Sunday, May 5, 2013

Scottish and Irish Folk Music

Valuable aspects of culture like folklore and folk music need to be taught to later generations and passed on through the ages in order to keep them alive.  During the seventies, a rebirth of Scottish and Irish folk music took place.  Among the musicians who had the "torch passed" down to their generation, was one of my favorite Scottish musicians, Dougie MacLean.  I have been to one of his concerts when he was on tour, and met him.  In fact, my mom talked to him.  She has been a fan of Dougie's since she was fifteen.  Hopefully some day I will get to see him again at one of his concerts in Scotland.  Dougie MacLean is a Scottish singer and song-writer who continued the folk tradition by learning folk songs from the older generation of his people.  One of the Scottish song-writers Dougie MacLean and all of the other folk musicians are influenced by is Robert Burns, who wrote such classic and poetic folk songs as "Ye Banks and Braes O' Bonnie Doon", which was printed in the year 1792.  Robert Burns is a hero of the Scottish people and of working people everywhere.

Dougie MacLean has also written many new folk songs, which I love.  My favorite songs by him include "Ready for the Storm", "Turning Away", "Talking With My Father", "The Gael", and "Caledonia".

"The Gael" was the soundtrack (that Dougie MacLean composed) for the 1992 film adaptation of The Last of the Mohicans, based on a book I have read most of but have yet to finish, The Last of the Mohicans by the great American writer, James Fenimore Cooper.  I saw the film, and although it changed a lot of things in the book, even to the extent of completely changing one of the characters, I enjoyed it and thought it was beautifully made.  The soundtrack for The Last of the Mohicans is one of my most favorite film soundtracks ever.  It's epic and emotional all at once.  It fits the movie perfectly.

"Caledonia" is a Scottish folk ballad that Dougie MacLean wrote in 1977, about his love for his homeland, Scotland (Caledonia is a name for Scotland from Roman times).  This is Dougie MacLean's most well-known song, and has become a sort of national anthem for Scotland.  Every time I listen to this song I feel proud to have some Scottish blood in me.  It also makes me feel homesick, even though I have not been able to visit Scotland yet, though I plan to later in life.  I feel countries of my ethnicity are where I belong and I hope to visit them again (Scotland for the first time, but it would not be the first time I have visited Ireland).

Dougie MacLean sings Caledonia in the video below:

Andy Irvine (from London, England) and Paul Brady (from Northern Ireland) are folk singers who sing traditional Irish folk songs.  I have had a CD of a collection of their songs since I was very little.  I enjoy listening to their songs because it soothes me by making me think of my homeland, and where I belong.  One of my favorite songs sung by Andy Irvine and Paul Brady is "Arthur MacBride" (1976):

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