The band that changed a Nation

The end of an era has arrived. I have never been a slavish fan of anyone or anything. I mix things up depending on my mood. But even I have to acknowledge that the band Runrig were one of a kind.

At the Last Dance the story of the band was told in song and film that played on the screens. The young Macdonald brothers started in music, like so many, doing traditional dance nights in local halls. I remember there was a cringe factor to this type of event. Wasn’t helped by the BBC’s presenting of shows like the yearly Hogmanay event. I remember going along to places like the Gartwhinzean Hotel where the band my boyfriend was part of played for the English tourist buses and we taught them some of the dances.

Mainly though, Scots were trying to leave behind this image.

Runrig – The Last Dance

Runrig though obviously had a vision. They told the stories through song, not just of history but of current times. They took the traditional and mixed it up with rock. They created what would become the Runrig sound. Unlike other bands they did not look to conquer the US. They built a very strong following in Europe. In countries that have an understanding of where they were coming from. Every concert is full of fans from multiple European countries.

Runrig not only made themselves a successful band. In my opinion they shaped Scotland. They took what was a dying culture and an almost dead language and they showed the people of Scotland that it was worth holding onto. If people in other countries could appreciate what we had turned our backs on then it had to be worth another look at. Surely?

My social media is very limited, unlike the younger generations. I do however greatly appreciate the BBC Alba channel on the tv. Through this channel I get to see some of what is happening in the music industry in Scotland. I have discovered some wonderful young bands who are steeped in their Scottish culture. Youngsters (and not so young people) who are creating their own styles. Who work alongside other musicians, singers, songwriters on many different projects. The collaborations may be short lived, they may be longer projects. Watching these people performing together is wonderful. So confident in their abilities and so relaxed playing together and mixing things up. I love that so many play multiple musical instruments. When I was growing up you stuck to the one instrument. Learning the pipes I was advised not to go back to my recorder or take up a flute as it would affect my fingering for the pipes. Look at the way musicians flit from one instrument to the other during a performance!

In my humble opinion, the phenomenon that is Runrig has also instilled this confidence in our Nation. It is cool to be Scottish. It is sexy to wear traditional dress. It is classy to speak Gaelic as well as Scots, Doric, whatever.

Can we please take this one step further and see that being independent and running your own affairs is a normal and grown up thing to do.

1 Comment

  1. Totally agree. I experience the various European cultures at their roots, and I have seen that nobody is abandoning their indigenous culture for a mess of allegedly multicultural pottage. I have experienced at first hand how a younger generation can switch from the latest pop to their own traditional songs with no awareness that they are part of a single tradition. Scotland has never looked back since the restoration of its Parliament and the rest, but the transition to its future way of life is really only in its infancy.

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