I just bought me a new toy this past week. I have finally entered the digital age and bought me an i-pod touch with 64 GB memory. It has the capacity for 16,000 songs but I am having to make some hard decisions about which songs to put on the device from my approximately 1120 CD's, It is the equivalency of the Desert Island Disc decisions. I have had to decide what artists and what CDs to put on it and, of course my full collection of the Beatles CDs was an easy decision and the next was my collection of Dougie Maclean CDs of which I have a complete set. I don't know if any of you know who Dougie Maclean is but i was first introduced to him by this tape Sunset Song. I have attended three concerts presented by Dougie,the first being at a nighttime concert festival in Salt Lake City, Utah and then every concert he has presented in Utah since. Dougie just stands with his guitar and sings his songs and banters about what he writes and how he has written the songs. It is spellbinding.
Dougie was born in 1954 in Dunblane, Scotland. His career started with a traditional band, The Tannahill Weavers, in 1976. His solo career started in 1981 and since then he has recorded numerous albums. He plays multiple instruments, including guitar, violin, mandola, viola, bouzouki, banjo and bass as well as being a singer and composer. I have also seen him play proficiently on the didgeridoo. He now makes his home in Butterstone near Dunkeld in the beautiful Tay Valley in Perthshire Scotland. Dougie MacLean grew up in the countryside where his father was a gardener. He was surrounded by his families love of music - his mother played mandolin, his father fiddle. In 1983, with his wife, artist Jennifer MacLean, he launched his own record label, Dunkeld Records, with the very successful album Craigie Dhu (1981) With numerous recording projects in view, Dougie set up his own recording studio in the Old Schoolhouse, Butterstone Perthshire. It is now known as Butterstone Studios
In 1993 Dougie was asked to the Composer and Musical Director for the TAG Theatre Company's production of A Scot's Quair. The original novels from which the play was written by Lewis Grassic Gibbon's and is a classic Scottish trilogy. The parts of the Trilogy are Sunset Song, Cloud Howe and Grey Granite.
Sunset Song is about a young woman named Chris Guthrie.Chris Guthrie's mother, broken by repeated childbirths, commits suicide and poisons her baby twins. Two younger children go to live with their aunt and uncle in Aberdeen, leaving Chris, her older brother Will and her father to run the farm on their own. Will and his father have a stormy relationship and Will emigrates to Argentina with his young bride, Molly Douglas. Chris is left to do all the work around the house. Soon after this, her father suffers a stroke, leaving him bedridden. For a time he tries to persuade her to commit incest with him, but as he is badly hurt he is not able to force her. He dies shortly afterwards. At his funeral, Chris realises what happened to her father and breaks down in tears as she never knew the hardship he has endured for them.
Chris, who has had some education, considers leaving for a job as a teacher in the towns, but realises she loves the land and cannot leave it. Instead, she marries a young farmer called Ewan Tavendale and carries on farming. For a time they are happily married, and they have a son, who they also call Ewan. However when the First World War breaks out Ewan senior and many other young men join up. When he comes home on leave he treats Chris badly, evidently brutalised by his experiences in the army. Ewan is killed in the war and Chris subsequently hears from Chae Strachan. who is home on leave, that Ewan was shot as a deserter, but he died thinking of her. She begins a relationship with the new minister and she watches as he dedicates the War Memorial at the Standing Stones above her home. The Sun sets to the Flowers of the Forest, bringing an end to their way of life, forever.
Cloud Howe continues the story of Chris Guthrie from the first part, Sunset Song. It gives an account of her life during her second marriage to Robert Colquhoun, a Church of Scotland minister. At the end of the novel he dies in the pulpit while delivering a sermon.
Grey Granite continues the story of Chris Guthrie/Tavendale/Colquhoun. She moves to the fictional city of Duncairn (previously referred to in Cloud Howe as Dundon). In the introduction to Grey Granite, Gibbon points out that Dundon/Duncairn is based neither on Aberdeen or Dundee (as some reviewers had surmised), but is "merely the city which the inhabitants of the Mearns (not foreseeing my requirements in completing my trilogy) have hitherto failed to build". An important character is her son by her first marriage to Ewan Tavendale, also called Ewan Tavendale. He becomes a political activist.
The theme of the characters love of the land and the her desire to escape the narrow horizons of rural living must have rung true with Dougie. Many of his songs have to do with returning to the land and his love of the land and the lessons he learned growing up close to the land.
The music according to the liner notes, "is a reworking of instrumental musical themes that evolved during the production-it captures a variety of moods incidents and landscapes. All the instruments were played by Dougie.
The tracks are
01. Sunset Song
02. The Burning of Peesie's Knapp -arousing faster paced fiddle tune with bhodrain accompaniment
From the Novel
Peesie's Knapp, one of the olden places, no more than a croft of thirty-forty acres with some rough ground for pasture, but God knows there was little pasture on it, it was just a fair schlorich of whins and broom and dirt, full up of rabbits and hares it was, they came out at night and ate up your crops and sent a body fair mad. But it wasn't bad land the most of the Knapp, there was the sweat of two thousand years in it, and the meikle park behind the biggings was black loam, not the red clay that sub-soiled half Kinraddie.
Now Peesie's Knapp's biggings were not more than twenty years old, but gey ill-favoured for all that, for though the house faced on the road--and that was fair handy if it didn't scunner you that you couldn't so much as change your sark without some ill-fashioned brute gowking in at you--right between the byre and the stable and the barn on one side and the house on the other was the cattle-court and right in the middle of that the midden, high and yellow with dung and straw and sharn, and Mistress Strachan could never forgive Peesie's Knapp because of that awful smell it had.
03. The Kinraddie Scythe Describing the harvest in a fictional town called Kinraddie. See the You tube video above
04. Cloud Howe: A medium slow piece using synthesizer, bhodrain and guitar.
05. Cirrus: The name of a chapter in the novel Cloud Howe. Other chapters are named Cumulus Stratus and Nimbus.
06. The Eviction
07. The Bridge Incident
08. The Kaimes
09. Grey Granite
I could not find any songs from Sunset on the Internet so below are ones that illustrate the incredible talent of Dougie. Hope you enjoy.
Here are the complete discography you can get them at his online store. Please buy many.
- Caledonia (1979)
- Snaigow (1980)
- On A Wing And A Prayer (1981)
- Craigie Dhu (1982)
- Butterstone (1983)
- Fiddle (1984)
- Singing Land (1985)
- Real Estate (1988)
- Whitewash (1990)
- The Search (1990)
- Indigenous (1991)
- Sunset Song (1994)
- Marching Mystery (1994)
- The Dougie MacLean Collection (1995)
- Tribute (1996)
- Riof (1997)
- Perthshire Amber (2000)
- Dougie MacLean Live (2000)
- Who am I (2002)
- Inside The Thunder (2006)
- The Essential Dougie MacLean (2007)
- Muir of Gormack (2007)