Jeannie Hutchison              [Baabie Murray]                              SA1972.101.20

Jeannie conflated a couple of songs here, beginning with some words from Baabie Murray to the tune of the second, Red Robbie, which we give here. Her friend Betty Poleson helped Jeannie with some prompting.

Jeannie’s tune was known as Hieland Donald in Aberdeenshire,  and over a century ago the collector Gavin Greig remarked in The Buchan Observer (no. 143), “The refrain Heilan’ Donald is old and familiar, and often heard lilted as a detached snatch of presumably some forgotten song”.  Greig then quoted nine verses of a poem that Bell Robertson had composed to fit the old tune, using the refrain  “Hielan’ Donald kissed Katie, Oh but he kissed her fine; Hieland Donal’ kissed Katie, Doon among the camowine [camomile]”.  The tune for both is known to many Scots as Wha wadna fecht for Charlie.    (Roud index no. 6317).

Here is Jeannie’s version, fragmented as it is, but possibly older than many others.

I cam in wi Baabie Murray,  she wis sitten at da fire
I cam in that n’a hurry, set the woman in an ire.
Rise Baabie, haste dee Baabie, rise an come with me noo
The bosun’s lady is sitten greetin, the fairies has shot her only coo.

PC “What was the spring to the same tune?”

BP “That wis no a spring, that wis …Red Robbie, kissed Katie”

JH     Red Robbie kissed Katie, Red Robbie kissed her fine;
        Red Robbie kissed Katie, in the byre among the kine.
        Ever saw you Lunna lasses coortin wi da Herra men?
        Ever saw you copper kettles mended wi a bress pin?   [brass]

PC “Sing it again, only a bit slower..

… Robbie kissed Katie, Red Robbie kissed her fine;
Red Robbie kissed Katie, in the byre among the kine.
Ever saw you copper kettles mended wi a bress pin?
Ever saw you Lunna lasses coortin wi da Herra men?

These last two lines are intriguing for it is possible that they were known to the  poet Sinclair Irvine, composer of The Wreck of the Pacific.   A letter in the Shetland Archives (Ref. D.9/113b/19)  mentions, “A possible rhyme of his is one verse I partially remember and shall give: — “Wha ere’ heard of’ iron kettles, mended wi’ a copper can, Wha ere’ heard o’ Herra lasses, courtin’ wi’ a Skerry man”. The first two lines may be an adaptation of my own somewhat, but I can imagine it to have been called forth by Skerry Robbie (Bonnie Willie’s father) marrying a Herra girl and coming to stay at the Herra.”

For a very different and fuller version of the song Baabie Murray  listen to Harriet Sandison’s version.