The other day I watched a programme called "Caledonia Dreamin'" on the BBC. Have you seen it? Briefly, it reflects on the history of Scottish music from the Postcard years up until the present time. If you missed it then I'd suggest you ask a friend if they happened to record it.
I forget sometimes how much of an impact these bands have had on us and the impact that they had on the movement of politics in Scotland and the musical development that has been achieved. This is, however, not the end of the story as I feel that this musical growth has never stopped and at this very moment, Scotland has the richest music scene on this side of the hemisphere and is a broth that is constantly threatening to boil over and that also just gets tastier with every serving.
Each weekend I'm blown away by the talented bands that turn up to defiantly make themselves heard at Break out the Jams. However, I'm confused as to why the majority of these artists are not already signed and making a living from their music. I'm dumbfounded that there is no direct, stable environment set in place to help nurture and focus these guys, alongside a spoonful of parental encouragement to help them realise that what they're creating doesn't stop at the birth of a bitter melody, but drives deep down into a nations psyche, achieving the ultimate arse kicking that pushes others to take stock of their lives and face facts about what really drags them out of bed in the morning, what really makes them crave to pull the finger out and shift the stick into the next gear.
Who am I to have my say? I'm a voice like everyone else and, like most, I sometimes forget that I have one. I have been rubbed up the right and wrong way by this programme. I remember in my teens that every time I switched on the radio I would hear Scottish bands. I was excited by Scottish sports, there was never a divide between the people that pronounced their RRRs or articulated their TTTs. I watched trade unions and working men fight for what they believed in. I felt it was crystal that being a Scot distinguished us Scottish men (and our bonnie lassies) from our European counterparts, or did I lose my King to a rook and turn my back on the flag?
Without changing gears too much, I'll get to the point! Lately, I've sensed a creeping conformity with my beloved dear green place. I can't put my finger on it - just like a virus has the ability to creep up on someone whilst their body has given no clear indication of it. Afoot was the inevitable - our diaspora seems to be carelessly meandering towards the toothless jaws of a culture, tradition and identity lost!
We may clutch onto the worn torn drapes of our designated flag and watch the swaggering hips that spout our rhetoric on stage, but never do I see the mighty word being spread like I do than when I encounter Scotland's unsigned army of lyrical pioneers, poets and musicians every weekend across this patch of The Dalriada. Maybe that's the beauty of the underground and maybe that's the beauty of a subculture, is that what we're realising? How do we keep that magic true to the modiva, whilst informing the globe that the best kept musical secrets are being exchanged in venues like hot pies in the shadows of Alba.
Injected with a rush to the head after watching this documentary, I go on to point out that these spoon-fed handouts from the media that cover Scottish arts and culture are very few and far between and when we ARE served the scraps from the end of year jamboree, remarkably, it manages to fill the spot. Would I be bothering my arse to write this piece if I hadn't tasted that stale leftover from the end of the Government's budget soup kitchen? Probably not! But why settle for titbits when we have the full bhoona sitting right in front of our face! All that's needed is to pull the finger out and reach right across the table and take it. It's ours! It belongs to us! Wake up and smell the bluebells, fight for our music, fight for our rhetoric, fight for our culture lost, stand up and pronounce your RRRs, fuck the subtitles and dumbing down of accents! How much passion and motivation would ring true if more programmes like this were made, that we the Scottish people could identify and relate together on a more intimate, cultural and personal level. Give our musicians, our artists, our workers, our kinsmen a real sense of belonging that has all but faded and bring back the romance, bring back the pioneers, bring back the freethinkers, grab our media industry by the jugular and take control of how we are portrayed across the seas and rewrite the folklore.
We owe it to ourselves and the wee yins not to allow our heritage to disappear under the weight of a heavier hand like we did our mother tongue! Below that superficial, self-indulging godawful crust that portrays our existence with complete indignation to the outside world lives the original spirit of Scotland. The real jewel in this nation's musical crown!
Hopefully, sooner rather than never, we will decide once again which side of the road we care to drive on, we will give Hampden a roar to sing about when at last we bring the beautiful game back home to it's childhood playground, we will take stock and teach the magnificent wonders that this under populated but great land has pioneered throughout the centuries and no longer will we talk about "fighting when our backs are against the wall", but stand strong and fast, embrace the challenges and lead the way to enlightenment as our ancestors once did before us. Venture to raise the wee thinkers to finally take hold of their true historical identity, correct the form true to size and re-establish our brilliance on the global map and just maybe, that day will come when we no longer hesitate when asked the date of our very own patron saint.