There are so many times over the course of a long Scottish winter I have said to myself, ‘I’ll do that in the summer.’ I imagine sitting on my back deck looking proudly over the small piece of garden newly tidied, a wee goldie nestling in my palm as the sun sinks slowly over the south side of Glasgow. Somehow the reality never really kicks in.
I often think of these summers that pass without their winter dreams evolving and go back to one of my favourite Norman MacCaig poems written from his Highland eyrie in Sutherland as he reflects on the regular walk to his favourite fishing spot. Year after year he passes the skeleton of a hind and the remains of an old boat:
Time adds one malice to another one–
Now you’d look very close before you knewIf it’s the boat that ran, the hind went sailing
I did manage my brief moment on the back deck a couple of Fridays ago. One of the summer events had just been brought to fruition (a long awaited recording session) and I allowed myself a quiet celebration with no one else around to witness it. The weather went along with my happy mood and suddenly my winter dream was realised.
In Scotland it almost feels as if the summer ends around this time in August when the schools return. The early dawns and late sunsets are not quite as stretched as the first days of midsummer and the optimism of early spring has been tempered by the reality of weeks of muggy cloud cover. ‘So many summers,’ as MacCaig ruminated, ‘and I have lived them too.’
This summer, for me has been framed by some big events. Concerts in different parts of Europe at either end and a trip to California with all my family together to witness the marriage of my eldest daughter in the gloriously beautiful Napa Valley. At all times and usually when I least expected there have been short bursts of great music. Around the fire pits at a songwriting retreat in Somerset, in a kitchen with family harmonies in a holiday cabin and at one sensational evening in Glasgow in the presence of KD Lang.
Perhaps the best experiences of music are when it catches unawares. Sneaking up on a soundtrack, overhearing a song bleeding out of someone else’s music system or (as so often seems to happen to me these days) playing accidentally via one of the many sources of music on my smart phone (this one comes from the eternally apt rule of unintended consequences). In fact, I’m hugely indebted to my brilliant deputy, Tia Sillers for playing some gorgeous music I’d not heard or not remembered. There’s still plenty of time to catch Tia’s shows on BBC Sounds.
From all these sources and time spent with many wonderfully surprising gems sent to us over the last couple of months we have curated two hours of country music our way for this Tuesday’s Another Country. You’ll be delighted in some new names: The Highwomen, Daughter of Swords and Leslie Steven will bring smiles to your faces. Then you’ll be delighted by the return of some AC favourites: The Orphan Brigade, Miranda Lambert and Sam Outlaw should work wonders for any summertime blues you may be enduring.Elsewhere we celebrate all that is great in country…..hey if you think you don’t like country music, you haven’t heard enough of it. We’re on air at nine on BBC Radio Scotland FM.