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Rattlin' Roarin' Willie
; Ballad Index
; trad., Robert Burns]
Folk Songs and Ballads of Scotland
Ewan MacColl sang Rattlin Roarin Willie in 1959 on his Folkways album Songs of Robert Burns.
In Rattlin, Roarin Willie Burns added a final stanza to an immensely popular traditional song. The stanza honours “one of the worthiest fellows in the world, William Dunbar…”. Dunbar was presiding officer of the Crochallan Fencibles, an Edinburgh club of convivial bachelors of which Burns was a leading member.
Sweeney's Men sang Rattlin' Roarin' Willy in 1968 on their eponymous Transatlantic album, Sweeney's Men. They also sang it in June 2012 at Andy Irvine's 70th Birthday Concert. Andy Irvine noted:
A song written by Robert Burns and learned by Johnny [Moynihan] from Luke Kelly when he first appeared on the Irish folk scene. Johnny thinks Luke may have picked it up from Ewan MacColl in England. Johnny and I worked this one up in the kitchen of his parents' house in Dalymount. It was the beginning of the bouzouki/mandola combination that became a standard in Sweeney's Men and later, Planxty.
Dick Gaughan sang Rattlin' Roarin' Willie n 1972 on his first Trailer album No More Forever.
Contraband sang Rattlin' Roarin' Willie in 1974 on their eponymous Transatlantic album, Contraband. This track was later included on the 2004 anthology Transatlantic Folk Box Set, and on the 2006 Castle Music anthology of British and Irish folks songs from Transatlantic albums 1955-1978, Anthems in Eden.
Jean Redpath sang Rattlin' Roarin' Willie in 1976 on her Trailer album There Were Minstrels, and in 1981 on her anthology The Songs of Robert Burns Volumes 4.
Hector Gilchrist and Liz Thomson sang Rattlin, Roarin Willie in 1996 on their WildGoose album of the songs of Robert Burns, The Lea Rig.
Rod Paterson sang O, Rattlin, Roarin Willie in 1996 on the Linn anthology The Complete Songs of Robert Burns Volume 1.
Margaret Christl sang Rattlin Roarin Willie on her 1998 album The Picture in My Mind.
Janet Russell & Christine Kydd sang Rattlin' Roarin' Willie on their 2004 Greentrax CD Dancin' Chantin'. They noted:
A well known piece sometimes attributed to Robert Burns, which lends itself well to various arrangement tricks, and begs to be danced to.
Chris Ormston played Rattlin Roarin Willie on his Border pipes in 2007 on the anthology Borders Pipes (Borders Traditions Volume 5).
Ewan MacLennan sang Rattlin' Roarin' Willie in 2014 on his Fellside album Stories Still Untold.
Claire Hastings, Robyn Stapleton and Ainsley Hamill sang Rattlin' Roarin' Willie on the TMSA Young Trad Tour 2015. The liner notes commented:
The “Willie” referred to in this song is Mr William Smellie, an Edinburgh printer and acquaintance of Robert Burns who printed the first Edinburgh edition of his poems. Claire brought the initial arrangement to the group, and the three singers worked together to perfect the harmonies and final arrangement.
George Duff sang Rattlin' Roarin' Willie on his 2016 CD The Collier Laddie.
Young Scot Rose Byers sang Rattlin' Roarin' Willie at home in March 2020:
Ewan MacColl sings Rattlin Roarin Willie
O rattlin roarin Willie, o he held to the fair
An' for to sell his fiddle and buy some other ware;
But parting wi’ his fiddle the saut tear blin’t his e'ee—
Rattlin' roarin' Willie ye’re welcome hame to me!
“O Willie, come sell your fiddle, an' sell your fiddle sae fine;
O Willie, come sell your fiddle and buy a pint o' wine!”
“If I should sell my fiddle the warld would think I was mad;
For monie a rantin day my fiddle and I hae had.”
As I cam by Crochallan I cannily keekit ben
Rattlin, roarin Willie was sitting at yon boord-en'
Sitting at yon boord-en' and among guid companie!
Rattlin, roarin Willie ye’re welcome hame tae me.
Janet Russell and Christine Kydd sing Rattlin' Roarin' Willie
Rattlin' roarin' Willie he held tae the fair
For tae sell his fiddle and buy some other ware
Pairtin' wi’ his fiddle the saut tear blin’ his e'ee
Rattlin' roarin' Willie ye’re welcome hame tae me
“Willie, come sell yer fiddle, come sell yer fiddle sae fine
Willie, come sell yer fiddle and buy a pint o' wine.”
“If I should sell my fiddle the world wad think I was mad
Mony’s the rantin’ day my fiddle and I hae had.”
As I cam by Crockallan I cannily keekit ben
Rattlin' roarin’ Willie was sittin’ by yon boorden
Sittin’ by yon boorden and among guid company
Rattlin’ roarin’ Willie ye’re welcome hame tae me