(photo by Kit Carruthers)

I’m sitting in our extension looking out at the garden as an apocalyptical rain storm beats down on the roof. It’s wonderful. In fairness I only say that because I’m not under canvas and I fear for those who are on this high summer night. It’s what I often have to tell myself is ‘song writing weather.’ Perfect for staying indoors and dreaming up another world where a different story unfolds.

You’d imagine we’d get enough rain in the winter to make any surplus summer downpours feel a little, you know, superfluous? But no. They have a magic all of their own. I remember a thunder, lightning and rain storm so dramatic  it kept me awake on one of my first ever sleep-overs in Carnoustie as a youngster. Years later I was staying with a pal at his auntie’s house in Inverbervie when it seemed the rain might wash the pillars of the viaduct away and all of us would be swept out to the raging North Sea. Sleep? We kept a watch all night, and it was as exciting as exciting gets in these parts for boy of my age.

Sometimes it takes a change in the order of events, time or place to write a song. It may be that different thoughts occur to the author when they are removed from all normal assumptions.   As a rule I experienced more rain and wind of summers than sunshine. I didn’t travel far, even as a student. I was working by the time I visited Greece for the only time in 1985. It was a package holiday to Crete and the time spent by the pool seemed to hang heavy on me. It seemed easier there to think about the place I’d just left rather than spend much time imagining how people there lived their lives. How different that might be had I made that trip 30 years on from that July holiday. Then I half dreamed and half remembered a story I wanted to tell. I wrote the words down on a jotter from the school where I taught. The song was called, ‘Dignity’ or maybe a Ship called Dignity. I don’t remember exactly now. But sometimes an unexpected turn of weather – in this case previously unimaginable heat – can make you do something different.

On Tuesday night we’ll find you a perfect mid summer soundtrack mostly imagined in far away places. Step forward Shelby Lynne, Tyler Farr, Buck Owens, Willie and Merle. We’ll introduce you to Flo Morrisey, Pharis and Jason Romero and remind you how good Valerie June sounds. Sound like we’re beating the weather?

It gets better. We have these fine gentlemen in session and conversation.


Cahalen Morrison & Eli West will tell us exactly where that phrase, I’ll Swing My Hammer With Both My Hands came from. Like their fine album they’ll do the whole thing with the help of wood, some wire and fine voices. It’s beautiful and it all starts from five past nine on Tuesday evening on BBC Radio Scotland.

On Sunday….

I’ll be with you for the last time until later later in the summer. I’ll spend the first part with the great poet, broadcaster and now seeker. Ian McMillan is has written Neither Nowt Nor Summat: In search of the meaning of Yorkshire and he’ll be talking about this and so much more on Sunday. It’s one of the most enjoyable conversations I’ve had in a long time.


I’ll hear from Jonathan E Brown about his most recent book Misquoting Muhammad, we’ll hear some more Ramadan Diaries and, as ever enjoy music ranging from Richard and Linda Thompson via Blur to Alabama Shakes. Al from five past ten this Sunday morning on BBC Radio Scotland.

The Blog is going on a summer holiday. See you later in the summer.