Grim Winter Was Howlin'

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Title - Grim Winter Was Howlin'
Contributors - Charlotte Higgins
Reporters - Hamish Henderson

Summary - In this song, the singer journeys through bad weather on the road north to Dundee; despite the conditions, he is cheery. As he arrives at the banks of the Tay, he sees people going busily about their business, and among them "lovely young Peggy, the flower o Dundee". Though he may never win her affection, he wishes her joy and contentment in life.

Charlotte Higgins has the song written down. She learned it from an old woman who lived in Blairgowrie, but who came originally from somewhere in Ayrshire, possibly Alloway.

Track Duration (h:m:s) - 00:05:55
Date Recorded - 1962
Language - Scots
Genre - Song, Information
Collection - School of Scottish Studies

Track ID - 38725
Original Tape ID - SA1962.068
Original Track ID - SA1962.68.A1; SA1962.68.A4
Audio Quality - Fair
Audio Format - R2R

Classification - GD971; R2300;

Item Location:
  County - Angus
  Parish - Dundee
  Village - Dundee

Item Notes - 6 verses of 4 lines; hesitation after verse 4 followed by attempt at recalling a further verse (verse 6); Charlotte Higgins later sings the correct verses 5 and 6 from a written copy.
The original of this song was composed by Charles Gray (1782-1851), of Anstruther-wester, Fife, and published by him in poetry collections, first in 1811, and again in 1841. In the decades that followed his death, the Dundee broadside seller, 'The Poet's Box', began printing the now famous song 'The Road to Dundee' (Roud Folk Song Index no. 2300), which is in part clearly derived from Gray's song.
Gray suggested the air 'Bonnie Dundee' ('Up wi' the Bonnets o Bonnie Dundee') for his song, which fits his 3 stanzas of 8 lines. All versions of 'The Road to Dundee' however are grouped into 4-line verses. At least one broadside suggests the air to the song 'Lucy's Flittin' (Roud 2641) by William Laidlaw (1780-1845) and James Hogg (1770-1835). The air originally suggested by the authors of 'Lucy's Flittin' was the tune 'Paddy O'Rafferty' but there is also a later setting by R. A. Smith (1779-1829); neither of these correspond to the later well-known popular melody for 'The Road to Dundee'.
'Poems' (C. Gray, 1811) pp. 158-159
'Lays and Lyrics' (C. Gray, 1841) pp. 83-84
'The Scottish Minstrel' (C. Rogers, 1872) p. 207
'The Modern Scottish Minstrel' vol. 3 (C. Rogers, 1857) pp. 55-56
Poet's Box Broadsides 13(a) & 13(b), Lamb Collection, Dundee City Library

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Play part 1 (00:05:55)
Play part 2 (00:01:39)

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