This week saw the birthday of someone very dear to the burd, who has been there through thick and thin, and seen me through the good times and the bad. Some of what we have shared on life’s journey has been musical and here are four choons from bands that come to mind whenever I think of our shared history. Sweet, the Undertones, Hootie and the Blowfish and the Low Anthem. Aye, it’s been some road trip right enough and fortunately we’re good for a few more miles yet!
At last, after a year of personal trauma for one of the band members – the drummer has been battling bone cancer – a new release from O’Death. A firm favourite of the burdz, from the stable lovingly known as goth country, O’Death stormed the Wickerman festival in 2009, astonishing all who had never heard of them. Great to have them back and with a new, more thoughtful, considered sound, which is unsurprising given all the band has been through recently. Enjoy.
And I clearly lamented the demise of the Kills way too soon. They’re back! With a more polished sound it’s true, the scuzziness is a bit more refined but ooh, they still embrace and epitomise dirty. The new album is released in March and this track, Satellites, is available on stream now.
Finally, if they are one of Mad Mackerel’s favourite new bands of 2011, they must be worth a listen. And as usual, his/their taste is impeccable. Two tracks are available to download from the Whalers, both of them very more-ish. Go get ’em!
Lots to share with you this week.
First, I’m enjoying a juxtaposition of riches on the reading front just now. Des Dillon’s The Glasgow Dragon for the bus journey to and from work and Muriel Spark’s A Far Cry from Kensington as my book at bedtime. Thank goodness for a well stocked local library and when its existence is threatened, I’ll be first to chain myself to its railings.
Last week I spent the evening in the company of some very lovely friends at the wonderful tribute gig to Alistair Hulett who died suddenly last year. Alistair is one of those Scottish folk singers and writers whom I’ve always been vaguely aware of and only paid scant attention to. More fool me. But I did recognise some of the songs that featured and also learned, in short measure, to appreciate fully the awesome talent of the man.
It’s fitting that I’m sharing with you some of his lyrics in the week that Let’s Get Lyrical launched. A collaboration between Edinburgh and Glasgow to explore, promote and celebrate the power of song and lyrics, it’s an idea so simple, so genius that you wonder why no one ever thought of it before. The burd and the chicklet will be trying to cram in as many events as possible in this short month and every Saturday, I’ll be blogging on my favourite lyrics and why they move me. And expect a few guest posts too.
Meantime, let’s kick off with some fine lyrics in a beautiful song of Alistair’s. Karine Polwart sung this at the tribute gig and you could have heard a pin drop. Political protest doesn’t get much more personal or heartfelt than this.
But this was my favourite track of the night. Lyrical poetry in my humble opinion, about the treatment of Roma, undeniably the most persecuted people in Europe. Scotland can be far from proud in how unfairly and inequitably we treat our own gypsy-traveller population, and Alistair captures the prejudice in their daily lives perfectly.
When The Wee Birds Start Leaving
Who’ll buy my sweet lavender?, naebody that’s who
The auld painted caravan, tinkies and a’
They look fine on a picture hook hung by the ingle neuk
When we come roon’ the folk a’ turn awa’
We live in a tin box on wheels in a lay-bye
We hang oot oor claes on a line in full view
If there’s at tone we’ll be d**n sure to lower it
Oor right tae exist is aye under review.
Only here under sufferance, not wanted but needed
We camp by the road so it’s always made clear
We know after Harvest Home we won’t be welcome
When the wee birds start leaving it’s time we wurnae here
The church bells were clangin’ oot, ‘Come a’ ye Faithfull’
The faithfull a’ turned oot respectably drab
After the sermon it’s doon tae the Duck and Swan
Tae ward off the weather wi’ the gift o’ the gab
There’s Moses and Abraham, Jesus and Mary
Sinkin’ doon pints in the snug wi’ the Pope
Aye the crack turns as they pour oot the bevvie
The problem wi’ the Gyps is they take too much rope.
The clerk of the parish draws plans tae evict us
The tourists slow down as they drive past and stare
Symbols of freedom, a blight on the landscape
Born out of time like an auld dancin’ bear
I heard someone say as they looked ower the green hills
Why would ye camp where the petrol fumes drift
It’s no’ what we choose, it’s the choice that’s made for us
Here by the roadside we’re easy tae shift.
You’ll be pleased to know that I’ve got over myself, or rather over January, and emerged blinking into February. Full of vim and vigour and raring to go.
And my goals for the year have been set. On the gardening front, it’s to complete the blue garden – I won’t bore you with the details now, but you’ll be hearing more about it no doubt.
I definitely want to plant more of these – at least two more varieties. Where does my love of irises stem from? I blame Van Gogh.