Reading My Way Around the World

Sunday 9 November 2014

Irish Songs in a Woman's Key: Go Lassie Go

All the guitar books that I've come across, for folk or particularly for Irish songs, annotate the songs in keys that are suitable for men.   Women who are starting to play guitar and who haven't mastered the art of transposing yet ( a subject for another post) try to play the songs and give up really quickly because either the song is way too low or way too high.  

Several of my female students ask me for the chords of songs so I thought it'd be good to start a series here with particular focus on Irish songs, both traditional and contemporary.  These keys are the keys in which I play and sing the songs.   

I play this one with the capo on the 3rd fret.   To move it higher, move the capo up another fret or two, or to sing it lower move it back a couple of frets.  Men will usually sing this in the key of C or D

Go Lassie Go is a song with lots of controversy around it. France McPeake from Belfast collected the song in the 1950s - there have been versions around Northern Ireland for a long time before that as well.  But in Scotland the song The Braes of Ballquider has almost identical lyrics.   At one point Rod Stewart took the case to court claiming Scottish origins.

Whatever the case may be, it is still one of the most beautiful love songs in the tradition of these islands and a song that everyone knows and can sing along with. 

Will You Go Lassie Go (traditional, arranged McPeake) 

             G          C          G
Oh the summer time is coming
                   C                             G
And the trees are sweetly blooming                                     
                  C     D             Em
And the wild mountain thyme
                  Am          Am/B      C
Grows around the blooming heather
                G    C     G
Will you go lassie go


                  C            G
And we’ll all go together
                C        D           Em
To pluck wild mountain thyme
            Am          Am/B          C
All around the blooming heather
               G      C      G
Will you go lassie go

           G             C        G
I will build my love a tower
                  C                    G
Near yon pure crystal fountain
        C     D            Em
And on it I   will   pile
    Am    Am/B       C
All the flowers    of    the mountain
               G      C      G
Will you go lassie go


          G           C                G
If my true love he were gone
                C                 G
I would surely find another
              C       D        Em
Where wild mountain thyme
    Am           Am/B       C
Grows around the blooming heather
               G      C      G
Will you go lassie go


This is the most beautiful version of the song that I could find on You Tube - unfortunately it's not in my key - but in the key of D.   Emmylou has a high enough voice to be able to stretch to this key.   If you learn it in G shapes, then you can move your capo up to the 7th fret to play along with this version. 

This blog is Day 29 of my 30 day blog challenge
If you are enjoying this series, please do write and let me know.  

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