What I said back then:
Not strictly cheating, these two are two sides of the same coin. I imagine that, had I stayed in Scotland all those years ago, I might have found both of these a little too much; a little too Scottish, which is an odd thing to say, but I think I had to be away from things for a while to appreciate them. So what have we here? Two Scottish bands, who treat the Gaelic language as an easy and natural medium for songwriting. The approaches are quite different – Runrig are a pretty traditional rock band, with an occasional tinge of ‘Big Country’, while Capercaillie are much more of a logical evolution of the traditional highland sound. Both are recommended listening, but that’s not why I’m here.
They both make me think of Scotland, of home, and Capercaillie in particular make me think of friends I really ought to spend more time with. Several years ago now, I had the opportunity to spend a couple of days working in Scotland; I could meet and stay with my dear friends Andrew and Mairi, and I could spend a day showing one of our brand managers around some of my old haunts. Andrew and Mairi were, naturally, extremely hospitable, and over dinner played me ‘To the Moon’. Although we were chatting, and catching up, and generally having a splendid time, I managed to hear enough of it to realise that I would really like to own it – it seemed emblematic of Scotland, and the things that I had missed. The next day, I picked Anna up from Edinburgh airport, and dragged her round Edinburgh for a bit. I’m certain we didn’t get as much work as we might have done, because I was too busy showing off all my favourite bits. We stopped at the Gyle Centre to do a store audit, and I dived into a record shop and bought my own copy of ‘To the Moon.’ It made a stirring and entirely appropriate companion for our little jaunt up the east coast; I’ve never enjoyed a day out like that as I did that day – Anna was a good friend, and an excellent travelling companion, and the soundtrack fitted the scenery perfectly. Whenever I hear it now, I’m transported back to that day; good company and good music – you can’t beat it.
What I think now:
Oh, it absolutely was. Blatant cheating. I really don’t know why I put Runrig in there at all, reading back over it; it wasn’t about them at all. I can also only assume that my actual Runrig memory happened after that, or I am less easily embarrassed now than I was then. Who knows?
Well, we’re a lot further away, and I certainly don’t spend anything like as much time with old friends as I would like, although we’re not completely out of touch. I hardly listen to Runrig, but Capercaillie do feature from time to time, and I still wonder if theirs isn’t the true ‘sound of young Scotland’ I used to hear so much about all those years ago.
What? The real Runrig story?
Well, I was driving home down the M1 one evening after another interminable meeting or other, and had cranked ‘Loch Lomond’ up about as loud as I could get it – must have been feeling particularly Scottish that day for some reason. I was, of course, singing along as best I could with the Gaelic, when I realised that I could hear another voice, somewhere in the mix. It took a moment or two to register that I must have my phone on auto answer.
I’m not sure which of my former colleagues it was who was treated to my karaoke Gaelic, but he was, I remember, kind enough not to spread the story. Much.