Wednesday, July 05, 2006

A Cloth Eared Nation Votes

I really do despair sometimes.................... In a recent poll on what the Scottish national anthem should be the Scottish public only went and voted for this bloody 'orrible dirge. Ok, it is the current Scottish national anthem and most folk, being creatures of narrow habit have decided overwhelmingly in favour of retaining it. They know the words and it has verses about kicking English arse. Fair enough. Even if the poll is not representative of every man and woman in the land(only 10,000 people voted), it's a fair bet that Flower Of Scotland is the song most people in Scotland know and identify with so the other entries are nothing more than mildly diverting curios in this exercise. Which is an absolute crying shame. It would have been better to say "Here's a selection of songs, but that lumpen piece of shite Flower Of Scotland is barred" That would have wound the buggers up. The problem is that most of the other options don't exactly fill you with joy. Scotland The Brave is upbeat and jaunty. Too upbeat and jaunty. Unless you got The Aphex Twin to remix it......... Highland Cathederal was third and has a serviceable tune, but the lyrics leave a lot to be desired. If someone can rustle up something with a bit of imagination and verve for this tune of rather strange providence, we may just be onto a winner. The only option for anyone with their brain switched on is 'A Man's A Man' words courtesy of Robert Burns. It came fourth in the poll, confirming my general suspicions about most of my countrymen. Considered not to be a great tune(I beg to differ) and yes theres a fair amount of old Scots in there, but sod it, it's one of the greatest humanist anthems ever. Therein lies it's problem I suppose. National anthems are about how brilliant your country is and how you knocked seven bells out of your nearest neighbour once. Egalitarian hymns to the unity of mankind as equals need not apply. File under 'Auld Lang Syne'. It's still the only real candidate and anyone who disagrees can kiss my arse. In last place was 'Scots Wha Hae', another Robert Burns lyric. I have no idea what the tune to this is, but i'm willing to bet it's obscure. The words are fine in their context, but as a song, it's just another ruddy battle hymn. Is that all we can manage? Songs about fighting the English and songs that provide the aural equivelent of the lid of a shortbread tin. Scotland is a breathtakingly beautiful country, but neither 'Highland Cathederal' nor 'Scotland The Brave' do anything other than make rote evocations of highland mists, heather, islands and whatnot. This all leads of course to the point that national anthems are fairly pointless, they're just rallying calls in times of need(rugby, footie) and as such could be bloody anything as long as they stir the blood and rouse the soul. Flower Of Scotland does neither of these things to me but I suppose I can't speak for my fellow countrymen. That said, there are people who would have Franz Ferdinand or DJ Otzi providing our ceremonial muzak, so maybe I should just shut up................

7 comments:

Chairwoman of the bored said...

Forgive me for butting in on something Scottish, which obviously has absolutely nothing to do with me, but wasn't the English arse kicking a very long time ago indeed?

ill man said...

Yes. That was the point I was making. Songs that extoll such things are irrelevant to me and bore me to tears. We need something new.

Binty McShae said...

Chairwoman, you're right. It's about as appropriate as the line "rebellious Scots to crush" in God Save The Queen - another anthem in need of updating, methinks...

Ill Man, we do, indeed, need something new... FoS is a pleasant enough folksie song but complete crap as an anthem, whether you want a roaring nationalistic one of a more humanist one. It's all very wistful and sad, rather like the Del Amitri football song from a few years back... nice song but not exactly fulfilling its purpose.

Scots Wha' Hae (there is a music link on this FoS page - http://david.national-anthems.net/sco.htm - although it should be played faster) fits into the same category as Scotland the Brave... a bit too jaunty and fist-punchy.

A Man's a Man is a great piece but isn't a national anthem supposed to at least mention the nation, even if only in passing? Yes, we should have a more humanist anthem instead of jingoistic blind nationalism, but perhaps there is a better alternative...?

I'd like to see someone write a new anthem, something that reflects Scotland now. It should incorporate the humanist angle of A Man's A Man but should also take into account the cultural diversity of our nation in the 21st Century - like this from the Proclaimers:

In Scotland's story I read that they came
The Gael and the Pict, the Angle and Dane
But so did the Irishman, Jew and Ukraine
They're all Scotland's story and they're all worth the same

(full lyrics here - http://www.lyricsdownload.com/proclaimers-scotland-s-story-lyrics.html )

Rob7534 said...

I feel your pain Ill Man. I agree with the above comment, you should write a new one YOURSELF! Make it everything you ever wanted in an anthem, and then some.

You will do a fab job, I'm sure!

But the way, I'm curious to hear your voice, you want to consider doing a audio post sometime. Think about it.

ill man said...

COTB, please feel free to pass comment on all things 'jock'.

Binty, as I stated, I think something could maybe be done with Highland Cathederal as the words are not set in stone. It was also written by a couple of Germans, which amuses me no end. You are correct though, instead of asking people to vote on existing candidates, why not set up a competition to write a tune that COULD become a new anthem. I emphasise the word 'could' because obviously such a song would need to gain popular public support before it became the anthem.

Rob, cheers for the encouragement, but I do believe that would be a very, very bad idea. The end results would not be pleasant. Besides, i'm at my worst when I sit down and write songs with a subject in mind......

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