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Tibbie Fowler o’ the Glen

[ Roud 5504 ; G/D 8:1691 ; Ballad Index GrD81691 ; Mudcat 4850 , 50687 ; trad.]

Ancient and Modern Scottish Songs, Heroic Ballads, etc.

Ewan MacColl sang Tibble Fowler in 1964 on his and Peggy Seeger’s Folkways album Traditional Songs and Ballads.

Jock Tamson’s Bairns sang Tibble Fowler in 1982 on their Topic album The Lasses Fashion. They noted:

The eponymous heroine of this song, whose wealth seems to have been the inducement for scores of suitors, is reputed to have been Miss Isobel Fowler, daughter of Ludowick Fowler of Burncastle, who married one of the Logans of Restalrig sometime in the 17th century. The tune appears in manuscript as Tibbie Fowler in the Glen as early as 1705, but the song is possibly a lot older.

Old Blind Dogs sang Tibble Fowler in 1995 on their Lochshore album Legacy. Ian F. Benzie noted:

A favourite of Mrs Grant of Caron who rendered it oft-times at the Aberdeen Assemblies circa 1770. Tibbie Fowler is popularly thought to have been a resident of Leith, Edinburgh. The tune played between verses is of Breton origin picked up from a recording of Breton dance music played by Frederic Lambierge, unfortunately we do not know the title. Thanks to Jonny [Hardie] who came up with the feel for this version of the song.

Andy M. Stewart sang Tibble Fowler o’ the Glen in 1997 on his Green Linnet album Donegal Rain. He noted:

This humorous old ballad was first printed complete in Johnson’s Scots Musical Museum in 1789. It was, however, popular much earlier, and a song in the Tea-Table Miscellany of 1725 is directed to be sung “to the tune of Tibbie Fowler o’ the Glen”. I like the song, amongst other things, for it’s unusual melody and good drive although the lyric does point to the fact that men are avaricious and largely irredeemable.

‘Tibbie” is the Scots diminutive for Isabella.

Mick West sang Tibbie Fowler o’ the Glen on the 1998 Linn anthology The Complete Songs of Robert Burns Volume 4.

Barbara Dymock and Christine Kydd sang Tibbie Fowler o’ the Glen in 2009 as Sinsheen on their CD Lift, and Barbyra Dymock sang it in 2016 on her album Leaf an’ Thorn.

Lyrics

Andy M. Stewart sings Tibble Fowler o’ the Glen

Tibbie Fowler o’ the Glen
There’s ower mony wooin’ at her,
Tibbie Fowler o’ the Glen
There’s ower mony wooin’ at her.

Chorus (after each verse):
Wooin’ at her, puin’ at her,
Courtin’ her and canna get her.
Filthy elf it’s for her pelf,
That a’ the lads are wooin’ at her.

Ten cam’ east and ten cam’ west,
Ten cam’ rowin’ ower the water.
Twa cam’ doun the lang dyke-side,
There’s twa and thirty wooin’ at her.

There’s seven but and seven ben,
Seven i’ the pantry wi’ her.
Twenty head about the door,
There’s ane and forty wooin’ at her.

She’s got pendles in her lugs,
Cockle-shells wad set her better.
High-heeled shoon and siller tags
And a’ the lads are wooin’ at her.

Be a lassie e’er sae bleck
An she hae the name o’ siller,
Set her upo’ Tintock tap,
The wind will blaw a man up till her.

(repeat first verse)