Thursday, February 25, 2010

Scottish crime in song

Scott Monument,
Edinburgh. Photo
by your humble

blogkeeper.
It's not my fault I keep posting about crime songs; there are so many good ones, and they trigger all kinds of insights into American history and European history and the places where the two meet and converge into something deeply human and beyond what we normally mean by "history."

Here are a few versions of "MacPherson's Lament." Here's some information about James MacPherson, the seventeenth-century Scottish outlaw who composed or inspired it.

Here's another song (or try here) that, while not about crime, is one hell of a hard-boiled noir melodrama. And here are all my posts about crime songs. Happy listening.

© Peter Rozovsky 2010

Labels: , , , , ,

36 Comments:

Anonymous solo said...

Peter, this 'taking the piss' business is all very well, but one can take it too far, you know.

I listened to those two Hamish Imlach songs. It was nice of him to include the odd English word here and there for those of us who don't speak Scottish.

Back in the 80s I used to listen to quite a few Scottish bands like The Jesus And Mary Chain, Big Country, The Skids and one called Orange Juice (I wonder where they got the name?).

According to Wikipedia Old Hamish influenced John Martyn so I suppose I'll have to be nice about him.

I'm going to bugger off sharpish now, Peter

February 25, 2010  
Blogger Peter Rozovsky said...

You know, I thought about linking to a lyric sheet that includes explanations of unfamiliar words for readers who speak just a wee bit ae Scots. But then I thought, why deprive them of the fun I enjoyed?

I've remarked before that one reason I like Scottish and Irish folk music is that they are reminders of what country music could have become before it turned shite.

February 25, 2010  
Anonymous solo said...

Peter, giving your readers just enough information to pique their interest while withholding the important stuff is the way to go. Obviously, you've been learning from those suspense writers you've been reading.

Sadly, I have to agree with your description of modern country music as shite. But I suspect there are a few exceptions to the rule.

Being a non-expert on the subject I can only come up with one. 'A Good Year For The Roses,' written by Jerry Chestnut, made famous by George Jones, and made known to me by Elvis Costello. In case you're desperate for some musical diversion, here's a link
to the Costello version:

http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=HcBh9IgMz5U

February 25, 2010  
Anonymous solo said...

Peter, my above comment was the equivalent of a man wearing a belt and braces. The clickable link actually appears to work.

February 25, 2010  
Blogger Peter Rozovsky said...

I have said that Loretta Lynn singing "Walking After Midnight" is almost -- almost -- good enough to justify the existence of country music. I also recently heard her 1975 song "The Pill" for the first time, and it was electrifying, especially considering how crap much of the rest of commercial country music is. Sadly, those two songs are exceptions.

February 25, 2010  
Blogger Peter Rozovsky said...

A belt and braces, you say? That's a man you don't meet every day.

February 25, 2010  
Anonymous solo said...

Peter, if you're a Pogues fan you may be in line for honarary Irish citizenship and perhaps even the Freedom of Dublin. Among other things this will allow you to graze you sheep on St Stephens Green along side those belonging to Bono.

You do have sheep, I hope? If not, you may be allowed to include some of your colleagues at the Inquirer.

February 25, 2010  
Blogger Peter Rozovsky said...

Well, I once ate fifty-two lamb chops at a single sitting in summer camp. Why fifty-two, you might wonder? Because the kitchen ran out. That is by way of saying that sheep and lamb are fine with me. And you can tell your buddy Bono that for every paragraph of his "writing" that he inflicts on innocent readers of the New York Times, one of his sheep is going to mysteriously become an Aran sweater and a platter of meat.

I became a Pogues fan after my visit to Ireland in 2008, though I have more and better teeth than Shane McGowan. I heard songs in pubs, which led me to the Dubliners, and the rest is history. I decided, based on a 1976 performance of "Rocky Road to Dublin," that Luke Kelly is the greatest singer that ever was.

Oh, yeah: My introduction to that song came when the High Kings sang it at halftime of the All-Ireland hurling final that year. Their backing tape ran out a few seconds early, and they scurried off the field like scared mice -- a highly enjoyable interval in a memorable game.

February 25, 2010  
Anonymous solo said...

Peter, I thought my last comment was a masterpiece of irony. Oh, dear! If you think Bono could be described as my buddy I shall refrain from irony from here on in.

February 25, 2010  
Blogger Peter Rozovsky said...

Oh, but I saw your masterpiece of irony and raised you a dead pan. I know you think the man an incoherent, tax-dodging short-arse.

February 25, 2010  
Anonymous solo said...

Yes, Peter, Bono is all that you say. AND MORE! Deepest apologies for even mentioning the little creep. I promise as long as I shall live never to do so again!

February 25, 2010  
Blogger Peter Rozovsky said...

Don't even say "Hewson" in my presence!

February 25, 2010  
Anonymous solo said...

Peter, even as we speak I'm lighting a candle which I hope will be regarded as a signigicant act of repentance for mentioning He-Who-Shall-In-Future-Remain-Nameless. Your obediant servant, Solo.

February 25, 2010  
Blogger Peter Rozovsky said...

Well, you can say his name if the purpose is to wind McKinty up.

February 25, 2010  
Anonymous solo said...

Peter, I think I've done enough winding up of our dear friend McKinty. Surely, you're not encouraging me to do more? Then again, you Canadians are capable of anything.

I was tempted to say his latest novel was just forty-nine grand short of being a masterpiece but that was just my inner-nazi coming out. I read his piece in Crime Factory just today and that made me want to get my hands on the book. Writing a whole damn book is hard work and I admire guys who get the job done. Fifty Grand sounds interesting and it's near the top of my TBR list.

February 25, 2010  
Blogger Peter Rozovsky said...

I liked the Crime Factory piece. You may have mentioned this already, but have you read the Michael Forsythe books?

February 25, 2010  
Blogger seana said...

He's apparently away in Perth for a few days, doing a crime fiction conference. Otherwise, I'm sure he'd be positively basking in all the attention he's getting here.

February 26, 2010  
Blogger seana said...

I should also add, 52 lamb chops?

February 26, 2010  
Blogger Peter Rozovsky said...

That's right, I remember the discussion on his blog. No dearth of Perths there.

February 26, 2010  
Blogger Peter Rozovsky said...

I should also add, yes, 52 lamb chops.

February 26, 2010  
Blogger seana said...

Cool Hand Luke has nothing on you.

I tried to find a Perth, California, and I think there might actually be one, but I couldn't seem to pin it down.

February 26, 2010  
Blogger Peter Rozovsky said...

I had thought the Canadian Perth was in Nova Scotia, appropriately enough, but it's in Ontario. And I have never seen Cool Hand Luke, I'm afraid.

February 26, 2010  
Blogger seana said...

Never mind. After your feat, you would not be impressed.

February 26, 2010  
Blogger Peter Rozovsky said...

What we've got here is a) failure to communicate. I like Paul Newman, so I wouldn't mind seeing the film anyhow.

I was young, the lamb chops were probably small, though the years should have magnified them.

February 26, 2010  
Blogger seana said...

I think the film would still hold up pretty well, though it's been years since I've seen it.

I'm not buying the small lamb chops theory.

February 26, 2010  
Blogger Peter Rozovsky said...

Those lamb chops, you should have seem 'em! Some of them were THAT long!

You know, in all these years, I had never thought of the significance of the number 52 until now. I could write a story of my exploits and calls it 52 Throw-u— Oh, never mind. In any case, such a title would be fiction. After the lamb chops, I ate a bowl of Jell-o, went for a nice run around the softball field, and was none the worse for the experience.

And here's one for Confessions of Ignorance: Why does a deck have 52 cards?

February 26, 2010  
Blogger Linkmeister said...

Lamb chops out here are roughly $12.99/pound. That was a chunk of money you et up, Peter.

February 26, 2010  
Blogger Peter Rozovsky said...

That was back in the 1970s, and the event happened at a summer camp that had to feed hundreds of people each day. I'm sure it bought its food wholesale. Besides, when the spotlight of competition is on, one does not think of money.

February 26, 2010  
Blogger seana said...

I will take your suggestion under consideration, since it is quite clear I do not know the answer.

February 26, 2010  
Blogger Peter Rozovsky said...

Nor do I, and I'm not sure I've ever known it. One is tempted to guess a connection with the fifty-two weeks. Hmm, but when did the convention of dividing the year into fifty-two weeks begin?

I recognize that the question of cards might be beyond your blog's purview, since you usually explore the meanings of words. But I didn't know who else to turn to short of looking up the answer myself.

February 26, 2010  
Blogger seana said...

Nothing is beyond my blog's purview. 'Purview' would actually be a good topic, though...

February 26, 2010  
Blogger Peter Rozovsky said...

Ah, the world is not big enough to bound that blog of yours! Hmm, purview ...

February 26, 2010  
Anonymous John H said...

I'm bit curious solo. Do you like this old Carter stuff?

http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=ewnfWoSQz3o&feature=related

February 27, 2010  
Blogger Peter Rozovsky said...

John, I don't know if Solo likes it, but I sure do. Thanks.

I mentioned somewhere the comment I'd read that the Carter Family were no mountain primitives, that their records were slickly produced by the standards of their time. That's apparent here. That performance is no slapdash jam session. And how often does one see a woman play lead guitar to the point where a camera will zoom in for a close-up of her hands? That doesn't happen every day.

February 27, 2010  
Anonymous solo said...

John, there was obviously a lot of talent in the Carter family. I know little about them apart from their association with Johnny Cash. I'm not a big fan of country but I can certainly stand to listen to Johnny Cash.

Peter, Wikipedia says Maybelle Carter wasn't just a good guitar player but was the innovator of a guitar technique now known as the 'Carter scratch', a technique that was very influential in country music.

When you mention it I can't think of many great women guitar players but there are few guitar innovators of any sex.

February 28, 2010  
Blogger Peter Rozovsky said...

I'm not a huge fan of some of Johnny Cash's cover versions of rock and roll songs, but I respect him for making the records. I remember that when country radio would not play the Dixie Chicks because of their antiwar stance, Johnny Cash said something like that should be no surprise to anyone who knows country radio, and anyone who thinks he's getting anything fresh or exciting on country radio is wrong. I respected the hell out of him for saying that.

I ought to read up a bit on Maybelle Carter, find out what records to buy.

February 28, 2010  

Post a Comment

Links to this post:

Create a Link

<< Home