Neil Gow's Farewell to Whisky - the lyrics

You've surely heard o' famous Neil,
The man that played the fiddle weel,
I wat he was a canty chiel',
And dearly lo'ed the whiskey, O!
And ay sin' he wore tartan trews,
He dearly lo'ed the Athole brose;
And wae was he you may suppose,
To play fareweel to whiskey, O.

Alake, quoth Neil, I'm frail and auld,
And find my bluid grows unco cauld,
I think 'twad mak me blythe and bauld,
A wee drap highland whiskey, O
Yet the doctors they do agree,
That whiskey's no the drink for me:
Saul, quoth, 'twill spoil my glee,
Should they part me and whiskey, O.

Tho' I can get baith wine and ale,
And find my head and fingers hale,
I'll be content, tho' legs should fail,
To play fareweel to whiskey, O.
But still I think on auld lang syne,
When Paradise our friends did tyne,
Because something ran in their mind
Forbid, like highland whiskey, O.

Come, a' ye powers of music, come!
I find my heart grows unco glum;
My fiddle-strings will no play bum
To say fareweel to whiskey, O.
Yet I'll tak my fiddle in my hand,
And screw the pegs up while they'll stand,
To mak a lamentation grand,
On gude auld highland whiskey, O.

From 'The Little Warbler', I, p. 133, Oliver: Netherbow, 1804,

We later find that tune he played: "Farewell to Whiskey. by Niel Gow", Gow's Strathspey Reels, bk. 5 (1809). It appears the tune had been pretty well known for some time before the Gows published it, and Niel's reputation as a tipler was well known, too.

Bruce Olson

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