February 16, 2010

The beauty of the loch has inspired numerous pieces of music over the years, the most famous being “The Bonnie Banks o’ Loch Lomond“, but there are plenty more below.

The Bonnie Banks o’ Loch Lomond

Traditional, first published 1841


There are many theories about the meaning of the song. One interpretation is that it is (apocryphally) attributed to a Jacobite Highlander who was captured after the 1745 rising while he was fleeing near Carlisle and is sentenced to die. The verse is his mournful elegy to another rebel who will not be executed. He claims that he will follow the “low road” (the spirit path through the underworld) and arrive in Scotland before his still-living comrade.

Another interpretation is that the song is sung by the lover of a captured rebel set to be to be executed in London following a show trial. The heads of the executed rebels were then set upon pikes and exhibited in all of the towns between London and Glasgow in a procession along the “high road” (the most important road), while the relatives of the rebels walked back along the “low road” (the ordinary road traveled by peasants and commoners).


By yon bonnie banks and by yon bonnie braes
Where the sun shines bright on Loch Lomond
Where me and my true love will ne-er meet again
On the bonnie, bonnie banks o’ Loch Lomond.

O you’ll tak’ the high road and I’ll tak’ the low road
And I’ll be in Scotland afore ye
For me and my true love will ne-er meet again
On the bonnie, bonnie banks o’ Loch Lomond.

‘Twas there that we parted in yon shady glen
On the steep, steep sides o’ Ben Lomond
Where deep in purple hue, the hieland hills we view
And the moon comin’ out in the gloamin’.


The wee birdies sing and the wild flowers spring
And in sunshine the waters are sleeping
But the broken heart, it kens nae second spring again
Tho’ the waeful may cease frae their greeting.


Bill Haley's version is on this disk

“Loch Lomond” has been recorded by many performers over the years, in styles ranging from traditional Scottish folk to barbershop to rock and roll. In 1957, Bill Haley & His Comets recorded a popular rock and roll version retitled “Rock Lomond”. Noted concert band composer Frank Ticheli composed a song called “Loch Lomond,” based on the original, in 2002.

More about Paul Robeson's version of the song

Paul Robeson, who would sing many Irish and Scottish folk songs, recorded the song with Harriet Wingreen on piano in what has long been recognized as the definitive version.

AC/CD's live version 'Bonny'

The Australian hard rock group AC/DC performed it as “Bonny”, in which the band plays the music while the crowd sings the verse.

B'Sides Themselves on CD

The progressive rock band Marillion played the song with their former singer “Fish” in the 80’s, under the title ‘Margaret’ (usually played as a special song at Scottish shows). A live version can be found on B’Sides Themselves, recorded at Edinburgh Payhouse in December 1983.

A history of Run Rig, including Loch Lomond

Scottish folk-rock band Runrig have made the song their unofficial anthem, closing their concerts with a rendition for over 25 years. And had a top ten hit with a re-recorded version in 2007, Released for BBC Children in Need , hitting #9 in the whole of the UK and #1 in Scotland.

Tenacious D album with Wonderboy

The lyrics are parodied by Tenacious D at the end of their song “Wonderboy”.

The punk version

Canadian punk band Real McKenzies recorded their own version of “Loch Lomond” on their 1995 debut album The Real McKenzies in their own Scottish-influenced Celtic punk styling.

The Corries' traditional version

John Barrowman sang it as well, and a beautiful version was recorded by the Scottish folk duo, The Corries.

The lead singer of American group The Fray has also been known to do the chorus at gigs in Edinburgh while supporting The Feeling, and most recently their gig in Glasgow in October 2007. The reason for this appears to be as his Grandfather is Scottish.

Zanes and Merchant give it a shot

Dan Zanes’ album “Catch That Train” features a moving version of the song in which he splits the vocal credits with the angelic Natalie Merchant.

Soundtrack from 'The Last King of Scotland'

The film the Last King of Scotland, features the song sang by an African choir and drummers. Serbian band “Orthodox Celts” recorded a version of Loch Lomond, featured by a famous Serbian actress Ana Sofernovic.

Loch Lomond (The Band)

The band called Loch Lomond are related to the loch by name only. They have released three albums featuring an eclectic collection of instruments, but none about Loch Lomond.

This page is licensed under the GNU Free Documentation License. It uses material from the Wikipedia article “The Bonnie Banks o’ Loch Lomond”.

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