I don’t think I have had many royal encounters. If memory serves they consist of various people driving past in cars. Once when the Tay Bridge was opened in 1966 as the then Queen Mother cut the ribbon then a couple of years later when our entire school were marshalled (by the P7 boys in their football strips) to Perth Rd where the Queen was to be passing and we were all taken to cheer along. Then there was the time when I stood at the north end of Whitehall waiting to cross into Trafalgar Square as the Japanese and American tourists were all pointing west and south only for the whole royal entourage to pass. They were on their way back to Buckingham Palace from some civic do in the City and It seemed as if I was the only one looking into the royal limousines, while all around the tourists missed the very thing they’d come to see.
So I shall leave any wisdom and insight into this current sad period to others. I would add this however: there has been quite a lively discussion about what is and isn’t appropriate material for broadcast during a period of mourning. I’m not convinced that any one has got this right though I have to say I have heard songs on the radio I wouldn’t have hoped to hear in normal times. I have already said as much on twitter, but there is really no excuse (ever) for not introducing or back announcing songs. It doesn’t make any sense apart from anything else. If we wanted to hear a stream of music we can all access Spotify fairly quickly, and many probably took that cue. But there is something else which i have to point out about songs. The reason the ‘sad’ ones often hit us in the gut is precisely because someone has played the song at the maximum point of impact. Play a killer ballad on the back of an uptempo sequence and I’d suggest it might land a great deal more poignantly than had the previous ten records been at a funereal pace.
You’ll also not be surprised to learn that I believe songs to be the perfect medium for expressing so much of what we fail to do in simple conversation. I often recall a literary retreat I went on to Stratford as a student and how we would gather around the piano as songs were sung and a wistful lecturer would quietly listen and simply reflect, ‘Ah, …..songs.’ We all knew what he meant, and if we didn’t we soon arrived at an age when we did.
So songs, good songs, are essential. On this week’s Another Country I’ll bring you two more hours of songs that matter. It’s my last live show for a month or so and also the last blog until late October. If you do join me you will hear some fine new records from CMA Awards nominees Luke Combs and Miranda Lambert, Eric Church and Lainey Wilson. We will also spend the second hour playing great tracks from this coming week’s Americana Awards nominees. It all starts at five past eight on BBC Radio Scotland. Do join me if you can.