Is it me, or have the skies cleared a bit over the last couple of days? I have to tell you that in our house there was a hooping and a hollering at the news of a new American President and a believable vaccine all in a couple of days. I’m not naive, I know there will be a million things people will expect them both to do, that there will a million different voices telling me how little change there is going to be and how really people’s lives will not improve. I know all this and I take it on board.
In respect of the US, what delights me, and it really does delight me reader, is that something decent has happened in a country which I love very much. People have voted – fairly. The world has recognised this and a new President is coming who at least seems compassionate, considerate and given to talking about the problems of his people not boasting about himself. He has, and employs to good effect, a sense of humour, a history of public service and damn it he plays Springsteen as his walk-on music…and not Born in The USA either! He doesn’t hold a Bible above his head as a token of power but has a simple deep faith which he brings to his politics and his engagement with the public.
What, you may well ask, has this got to do with country music? Our show, Another Country, is a celebration of Americana and country music. We recognise that so much of what we love about the music comes from the country where it was born and dreamed up in the first place. Can we separate those artists and repertoire from their time and culture? I doubt it. Hearing roots music is to understand why people gathered to play and sing in the first place. A couple of weeks ago we spent two glorious hours celebrating the contribution of African American artists to country music and we recognised within that story the huge struggle there was for so many of these voices just to be heard.
When the leader of a country makes it clear he isn’t listening to those voices, when he twists facts to suit his own ends and then behaves like a spoiled child as democracy takes its inevitable course it’s impossible not to feel a little spark of joy. Welcome back America; we missed you when you were gone. As one of our favourite artists, Jason Isbell put it, ‘America just got dropped off at rehab.’ It’s the perfect image: lots of hard questions, soul searching and eventually a life long commitment to follow a better path. I commend them for starting the journey. It’s one we might well consider joining ourselves.
This Tuesday we too will have a little spring in our step as we take the temperature in Nashville with our Music City correspondent, Bill DeMain. We’ll reflect on the times, a little more on the recent losses in the country community and Bill will point us in the direction of some new names. It’s 2020, it’s been a tough year, but it really is about to get a whole lot better.
Join us this Tuesday evening on BBC Radio Scotland from eight as we play you some great music to match the mood.