The Tannahill Weavers – The Yew Tree

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Paisley, Scotland’s Tannahill Weavers, here with an independence-minded, history-filled choon written from a curious rhetorical stance: a series of questions and assumptions as spoken to and asked of a thousand-year old yew tree. After all the tales of war, hunger, and strife the tree is suggested to have witnessed, the singer finally says to the tree…

And I thought as I stood and laid hands on your wood
That it might be a kindness to fell you
One kiss o’ the axe and you’re freed frae th’ likes
O’ the sad bloody tales that men tell you
But a wee bird flew out from your branches
And sang out as never before
And the words o’ the song were a thousand years long
And to learn them’s a long thousand more.


Old Blind Dogs – The Lancashire Lads

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Just try not to sing along.

For the Lancashire lads have gone abroad
Whatever shall we do?
They’re leaving many’s a pretty fair maid
To cry “What shall I do?!”

Dougie MacLean – Mr. & Mrs. MacLean of Snaigow

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A sweet, gentle instrumental from Dunblane, Scotland’s Dougie MacLean: perfect for this sunrise:

Silly Wizard – If I Was A Blackbird

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A traditional tune, full of the poetic use of avian imagery to transcend the distance between his love and he. It is –as lovers often are– both melancholy and full of hope.

Oh, if I was a blackbird, could whistle and sing
I’d follow the vessel my true love sails in
And in the top rigging, I would there build my nest
And I’d flutter my wings o’er her lily-white breast

Travis – As You Are

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A familiar theme in my my near-history, delivered in grippingly epic rock figures by Glasgow’s Travis.

Every day I wake up alone because
I’m not like all the other boys
And ever since I was young
I had no choice
But it’s OK to lead me on
I must admit it’s not much fun
To be led on by such a one
As you are…

Robert Burns – Ae Fond Kiss

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Robert Burns wrote a love note to a haggis. It’s small wonder his verses aimed at humans (in this case Agnes M’Lehose) are equally suasive.

Ae fond kiss, and then we sever;
Ae fareweel, alas, for ever!
Deep in heart-wrung tears I’ll pledge thee,
Warring sighs and groans I’ll wage thee!
Who shall say that Fortune grieves him
While the star of hope she leaves him?
Me, nae cheerfu’ twinkle lights me,
Dark despair around benights me.

I’ll ne’er blame my partial fancy;
Naething could resist my Nancy;
But to see her was to love her,
Love but her, and love for ever.
Had we never loved sae kindly,
Had we never loved sae blindly,
Never met—or never parted,
We had ne’er been broken-hearted.

Fare thee weel, thou first and fairest!
Fare thee weel, thou best and dearest!
Thine be ilka joy and treasure,
Peace, enjoyment, love, and pleasure!
Ae fond kiss, and then we sever!
Ae fareweel, alas, for ever!
Deep in heart-wrung tears I’ll pledge thee,
Warring sighs and groans I’ll wage thee!

-Robert Burns, 1791

Scottish singer/songwriter Dougie Maclean does a lovely version of this poem on his ‘Indigenous’ album.

A trio of instrumental guitar tunes

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I had several swell instrumental guitar pieces come across the hi-fi this morning; thought I’d share them here. Bob Wills & the Texas Playboys are old favorites of my kids, who knew how to bop & holler to his ‘Big Ball’s In Cowtown‘ before they could walk. Here’s his ‘Twin Guitar Boogie,’ featuring the smooth-ass picking of Eldon Shamblin and Wills’ lap steel player Leon McAuliffe, whose name Wills himself calls out in his habitually squirrelly style (‘Ah Leon!’).

Chet Atkins requires introduction only among vulgarian music-haters. Well maybe not, but erudite music-lovers are familiar with his picking from riding in elevators or loitering in dentist’s offices. Atkins converts even raucous melodies into gentle, ear-caressing riffs. Here he is offering his version of Dave Brubeck’sTake Five,’ chilling out an already quintessentially mellow melody.

Glaswegian sound artists Mogwai released this song on a 2001 sampler album called ‘The Carve-Up.’ It’s a mournful, quiet little tune in which the guitars call and respond like Sunday morning bells in some foggy, tree-studded lowlands parish.