[Best Scottish Songs] 15 Famous Scottish Songs You Need to Hear (2023)
There is almost no chance that anyone who was born here and has attended more than five Scottish wedding receptions, birthday parties, or sporting events won’t be familiar with the ten songs on this list.
Here are fifteen songs that, love them or hate them, we Scots simply can’t get out of our heads.
Famous Scottish Songs: #1 Flower of Scotland
Every passionate Scot will be familiar with this song. Roy Williamson of the Corries composed Scotland’s adopted, though unofficial, national anthem in the 1960s. It commemorates Robert the Bruce’s victory over Edward II of England at the Battle of Bannockburn in 1314. When he encouraged his teammates to sing the song during a successful Lions tour of South Africa in 1974, a Scottish rugby winger is credited with making it popular for use at sporting events. But at the start of the 1990 Five Nations match between Scotland and England, Flower of Scotland’s reputation as the preferred national anthem was solidified. Players and spectators alike sang enthusiastically as Scotland went on to win 13-7 and claim the Grand Slam. The majority of Scots will be able to memorize at least two verses of Flower of Scotland.
See more: Are Bagpipes Irish or Scottish? How did Bagpipes Become a Symbol of Scotland?
Famous Scottish Songs: #2. I Love A Lassie
I Love A Lassie, a 1905 song by Scottish music hall legend Sir Harry Lauder, is a perennial favorite there.
The song, which was influenced by Lauder’s love for his wife Nancy, became a global hit in English-speaking nations in the early 1900s. The corrupted rendition of this song that Partick Thisle FC supporters frequently sing is noteworthy, though it’s debatable whether Sir Harry would have approved. I doubt it, but few people won’t recognize the memorable chorus from the original song:
I love a lassie, a bonnie bonnie lassie,
She’s as pure as a lily in the dell,
She’s sweet as the heather, the bonnie bloomin’ heather,
Mary, my Scots bluebell.
Famous Scottish Songs: #3. Auld Lang Syne
Due to the fact that it is sung globally at New Year’s, this Scottish song is arguably the most well-known of all time. Robert Burns, Scotland’s national poet, admitted that he “borrowed” the majority of the words from an elderly man when he first wrote Auld Lang Syne.
Guy Lombardo, the band’s leader, is credited with helping the song become famous all over the world. On New Year’s Eve 1929, he asked his band to perform the song live at New York City’s Roosevelt Hotel. A tradition that has endured the test of time was created as a result of the performance being broadcast live over the radio that evening to millions of homes.
Famous Scottish Songs: #4. The Bonnie Banks o’ Loch Lomond
The song to end all party songs The song, also known simply as “Loch Lomond,” was first composed during the Jacobite Uprising of 1745 and has gradually grown to be one of the nation’s most well-known melodies. On the “bonnie, bonnie” banks of Scotland’s biggest loch, the song’s lyrics speak of a desire to be reunited with a loved one who has passed away. However, one theory contends that the song is sung from the viewpoint of a woman whose captured Jacobite lover is about to be executed in London. At Scottish parties, the final song of the evening is typically Loch Lomond. The Celtic rock band Runrig, who have recorded the song multiple times, is responsible for its most well-known rendition.
Famous Scottish Songs: #5. I’m Gonna Be (500 Miles)
As Scottish as deep-fried pizza and Irn Bru. Few people in Scotland could possibly not know every word to this song. The Auchtermuchty duo The Proclaimers released I’m Gonna Be (500 Miles) in 1988, and the song went on to become a global hit. Since its creation, the song has been featured in countless films and television programs. Family Guy and The Simpsons have even parodied it.
See more: Moving to Scotland & Pros and Cons of Living in Scotland
Famous Scottish Songs: #6. Ally’s Tartan Army
The song, which Andy Cameron released as a novelty single to commemorate the nation’s participation in Argentina 1978, makes bold predictions that Scotland will’really shake them up’ to win the World Cup. It also makes reference to manager Ally MacLeod. Sadly, we were unable to get past the group stage.
Scotland was the only home nation to qualify for Argentina that year, so the lyrics “we’re representing Britain and we’ve got to do or die, for England cannae dae it cos’ they didnae qualify” were quite humorous at the time. Oh, how things have changed.
Watching the video of Andy Cameron performing this while wearing a tartan scarf, tammy, and Scotland fitba shirt on Top Of The Pops is highly recommended.
Famous Scottish Songs: #7. Dignity
Pretty much required listening at Scottish parties, especially later in the evening when everyone is thoroughly drunk. The song was composed and recorded by Glasgow-based band Deacon Blue, and it has been made available as a single three times. Despite never peaking higher than No. 31 on the UK charts, it has managed to become a legend in Scotland. At the 2014 Commonwealth Games’ Glasgow closing ceremony, Deacon Blue gave a live performance of Dignity.
Famous Scottish Songs: #8. Donald Where’s Your Troosers?
Evidence that we Scots don’t take ourselves too seriously, as if any were ever needed. The song, which was released in 1960 by comedian Andy Stewart, tells the story of a man from Skye wearing a kilt who travels to the south but is constantly hassled because he is missing his pants. Donald Where’s Your Troosers? achieved a No. 1 hit when it was first released in Canada and, even more amazing, a No. 4 hit when it was re-released in the UK in 1989.
Famous Scottish Songs: #9. Scotland the Brave
Scotland the Brave, often cited as an alternative to Flower of Scotland as the nation’s unofficial national anthem, is believed to have first been performed in the early 1900s. Cliff Hanley, a journalist, wrote the song’s original lyrics sometime around 1950. The Scottish football team used Scotland the Brave as its national anthem for the 1982, 1986, and 1990 World Cups before switching to the Corries’ Flower of Scotland. Due to pipe bands’ preference for playing Scotland the Brave without lyrics, very few Scots are familiar with its lyrics. The song is well-known all over the world.
See more: The Scottish Thistle – The National Flower of Scotland (thistle meaning)
Famous Scottish Songs: #10. The Jeely Piece Song
A truly timeless song. The Jeely Piece Song by Scottish folk singer Adam MacNaughton explores the difficulties of high-rise living in Glasgow in the 1960s. Matt McGinn, a poet and songwriter, recorded the song’s most well-known rendition. Oh you can’t throw pieces out of a twenty-story building, seven hundred hungry children will attest to that, says the chorus.
If the bread is plain or fried, whether it contains butter, cheese, or jelly, there is a 98% chance that it won’t make it to earth.
Famous Scottish Songs: #11. Shang-A-Lang
Although being a teenage girl in the 1970s or consuming copious amounts of alcohol will definitely help, you don’t need to have been one to enjoy this one. Phil Coulter and Bill Martin’s song Shang-A-Lang was written and produced for the Bay City Rollers and is one of those songs that will fill any social club dancefloor. The song was a huge success, peaking at No. 2 in the UK charts in 1974 during the height of Rollermania. According to legend, Bill Martin was trying to write a song that would capture the distinctive “clang” of the Glasgow shipyards when he came up with Shang-A-Lang.
See more: Why Is The Unicorn Scotland’s National Animal?
Famous Scottish Songs: #12. Wild Mountain Thyme
The Braes of Balquhidder, a song by Scottish poet Robert Tannahill that was written in the late 18th century, is a variation of the lyrics and melody from Wild Mountain Thyme, also known as Will Ye Go Lassie Go. Numerous artists from all genres, including Bob Dylan, The Clancy Brothers, Thin Lizzy, and The Corries, have performed the song, which is credited to folk singer Francis McPeake. The chorus alone will make your hair stand up.
And we’ll all go together to pick wild mountain thyme
All around the blooming heather.
Will ye go, lassie, will ye go?
Famous Scottish Songs: #13. Caledonia
One to be proud of, a song. Caledonia, a song by Scottish singer-songwriter Dougie MacLean, is regarded as one of the most exquisite and heartbreaking Scottish ballads ever to be recorded. It gained notoriety in 1991 when Frankie Miller sang and recorded it for use in a Tennent’s Lager television commercial that would go on to become legendary. The song was so well received that Miller later that year had it re-recorded and released as a single, where it peaked at No. 45 on the charts. When promoting Homecoming Scotland 2009, VisitScotland made frequent use of Caledonia. MacLean asserts that the writing process took him no more than ten minutes.
See more: 6 Famous Scottish Women from History You Should Know
Famous Scottish Songs: #14. In a Big Country
In a Big Country, a song that was largely forgotten outside of Scotland, became a huge international hit for the Fife rock band Big Country in 1983. The accompanying music video for “In a Big Country” received a lot of MTV airplay, which helped the song soar to No. 17 on the US Billboard charts and become the group’s biggest success in the US. The song was released at a time when Scottish musicians like Midge Ure, Annie Lennox, Altered Images, and Simple Minds were dominating the charts and the country was beginning to rediscover its musical heritage.
Famous Scottish Songs: #15. Ally Bally Bee
See more: Why Does Scotland Have Two Flags? (Scotland Flag Meaning)
The last song we’ll hear is probably the one that most of us first heard. Ally Bally Bee, also known as Coulter’s Candy, was created by weaver Robert Coltard in Galashiels in the middle of the nineteenth century. Coltard was buried in a pauper’s grave despite the fact that almost every child in Scotland will have fallen asleep at some point thanks to his song.
Ally bally, ally bally bee,
Sittin’ on yer mammy’s knee,
Greetin’ for a wee bawbee,
Tae buy some Coulter’s candy.
Topic: [Best Scottish Songs] 15 Famous Scottish Songs You Need to Hear (2023)
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By: Travel Pixy
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