One of the few things you learn as you get older is that you have to let things go. If you’re lucky to have children or make pieces of art the chances are both will eventually be claimed by others as ‘theirs.’ Songs are really the best example: People will often tell me that a song I wrote many years ago is really ‘Our song.’
‘We met when it was playing.’ ‘We danced to it at the wedding and hey…it was on the labour tape.’ It follows that it will eventually be played at the funeral ….though unlikely to be played at mine (I hope).
This week I’ve had a couple of close encounters with the power of song. Leaving my songs with a company of actors is an interesting experience and watching my first musical take shape and come alive with a brilliant cast has made me realise that, despite their considerable skill, the song really has to stand up on its own. On Sunday I began a short tour which sees me perform on stage on my own for an entire show for the first time in a long time. There’s very little to it: I sit down at the piano and play a few songs and do the same with the guitar for a wee while then we all go home. I realised long ago that there is no dry-ice to hide behind and very little of any other theatrical magic to embellish the gig. It was of no small comfort for me to hear, therefore, people come up to me after the show to tell me how much a particular song meant to them. To them and to me I was really there to bring that song to life and I was grateful to be the guy who could take them to that special place. Perhaps hearing it in its most rudimentary form reminded people what they liked about the thing in the first place.
I say all this because, once more, on Tuesday night we will get a chance to play you a few things that have lasted a life-time and have wormed their way into people’s hearts and we will also suggest a few things which might too end up being as loved.
We’ll have some beautiful old treasures from The Stanley Brothers,Roger Miller, Johnny Cash, The Judds and Hank Williams and we’ll celebrate some future classics from Ten String Symphony, Tiny Ruins, Rab Noakes and Deerhunter. We’ll get round to playing some requested material and we’ll think a little about songs from behind bars as we celebrate a new writing project where prisoners have cowritten some songs with professional songwriters with some beautiful outcomes. It gives me a chance to celebrate this vinyl offering too…..
If that’s not enough more lovely vinyl from the Wynntown Marshals and Neil Young.
It all starts at five past nine on BBC Radio Scotland.