I was thinking about music the other day. In times of trouble, we all go towards it. It, perhaps, becomes more important than it ever was when we seem to be facing circumstances for which we have little or no solution.
As I heard news of the Ukraine invasion my mind went back to another European war over twenty five years ago, the significance of which, in all the inevitable, shock and outrage of the last week, seems to have been forgotten. The Bosnian conflict was, and continues to be, one of the worst conflicts we have seen in Europe. Thousands were killed, genocide was carried out, people became homeless, stateless and to make matters worse, there has been no real reconciliation within the countries affected.
I learned all of this three years ago when I visited Sarajevo with the Scottish Remembering Srebrenica group. As I tweeted out some thoughts on my visit I received an interesting response from a follower. She had been a young school girl who lived in Bosnia and was delighted I was visiting her home land. Her own life had taken her to live in Greece, but she remembered hearing the bombs fall and listening to the radio or her CD collection and how much our music had brought comfort during that time. It was a revelation to me that the music had reached that part of the world, but it was welcome news.
I thought too of the brutal invasions of Iraq in 91 and 2003 and how rock music had been used by the military to terrorise and intimidate the enemy. How too it was played at ear bleeding volumes to political prisoners in the hell hole of Guantanamo Bay on Cuba. Music, in the wrong hands, can be a curse or a blessing.
I wonder what songs are going round the heads of those waiting for the next attack to begin in villages, towns and cities in Ukraine this week? In years to come we may find out.
That’s why I never feel time spent playing great music on the radio is anything but the most important thing I could be doing at any given time. Over the years the right song at the right time has made my day and seen me through the week.
On this week’s Another Country we’ll play you some of these songs which might prove to become valuable friends in the years ahead. We’ll also give a warm welcome to our special guest Luke Combs in the second hour of the programme. If I reached for my Country Music A-Z I fear there would be no mention of Luke as his star has risen so quickly and certainly over the last few years. It’s all based on two massive selling albums which contain the voice that has clearly impacted more with the country audience than any other over the last while. The albums This One’s For You (2017) and What You See Is What You Get (2019) have brought Grammy nominations as well as ACM and CMA awards, not to mention multi platinum sales.
Luke is the headline act for the first night of this year’s Country 2 Country in Glasgow. We’ll get right into the mood on this week’s AC. Join me on BBC Radio Scotland or BBC Sounds from five past eight this Tuesday evening if you can.
I remember having a lunchtime chat with fellow mature students at college about how hard our upbringing was. I experienced gang fights over region and turf some weaponised, some between moving buses on the Edinburgh Road through the east end. Younger colleagues were amazed, I asked Jasna if she had any stories for us. She said she tries not to think of it but remembers vividly sneaking through side streets and alleyways to avoid sniper fire to get to school each day in Sarajevo. Never fool yourself into thinking you are hard done by. Looking forward to the show.