On a summer train back from London. Now which country song am I thinking of? Is it  Kenny Rogers’ ‘The Gambler’ or Darden Smith’s ‘Midnight Train?’ You’ll have your own train songs too. But I found myself  not thinking of songs but of Larkin’s Whitsun Weddings…

There we were aimed. And as we raced across
Bright knots of rail
Past standing Pullmans, walls of blackened moss
Came close, and it was nearly done, this frail
Travelling coincidence; and what it held
Stood ready to be loosed with all the power
That being changed can give. We slowed again,
And as the tightened brakes took hold, there swelled
A sense of falling, like an arrow-shower
Sent out of sight, somewhere becoming rain.


And perhaps that’s how it feels to break from the AC for a few weeks. All of us bound up in these songs and stories now loosed to enjoy the summer and come back with new memories set to music.

By the time we are all gathered around the wireless this Friday I will (hopefully) have returned from London (and this bumpy train will have come to a smooth standstill) and my band will know the material they are playing at the gigs we’re playing next week. After next week’s show I’ll step away from this particular microphone for  a few weeks and take up a more familiar mic position for various shows in York, Liverpool, Glastonbury….Greenock  and Belladrum. If you’re around on any of these dates I’d love to see you.

In the meantime we will host The Wynntown Marshalls this coming Friday. The band are based in Edinburgh and they are heading over to Studio 1 at Pacific Quay to play some of their own songs live on the show this week. They also promise a cover of a great song by a great artist, so don’t miss that. We’ll get a chance to chat to the band and find out what inspires them and what they have been up to since we first played their album a year or so ago.

In other news we will hear some lovely new music from My Morning Jacket and Vetiver who have both brought out new albums in the last couple of weeks. If you are still a bit vague about The Morning Jacket sound it’s safe to say that Robin Pecknold must have been a fan as their is a real similarity in the voices of Robin and Jim James. We’ll also have a new song from that much-anticipated new Gillian Welch and good things from Perth’s Southern Fried line-up including The Blind Boys of Alabama and Abigail Washburn who’s album is one of THE highlight of the year so far for me.

Now …where are we with Bob Dylan? It’s 1978. For many of you youngsters I realise that is ancient history but for me it was the high time of post punk and making sense of what we were going to tolerate and what we were prepared to let go. I’ve mentioned before that certain friends adopted a year-zero approach to their record collections at this point. The Stones and The Beatles were definitely old news but what were we to make of Bob? His offering on that year was Street Legal. From memory – and it’s very hazy – it was a summer record too.

I know that I for one bought this record and enjoyed a lot of it at the time though the rather cumbersome big-band soundscape made it feel a little dated for those lean times. There was brass, gospel backing singers and the occasional inclusion of a kitchen sink on this record but it is intersting to reflect that in the last two years a song from it has been cut by Jack White and our good friend Matthew Houck from Phospherescent cited it as a key backdrop for “Here’s To Taking It Easy.”

So I’ll put it on over the next few days and give it a spin and you can sample a couple of songs on Friday. It all starts at five past eight on Friday evening on BBC Radio Scotland.