Songs, stags, seals and single malt (from Stalybridge to Skye)…. the Scotland tour
May 29, 2013. No comments.
Something happens whenever I cross the border. A feeling of gentle excitement bubbles up from inside and everything expands. Fresh. Air.
It reminded me of the very first time I went to Scotland – before I knew my Talisker from my Laguvullen and the Skye bridge hadn’t even been built yet.
It reminded me of all my yearnings for beauty and space and nature and a little white cottage with a door in the middle. That I want to travel the Highlands by train one day, ride a motorbike and camp in the wild. That there are people who live happily in remote places and folks who follow their dreams. Some build houses and thriving businesses on blustery hills and laugh a lot and make art, some love music and live in grand halls and welcome everyone in, some take their chances with ferries and electricity but not with the scenery. I admire these people.
As far as tours go few have had such charm or worked out so beautifully. Like the night we were stuck for accommodation and ended up in a castle full of rolled top baths and old instruments (thanks to a good friend). And if we’d had hotels every night we would never have met the lady with so many varieties of tea, or stayed in a crofters cottage, or listened to an old womans’ wonderful stories as she leant on her stick in the morning sun.
If it had all been about the money we wouldn’t have ended up – after a spectacular drive – in Arnsdale where halfway through the gig I looked out the window to see a herd of about 30 stags running along the beach in the glorious setting sun. That dosn’t happen every day does it? (Except it does there, but not necessarily with such a stunning back drop from the sky). Or find a herd of sheep have lined up outside during the concert on Skye. Or stumbled across a colony of seals on Bute blissfully hanging out so we could watch their selkie show of sneezes and flips and falling off rocks. Even the animals made us feel welcome.
I watched stags in the moonlight, and collected sparkly stones come morning. Climbed a mountain (well, it was enough of a climb to wear me out and mess up my best leather boots), stopped for a visit at Starfish Harps, and learned what “dreich” means. We got the bonnie boat over to Skye (a funny little 6-car ferry) and ate salmon and homemade oatcakes and much later we played tunes, and had a wee dram or two of Highland Park with new friends. And there was driving, lots and lots of driving…
and finally back down to the city of Glasgow for our last gig and a live session for Celtic Music Radio – after which we popped into the studio where I recorded Merry-Go-Round for a cuppa.
Occasionally we walked into tourist hell needing the loo, and sometimes other drivers were not so clever, and the Travelodge TV was far too loud, but…
There were moments of pure magic – when the whole audience seemed lost in the music and I was lost in it too. Smiles. Tears. Singing along. A well-dressed lady who told us that in the 60’s – not unlike the woman in She Wore Red who ran naked over Westminster bridge – she ran naked covered only in hydrangeas. And there was a man who said he would’ve liked more banjo. And he wasn’t being ironic.
I wrote a new song especially for the tour – at the time I could only imagine what it might be like, but it took on a real poignancy some nights when I realised I really was going to miss this place…these people…
We got the maps out, we drove for miles now- still got miles and miles and miles to go
How did it get here? all this beauty? I ask but I don’t really want to know
Here tonight, gone tomorrow, wish I could take you all the way back to my hometown
We’d shrink the world down, and pull the moon around
For one more day
I trace the coastline and all that’s been mine and hope I’ve got enough to make the show
Will we belong there? Sometimes anywhere can start to feel like home before you go
Here tonight, gone tomorrow….
Thank you to all my friends old and new who helped make this such a delightful tour and helped shrink the world down. Here’s to many more.