“What Can A Young Lassie Do Wi' An Auld Man”


Jenny curses the money that caused her mother to sell her to an old man. She cannot please him. She will try to follow her aunt Kittie's plan: "I'll cross him, I'll crack him until I have brak him." "Oh, weary's my life with a crazy old man"


Musical Traditions site _Voice of the People suite_ "Reviews - Volume 15" by Fred McCormick - 27.2.99: "I suspect however that he [Burns] re-created it from a traditional original, and my supposition is supported by the fact that he set it to a pre-existing air, which already bore the title of the present piece" [but Jane Turiff's version on Voice15 uses one of "The False Bride" tunes (for example, "I Loved a Lass" on SCMacCollSeeger01)]. - BS

The dating of this piece is slightly problematic. Ben Schwartz sent in a 1791 EARLIEST DATE based on the Burns Country web site. The Wordsworth _Works of Robert Burns_ (p. 633) also dates it to that year.

The best reference I have, however, is James Kinsley's _Burns: Complete Poems & Songs_, which dates it 1792. That is, I think, based on its publication in volume IV of the _Scots Musical Museum_.

My best guess is that the song was written 1791, published 1792 -- but I'm listing the 1792 date just in case. - RBW


  • Jane Turiff, "What Can a Young Lassie Dae Wi' An Auld Man?" (on Voice15)


  2. Roud #1295


Author: Robert Burns
Earliest date: 1792 (see NOTE)
Found in: Britain(Scotland(Aber))