Both Sides of the Tweed
Both Sides of the Tweed
These verses are an attack upon the Treaty of Union of 1707, which abolished the independent Scottish and English Parliaments and set up the United Kingdom. The Tweed is the river that forms part of the Scottish-English border and it is used here as a symbol of both the need for independence and the need for friendship and co-existence. Songwriter Dick Gaughan's version, available here, has been amended slightly to make the song relevant to contemporary political issues.
What’s the spring, breathing jasmine and rose
What’s the summer with all its gay train
Or the splendour of autumn to those
Who’ve bartered their freedom for gain?
Let the love of our land’s sacred rights
To the love of our people succeed
Let friendship and honour unite
And flourish on both sides the Tweed
No sweetness the senses can cheer
Which corruption and bribery bind
No brightness that gloom can e’er clear
For honour’s the sum of the mind
Let virtue distinguish the brave
Place riches in lowest degree
Think them poorest who can be a slave
Them richest who dare to be free
On his website, musician Dick Gaughan says the following:
'This was put into this form in 1979, shortly after the Scots returned a majority in favour of a separate Scottish Parliament, but the vote was vetoed in the UK Parliament due to the inclusion of the notorious '40% of all eligible votes' clause, which had the effect of counting votes not cast as being votes against. There is now good evidence to suggest that the architect of this piece of electoral sleight-of-hand may have been Robin Cook.
'The verses call for the recognition of Scotland's right to sovereignty and the choruses argue against prejudice between our peoples. The Tweed is the river which forms part of the Scots-English border and is used here as a symbol of both the need for independence and the need for friendship and co-existence.
'The original text was an attack upon the Treaty of Union of 1707, which abolished the independent Scots and English Parliaments and set up the United Kingdom. I made some minor amendments to give it contemporary relevance.
'The tune has been the subject of some speculation and argument. So far as I am aware, I actually composed it and am highly flattered by the presumption that it is traditional, with people claiming to have known it for several decades, if not centuries.
'For one writing songs in a ‘traditional’ genre, this is the highest compliment imaginable. Like all tunes composed within any aesthetic, it is inevitable that it has similarities to and contains phrases and quotes from earlier tunes. However, if someone can provide a printed or recorded source to prove the existence of this tune prior to 1979 then I'd be delighted to acknowledge that I unconsciously used a traditional tune.'
Listen to 'Both Sides of the Tweed', performed by Dick Gaughan.
From If it Wisnae for the Union, CDTRAX5005 (1996), Greentrax Recordings