A little memory came calling last week. A friend had tweeted some photographs of the building of the Tay Road Bridge on the 50th anniversary of the bridge opening and suddenly I was back there. Growing up in the sixties in Dundee it was impossible to ignore such a wonderful development. You only needed to look out almost any south facing window – and there were plenty of those – and you’d see the landscape changing and as well as something strange, new and wonderful being created right in the middle of one of the widest stretches between Angus and Fife. At night the workers would carry keep on building and you’d see their lights shining out across the estuary and hear the deep thud as the pillars were sunk into the bed of the river.
On the day it was to open we must have been given the day off school or the schools were still to return. Either way we went down to the new precincts built around the entrance of the bridge to see the Queen Mother reveal the plaque and see the first official cars cross through the tolls. My sister asked the local TV reporter for his autograph and we all generally agreed it was the most exciting thing to have happened to us.
Then last week my old pal, Breeks from Goucho’s Record Shop put up a photograph on Facebook of the original shop in Perth Road and again I was straight back there. By now I was a student, short of money but keener than ever to acquire a decent record collection. Groucho’s provided the sole means to achieve that mission. Going in on a Saturday afternoon was like nothing that ever happens to me these days. Second hand albums were there sure, but also there were magazines – I once got Zig Zag and there were many back issues of the Furry Freak Brothers – badges were being made with cool slogans and the names of your favourite new punk bands…and punk rock singles adorned the walls. You could buy the newest ones and also catch up with the ones you’d missed, sometimes 12” versions. The there was the counter. It was here the 17 year old eyes of your author turned circles. All manner of weird and wonderful hippy paraphernalia: joss sticks, bongs, pipes and objets d’art for which this brethren boy’s imagination could find no possible reason to acquire. And yet that smell and the otherness of that small space was an intoxicating fun of rock, colour and mystery. And who were these bands? Sure there were some I’d heard of and desperately wanted but the others…Commander Cody…The New Riders of The Purple Sage? Whoever they were and whatever they were about they all seemed to belong in this magical west end world.
It was years later when the good Breeks was in hospital that we played a track by one of these acts for him on the AC to cheer him up. After that I made a little note to myself to explore the roots of cosmic country a little more some night. But somehow, like many noble plans, it never really happened.
So this week I have another excuse and it’s been spurred by a couple of newer artists who could well lay claim to that title too. Sturgill Simpson is leading the way with his own fusion of country, rock,blues, soul and a new cosmic contender, Morgan Delt from L.A. They have both inherited a little of the space cowboy tag from the great tradition that goes back to Gram Parsons, Gene Clark and the man who comes along with a new album very soon, David Crosby. So allow us to take you on a little orbit or two this Tuesday.
We will also play you Willie Nelson paying tribute to Ray Price, more good things from Julia Jacklin, White Denim and hear why lots of people are loving Lori Mckenna’s new album. Did I mention we have a Merle Moment and Luke The Drifter on vinyl?
If I’ve missed anything out you can listen along and check for yourself. It all starts at five past nine on BBC Radio Scotland FM this Tuesday evening.