In the latest edition of our (very) occasional series, we bring you a song that goes by several different names. Usually called "Wild Mountain Thyme", it is quite often called "Will Ye Go, Lassie, Go" (or variations on that), and once in a while "Purple Heather".
I have known the song since I was a child and for many years assumed it was traditional. While the tune probably is, and while the lyrics are loosely based on a poem by 18th century Scots poet Robert Tannahill, the song as we know it was written by Francis McPeake of Belfast and first published in 1957. Which means it became a standard pretty much straight away.
There are thousands of versions of the song out there - lots by Scots and Irish folkies, of course, but also the likes of the Byrds, Rod Stewart, and the artists featured below. I have given one of them a very obvious pseudonym in a possibly doomed attempt to put his lawyers (with whom I have had a run in once before) off the scent. You will probably recognise him without any further clues, but if you need one think of the name of a motor vehicle that is bigger than a car but smaller than a truck and that rhymes with "man".
"Wild Mountain Thyme" - Fotheringay
"Wild Mountain Thyme" - Bert Jansch
"Wild Mountain Thyme" - Lucy Wainwright Roche
"Wild Mountain Thyme" - Marianne Faithfull
"Wild Mountain Thyme" - Robyn Hitchcock & The Egyptians
"Will You Go" - Strawbs
"Go Lassie Go" - Aoife Clancy
"Purple Heather" - Mr. Person
Aoife Clancy is the daughter of Bobby Clancy. Here are his brothers and Tommy Makem with their take on the song. Call me a sentimental old fool, but it gets me right there.