I promise you that I shall add no more to the drivel that has been broadcast in and around the Eurovision Song Contest. When Eurovision is the headline news, you know something is amiss in British broadcasting. I did however find myself reflecting on the fact that there were two big telly nights as we were growing up. Both seemed to be of equal importance to the TV schedules of the time, so we as kids also made sure we recognised each as unmissable events. One was Eurovision and the other was Miss World. My only surprise at Eurovision was that unlike the Miss World night, when a tearful goddess would teeter down the runway with crown and gown in place to salute her adoring fans, the Eurovison winners popped up from the crowd. It wasn’t, in the old days, the bewigged, tattooed, under dressed singers that were deified. ‘No,’ my Mum pointed out to me as two blokes in sports jackets jumped up to make a short speech, ‘it was the songwriters.
I’ll be in my old home city later this week. Dundee is the home town of the late Michael Marra who wisely declared, ‘ I don’t want my name in lights, I want my name in brackets.’ Maybe it was The Beatles who cemented the idea in my head with their names in parenthesis just behind the song title on each 45, or maybe it was that Eurovision chat with my Mum, or perhaps it was the idea that grew with me year on year that the coolest thing to be was not the star, but the creator behind the art. Whatever reason, I have never wanted to be anything more than a songwriter. It’s the best job in the world. The idea that you can access people’s attention and therefore their hearts too, within a minute of a song and keep them their long enough for them to fall in love with that song for the rest of the day/week/month…lifetime……makes the magic of song such a potent art.
On this week’s AC we’re going to start a little thread that will end around the 20th anniversary of the passing of Johnny Cash. We are going to play songs from that List he gave to his daughter Roseanne of one hundred country songs she needed to know. We’ll play one a week until the date when we will again celebrate the great man himself. On a similar theme we have received a new single by the great Lori McKenna who has teamed up with Hillary Lindsey another fine country writer on her new song. We’ll take that as an excuse to showcase a little more of their great repertoire of songs for other people.
Finally I’ve been enjoying the new album by Bruce Cockburn which he has recorded in Nashville with some telling contributions from Twang Town luminaries. We’ll play some of Bruce’s new album and some selections from his guests. As ever it all starts at eight o’clock on BBC Radio Scotland this Tuesday evening and you can find us on BBC Sounds in any place in the world you might be listening. Do join me if you can.