Names

I often think of my wife’s Uncle Joe. He’d spent a bit of time in Scotland and different parts of the UK over the years but essentially he stayed home and kept the small piece of land in Gweedore Co. Donegal where he’d been born. There were a couple of cows and a good load of turf which would be dug out and fetched on a tractor and trailer to be dried and set out at the back of the house. A turf stack is in itself, a fabulous, practical installation.

He’d come over to Scotland occasionally and one time he visited us I offered him a whisky. Carrying two glasses in my hands in recognition that I would sit down with him and enjoy a drink together I clearly sent out an ambiguous message. He took them both and accepted with alacrity. I could almost imagine him saying to himself, ‘It must be a tradition here that you get 2 drinks.’

Joe’s own natural tongue was Gaelic so there was always the thought that everything was being translated. He’d have loved contemporary Scotland with the dual English/Gaelic signs but in those days he screwed over interesting words and rehearsed them aloud. I remember driving him to the station and him repeating over and over again the words, ‘Queen. Street. Station.’ It seemed to become a mantra. New names were an interesting verbal conundrum. My sister in law’s name, Lynsey, became a short musical canon for about five minutes. Never loud, almost mumbled but always audible.

Names, titles and categories fascinate me too. How used we are to certain ones and yet our tongues can spend an eternity twisting over a new discovery. I’m currently enjoying the word Ameripolitan. Until this morning I even thought I knew what it meant. I could imagine taking Countrypolitan as produced by Owen Bradley and moving it in to the next century. Oh yes, that would work.

I came across the word when doing a little reading about this week’s session guest, Whitney Rose. Encouraged and produced by Raul Malo (of Mavericks fame) Whitney has that Ameripolitan tag all over her. I kinda liked it. It seemed to suit the roots sophistication of what she’s doing. You can hear all of that in this Tuesday’s special session she recorded for us.

This morning I decided to dig a little deeper. I discovered that I was wholly wrong about my understanding of the word. It was coined by Texan Dale Watson to describe how he heard his own music which was struggling for it’s own categorisation.

I’m now feeling slightly cheated. I liked the idea of something that flowed on from Patsy Cline and Kitty Wells…hell, I like my own version of Ameripoltan! Step forward Rickapolitan…you heard it here first.

Join me this Tuesday on BBC Radio Scotland anyway. You’ll hear lots of music you love on vinyl, the fine Whitney Rose in session and we’ll again remind you that on our show, we just love country music. We’re live from five past nine.

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