Calendar An icon of a desk calendar. Cancel An icon of a circle with a diagonal line across. Caret An icon of a block arrow pointing to the right. Email An icon of a paper envelope. Facebook An icon of the Facebook "f" mark. Google An icon of the Google "G" mark. Linked In An icon of the Linked In "in" mark. Logout An icon representing logout. Profile An icon that resembles human head and shoulders. Telephone An icon of a traditional telephone receiver. Tick An icon of a tick mark. Is Public An icon of a human eye and eyelashes. Is Not Public An icon of a human eye and eyelashes with a diagonal line through it. Pause Icon A two-lined pause icon for stopping interactions. Quote Mark A opening quote mark. Quote Mark A closing quote mark. Arrow An icon of an arrow. Folder An icon of a paper folder. Breaking An icon of an exclamation mark on a circular background. Camera An icon of a digital camera. Caret An icon of a caret arrow. Clock An icon of a clock face. Close An icon of the an X shape. Close Icon An icon used to represent where to interact to collapse or dismiss a component Comment An icon of a speech bubble. Comments An icon of a speech bubble, denoting user comments. Ellipsis An icon of 3 horizontal dots. Envelope An icon of a paper envelope. Facebook An icon of a facebook f logo. Camera An icon of a digital camera. Home An icon of a house. Instagram An icon of the Instagram logo. LinkedIn An icon of the LinkedIn logo. Magnifying Glass An icon of a magnifying glass. Search Icon A magnifying glass icon that is used to represent the function of searching. Menu An icon of 3 horizontal lines. Hamburger Menu Icon An icon used to represent a collapsed menu. Next An icon of an arrow pointing to the right. Notice An explanation mark centred inside a circle. Previous An icon of an arrow pointing to the left. Rating An icon of a star. Tag An icon of a tag. Twitter An icon of the Twitter logo. Video Camera An icon of a video camera shape. Speech Bubble Icon A icon displaying a speech bubble WhatsApp An icon of the WhatsApp logo. Information An icon of an information logo. Plus A mathematical 'plus' symbol. Duration An icon indicating Time. Success Tick An icon of a green tick. Success Tick Timeout An icon of a greyed out success tick. Loading Spinner An icon of a loading spinner.

MUSIC: Is Angus musician and Robert Burns fan Eddie Cairney the world’s most prolific song writer?

Michael Alexander speaks to award-winning Tayside-based songwriter Eddie Cairney about his new Robert Burns songs.

Eddie Cairney is no stranger to celebrating the works of Robert Burns.

His cousin John Cairney, a Scottish film and television actor, became well known internationally through his one-man shows on Burns, and Eddie organised a Burns Centenary Festival in the 1990s.

Then in 2009 he brought a whole new lease of life to Burns’ work by writing new music to Burns’ lyrics.

Perth-born Eddie, who now lives in Arbroath, set out to write just a few songs when he launched the project.

By the 220th anniversary of Burns’ death in 2016, he had ended up with 892 songs and had ambitions to record and perform more of them.

Getting in tune with Robert Burns – 220 years after the Bard’s death

Five years on, and Eddie has made the most of recent Covid-19 lockdowns to launch “Robert Burns the new songs”.

Complete rewrite of Burns

“Robert Burns the new songs is a complete rewrite of the verse of Robert Burns,” explains Eddie.

“The total song count stands at 892 but the final count is expected to be around the 900 mark as new rewrites are added.

“Burns had a very short career as a writer, no more than 10 years but in that time he managed to craft some of the greatest song lyrics ever written.

“He was a musician, could play the violin and notate music but his attempts at composing weren’t a success so he gave it up as a bad job and instead relied on collecting tradition tunes which he crafted his lyrics around.

Robert Burns

“Because of his untimely death, he didn’t have time to form collaborations with composers of the day. “Who’s to say what heights of greatness he would have scaled had he lived out his allotted three score years and 10?”

True greatness

Eddie said he has felt for years that Burns’ handful of songs has belied his true greatness as a songwriter and that is why he set out to redress the situation with Robert Burns the new songs.

Whereas before, where many of his songs had to share the same melody between them, all his songs now have their own dedicated tune with several having a choice of two or even three melodies.

The project was launched on July 21 to mark the 225th anniversary of Burns’ passing and will run until March 2023.

Eddie Cairney

One new album will be released every Wednesday and can be accessed via

Eddie found Burns’ verse very easy to put music to and  melodies materialised in quick succession with very little effort.

This was helped by the fact that Burns’ words, apart from being very well written, usually have their own rhythm which dictates the melody.

“Burns was a modern thinker and part of the Scottish enlightenment,” adds Eddie.

“Burns, although no saint, espoused the notion of women being equal to men which wasn’t a widely held view in the 18th century.

ROBERT BURNS: The day 100,000 crammed in Dundee city centre to celebrate Scotland’s ‘man of the people’

“You could say that Burns was obsessed with the love of women and this is evident in his collection of songs on that very subject.

“When Bob Dylan was asked what song was his biggest influence he said “Robert Burns: Red Red Rose”.

“That’s praise indeed which demonstrates the regard he’s held in as a songwriter.”

Different styles

Eddie hopes his new collection of songs will re-kindle people’s interest in Burns.

The songs have been written in several different styles so there’s a song for everyone.

He is keen that Robert Burns the new songs should be there as a resource for schools, groups and individuals.

He adds: “Someone suggested, the other day, that I have to be the most prolific songwriter the word has ever seen. It was very flattering but I doubt that’s the case. Scotland maybe?”

However, his earlier life was not always destined towards music, let alone the bard.

Story of reinvention

A former pupil of Perth’s Craigie Primary School, Eddie left Perth High School aged 18 and took on a few jobs including potato delivery driver and worked for General Accident.

Always musical, yet discouraged, he says, at school, he played in various bands including October.

When they split, he helped form Dundee-based band Rokotto.

But his dad – a drummer who knew the late accordion legend Sir Jimmy Shand – had always encouraged his son to get a ‘proper job’.

Before Rokotto hit the big time, including a show at the Glasgow Barrowland and several appearances on Top of the Pops, he left the band to train as a TV engineer.

Marrying Elaine, the couple emigrated to New Zealand in 1981 where they raised two boys. Eddie continued his interest in music, writing radio jingles, performing regularly in a piano bar and, wrote the music for the 1984 New Zealand Olympic anthem.

Eddie Cairney

Moving back to Dundee, he and his wife opened the Goodness Me health food shop in Broughty Ferry.

Eddie actually gave up music for around 15 years. But in 1999, after his wife spotted an advert in the paper, he entered a competition to write a Millennium song for Carnoustie – and won!

Free downloads

If anyone want to use any of the songs, the music is completely free to download via

Eddie can be contacted and is more than willing to help with chords, accompaniment and intros.

Robert Burns: The remarkable night a surgeon robbed the National Bard’s grave and stole his skull

Already a subscriber? Sign in