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Bill Leslie's Carolina Conversations

Discover the 'incredible power' of Loch Lomond

Posted November 3, 2013

It is a song that has been both sung and performed without words. I have now done it both ways and discovered the incredible power of the lyrics and the music.

Loch Lomond is a very familiar song. It has been performed by thousands of musicians and singers. On the surface it sounds like a pretty love song celebrating the beauty of the Scottish Highlands. But Loch Lomond is tinged in sorrow and sacrifice.

The song is the tale of two condemned brothers captured in a foreign land during the Jacobite uprisings in the 17th and 18th century. One brother wins a reprieve. It is the younger brother who chooses to give up his life so his older brother can live. The younger brother takes the low and fast road. This is the death and spiritual road back to Scotland. This brother laments the loss of his sweetheart and the gorgeous setting of their romance. The other brother is allowed to live and take the high road back to the moors and mountains of home.

My band, Bill Leslie & Lorica, will perform a lyrical and musical version of Loch Lomond at The Boykin Center in Wilson on Saturday evening, Nov. 9, as part of a concert. On my latest CD “Scotland – Grace of the Wild,” pianist Bill Covington and I put together an instrumental arrangement of the Loch Lomond.

Photo by Scottish photographer Grant Glendinning Loch Lomond

Instrumentation includes grand piano, violin, cello and Celtic whistle. We also collaborated with Scottish photographer Grant Glendinning for a multi-media version of the song. I hope you enjoy it.

Here are the lyrics for the Lorica version of the song along with my guitar chords and notes:

LOCH LOMOND (capo +2)

D A G D
By yon bonnie banks…..by yon bonnie braes,
D Bm G D
Where the sun shines bright on Loch Lomond,
Bm F# m G G
Where me and my true love were ever wont to gae,
D G A D
On the bonnie, bonnie banks of Loch Lomond.

D A G D
Ye take the high road and I’ll take the low road,
D Bm G D
And I’ll be in Scotland before thee,
Bm F#m G G
But me and my true love will never meet again,
D G A D
On the bonnie, bonnie banks of Loch Lomond.

D A G D
Twas here that we parted on yon shady glen,
D Bm G D
On the steep, steep side of Ben Lomond,
Bm F#m G G
Where deep purple hue the highland hills we view,
D G A D
And the moon comin’ out in the gloamin.’

(chorus)

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