This week’s blog mainly goes out to my old chum, Gary Clark. Gary was on tour with us many years ago and I was admiring the sound of his wonderful backing singers one day.
‘They sound good Gaz,’
‘They do Ricky, but the thing is….’
‘They dinna ken any sangs.’
I looked puzzled for a while. But he went on to explain that when the gig was over and the late night carousing was beginning they were less keen to step on to the floor with a standard or two. (This is an accusation that could also be levelled at me, but happily Gary was overlooking that detail.) It was more the fact that the songs we all hope are there or thereabouts in the common consciousness had not even entered theirs. Or if they did ‘ken any’ they weren’t coming forward with them for anyone.
I thought about those missing songs today as I stood in the Museum of Robert Burns Birthplace in Alloway. I was looking at Burns song notebooks and various added scribblings and I thought about these songs we’re all singing and how, despite generations passing we keep singing. Sometimes the context changes and we sing them anyway, sometimes we drop a verse and sometimes words get added or taken away. Growing up a protestant and living as a Roman Catholic I love the way certain melodies are changed in hymns sung by both traditions……and yet, the essence of the song remains the same.
On Fridays and indeed Sundays the joy (and it is joy) I get is playing songs that have moved me in some way. Often they are old and more often than not they are new. They are from a pile on the car passenger seat I have wrestled with at traffic lights and removed from the infernal cellophane…Often not knowing what the album is adds to the magic. If it gets to song three and a spell has not been cast I begin to worry; but then a little piece of heartbreak bleeds from the speakers and the hours of insert/eject/skip are all worthwhile. This Friday there will be almost two hours of these spectral moments.
Listen out for Chip Taylor, Gretchen Peters, Sons of Bill and Matthew E White.
We will also be talking about this man:
Tim Drummond played on the Neil Young albums many people probably wish he’d make more of. Harvest, Comes A Time, Harvest Moon…in fact any bloody album with the word ‘Harvest’ in it, when I start to think about it. He was Neil’s go-to bass player and when he wasn’t playing on Neil’s albums he was working with Bob Dylan or many other such high profile artists. Sadly Tim left this world last weekend and on this week’s show we’ll play tribute to him.
Stand by too for a fantastic vinyl rediscovery courtesy of the man who has been spinning on my home turntable this week. As ever, we’re on BBC Radio Scotland Friday and Sunday from five past eight.
I’ll be spending time getting to know Stuart Murdoch. A mutual friend once told me that Stuart and I would get on famously if we ever met. He was right, we did. I haven’t seen Stuart for ages however and I’m looking forward to hearing his story. On the new Belle and Sebastian album he’s talking about his own illness, recovery and gentle path to faith.
He’ll be bringing some lovely music along too.
We’ll talk more about faith, free speech as we absorb in the tremors from last week’s events in Paris. We’ll explain Pencourage and we will talk a lot about the most famous Dundonian of them all, Mary Slessor.
Within all of this I will attempt to weave seamlessly some music that might might just make your day. Join me from seven if you can this Sunday morning on BBC Radio Scotland.