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Both Sides the Tweed

[ Roud 8913 ; trad. / Dick Gaughan]

Dick Gaughan sang Both Sides the Tweed in 1981 on his Topic album Handful of Earth. A live recording from the Trades Club, Hebden Bridge, West Yorkshire, on 8 December 2007 was released in 2007 on his Greentrax album Live! at the Trades Club. He noted on his now defunct website:

This was put into this form in 1979 shortly after the Scots returned a majority in favour of a separate Scottish Parliament but the vote was vetoed in the UK Parliament due to the inclusion of the notorious “40% of all eligible votes” clause which had the effect of counting votes not cast as being votes against. There is now good evidence to suggest that the architect of this piece of electoral sleight-of-hand may have been Robin Cook.

The verses call for the recognition of Scotland's right to sovereignty and the choruses argue against prejudice between our peoples. The Tweed is the river which forms part of the Scots-English border and is used here as a symbol of both the need for independence and the need for friendship and co-existence.

The original text was an attack upon the Treaty of Union of 1707 which abolished the independent Scots and English Parliaments and set up the United Kingdom. I made some minor amendments to give it contemporary relevance.

The tune has been the subject of some speculation and argument. 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.

For one writing songs in a “traditional” genre, this is the highest compliment imaginable. Like all tunes composed within any aesthetic, it is inevitable that it has similarities to and contains phrases and quotes from earlier tunes. However, 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.

Mary Black sang Both Sides the Tweed in 1984 on her anthology Collected.

Mairi Campbell and Jack Evans sang Both Sides the Tweed in 1999 on the Greentrax album of “a thousand years of Scotland's music to welcome the new parliament”, A Clear Day’s Dawnin’. This track was also included in 2016 on Greentrax's 30th anniversary anthology The Special Projects.

Moira Craig sang Both Sides the Tweed on her 2000 album On ae Bonny Day. She noted:

I was lucky enough to be given James Hogg's Jacobite Relics for a special birthday and the first song that I found in it was this. It is best known as adapted and recorded by Dick Gaughan but I liked the original tune and words with the extra verse. I thought that after 180 years I would liberate them from the page.

Kate Burke and Ruth Hazleton sang Both Sides the Tweed on their 2002 CD Swapping Seasons.

The Unusual Suspects sang Both Sides the Tweed in 2010 on their CD Big Like This.

Nua sang Both Sides the Tweed as the title track of their 2011 album Both Sides.

Ken Wilson and Jim MacFarland sang Both Sides the Tweed in 2017 on their album Here's a Health to the Company!. They noted:

Dick Gaughan's song about the river Tweed which forms part of the England/Scotland border […] is used here as a symbol of both the need for independence and the need for friendship and co-existence.

Josie Duncan and Greg Russell sang Both Sides the Tweed in 2019 on The Tweed Project's eponymous EP The Tweed Project.

Bellwether sang Both Sides of the Tweed in 2020 on their eponymous EP Bellwether. They noted:

A traditional song that was adapted and sung by Dick Gaughan, it is a great tale of unity and power to the people. The River Tweed runs along the Scottish and English border so the song talks about unity in both countries, however Scottish Independence would be pretty good!

Lyrics

Both Sides the Tweed in James Hogg's The Jacobite Relics of Scotland

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?

Chorus (after each verse):
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 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 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.

Dick Gaughan sings Both Sides the Tweed

What's the spring-breathing jasmine and rose?
What's the summer with all its gay train
Or the splendour of autumn to those
Who've bartered their freedom for gain?

Chorus (after each verse):
Let the love of our land's sacred rights
To the love of our people succeed;
Let friendship and honour unite
And flourish on both sides the Tweed.

No sweetness the senses can cheer
Which corruption and bribery bind;
No brightness that gloom can e'er clear,
For honour's the sun of the mind.

Let virtue distinguish the brave,
Place riches in lowest degree;
Think them poorest who can be a slave,
Them richest who dare to be free.