Wednesday, August 26, 2009

Political singer songwriters- Dick Gaughan

"Let virtue distinguish the brave
Place riches in lowest degree
Think them poorest who can be a slave
Them richest who dare to be free"
words traditional arranged by Dick Gaughan (Both Sides the Tweed)

Been listening to Scottish singer songwriter and political activist Dick Gaughan who is one of the more committed political musicians around. I saw him at the Fly By Night Club here in Perth a couple of years ago. A stunning political performance.

Gaughan' passionate style, powerful delivery and political convictions are not for everyone but I am a huge fan. Here's an extract from an article in RootsWorld

Dick Gaughan is a politically-committed man. He cites his ties to the Scottish working class and their hardbitten years of struggle under Tory rule that forged his committment through strikes and turmoil. He recalls how the murder of Chilean folk singer Victor Jara by the fascist Pinochet regime galvanized Gaughan into putting his music where his heart already was. "I knew then I couldn't just play old tunes. You had to speak out. And, really, that is what the tradition is about. Traditional music--which to me has always meant just the songs that people sing and listen to, be that rock 'n' roll or old ballads--it has always had to do with politics. People's music, folk music if you will, is very dangerous stuff! It is subversive to acknowledge that ordinary people actually have a culture with artistic merit. This gives the lie to those who would like us to think that the poor are poor because they are stupid! There is a lot of wisdom in some of those old songs, and no reason I can see why songs about the politics of today are not part of The Tradition! I sing 'em, anyway, and that's the tradition I know.Gaughan's in-your-face progressive politics, and the effectiveness of his delivery, doubtless were a factor in the visa problems he experienced over the years when trying to get into the US to perform"

One of his more amazing and haunting songs is 51 st Highland Division's Farewell to Sicily (from his 1996 album 'Sail On'). The lyrics were written by the late Hamish Henderson who was in the 51st. Highland Divison in 1943 as they took part in the Allied invasion of Sicily. He was inspired to write it as he watched the regiment prepare to cross the Straits of Messina to face many months of fighting in Italy in order to drive the Nazis back. The music 'Farewell To The Creeks' is by Pipe Major James Robertson, Gordon Highlanders. You can listen to it here

No comments: