Volume VI, song 502, page 518 - 'My boy Tammy' - Scanned...
Volume VI, song 502, page 518 - 'My boy Tammy' - Scanned from the 1853 edition of the 'Scots Musical Museum', James Johnson and Robert Burns (Edinburgh and London: W. Blackwood & Sons, 1853)
Verse 1: 'Whar hae ye been a' day, my boy Tammy whar hae ye been a' day my boy Tammy. I've been by burn and flow'ry brae meadow green and mountain grey courting o' this young thing just come frae her mammy.'
The 'Scots Musical Museum' is the most important of the numerous eighteenth- and nineteenth-century collections of Scottish song. When the engraver James Johnson started work on the second volume of his collection in 1787, he enlisted Robert Burns as contributor and editor. Burns enthusiastically collected songs from various sources, often expanding or revising them, whilst including much of his own work. The resulting combination of innovation and antiquarianism gives the work a feel of living tradition.
According to John Glen, in 'Early Scottish Melodies' (1900), this song and melody first appeared in an Edinburgh magazine known as 'The Bee' (May 1791). The song was written by the Scottish-born poet Hector MacNeill (1746-1818), who is also purported to be the author of 'Come under my plaidy' (song 533) and 'Donald and Flora' (song 252). Whilst the composer of the tune is not known, Glen believed it was 'derived from the old melody of 'Muirland Willie''.