I am a freeborn man of the traveling people
Got no fixed abode, with nomads I am numbered
Country lanes and byways were always my ways
Never fancied being lumbered
I read the Economist; as I always say in my newsletter, you should too. In the September 5th edition there was an obituary for Stanley Robertson, “the last of Scotland’s Traveller storytellers”, which put me in mind of the above lyric. I heard it sung by Gordon Bok on the album A Tune For November.
I had never heard of Mr. Robertson, but the song and the traditions of the “Travelling People” was something I’d heard about. I am not surprised to learn how deep the tradition goes, and am pleased to know that Mr. Robertson was made a Master of Aberdeen University in order to preserve the tales “told through the eye of the skull“. The linked article conveys a sense of the otherness of the world the Travellers’ tales describe, something like the feeling I’d faintly sensed during my one-night stay on the island of Iona in 2005, a place that is described as “where heaven and earth are closer together”.
I hope to learn more about these deep storytelling roots. Fare thee well, Mr. Robertson.