Tuesday, February 17, 2015

VOTE : Which of these songs should be the national anthem of an independent Scotland?

As I said in a comment on the previous thread, the notion that there is some kind of doubt over what Scotland's national anthem would be after independence is something that's only really clung to by a political and cultural elite who can't quite reconcile themselves to Flower of Scotland.  That includes senior people in the SNP - Alex Salmond, for instance, always notes that Scotland has "many anthems".  The reality is that the public made up their minds decades ago, and any attempt to impose a "worthier" alternative from on high simply won't wash.  In any case, sporting organisations are now pretty much unanimous in using Flower of Scotland as the anthem, and it was even heard at the Cricket World Cup just a few hours ago.

However, as this topic provoked such a fierce debate on the previous thread, let's have a good old-fashioned voodoo poll and see what the readers of Scot Goes Pop think.  The voting form is at the top of the sidebar, and I've tried to include all the suggestions that people made, plus a few other obvious options that weren't mentioned.  The selection is as follows -

Flower of Scotland
Scotland the Brave
Loch Lomond
Both Sides The Tweed
Auld Lang Syne
A Man Without Love
The Dark Island
Scots Wha Hae
Freedom Come All Ye
Is There For Honest Poverty
The Skye Boat Song
I'm Gonna Be (500 Miles)
Land of Light
Highland Cathedral
The Thistle o' Scotland

I've naturally included the only Eurovision entry to be performed by a man in a kilt, and if you don't know which one that is, shame on you.  It finished in a sensational ninth place in 1966.

Multiple voting is enabled, so you can vote for as many or as few as you like.  If your favourite isn't on the list, feel free to add a "write-in vote" by leaving a comment on this post.

I haven't run a poll for ages, because the last time I attempted it there was a massive technical fault, and people's votes weren't being recorded (or when they were recorded, they were disappearing again a few hours later).  We'll see how it goes this time.  This blog currently gets an average of 20,000 unique readers per month, and has had a grand total of 148,577 unique readers over the last year (that works out as 3% of the population of Scotland, albeit admittedly a sizeable minority of readers are in reality from outside Scotland).  So put it this way - if we end up with only fourteen votes on a subject that almost everyone has an opinion about, something has gone wrong somewhere!

*  *  *

UPDATE : The poll is now closed - you can see the results HERE.


  1. I think there's no question that Flower of Scotland is the only choice with widespread support at this moment in time. There's a good point, though, that it sounds backward looking and that it is about a nation aspiring to become recognised as such — problematic given the indyref outcome and also loses significance after independence is finally achieved.

    My personal cheeky suggestion would be 'Scots wha hae' but to the tune of Black Sabbath's 'War pigs' (preferably being played by the Red Hot Chili Pipers), with the following extra verses [coming after all the bloody rhetoric of "lay the proud usurpers low", draining veins and "do or die"]:

    But thon's a tale o lang ago
    Whan libertie cost pain an woe
    Nou we found a better way tae go
    Caad democracie

    Na, we've nae need nae sward tae draa
    We've nae need tae fecht an faa
    In one wee box a cross tae draa
    An Scotland shall be free

    Post independence, that can easily be changed to past tense.

    1. Anthems are usually backward looking or else France should change "La Marseillaise" and the US "The Star Spangled Banner" or for that matter the UK "God Save the Queen" because every single one of them is exactly that.

    2. No reason to do something daft just because everyone else is. And at least two of the songs you mention have a rousing tune, unlike FoS.

  2. I think 'Scotland Will Flourish' (Corries) is really positive and forward looking. It's got a good catchy tune and would make a great national anthem!

    1. Nice choice: good sentiment and lyrics the ordinary punter can get their head around no bother (criticisms often flung at 'Freedom come aa ye' and 'A man's a man')

    2. Thank you. :) 'A Man's A Man' is actually one of my favourites and much as I wanted to choose that, I felt that the Scots vernacular might not go down well with the younger Scots. 'Scotland Will Flourish' does, as you so rightly say, have lyrics that young and old can get their heads around. Lol!

      As for 'Freedom Come Aa Ye', I'm ashamed to say I don't know that one (no, I'm not in my first flush of youth - or the second, come to that! Lol!) so it may be that young people won't be familiar with it either. (I blame my Canadian upbringing! My story and I'm sticking to it!) I think a National Anthem has to mean something to all the generations. I think 'Scotland Will Flourish' will do that.

  3. PS - But taking the songs in your list into consideration, I'd have to go with 'Highland Cathedral'. Again - a good tune which is easy to sing to and easy for 'foreign' bands to play when we win things! Lol! I do like 'Flower of Scotland' very much - as a 'folk song'... But I don't think the words are really appropriate for a national anthem. It isn't necessary to be antagonistic any more (actually I am very much a 'yes, absolutely!' voter!). Now is not the time to be backward looking, mulling over old glories or past failures. Scotland is more vibrant than it has been in many a long year. It's time to sing of the bright, energetic, politically aware country that it is. And sing of the wonderful things that we are accomplishing NOW. (why I really like 'Scotland Will Flourish'

    Scotland will flourish by the sweat of our labour
    The strength of our will and the force of our mind
    Forget the old battles, those days are over
    Hatred corrupts and friendship refines

    Let the Scots be a nation so proud of their heritage
    With an eye to the future and a heart to forgive
    And let us be rid of those bigots and fools
    Who will not let Scotland live and let live

    Let us govern our country wisely and fairly
    Let each man and woman work with a will
    Scotland will flourish secure in the knowledge
    That we reap our own harvest and ring our own till

    And let us be known for our kind hospitality
    A hand that is openly proffered to friends
    A hard working people, proud and unbending
    Scotland will thrive and win out in the end.

    That song pretty much sums up for me what Scotland - and the Scots, are.

  4. http://youtu.be/NsUeQmMBWNY

    Although I woudn't go for this personally, it has the kind of sentiment I would want in a national anthem.

  5. It's an interesting debate. Obviously FoS wins through popular use, but it has its down sides. The lyrics are a bit backward looking and it can't be played properly on the pipes. Any national anthem should ideally be catchy, easy for a large crowd to sing, and have words that are stirring without being blimpish or banal. Surprisingly few national anthems round the world fit those criteria.

    There's two further considerations. What style of tune? The easiest to sing are 19th century church hymn style tunes. (E.g. Crimond). They also have a bit of gravitas. But given Scotland's folk tradition, and the desire for more forward looking lyrics, perhaps a folk style tune is what we are after. (Which is reflected in the selection at the top of the page.)

    But not Highland Cathedral. It is shit.

  6. Aw James, you missed it out!

    The Chicken Song.


    Its short - good if you are standing up. Its catchy. It sums up the attitude of a majority of Scots to their Nation's independence.

    Whats not to like?

    No words, but I'm sure some enterprising person can provide those.

  7. https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=oKnwHAGXvlE

  8. I'd go for "A Man's a Man", as it's the least nationalistic of the options that actually have a recognisable melody. But I could also get behind "500 Miles" just because it'd be funny.

  9. From the list "A Man's a Man", and for "Caledonia" as our "Fields of Athenry". But this is my anthem choice:


    1. I too love this song - but it is still played (and rather invites this) too slowly for such stirring purposes. Matt told me it was originally a pipe tune and at a more upbeat tempo - and it can work well like that.... but the triste element, so strong in trad. Scots music, just tends to take over.

    2. I hear it at about the same speed as "Highland Cathedral", Nigel, and it sounds about right in my head. Then again there's always the "seeing a song you love murdered" factor when you suggest something for crowds to belt out. "Is There for Honest Poverty" might be a sturdier belter, but the melody and lyrics of "Theme for the Early Days" are right on the button for me.

  10. 500 miles, but then again I am a bit of a pleb.

    To be honest I would prefer a brand new anthem, because the anthem(s) we have are all second hand and not something specifically written as an anthem.

    So have a (inter)national contest. Invite lyricists and composers from around the world, after all we are all Jock Thomson's bairns, and let Scots choose from the contestants' musical scores.

  11. Perhaps once there is a consensus on the top 4 or 5 choices we can rerun it under STV to get a proper result?

  12. BTW the biggest problem with Flower of Scotland is that crowds can't sing it at the right tempo. Virtually ever (hence the rugby mob just abandoning the music once it got started on Sunday).

  13. "Flower of Scotland" and "Caledonia" are great songs. Truly great.

    But national anthems they are not.

    For me it's "Freedom Come All Ye"

  14. Personally I hate Flower Of Scotland. It's not an anthem that unionists should even be singing, as it's sentiment they choose to ignore. It's the proud Scot but guff! Personally I would like loch Lomond. It's about longing for home and the beauty of Scotland and a nice wee tune with a big chorus. Flower of Scotland is depressing and outdated and goes nowhere.

    I still get angry watching unionists like David Sole,Gavin Hastings and the like singing Flower of Scotland. How dare they!

    1. Indeed, those 80 minute patriots look and sound like tartan clowns to their imperial masters. They voted NO and now they sing "when will I see your light again?" Pathetic.

      Do they not realise how ridiculous they look to people of other nations, of "real" nations, or are they really that stupid?

    2. Have to agree the hypocrisy of North Britons singing FoS is cringeworthy.

    3. Have to agree with anonymous. The middle-class. public school, rugby crowd should ditch FoS as it's not really for them. 'Send in the Clowns' would be a better anthem for the Hooray Henrys & Buntys gracing Murrayfield with their ubiquitous Barbours, Hunter wellies and picnic-hampers containing Bolly, forbye.

  15. None of the above. Calum's Road by Donald Shaw: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=niTLH9VaKc4

    1. A tune that always puts a smile on folks' faces.
    2. Though it rose from an inspiring story highlinghting the best of Scottish virtues, it has no lyrics so no cheesy "we arra peepil" or imprecations to a sky fairy to save some teutonic tart lyrics. Cainntaireachd only.
    3. Athletes could do the Unst Palais Glide to it round the arena at the Olympics.

  16. I'm in favour of a new song that reflects the broader vision for Scotland rather than a song that looks back as FOS does. I don't want my country to be defined by an attitude towards England or war that is fixed in the past. It might be good to keep a well known tune but with modern wording. The chorus of Caledonia gets close to some aspects of love for our country but the song itself isn't the full thing. Australia, New Zealand, South Africa and Canada are all examples of countries that have moved on. New Zeakand has managed to develop a bilingual solution. Perhaps gives an example to us that would leave room for Scots of a Burns tradition or Gaelic to be included.

  17. I would definitely prefer a new anthem to be commissioned.

    If we have to stick to existing protocols or music I would opt for either (1) a one minute silence or (2) Teenage Dreams.

    The first is a recognition of bereavement (ceasing to exist) while the second is a celebration of Scotland's role in the invention of the telephone.

    1. Is that the Katy Perry version?

    2. keaton - I had to look up the Katy Perry version. I don't think it has the gravitas that The Undertones would bring us in our national anthem.

      This could be a generational issue though.

    3. But it does contain the lyric "don't ever look back", so you could say it has thematic similarities to FoS.

    4. Your solid insight to music far exceeds my ability to get lyrics incorrect!

      Taking a more "left of field" punt at this "Weather With You" by Crowded House could be an option? Got everything in there - references to Romans, shipbuilding, agreeable weather, ...

  18. The Euro vision song was "Man without love". Kenneth McKellar. The title kinda gave it away.

    Looking back, he was a strange choice, but I guess he was quite popular at the time, appearing regularly on tv. Hard to believe though, that this was considered a 'pop' song in the times of the Beatles, Stones, Kinks, Who, and such like.


    "Flower of Scotland" for me. Although there are many other superb songs, I see no merit in changing it. It's a stirring melody with good lyrics ... and after all this time, we are accustomed to hearing it on the occasions when we are allowed our own anthem.

    I doubt the English would want to change "God Save the King/Queen". I doubt the Scots would want to change "Flower of Scotland".

  19. As I said yesterday - it will emerge when we win that next vote, but if you must pick at the moment I'd go for Hearts of Olden Glory for sheer heart-rending hope - and maybe that's where we are

  20. I find it a bit strange that you didn't include "A Man's a Man" on the list.
    That's my vote. FoS is a song for an immature polity that is struggling and now it's a joke considering September. Watching "A Man's a Man" sung at the opening of the parliament gives you shivers down your spine and is even better watching the Queen sit thru it.
    If there was ever a Scottish and universal statement of belief, it's that. Plus it's by Burns so that helps.
    Auld lang syne has been given to the world - taking it back as our national anthem just seems a bit churlish. Instead we should enjoy its universality and take pride in this manifestation of how a small group of people on the edge of Europe changed the world.

    "A Man's a Man" is a statement of how we intend to go on changing it.

    1. "A Man's a Man" = "Is There for Honest Poverty"

    2. I agree entirely with your sentiments and choice of song, though.

    3. For a moment I wondered if not bracketing the common "title" after Is There For Honest Poverty.

      Then I realised, if you don't know what it's called, it might not be a worthwhile vote.

    4. Funny that, because in my book of collected Burn's poetry and music it's called "for a' that and a' that.

      Also if you look online you find similar titles:

      Another variation (i.e. the most commonly used) is A Man's A Man For A' That

      That's the trouble with old stuff. Calingl it "Is There for Honest Poverty" is just naming it after the first line which isn't how songs are actually named.

  21. Flower of Scotland doesn't have to be seen as an independence song.
    It can also be interpreted as overcoming the odds.

    Actual lyrics are 'be THE nation again', not 'be A nation again'

  22. Freedom Come A Ye, is a great song, but you can't have an anthem when only 10% of people understand the words, and could remember and sing them.

    How many people here could honestly recite more than a couple of lines without looking it up?

    Even Auld Lang Syne is usually condensed down to 2 short verses.

    1. I can be fairly certain that 25 years ago, it would be a fairly small minority that could sing Flower of Scotland. Didn't the Rugby set used to have a hand out with the lyrics in the early days?

  23. Quite a few Big Country songs would make a good choice.

  24. I'm a big fan of the Proclaimers internationalist "We're all Scotland's Story". Catchy wee chorus that goes with the na-na-na-na-na part of all national anffems.

    1. Scotland's Story would be a tremendous anthem. Great tribute to all the immigrants who've contributed so much to Scotland.

      James, can you add to the list please?


  25. I went with Caledonia but I would've voted 500 miles if I had seen it.
    A clear media bias from James here calling it "I'm gunna be..." in the poll to ensure his own agenda is furthered.
    I'm in a right huff noo, tbh.
    I think anthems, in general, are just old fashioned and a good up tempo tune would set the progressive tone for iScotland.


    1. You can change your vote.

    2. There is nothing more stirring than hearing 50,000 Scots singing;

      Da lat da (Da lat da), da lat da (Da lat da)
      Da-da-da dun-diddle un-diddle un-diddle uh da-da
      Da lat da (Da lat da), da lat da (Da lat da)
      Da-da-da dun-diddle un-diddle un-diddle uh da-da
      Da lat da (Da lat da), da lat da (Da lat da)
      Da-da-da dun-diddle un-diddle un-diddle uh da-da
      Da lat da (Da lat da), da lat da (Da lat da)
      Da-da-da dun-diddle un-diddle un-diddle uh da-da

      ... whilst watching the bemused looks on opposition fans.

  26. Scotland the Brave has a catchy tune, what with it being a march and all that.

    I just hope we can get away from the dirges for national anthems, and have something that gets you on your feet.

    Actually, on that note...

    I'm going to nominate "Dashing White Sergeant" for Scotland's National Anthem.

    (Sorry about all the bad puns there, I'm actually serious about a dance for national anthem)

  27. 'For aw that and aw that' as sung at the reopening of the Scottish Parliament.

    Anyone without a tear in their eye listening that has no regard for his fellow man or woman.

  28. I don't like Flower of Scotland and haven't since the first time of hearing it, before it caught on as an unofficial anthem. I particularly dislike the phrase " your wee bit hill and glen ". It smacks of kailyard sentimentality and makes me cringe. In my head I hear " your wee bit but and ben " which would be even worse.

    My own choice would be "A Man's A Man For A' That " or "Freedom Come All Ye " for the sentiments expressed though recognize other people's misgivings. To be honest I'm not really very keen on national anthems and find that the only one which can bring a lump to my throat is the Welsh.one. It is slow which seems to bother some but has a wonderful, swelling sonority which catches the heart, especially sung by thousands of Welsh fans at an international. I would rather have that impressive power than any banal, cheery march tune.

    I have the sneaking suspicion, though, that in the end "Flower of Scotland" will probably win out because of its familiarity and it will fall dead on my heartstrings as much as " God Save The Queen " does now. However, if we get independence, I could learn to live with any anthem cheerfully enough!

  29. @JGedd

    For me, the third verse of FOS "These days are gone now", redeems the backwards looking sentiment of the first verse.

    Skipping the miserable second verse, and playing with a faster tempo dispels much of the criticism.

    Scotland the Brave has the most upbeat tune, but the lyrics are dire, and usually replaced with the 'alternative' version..
    "Here comes the Highland Granny - 2 big t*ts and a hairy f*nny" !!

    Hardly dignified if someone wins a gold medal :)

    None of these songs are going to please everyone.
    FOS just seems the most popular out of the choices we have.

    Surely if Scotland aspires to be a real nation politically, then an 'official' national anthem is another step down that road.

  30. A Man's a Man For a' That. A sweeping statement of what our nation believes in and holds to it's heart. It defines the Scottish nation, and should be our national anthem.

  31. A man's a man for a' that, speaks of universal fraternity.
    Flower of Scotland is a durge, and not enough of us rose up.
    Loch Lomond, is about two Scots being convicted of a crime in England, and one being executed, the other being freed; hence the high(alive) and low(buried) road.

  32. Can we not right a new one perhaps?

  33. No None of the Above, :(

    We need an anthem specifically written for the job not picking the best of what has been published IMO.

  34. Fan Dabi Dozi - The Krankies.

  35. Mention of Kenneth MacKellar reminded me of this performance of one of Scotland's greatest traditional songs -


    Might not be totally suitable as a National Anthem, though I can't see why not.

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