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The Yellow’s on the Broom

February 17, 2008

We can become so habituated to living in restrictive little tunnels of space and time. Think, for example, of the morning’s headlong rush to work. Sometimes, however, it’s just that little bit easier to step out of the restriction.

The South of England has been saturated in sunshine during the past week. A cold, glorious February. Driving through our beautiful hills, the South Downs, I noticed that the Gorse bushes were in their yellow glory. The rolling Downs were expansive and ecstatic.

It reminded me of a beautiful song by Adam McNaughton about the Scottish travelling folk called “the Yellow’s on the Broom” .

The narrator in the song recounts the travelling folks miseries when they forced to live a Scaldie’s (settled house-dweller) life during the winter months. The narrator looks forward keenly to the springtime when the “gan aboot folk” can take the road once more and live in the “worlds room”. For the narrator the world’s room is synonymous with liberation, belonging and being in charge of ones fate.

Try it sometime. Instead of living in a fragmented, compartmentalised world just wake up to the one infinite room that we all inhabit. Just for a moment… expand into the space around you. It can be a bit scary. but it can also be exciting.

You can download a short mp3 clip of Adam MacNaughton singing the “Yellow on the Broom” by following this link to Coda Music.

And here are the lyrics as I recall them:

YELLOW ON THE BROOM

I ken ye dinna like it lass, tae winter here in toon.
The scaldies (settled/town folk) aye miscry us and try to put us doon
And it’s hard to raise three bairns in a single flea-box room
But I’ll tak ye on the road again, when yellow’s on the broom.

CHORUS: When yellow’s on the broom x 2
I’ll tak ye on the road again (last line of verse)
When yellow’s on the broom.

The scaldies cry us “tinker dirt” and sconce oor bairns in school
But who cares what a scaldy thinks, for a scaldy’s but a fool.
They never heard the yorlin’s lark nor see the flax in bloom
For they’re aye cooped up in hooses, when yellow’s on the broom.

Nae sales for pegs or baskets noo, so just tae stay alive
We’ve had tae tak on scaldy jobs from eight o’clock til five.
But we call nae man oor master for we own the worlds room
And we’ll bid farewell tae Brechin when yellow’s on the broom.

I’m weary for the springtime when we tak the road ance mair
Tae the plantin’ and the pearlin’ and the berry fields o’ Blair
We’ll meet up wi’ oor kinfolk frae a’ the country roon
When the gan aboot folks tak the road, when yellow’s on the broom.

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