Scotlands Songs

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The Yellow On The Broom

-3:11

A beautiful and much loved song about Scots travellers knowing that it is time to stop living in their winter house and go out and travel the roads. The signal is that the yellow blossoms have come out on the broom bush that grows by roadsides. It is easy to confuse broom with gorse, but gorse has sharp thorns, broom does not.


I ken ye dinna like it lass tae winter here in toon

For the scaldies aye miscry us and they try tae bring us doon

It's hard tae raise three bairnies in a single flea box room

But I'll tak ye on the road again when yellow's on the broom

When yellow's on the broom, when yellow's on the broom

I'll tak ye on the road again when yellow's on the broom


The scaldies cry us tinker dirt and they sconce oor weans at school

But who cares whit a scaldy thinks for a scaldy's just a fool

They never hear the yorlan's sang nor see the flax in bloom

For they're aye cooped up in hooses when yellow's on the broom

When yellow's on the broom, when yellow's on the broom

They're aye cooped up in hooses when yellow's on the broom


Nae sale for pegs nor baskets noo, sae just tae stay alive

We have tae work at scaldy jobs frae nine o'clock tae five

But we ca nae man oor maister for we own the world's room

And we'll bid fareweel tae Brechin when yellow's on the broom

When yellow's on the broom, when yellow's on the broom

And we'll bid fareweel tae Brechin when yellow's on the broom


I'm weary for the springtime when we tak the road aince mair

Tae the plantin and the pearlin and the berry fields o Blair

We'll meet up wi oor kin folk frae a' the country roond

When the gang-aboot folk tak the road and yellow's on the broom

When yellow's on the broom, when yellow's on the broom

When the gang-aboot folk tak the road and yellow's on the broom


When yellow's on the broom, when yellow's on the broom

I'll tak ye on the road again when yellow's on the broom


Adam MacNaughtan. Glasgow songwriter, read the book The Yellow on the Broom (Birlinn. 2001). It was written by Scots traveller Betsy Whyte about growing up “in the tradition of the ‘mist people’ – constantly moving around the country and settling down in one place only during the winter”.

He made this song about the things Betsy had written of. He used a traditional tune about a girl who dresses herself up as a drummer boy so she can follow her soldier love.

Hear the song sung by Tryst.