Digital Tradition Mirror

Tam o' the Linn

[GIF Score]

(This score available as ABC, SongWright, PostScript, PNG, or PMW, or a MIDI file)
Pennywhistle notation and Dulcimer tab for this song is also available

Tam O the Linn

Tam o' the linn cam up the gait,
Wi' twenty puddings on a plate,
And every pudding had a pin,
"We'll eat them a'," quo' Tam o' the linn.

Tam o' the linn had nae breeks to wear,
He coft him a sheep's-skin to make him a pair,
The fleshy side out, the woolly side in,
"It's fine summer cleeding," quo' Tam o' the linn.

Tam o' the linn, he had three bairns,
They fell in the fire, in each other's arms;
"Oh," quo' the boonmost, "I've got a het skin;"
"It's hetter below," quo' Tam o' the linn.

Tam o' the linn gaed to the moss,
To seek a stable to his horse;
The moss was open, and Tam fell in,
"I've stabled mysel'," quo' Tam o' the linn.

Tam o' Lin's daughter scho sat on the stair,
And, "wow," quo scho, "Father, am na I fair?
There's mony ane wed wi an unwhiter skin."
"The deil whorl't aff," quo Tam o' the Lin.

Tam o' Lin's daughter scho sat on the brig,
And, "wow," quo scho, "Father, am na I trig?"
The brig it brak, and she tummel'd in--
"Your tocher's paid," quo Tam o' the Lin.

Tam o' the Linn was a Scotsman born,
   Fa la linkum, feedledum.
He had a cap of a hunter's horn.
   Fa la linkum, feedledum.

The wrong side out, and the right side in,
"A very gude cap," quo Tam o' the Linn.
   With my feedledum, &c.

. . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . .

Tam o' the Linn's gaen doon to the moss,
   Fa la, &c.
Seeking a stable to stable his horse,
   Fa la, &c.
The night being mirk, the mare fell in,
"Ye're stall'd for the night," quo Tam o' the Linn.

Tam o' the Linn was no very wise,
   Fa la, &c.
He had three shillings and bought a grice,
   Fa la, &c.
The grice gaed out but she never came in--
"We've lost our grice," quo Tam o' the Linn.

Tam o' the Linn and his wife's mither,
   Fa la, &c.
They fell baith in the fire thegither,
   Fa la, &c.
Tam being undermost gat a brunt skin,
"Take turn about, mither," quo Tam o' the Linn.

(1) Chambers PRS (1847), 192; (1870), 33, from
recitation in Lanarkshire.  [Followed by Montgomerie SNR
(1946), 111 (138).]
(2) Sharpe A Ballad Book (1823), 44 (xvi).
(3) Sharpe, ed. Laing (1880), 137; a note on Sharpe's
text by Sir Walter Scott. As sung by "the late Mr.
Drummond of Strageth."  After st. 1 come Sharpe's two
Other versions in Kinloch's MS. Burlesque and Jocular Ballads
and Songs (Edinburgh, 1827-9), 46, "Thomas o' Linn"; St.
Clair (Mansfield) MS. (1781-5), versions of Sharpe's text
with another scatological stanza (Thomas Crawford, Love,
Labour and Liberty [1976], 19-20, giving tune as in Kinsley,
350, = Galloway Tam; doubtful).   Two lines (only) quoted in
Riddell, Aberdeen and its Folk (1868), 5, viz. "Tam o' the
lynn, wi's wife an's mither,/ They gaed a' to the kirk
The earliest version is that in The Pinder of Wakefield
(1632); ed. E.A. Horsman (Liverpool U.P., 1956, 73-5),
although a variant of one verse is sung by Moros in The
Longer thou livest, the more foole thou art (by William
Wager, written 1564?; registered 1569).  See also JFSS no. 33
(VIII.3), 1929, 137-141, where A.G. Gilchrist gives a
traditional Bucks version, Christie's tune (Trad. Ballad
Airs, I.192), and text from Ritson, North Country Chorister
(Durham 1802); the evidence seems to point to its being
originally an English satire on the rude Gael (Irish or
This, and not the ballad of Tam Lin (Child 39), is probably
the same song whose tune is mentioned in The Complaynt of
Scotland (1549); and Gilchrist is probably correct in
identifying not only that but the "ballett of Thomalyn",
licensed in 1558, with this song.
Songs (1829); Halliwell 1842 (and 1849, 271); ODNR 413, under
"Tommy o'Lin", no. 514; Ulster version ("Brian O'Linn") in Kane
(1983), 32 (Fowke's refs., 197).


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