Song of the Day: For The Dancing and The Dreaming by John Powell (+ Loch Lomond)

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For The Dancing and The Dreaming is a song composed by John Powell and Jónsi for the soundtrack of How to Train your Dragon 2. The song is performed by Stoick (Gerard Butler), Gobber (Craig Ferguson), and Valka (Mary Jane Wells).

Lyrics:

Stoick:
I’ll swim and sail on savage seas
with ne’er a fear of drowning.
And gladly ride the waves of life
if you will marry me.

No scorching sun, nor freezing cold
will st—

Gobber:
WILL STOP ME ON MY JOUR—ney. Sorry.

Stoick: If you will promise me your heart.
And love…

Valka:
…And love me for eternity.

My dearest one, my darling dear,
your mighty words astound me.
But I’ve no need of mighty deeds
when I feel your arms around me.

Stoick:
But I would bring you rings of gold,
I’d even sing you poetry! (Valka: Oh, would ya?)
And I would keep you from all harm
if you would stay beside me!

Valka:
I have no use for rings of gold,
I care not for your poetry.
I only want your hand to hold…

Stoick:
I only want you near me!

Both:
To love and kiss, to sweetly hold!
For the dancing and the dreaming!
Through all life’s sorrows and delights,
I’ll keep your love inside me!

All:
I’ll swim and sail on savage seas
with ne’er a fear of drowning!
And gladly ride the waves of life
If you will marry me!

Gobber:
Meeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeee, I’m still goiiiiiiiiiiiiiiiiiiinnnnnng! (Hiccup: Gobber.) I’m done.

……

This song reminds me of another beautiful song called “The Bonnie Banks o’ Loch Lomond”, or simply “Loch Lomond”, a well-known traditional Scottish song (Roud No. 9598) first published in 1841 in Vocal Melodies of Scotland. (Loch Lomond is the largest Scottish loch, located between the counties of Dunbartonshire and Stirlingshire.) In Scotland, the song is often the final piece of music played during an evening of revelry (a dance party or dinner, etc.).

The song has been recorded by many performers over the years, including the rock band AC/DC, jazz singer Maxine Sullivan (for whom it was a career-defining hit), the Mudmen, and Scottish-Canadian punk band The Real McKenzies. Both Runrig and Quadriga Consort used to perform Loch Lomond as their concert’s final song.

Lyrics:

By yon bonnie banks an’ by yon bonnie braes
Whaur the sun shines bright on Loch Lomond
Whaur me an’ my true love will ne’er meet again
On the bonnie, bonnie banks o’ Loch Lomon’
Chorus:
O ye’ll tak’ the high road, and Ah’ll tak’ the low road
And Ah’ll be in Scotlan’ afore ye
Fir me an’ my true love will ne’er meet again
On the bonnie, bonnie banks o’ Loch Lomon’.
‘Twas there that we perted in yon shady glen
On the steep, steep sides o’ Ben Lomon’
Whaur in (soft) purple hue, the hielan hills we view
An’ the moon comin’ oot in the gloamin’.
Chorus
The wee birdies sing an’ the wild flouers spring
An’ in sunshine the waters are sleeping
But the broken heart it kens, nae second spring again
Tho’ the waeful may cease frae their weeping.
Chorus

……

There are many theories about the meaning of the song, most of which are connected to the Jacobite Uprising of 1745. One interpretation based on the lyrics is that the song is sung by the lover of a captured Jacobite rebel set to be executed in London following a show trial. The heads of the executed rebels were then set upon pikes and exhibited in all of the towns between London and Edinburgh in a procession along the “high road” (the most important road), while the relatives of the rebels walked back along the “low road” (the ordinary road travelled by peasants and commoners).

Another interpretation of the ‘Low Road’ is that it refers to the traditional underground route taken by the ‘fairies’ or ‘little people’ who were reputed to transport the soul of a dead Scot who died in a foreign land – in this case, England – back to his homeland to rest in peace.

Another similar interpretation also attributes it to a Jacobite Highlander captured after the 1745 rising. The Hanoverian British victors were known to play cruel games on the captured Jacobites, and would supposedly find a pair of either brothers or friends and tell them one could live and the other would be executed, and it was up to the pair to decide. Thus the interpretation here is that the song is sung by the brother or friend who chose or was chosen to die. He is therefore telling his friend that they will both go back to Scotland, but he will go on the ‘low road’ or that of the dead, and be home first. Another supporting feature of this is that he states he will never meet his love again in the temporal world, on Loch Lomond. Some believe that this version is written entirely to a lover who lived near the loch.

A related interpretation holds that a professional soldier and a volunteer were captured by the English in one of the small wars between the countries in the couple of hundred years prior to 1746. Volunteers could accept parole, a release contingent on the volunteer’s refusal to rejoin the fighting, but regulars could not and so could face execution. The volunteer would take the high road that linked London and Edinburgh while the soul of the executed regular would return along the “low road” and would get back to Scotland first.

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