Duncan’s Blog – March 2015

Well and truly underway, 2015, so here’s the new year resolution to keep the blog up to date kicking off, three months in………

This is a huge year for me and Irene personally. Our beautiful daughter Julie and her husband Ally are expecting their first child in August. That kind of makes me a grandfather, which seems too much of a grown-up job for the likes of me. What will I be called? Gramps? Nah, old man vibe. Grandad? Do me a favour. I fancied Pops, but it’s been vetoed on the grounds it’s ‘too American’……..time will tell!

I started the month by playing solo at the annual Matt McGinn tribute concert in Linlithgow. Just two songs, and it’s a bit lonely going out alone. I think it went well, but I missed Cy and Jim. The Lithgae folk are all really friendly, though, so it was nice to be there. They do so much to keep Matt’s legacy alive.

A less happy event was the news that my pal Chris Harley had succumbed to his long illness. Chris was also known as Chris Rainbow, a successful pop star in the 70s, and later under his own name as singer with Camel and the Alan Parsons Project. A phenomenal talent as a producer, working with many big names such as KT Tunstall and most famously with Runrig, with whom he recorded their huge hit version of ‘Loch Lomond’. For me, he was a friend I had known right back to the early 70s, kind, talented and truly one of the funniest storytellers I have ever known. I’ll never forget evenings at my house and up in his home in Skye, laughing until the tears ran down my cheeks. I hadn’t seen him in three years, as he’d been fighting his illness, but I always thought one day he’d reappear. I hate to think I’ll never see him again – the World is a better place with people like Chris around.

I was delighted when folk and broadcasting legend Jimmie McGregor phoned to invite me to his 85th birthday party in Glasgow on the 10th. Guys like Jimmie are iconic – he looks about 65, and is an inspiration for all of us who worry about getting old. He’s got decades left in him! Among the many famous guests were a trio of lady dancers from the White Heather Club in the 60s, who also looked thirty years younger than they must have been.

Cy and I have started to write a few new library tracks for TV and radio, so it’s good to be productive again. We’re working on some ‘lifestyle’ tunes, to try and move slightly away (for a while) from our usual Celtic and traditional stuff. It’s important to keep the writing going, but not always easy, when there’s gigs and full-time jobs getting in the way.

Another excitement is that our good pal Bruce Davies, the well-known Scottish singer-songwriter from Fife, has recorded and produced his version of our ‘Song of the Skylark’, which we wrote a year or so ago for the Trust formed to restore ‘Skylark 9’, one of the famous ‘little ships’ which saved hundreds of lives during the Dunkirk evacuation. Bruce – as we knew he would – put heart and soul into his big, orchestral arrangement of the song, and I very much hope he can become identified as the musical ‘face’ of the campaign. It should be available for download very soon. I’ll be keeping you informed!

On a non-musical note, a couple of intriguing things happened this month. Firstly, we came home one afternoon to find an envelope stuffed with ancient documents. It had been pushed through the letterbox by a gentleman who had lived in our house back in the 1960s, and was a collection of hand-written missives relating to the sale of our cottage on various occasions since it was built in 1726. Fascinating to see the signatures of the landowners and local Lairds, and to think back then that they actually had the power to hang local peasants and subjects for ‘crimes’ which would hardly justify custodial sentences nowadays. It seems even nowadays that Irene and I, as owners of the house, have the right to drive cattle down the main street, and to cut peat in Flander’s Moss, two miles away! I’ll get round to it one day…..

The other brush with history came when I was looking into some of my family, especially the life and work of my great-grandfather Adrew Scott, the subject of my song ‘Colourblind’. His daughter Margaret was my Godmother, but was also housekeeper and companion to Annie Baird, sister to John Logie Baird, the inventor of television. I vividly remember Miss Baird, as I visited her and Aunt Margaret many, many times over the years until her death, by which time I was 22 years old. I found pictures of them on the heritage website for Helensburgh, where Miss Baird lived in the big family house, and wrote in with a few of my own recollections. I was delighted to get a email three days later from Malcolm Baird, John Logie Baird’s son, who is a retired Professor of Chemistry, now resident in Canada. We shared some warm memories of our eccentric old aunts, and I felt really chuffed with my tenuous and indirect links to the man who invented television. Now, if I could only turn that into a song……..;)

Writing this on the day the clocks go forward – love it!

Happy Easter – hope the sun shines for all of us.

Duncan x

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