Sunday, 7 February 2010
Fair winds of coincidence
I posted about the following on Facebook on Friday morning as a "Great coincidental, unplannable, unrepeatable experience" but I wanted to make a more permanent record here (hopefully) for a wider audience.
My wife and I are members of a singing group in our town and, after the Christmas break, the group reconvened last Thursday. We meet in the local music venue and arts/ performance centre, which also hosts gigs most weeks. Our first night back together coincided with a gig by the great, near-legendary Scottish folk musician, Dick Gaughan. A gig I’d normally have leapt at the chance to attend, I was disappointed that I had already committed to going to (and had paid for) our singing session. I was delighted, therefore, when Jo, the leader of our singing group announced that, as not all the tickets had been sold for the gig and the manager of the Centre was inviting us to join the audience for the second half (for free!) after our singing was finished. With that to look forward to, we started practicing a new range of songs that we aim to record for a CD this Spring. One was “Now Westlin Winds”, a beautiful song in five verses by Robert Burns which I can see becoming a firm favourite of our group.
Dick Gaughan recorded one of the best-known versions and has said it is his "favourite song of all time", as it also seems to be for our teacher Jo. Gaughan has also said that it is the perfect song as it says, in five verses, absolutely everything that it is conceivable to say about every subject. In those five short verses, Burns covers autumn, others' obsession of hunting birds for pleasure, cruelty, wooing, love and taking joy at the beauty of nature. Wow! Anyway, our class finished during the gig’s intermission, so we sneaked in (as invited!) at the back of the hall to watch some of the second half. “Now Westlin Winds” was the second song played after the break, and he played a blinding version. I don’t know if it is just because of the coincidence that we’d been singing the song earlier, seen Dick Gaughan when I thought I wouldn’t, and maybe even because it felt slightly subversive to be allowed in for free, but it gave me goosebumps to see his performance.
Here’s a link to a similar recent performance I found on YouTube. It captures really well the sheer musicality of the song, the musicianship of Gaughan and the emotion with which he manages to invest his favourite song. I hope you enjoy it.