As spring arrives I’m minded to think back three years and take stock a little. We were driving out to a theatre workshop with which my wife and I are both involved (in different ways) last week. As we were hurriedly getting into the car and anticipating the week before us we both recalled how fortunate we were to be going to a room where we would wear no masks, greet our friends properly and get to speak and sing together. Sometimes it catches you unawares, but we’ve all been on quite a journey.
In my happy place I’m always on a family holiday when the kids were young. We still enjoy going away together, but now there are more of us with husbands and partners in tow and even a grandchild too. Then we would have a mix tape, or a holiday CD burned to accompany us on long road trips or even short spins along the coast to a night out in the south of France, or Fife or wherever we went. It would be eclectic. I’d sneak a few favourites in and there would be enough songs we loved together for a sing a long. This could range from The Sound of Music to Stevie Wonder’s Misstra Know It All and all points in between. Coldplay’s The Scientist got heavy rotation on one Spanish adventure I seem to recall. There was one song, which even now, brought universal adoration and repeat plays. It was a tune from my own boyhood which appeared regularly on Saturday morning radio: Alan Sherman’s Hello Mother, Hello Father. An American kid’s letter home from summer camp. It was the final verse which came to mind this week as the sun shone and life looked a little more ‘normal.’
Wait a minute, it’s stopped hailing
Guys are swimming, guys are sailing
Playing baseball, gee that’s better
Mother, father, kindly disregard this letter
In my vernal reverie it was that last part of the song which hit home. Gee, it really is better. There’s much that isn’t right about the world but the ability to interact, socialise, perform, applaud together has again become central to everyday life – and I’m still grateful. As it happens the trigger for all of this was thinking about our very special show this week. It’s a recording of Nickel Creek‘s Celtic Connections performance in January at Glasgow’s City Halls. It was an exceptional night of virtuoso playing and singing which will amaze, fascinate and delight. In between sets you’ll hear a conversation I recorded upstairs with Sara Watkins and Chris Thile from the band which spans the seventeen years since their last visit to the city.
As ever we kick off at five past eight on BBC Radio Scotland and also BBC Sounds where you can listen again any time you wish. Do join me on this week’s Another Country In Concert special.