Maybe it’s just me but I sometimes wonder if music doesn’t just drive you mad. I was having a wee nap recently and dozed off to an ipod shuffle that kept throwing up gems. I wanted to smile beatifically – Bilko style – but kept waking myself up to check what the track was.
It’s the same in the pictures. I was fairly disappointed at my two cinema adventures last week but always curious to watch the credits so I could check out who sang what. It’s a curse I tell you…ask my wife.
On a lovely drive back through the hills of Galloway today I returned to some old playlists; in particular the songs of two years ago we loved on the AC. The annoying thing was hearing old friends but forgetting the artists name and the titles of the records. (Nathaniel Rateliff and Gregory Alan Isakov were two highlights!)The memory is the music I guess. It’s what we all want to happen when we hear music…we want to be taken somewhere. In so many cases – and often for me in my teens and early adulthood – I wanted to be somewhere else. I wanted to be in the place I heard that song taking place or I wanted to be the guy singing the song or often I wanted to imagine people waiting to hear what song I’d play next – a radio audience. I wrote a song I found recently about that very wish. It’s called Frank The Graveyard Man – about someone who loves being on the radio late at night and mixing it up a bit. His songs choices are so poignant that the listener can’t help but imagine what the heck is going on in his private life. It reminded me of a lecturer I once enjoyed listening to. Was he really telling us about Anthony and Cleopatra or was he revealing his own marital failings and foibles? I dare say you might concoct a strange picture if you tried this with the AC – so I’m bound to advise you against it. Nevertheless music sparks the imagination and none of us is immune to the tricks it can play. It changes the colour of our sky and makes the coldest and harshest of truths a little more bearable – and for that we are all grateful.
On Friday we will collectively imagine the worlds of Aoife O’Donovan, Steve Earle, Jim Jones, Ry Cooder and Beth Orton. We will inevitably remember again why we love country music and to that end we will have a star witness:
Caitlin Rose is that rarest of AC visitors – the third time returnee. Since she first charmed us with the Dead Flowers EP a couple of years back she has been a very busy young woman. Steeped in the ways and lore of Music Row she has, wisely in my opinion, decided not to fall to heavily under the spell of the charms of these fabled streets. She has instead set her own course, written her own songs and she is therefore a more rounded and original artist for all of that. She came in with some of her touring ensemble and cut some songs from her excellent new album, The Stand In. She also covered a brilliant song I first heard performed by Linda Ronstadt.
I should reassure you she is a stand-in for no one and her voice is strong clear and original. Join Caitlin, her band and me on the radio this Friday and let your own imaginations take flight. The very least we can offer you is a two hour trip to Another Country. It all starts at five past eight on BBC Radio Scotland.