This post is jointly dedicated in respect of Robert Burns and John Peel, and features three scots bands, beloved by the late Mr. Peel covering Burns related songs.
Today is Burns’ Night in Scotland, in honour of Robert Burns (1759-1796), scotland’s National Bard. No other literary figure – not even Shakespeare- can really be eclebrated as he is. The man was a legend, and his inspiration runs through to this day, inspiring many. Maya Angelou (I Know Why The Cage Bird Sings) discovered Burns when she was eight and said ‘He was the first white man I read who seemed to understand that a human being was a human being and that we are more alike than unalike.’ At the Burns and a’ that Festival in 2003, Patti Smith performed a rendition of ‘Afton Water.’ Kofi Annan gave the inaugural Robert Burns Memorial lecture in New York, using Burns’ ‘A Man’s a man for a’that’ as the touchstone for his remarks. Written in 1795 and covered by Ballboy (see below), this ‘anthem of radicalism’ was described by his later biographer Auguste Angellier as a ‘Marseilliase of Equality’ and was chosen to open the new scottish parliament.
My all-time favourite scottish band The Delgados covered ‘Such a Pacel Of Rogues In A Nation’ for a Peel session a few years ago. The Parcel Of Rogues In A Nation refers to the English and England, and is Burns’ scathing attack on the Union Of Parliaments in 1707. Some see it as evidence of his nationalist tendendies, but others have suggested that he was just being provocative.
Burns was a love machine par excellence, fathering nine children, not all of them with his wife Jean Armour. But she inspired ‘I Love My Jean’ set to music by Camera Obscura a few years ago, who also wrote music for ‘My Love Is Like A Red, Red Rose.’
Other than that, amongst many others are Eddi Reader, who has released a n entire album of Burns’ songs and also, Belle and Sebastian have covered one of his best-known songs ‘Auld lang Syne’ in swedish (if anyone knows how to get hold of this please let me know).
There will be more scots, John Peel related music later. Watch this space.
For more on Robbie Burns go here