Monday, May 11, 2015

15: Loch Lomond - Runrig

Yes, Runrig feature twice. No, I didn't vote SNP.

I can't see any way this one wouldn't be included. The song itself - which is world-famous, which I found somewhat to my surprise on moving to the US - is of course an old Scottish folk song. Runrig rearrange the verses slightly so you get two verses before the first crescendo chorus, which is pretty moving stuff in itself, particularly in live recording where clearly everyone in the entire place not only knows the song but they all sing it with a passion that Alex Salmond and Nicola Sturgeon could never begin to hope to bottle, because this is far, far above politics.

But then on completion of the chorus it goes elsewhere - so suddenly that the first time I heard it I assumed it was either a continuity error in the recording or an entirely different song. It launches into a percussion-driven section in Gaelic, where the crowd bounces along with the words as Donnie Munro (or Bruce Guthro in more recent versions like the 2008 release) sings the main chorus over the top. Then total band cut - just the crowd singing the chorus. Finally the band come back in, different tempo and arrangement, and finish off the song with a few more rounds of the chorus. So essentially it's two verses followed by six minutes of the chorus.

But the emotion of the crowd singing, along with the arrangement, the changes in beat - especially the hop to the Gaelic version, which just makes you want to start jumping around - and then the climactic finish (including a very suitable descending bassline on the final arrangement of the chorus) give the song real power, real raw feeling and somehow makes you proud to be Scottish even if you're not, which is quite an accomplishment.

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