Tuesday, February 2, 2010

Wolfstone: Braes of Sutherland

On this traditional Tuesday, I feature the music of Celtic rock band Wolfstone and the “Braes of Sutherland.” From Scotland, Wolfstone marries the highland fiddle, the tinwhistle, and pipes with electric keyboards, crashing drums, and power chord guitars.

This is a bit heavy for our usual Tuesday fare, but not as heavy as you might experience with other bits of Wolfstone’s music. Chris MacKenzie for The Living Tradition opines that this is the most traditional sounding song on the 1994 “Year of the Dog” album – and that it is.

The protagonist declares that he must bid adieu to the “Braes of Sutherland.” Sutherlandshire along with Caithness are the northernmost regions of the island of Britain; however, beyond Britain, Orkney and the Shetland Islands extend Scotland even further where the North Sea and North Atlantic meet.

The word Brae, pronounced bray, is most certainly a derivation of the Old Norse word for brow and is used in reference to the hills – so the “Braes of Sutherland” are the hills of Sutherland.


Farewell you braes o' Sutherland,
I'll ne'er see you no more
For I must take a strangers path
And leave my native shore
My friends and my acquaintances
I'll give you now my hand
For I will ne'er be back again on
The Braes o' Sutherland

To the ridges of the old Ben More
I bid a fond adieu
To Rosehall and to Bonar Bridge
I'll leave my heart with you
To the rolling banks o' the Oykel
And to Dornoch's gentle sands
I wish you well my comrades there
On the Braes of Sutherland.

Farewell you roads to Spinningdale,
This chapter now will close
To the ghosts that lie at Carbisdale
And the downfall of Montrose
To Ardgay and to Invershin,
No More I'll walk your sands
For I have to leave my memories
On the Braes of Sutherland

I now will leave my native home
For the shores of America
My love I leave behind me now
I can no longer stay
The orders from the castle came
By the Duke's right hand
I fear that I must leave thee there
On the Braes of Sutherland

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