I Love A Lassie
“I love a lassie, a bonnie bonnie lassie,
She’s as pure as a lily in the dell,
She’s sweet as the heather, the bonnie bloomin’ heather,
Mary, my Scots bluebell.”
“[I Love A] Lassie is a lullaby that a lot of Scottish girls heard growing up. We’d sing it to the boys too, but for some reason it was more of a girl’s song. It’s very romantic and uplifting, which I believe a lot of our lullabies are. We’d sing it to girls when we wanted them to go to sleep. I had no daughters, but I’d sing it to my granddaughters when I rocked them in my arms.”
This informant, MS, comes from Aberdeen, Scotland and has lived there for all of her life, except for a few years she spent in London. She’s from the silent generation and has grown up with children around her for a lot of her life. She also knows this song from when her mother would sing it to her, as well, she remembers it from hearing it in the schoolyard and local playdate-like meetings with her friends growing up.
I invited MS, my great grandmother, to talk with me after a family reunion zoom call. A few days later, we got together and we live streamed a rerun of Strictly Come Dancing over zoom and during the commercial breaks, we talked over some folklore from her life in Scotland, specifically from her childhood in Aberdeen.
It’s strange to think a romantic song could be a lullaby because it’s not meant for people in romances, but instead, children. I think this song represents a Scottish romanticism we don’t see portrayed in the media all the time. It stands for this idealized woman, so it’s interesting that it is sung to girls instead of boys. Boys may relate to the desire of the image more, but I believe there might be a sense of describing what a woman should be like to little girls so that they can grow up to be “Mary, my Scot’s bluebell”.