Music for Two Lochs Radio

On Sunday coming, 10 July, I'm to be co-presenter on the Two Lochs Radio's program called Sunday Brunch. ( 11.00-13.00 and click on 'Listen' if you've a mind to) 'Bring along some of your favourite music', said Mike Webber. So this is what I'm submitting ...

The Music - Some Personal Notes

Bob Dylan’s Thunder On The Mountain
I heard Dylan just after his first visit to the UK, at which time I was living with my young family in Ainsdale and working for a Liverpool packaging company. That would be around 1968, I think. Anyway, for the first time I realised the power of philosophical poetry delivered as real music. Here was a young man who could make us all ‘think’ about what was going on. Still can and still does. Truly, age shall not weary us - not all of us, at least.

Van Morrison and The Chieftains’ Carrickfergus.
Traditional music has always appealed to me, especially of Celtic origin whether Scottish or Irish. Irish it seems to me is generally a softer music; the words somehow more wistful. And Carrickfergus is a brilliant example. You either love or hate Van Morrison’s gravelly delivery. I love it. I first heard Carrickfergus on a business trip to Belfast at the height of the Troubles - that would be in 1975 or so. Both sides respond to this one.

Giuseppe Verdi’s Chorus of the Hebrew Slaves (sung here as Va Pensiero from the opera Nebucco, by The Israelite Choir)
Dee and I travelled to North London to hear our daughter Kairen and granddaughter Ella sing this as part of an amateur Nebucco production. Around 1990 and it still stands my hair on end (not literally!). I don’t find it surprising that, at Verdi’s funeral, a huge cortege wound its way around the streets of Milan singing The Chorus of the Hebrew Slaves over and over and over. That remains the largest public assembly of any event in the history of Italy according to Wikipedia.

Sharia Twain’s That Don’t Impress Me Much
When we lived near Winchester and our six progeny had scattered to the four winds we used to hold regular get-togethers in our old thatched cottage. Dee and I often talk about when the female grandchildren amongst them were growing into their teens and how they used to dance around in the kitchen to this Don’t Impress Me Much (with their mothers and aunties). I don’t know why this number in particular is the focus of our memory.

John Lennon’s Beautiful Boy
I was employed by a Liverpool company as a young man, undergoing training in the late 50’s - early 60’s. In the evenings I discovered places (clubs) like the Pink Parrott, the Jacaranda, The Ascot and of course The Cavern. I cannot claim to have foreseen the future for those shock-haired youths calling themselves the Beatles (Silver Beatles?) or indeed to have found their music especially memorable. It was only later, when they developed their own words and music, that the genius especially of one John Lennon became very, very apparent. And   Beautiful Boy is one amongst many Lennon songs that really resonate with me personally.

Elkie Brooks’s Lilac Wine.
Why this one? Quite simply because for Dee and I it is a most lovely song, sung here most beautifully.

Elton John’s Sacrifice.
Again, I cannot claim to be a great aficionado of the music of Reginald Kenneth Dwight aka Elton John. I find his music too middle of everything and I actually loathed his Candle In The Wind offering at Diana’s Westminster Abbey memorial. Sorry about the non-U expression but it seemed ‘in very poor taste’, or so I thought. I know I’m in a small minority here, especially considering that according to Wikipedia Elton comes behind only The Beatles and Madonna in the popularity stakes. However I listened to Sacrifice on a flight to Saudi Arabia in the mid-90’s, immediately bought the CD and hardly stopped playing its title track as I travelled the dusty highways and byways of that desert country. Brilliant, brilliant.

Lena Martell’s Bridge Over Troubled Waters.
In 1969 I left the first of my lifetime employers and joined my second and last employer - ‘last’, that is, not counting my subsequent self-employment - an American multi-national in the same packaging field. I was sales and marketing director. During my familiarisation / indoctrination in Baltimore in 1970, Simon and Garfunkels’ Bridge Over Troubled Waters came out - and knocked me out. Me and a few million others. I will always identify the song and my own situation together, as I think one often does. Lena Martell died in less than auspicious circumstances and more’s the pity for she was a very fine, very strong and very Scottish voice.

Red Hurley’s How Great Thou Art.
As a boy I was brought up in a strongly Salvation Army family. Perhaps it is this that attracts me to this song / hymn - well, that and the conviction as it is delivered through the voice of Red Hurley. Although not overtly ‘religious’ I maintain a belief in the goodness of mankind and the healing power of a Godhead. And I would think all of us can respond to the the poetry within lines like these …
O Lord my God! When I in awesome wonder
Consider all the works Thy hands have made.
I see the stars, I hear the rolling thunder,
Thy power throughout the universe displayed.

The Battlefield Band’s Island Earth No More.
I first came here to the Highlands on holiday in 1971 and since then have read a great deal about the history of the Highlands and Highlands Clearances (i.e. for 'people' read 'sheep'). This song is based upon a work of that name in 1812 and, as adopted by The Battlefield Band, is partly based on a well-known pipe tune, The Flight of Eaglets. What resoubnding words! ‘Island earth for folk no longer / Graze the sheep of tyrant lords / Waits the boat to sail the landless / Island earth for folk no more.’

Willie Nelson’s Funny How Time Slips away
Funny how time slips away! Reading through these reflections I realise once more how very true that is. I came to Willie late on in life, I don’t know why. But since I did he has become for me a bit of an icon. I know he has not always been a good boy and is certainly no role model, but for fierce independence, free spirit and depth of feeling he’ll do for me. So, Willie Nelson is a good way with which to end this to and fro musical odyssey of mine.


I don't think Mike will fit in all of these, but still ... and I've written a special poem in honour of iur program sponsor, Myrtle Bank Hotel in Gairloch. Oh, and am ready to read a poem of Robert Burns with a nod to the Myrtle Bank and to Ian and Jean Macmillan, leading lights of our Wester-Ross Burns Club. Don't forget, 11.00 - 13,00 Sunday.

1 comment:

  1. lena martwll is very much alive and well and touring the UK with another concet coming up in Glasgow in October 2011. She has been touring with Bille Joe Spiers this year and also the Platters. A new compliation disc is out this month - Country Classics on Scotdisc. She is still very popular and on the Itunes best seller lists - her 12972 version of Bridge Over Trobules Water is excellent - arranged by the late Nciky Welsh (a scot)produced by John Mcleod and George Elrick (both scotttish as well!)


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