Life in the Finland Woods is a popular Scandinavian piece of music. Written by Carl Jularbo (1893-1966), it is prevalent in Canada and the USA as well as Scotland and Ireland. It was made famous in the UK and Ireland with Jimmy Shand, Foster and Allen, Seán Ryan and many others recording it. It is also known by different titles such as ‘Life in the Finnish Woods’ or “Livet i Finnskogarna”, (life in the Finn forests), and despite the name, the tune is from Malmo, Sweden. The song was written about some Finnish people who settled in the woods nearby.  Here’s what i learned on the web….

The composer Carl Jularbo was a Swedish accordion virtuoso who first recorded the tune in 1915, and it was published in a 1938 Swedish tune book Jularbos Basta. It’s also believed Pattie Page used the first two parts of the melody for her 1950’s hit song “Mockingbird Hill”. She has a stunning voice.

I learned the tune from the playing of Mick Foster of Foster and Allen. He gave me a copy of his music book in Aberdeen some twenty years ago. I still have my signed copy and I would recommend you snap up a copy for yourself.  As an accordionist or any other musician I think you need this book in your collection of scores. It will make you feel more complete and add value to your repertoire. The print is large so the score is very easy to read and there’s a good variety of melodies.

Get the Mick Foster accordion tunes book here:​ 

Foster and Allen’s recording of the song in 1987 appears on their album “Reflections”, it’s track 15.

Carl Jularbo’s 1954 recording of his original tune “Livet i Finnskogarna” on track 28 of the album De bästa soloinspelningarna 1913-1954

Well I hope this short post gives some value to your day and that you enjoyed my playing the version of Life in the Finland Woods from Mick’s book and hearing the older original version from Carl Jularbo on Amazon. It’s been an interesting exercise for me to research the tune for you and I’ve discovered another accordionist to listen to and steal ideas from. I’ll be listening to more of Carl and discovering more new tunes on the never ending journey of discovery that is music.

Leave a comment and let me know what you’d like to hear me play, or just comment for the sake of it so I know someones’ reading. We are all just joining the dots on the pages of time.

It might look like I’m listening to you, but in my head I’m playing the accordion.

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2020 has been hard going for us all. We are all having to look at new ways to survive. I’ve tried to look at ways to develop my music without live performances, and it’s been a learning process, and I’m still trying.  

I’ve managed to grow my YouTube Channel after posting many videos. I enjoy making all the videos and recording music.  

If you like my music scroll down to the end of the page to see some little things you can do if you’d like to help me create more.

Charlie selfie in office
A selfie in my office. I shouldn’t have spent money on that wall calendar for 2020. 😆

Three digital singles produced this year during lockdown. 

Italian Memories (April 2020) – More info
Jellyfish (September 2020) – More info
Macduff Maggie (November 2020) – more info

Recently added – Sheet music & lyrics for Macduff Maggie

Seven ways you can help my music

  1. Subscribe to my YouTube channel. Any likes or comments are a help to me, and the more of my videos you watch, the more the YouTube gnomes will help me. Leave a nice comment. Tell me someone is listening 🙂

From my YouTube stats, I know that 85% of my views are from unsubscribed people, and most of my audience are males over 65+. It’s 100% free to Subscribe to my YouTube channel. If you click the bell icon on the bottom right in the YouTube browser screen, it means YouTube will send you a notification when I upload but only if you have allowed notifications from YouTube on your device. Eventually, I can apply to get a share of ad revenue from YouTube via the ads it puts on my videos sometimes. But first, I need 4000 hours of watch time in the last 12 months before qualifying. Today I have 3879! So nearly there…

2. Buy Me A Coffee  any time you like and as much as you like

3. Like my Facebook Pages. It’s an excellent way to encourage me to do more on Facebook. I don’t find so much engagement on that platform for my music. Shares, likes and comments are a great help.

Social media platforms like engagement, and I’ll try and engage with you where I can.

▶ Facebook:

▶ Iron Broo FB page

4. Become a Patreon member.

Did you know I have a new Patreon page? Patreon is a great idea for artists and creative people to get crowdfunding and moral support from a reliable private members club. Knowing there’s some income coming in helps me buy new equipment to do better projects and reduce the worry of money a little. I also offer you some treats in return for your support. Starting from £3 a month, plus VAT. You can again ask me anything and give me input or suggest ideas for treats or new material. I also offer to write a piece of music for members at a higher tiered level. ▶ Patreon:

Become a Patron!

5. Visit my websites, buy a CD or download. There’s a small library of PDF sheet music that’s free to download. Commenting on relevant pages in the site or in the blog help my search results online.

▶ Charlie Abel site:

▶ Iron Broo Ceilidh Site:

6. Share my music anywhere you can, especially with YouTube or even Facebook, Twitter or other Social media platforms.

7. Call in to your favourite radio stations and ask them to play a request for some of my original compositions, songs or covers.

I first heard this song from Tam Reid, in the early nineties at the Garlogie Ceilidhs.  I always liked Tam.  He was the kind of gent that personified all that was teuchter and Aberdeenshire.  His eyes glinted, like he’d been born with a dram in his veins, though I can say I never saw him drunk or ower foo.  I remember his white hair, dark eyebrows and Rosie red cheeks. He was a thick set strong man with a gentle smile, big hands and a weather worn face. Everyone I knew liked him.  He was known as ‘The Bothy Ballad King’.

Naturally I had assumed it was a north east song but its origins go back to Ayrshire or Edinburgh around 1800.

I made a YouTube video of the song using family pictures from my mums side.

Littlejohn brothers from Turriff
Littlejohn brothers from New Deer, Turriff. Douglas, Alister and my Grandpa Jimmy on the right.

The original author, Rev George S. Lawrie, also the son of a Kirkmicheal minister studied at Edinburgh University. He was ordained in 1763 at Galston, Ayrshire. (He was to remain there for the rest of his days.) The following year he married Mary Campbell, the daughter of a divinity Professor from St. Andrews University. – Archibald Cameron.  They had 2 Children, the oldest daughter was also a talented musician.

In 1786 George had read the Kilmarnock Edition, by Robert Burns.   Burns was having problems in his career at the time was thinking on giving up writing poetry altogether, fearing his words were falling on deaf ears and was considering leaving Scotland forever.

George was so impressed by the Poetry and songs from Burns he sent a copy of the works to Edinburgh to a Dr. Blacklock.   Blacklock was known to George as an influential member of high society in Edinburgh.   Blacklock immediately wrote back to George enthusiastically with great passion about Burns’ works.  George showed this letter to a friend Gavin, who showed it to Burns….

Later, in an autobiographical letter from Burns to a Dr. Moore, burns says the following about Lawrie and Blacklock..

I had taken the last farewell of my friends; my chest was on the road to Greenock; I had composed my last song I should ever measure in Caledonia, “The gloomy night is gathering fast”, when a letter from Dr Blacklock to a friend of mine overthrew all my schemes by rousing my poetic ambition.’

Burns and Lawrie remained friends and Burns would frequently visit the manse and stay over.

Without the help of Lawrie, Robert Burns may have quit his craft and Scotland would have been a poorer culture for it. Can you imagine a Scotland with no Burns?

No auld Lang Syne, No Red Rose, Nae sleekit’ cowerin beasties? Nae parcel o rogues….oh wait, that would probably be good J!

old picture of mum on a pony
My Mum on a Pony, Mains of Idoch, Turriff.

In this song “Di yi mind in lang lang syne” I feel there is a great depth of nostalgia for the past and an acceptance of what is finally to come.  I can imagine an old George S. Lawrie. Sitting in the manse in front of his fire, sipping a malt. Thinking back on his childhood, all the landscapes of places he played as a young boy in Perthshire, all the friends he misses who have passed on, all the hard-working farm folk who ‘rose wi the lark in the morning’.

I remember my own experiences with my family and friends and draw my own comparisons.  I miss people I have lost. I remember all the same places in my own mind where I once played. The fun my own generation had as children.  It all seems golden in my memory.  It’s also sad because it will never happen again for me. …. I am 43 and I would get arrested for guddling in a burn 😉

I fear my own kids will never have such a good childhood as I enjoyed.  iPads and technology seem to be strangling childhood.

I have seen some slightly different lyrics to the song on-line but I learned these from a Tam Reid recording.

Dae ye mind on Lang Lang Syne? 

Dae ye mind on lang, lang syne?
When the summer days were fine,
and the sun shone brighter far
Than it’s ever deen sin syne?
Dae ye mind the Haa Brig Turn
Whaur we guddled in the burn,
And were late for the school in the mornin?

Dae ye mind the miller’s dam
Whaur the frosty winter cam?
We slid amongst the curlers’ rinks
And made their game a sham;
When they chased us through the sna,
We gid leg bail yin and aa,
But we did it a’ again in the mornin’.

Dae ye mind the sunny braes
Far we gaithered hips and slaes,
And we fell among the brummle bushes,
Tearin aa wir claes?
And for fear we wid be seen,
We gid slippin hame at een,
Bit were licket fir oor pains, in the mornin’.

Far are a thon leal hearts noo,
That were eynce sae fond and true?
Aye there’s some hae left this troubled scene,
Bit there’s some still aye strugglin through;
and there’s some hae risen higher,
and gan tae life’s destiny,
Bit they rose wi the lark in the morning.

Well noo, life’s sweet spring is past,
And the autumn’s come at last;
Oor summer days hae passed away,
and winter’s comin fast;
But though lang the nicht may seem,
We shall sleep wi’oot a dream,
Till we waakin on yon bright summer’s mornin.

turriff cousins abel littlejohn

Above: My 2 brothers and I with my cousins at Ardin Farm, Turriff. Many moons ago.

No much wonder we grew up with drink problems. 🙂

Flower Pot Brothers
Flower pot brothers

My Brother Stuart and I, dressed as Flower Pot Men, ready to explore the word.

A new release soon to be available on CD and to download on all the popular sources and also in high definition audio on iTunes.

It’s been a longtime coming. I hope you will enjoy listening to it.

The Album includes 16 tracks. 66 minutes of music. Some are well known favourites, some are my own creations.  There are influences from my home city in Aberdeen, Scotland, Ireland and the Americas.

Expected release date mid November 2018.