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The Dusty Miller

[ Roud 5959 ; G/D 3:454 ; Ballad Index MSNR107 ; DT DSTYMILR ; Mudcat 54079 ; Robert Burns]

Norman Buchan: 101 Scottish Songs

Ewan MacColl sang The Dusty Miller, “a fragment from the tradition, touched up”, in 1959 on his Folkways album Songs of Robert Burns.

Jean Redpath sang The Dusty Miller on her 1980 album The Songs of Robert Burns Volume 2. Esther Hovey noted:

The miller was a prominent, if somewhat tightfisted, figure in the rural community. This popular dance tune was first noted as Binny’s Jigg in the Blaikie MS. (1692). Burns worked with traditional lyrics to produce this song.

Rod Paterson sang The Dusty Miller in 1996 on the Linn anthology The Complete Songs of Robert Burns Volume 2. He and Ian Hardie also sang Dusty Miller and Wee Willie Gray in 2001 on Jock Tamson’s Bairns’ Greentrax album May You Never Lack a Stone. They noted:

In re-writing these older songs, Burns deals with a favourite theme in two childlike compositions. The origin of Wee Willie Gray is, in fact, a nursery rhyme: Wee Totum Fogg / Sits upon a creepie / Half an ell o’ gray / Wad be his coat and breekie. The tunes are Lowland double hornpipes.

Sinsheen (Barbara Dymock and Christine Kydd) sang a medley of The Dusty Miller, The Weary Pund o’ Tow and The Tailor Fell Through the Bed on their 2009 album Lift. They noted:

Three songs found in the Scots Musical Museum. The Dusty Miller is Burns’s extension of a fragment in Herd’s manuscript.

The Spiers Family sang The Dusty Miller on their 2012 album Oh, Gin I Were There….

Band of Burns sang The Dusty Miller on their 2019 album The Thread.


Jock Tamson’s Bairns sing The Dusty Miller

Hey the dusty miller, and his dusty coat
He can win a shillin’ or can lose a groat.
Dusty was the coat and dusty was the colour,
Dusty was the kiss that I got frae the miller.

Hey the dusty miller, and his dusty sack,
Leeze me on the callin, fills his dusty peck.
Fills the dusty peck, brings the dusty siller,
I wad gie my coatie for the dusty miller.

Hey the dusty miller, as the wheel gaes roon,
And the clapper claps, my heart gies a stoon.
Water grinds the corn, and water wins the siller,
When the dam is dry I doute wi’ the miller.