Man's a Man for a' That (A)

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MAN'S A MAN FOR A' THAT, A. AKA – "Tho' Women's Minds." AKA and see: "For a' that and a' that," "Gille Dubh Mo Laochan (An)." Scottish, Air (2/4 time). D Major. Standard tuning (fiddle). AAB. The title comes from song written by poet Robert Burns in 1795. It is one of his most famous lyrics, set to an older Gaelic song called "Gille Dubh Mo Laochan (An)." Brock Bower, writing in the Smithsonian Magazine (March, 2001) believes Burns' lyric was greatly influenced by Thomas Paine's essay Rights of Man, and the parts of the lyric are paraphrases. Burns sent the song to his editor with the note that writers should usually stick to 'love and wine.' He referred to Payne's work and said his lyric was 'two or three pretty good prose thoughts (from the essay), inverted into rhyme."

Is there for honest poverty
That hangs his head, and a' that?
The coward slave we pass him by,
We daur be puir for a' that.
For a' that, and a' that
Our toils obscure, and a' that;
The rank is but the guinea stamp
The man's the gowd for a' that.

There is also a waltz time version (see abc's).

Source for notated version:

Printed sources: Johnson (Scots Musical Museum, vol. 3), 1790; p. 300 (as "For A' That An a' That"). Neil (The Scots Fiddle), 1991; No. 179, p. 233. O'Farrell (Pocket Companion, vol. 3), c. 1808; p. 10. William Ross (Collection [of] Pipe Music), 1869; No. 218, p. 130. Wilson (A Companion to the Ballroom), 1816; p. 32.

Recorded sources:




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