As I recall we were looking forward to one more of these summers we thought we used have as children. You know the ones; we left the house early and didn’t come home till our parents cries were heard over some sun-blessed meadow where larks and butterflies had flown around all day. Yeah….me neither.
The reality was that, in those days we saved our films and our rather expensive development costs for days when the sun was shining. We always took pictures with the sun behind us and very few of us took any photos indoor as we didn’t have these pesky flashbulbs. This summer, I suspect, may turn out to be no different when hazy memories are stirred many years on. ‘Look.’ we’ll point…’it was lovely that year.’ If you look at my photos you’d think we’d had a heatwave. At one point – and pretty well sober – I went swimming off the outer Hebrides with nothing between America and me but a pair of underpants and 5000 miles of ocean.
It was, in short, like so many summers full of wonder and joy. My children came home and we got to be together as a family for a glorious summer week, sharing stories, jokes and, of course music. So many nights we ended up outside our rented holiday house looking up at the stars and listening again to familiar songs. Some of those songs had arrived in the dead of winter but were now made to ring out loud on warm July nights where no one but us and a few bats could expect to hear them properly.
For us the joy was returning to a familiar haunt. It reminded me of one of my favourite poems by Norman MacCaig where he says,
‘So many summers, and I have lived them too.’
So, sooner or later, we accept that August is over and we embrace the changing season. It seems right that the Blog should return and once more we stay indoors to enjoy the wireless bringing music from across those 5000 miles to pierce the darkness. This coming Tuesday we’ll spend a fair part of our allowed two hours in the company of Angaleena Pesley. This year’s ‘American Middle Class ‘ album has made a very strong impression with us over at the AC. Perhaps it’s the honesty, perhaps it’s the reminder that country is at its best when it truly is the music of ordinary folk and over and above this perhaps it’s the high percentage of excellent melodies and carefully constructed performances on the one album. As well as all of this Angaleena is one of three Pistol Annies, she writes with some excellent collaborators and she gives a great interview. We’ll play all of that as well as some great Angeleena associations including those Pistol Annie solo projects from Miranda Lambert and Ashley Monroe too. We’ll have Loretta Lynn and Townes Van Zandt on vinyl and we’ll play more from the new Langhorne Slim album and we will introduce you to a new voice who we like very much: Frankie Lee.
We’re live on Tuesday evening from five past nine on BBC Radio Scotland.
On Sunday I’ll be talking to self-styled social philosopher Charles Handy and getting to chat to Gerald Russell about his fascinating book ‘Heirs to Forgotten Kingdoms – Journeys into the Disappearing Religions of the Middle East.’ I’ve gone on about this so much in the house there’s a queue forming to read it next. If you want to understand what’s happened in the Middle East in the last 25 years and put that into a religious and historical context that stretches back to the earliest civilisations then you could do a lot worse than start with this book. The book is recommended highly by Bill Clinton…but don’t let that put you off if you don’t dig Bill. Have a look for yourself if you don’t believe me.
All this as well as some great music from 10 am this Sunday on BBC Radio Scotland. Do join me then if you can.