version.

Contents

History

In 2015 the English Folk Song and Dance periodical "Folk Music Journal" vol 10 No 5 had an article by Brian Peters. [1] He claims that the origin of the song was a seventeenth century English Broadside written by Thomas Lanfiere. This evolved into several distinct versions. They have been found in England, Scotland, Ireland and North America. Shortly afterwards it became popular in Australia.

The song tells the story of a young man who has been away from his hometown for many years. When he returns to his former alehouse, the landlady refuses him credit, until he presents the gold which he has gained while he has been away. He sings of how his days of roving are over and he intends to return to his home and settle down.

Other overview or significant versions

According to Professor T. M. Devine in his book The Scottish Nation 1700 - 2000 (Penguin, 2001) the song was written as a temperance song. [2] The song is found printed in a book, The American Songster, printed in the US by W. A. Leary in 1845, and spread from Scotland to America from the temperance movement. There is another US printed version in the "Forget-Me-Not Songster" (c. 1850), published by Locke. An alternative history of the song is suggested by the fact that a collection of ballads, dated between 1813 and 1838, is held in the Bodleian Library. The printer, Catnach, was based in the Seven Dials area of London. The Bodleian bundle contains "The Wild Rover". [3] The Greig-Duncan collection contains no less than six versions of the song. It was compiled by Gavin Greig 1848–1917.

The song is number 1173 in the Roud Folk Song Index, which lists 200 versions, [4] many of which are broadsides, in chapbooks or song collections. About 50 have been collected from traditional singers. Of these, 26 were collected in England, 12 in Scotland, 3 in Ireland, 5 in Australia, 4 in Canada and 2 in the US.

Influence

Raymond Daly and Derek Warfield of The Wolfe Tones describe how the fans of Celtic Football Club in Scotland [5] sing The Wild Rover at away matches. The chorus is well known throughout most Irish, Irish-American and British cultures, even among people who have no knowledge of the rest of the song.

As with Celtic Football Club, the chorus is sung by football fans throughout England, usually with the words adapted to suit the team in question. It is most notably sung by fans of Burnley Football Club in England.

Many companies have also taken advantage of the tune's popularity and used it to advertise their products. Dairy Crest adapted the tune to advertise their Clover margarine in the UK. There have been so many recordings of the song that it would be inappropriate to list them all. One version was a hit single in the UK. The Irish punk band Stiff Little Fingers released an EP which included the song. It reached number 83 in 1989. [6]

Recordings

Traditional

The following recordings can be heard on the Vaughan Williams Memorial Library website:

It has also been performed and recorded by The Clancy Brothers with Tommy Makem on the 1965 album “Recorded Live in Ireland” and The Pogues in their 1984 album “Red Roses for Me”.

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References

  1. "Bodleian Library Broadside Ballads". Bodley24.bodley.ox.ac.uk. 12 November 2015. Retrieved 28 August 2022.
  2. "Whisky's awa'". Ias.org.uk. Retrieved 29 October 2012.
  3. "Bodleian Library Broadside Ballads". Bodley24.bodley.ox.ac.uk. 12 November 1997. Retrieved 29 October 2012.
  4. "Vaughan Williams Memorial Library - Search".
  5. Celtic and Ireland in Song and Story, pub Studio Print, 2008 pp361
  6. "Discography". Official website. Retrieved 28 August 2022.
  7. "The Wild Rover (Roud Folksong Index S437206)". The Vaughan Williams Memorial Library. Retrieved 22 February 2021.
  8. "Wild Rover (Roud Folksong Index S436702)". The Vaughan Williams Memorial Library. Retrieved 22 February 2021.
  9. "The Wild Rover (Roud Folksong Index S376852)". The Vaughan Williams Memorial Library. Retrieved 22 February 2021.