Outlander fans will be familiar with the show’s theme song, which fits the show's compelling narrative, with its sharp contrasts, time travel, dizzy love dramas, and beautiful, otherworldly settings.
A love story of such great prestige and intrigue as that of Claire and Jamie deserves an introduction as ethereal as the couple in question. This is why the theme song seems so appropriate – fitting the couple like Cinderella’s shoe and setting the scene for the mystery and sublime romance which follows. Here are 10 things about Outlander's introduction which viewers might not know (but are worth knowing)!
10 An adaptation of a traditional song
The original theme song of Outlander is an adapted version of a Scottish folk song. This song, "The Skye Boat Song," tells the story of Prince Charles Edward Stuart. He is referred to as 'Bonnie Prince Charlie.'
The tune is more than just a pretty song designed to tickle the ears. It has an intriguing narrative which tells the story of the failed Jacobite rebellion. It also speaks of Prince Charles Edward Stuart's escape to the Isle of Skye following the Battle of Culloden.
9 Small changes, big implications
Scriptwriters and directors made numerous changes to the original song on which the theme song for the show is based. The verse "Sing me a song of a lad who is gone, say could that lad be I" was changed slightly, causing some dramatic differences to the song’s meaning.
Here, "lad" was changed to '"lass." The explanation given was that it tied to the protagonist Claire and her disappearance. So, the edited version of the song goes, "Sing me a song of a lass who is gone…"
8 Haunting melodies
Singer Raya Yarbrough sings the song which sets the tone for the series narrative that follows. She sings with haunting beauty and her voice seems to fit perfectly with the character she sings about, the "lass" Claire.
Due to the perfect fit between voice and character, many viewers are led to believe that Claire herself is singing the opening. This, combined with the previously mentioned tweak to the verses, adds to the belief that Claire herself is introducing the narrative.
7 A rich history
The song that served as the basis for Outlander's theme song has a rich history stretching across over one hundred years. While the tune predates this documentation, "The Skye Boat Song" was first recorded in 1899 and was extremely popular in its day. Tim Bryce was the first man to officially record the song.
The mesmerizing melody and haunting lyrics were popular with Scottish folk and dance musicians. It was then revived in the late 1950s when it was commissioned for a festival of European folk songs.
6 A winning combination
The theme song was written by well-known and talented American composer, Bear McCreary. Highly esteemed both nationally and internationally, this musician is perhaps better known for his majestic tunes in The Walking Dead and Battlestar Galactica.
Raya Yarbrough worked with McCreary prior to their work on Outlander, with the pair of musicians also teaming up to put together the theme song of Battlestar Galactica. It would seem they are a winning combination.
5 Poetry at its finest
Fans of the show might be familiar with Robert Louis Stevenson, a poet whose work, such as "Dover Beach," is often taught at school. The poet's "Sing Me a Song of a Lad That Is Gone" is sung to the tune of "The Skye Boat Song," and many have cherished this version's beauty, grammatical intrigue, and melodic nuances.
Sing me a song of a lad that is gone, Say could that lad be I? Merry of soul he sailed on a day, Over the sea to Skye
Outlander's theme song specifically uses Stevenson's poem as a blueprint.
4 A great boost for tourism
It would seem the whole combination of the series' theme song, the rolling green landscapes, kilted hunks, and dashing Scottish damsels, was enough to capture the hearts of fans, turning them into avid Scottish aficionados. Tourism to Scotland grew by around 500% following the series premiere, according to reports.
This definitely proves that Outlander's decision to focus on saluting Scottish heritage in the theme song and opening credits was effective in promoting Scottish pride and portraying the best of what Scotland has to offer.
3 Setting the scene
With ladies dancing, the heavy bagpipe, imagery of swordfights, and the unmissable Scottish prestige, Outlander's introduction is like an appetizer, warming fans' appetites for the drama which will follow.
Much has been said about the opening credits of the show, not just because they feature beautiful melodies, but because they hint at what is to come. A lot of what will be included in the actual season in question is featured in these credits, so they are not just beautiful but informative.
2 Season by season
Outlander varies its opening credits with each new season. To give an example, Season 1 has a shot of a 1940s car in its opening credits, which hints at Claire's first disappearance. Then, Season 2's opening credits have a decidedly - and deliberate - French influence.
This is because much of this season's narrative is set in France. The same can be said about Season 3, with its Caribbean influences plastered all over the opening credits. Here, Claire is featured being washed ashore, for example.
1 Some things remain constant
It would seem Outlander's intro is a golden thread which ties all of the episodes, season by season, together. The song remains unchanged season by season, and while there are factors about the opening credits which change with each new year, some things remain the same.
For example, the opening footage of the deer looking into the camera remains constant. Other stable elements include the image of a woman's dirt-covered legs running. Also, people dancing around ancient Celtic ruins is a must.