Sangstories - Stories of Scottish Songs

Tales of Scottish traditional and newer songs sung by Sangschule of Linlithgow

Hey Ca Thro

or The Carls o Dysart
by Robert Burns
printed in 1792

Up wi the carls o Dysart, and the lads o Buckhaven
And the kimmers o Largo, and the lassies o Leven
Hey, ca thro’, ca thro’ for we hae mickle ado
Hey, ca thro’, ca thro’ for we hae mickle ado
 

We hae tales tae tell, and we hae sangs tae sing
We hae pennies tae spend, and we hae pints tae bring

We'll live all our days, and them that comes behind
Let them do the like, and spend the gear they win

Words:
Ca: call, urge on, drive
Ca thro’: work with a will (“thro’” is an English poetic spelling of “through”)
Carls: working men
Gear: goods, money
Kimmers: lasses, girls
Mickle ado: much to do
 
This song was first printed in The Scots Musical Museum, vol.4, 1792.
According to The Canongate Burns  (2003) p.403, it is based on “an old Fifeshire fishing song.” Burns may have collected this song when passing through Fife in the late autumn of 1787 at the end of his Highland tour.  Although it is not certain that Burns improved it, the editors say “this song does appear to have been tightened up by Burns” and the “deceptively simple clarity of lyric would appear to be his handiwork.”
Ewan MacColl includes it in Scotland Sings, p.125, in his section on drinking songs. His usual helpful note is absent, as he says only: “A note on drinking in a Scots song book is much like teaching one’s grandmother to suck eggs. Therefore we dispense with comment.”

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