“I’ll be in Scotland before you…”

When I was planning my Scotland trip earlier this year, of course some of the travel guides mentioned the traditional and very popular Scottish folk song “Loch Lomond”. I didn’t know it then and somehow never thought of finding it online somewhere to listen to it. Before I left for Scotland I told a few acquaintances about the trip and one of them (a 60-something guy) immediately sung the song for me. Very beautiful song indeed.

The “Museum of Scotland” In Edinburgh hosted a special exhibition about Scottish pop culture in the summer and they showed short clips of various Scottish singers and bands, Amy MacDonald, The Hooters etc on TV screens all around. There also was a clip of a band doing a live version of “Loch Lomond”. I just saw these few seconds, but it really moved me, because it is such a powerful song, when it’s sung by thousands of fans. I still didn’t know who the band was, but after some online research I was pretty sure that it had to be Runrig. During the rest of the summer I actually planned to download the song somewhere, but I never got around to do it and then I forgot about it.

Among my “Hockey-Weekend in Munich” travelgroup were two huge Runrig fans. I accidently found out about that when they talked about their trip to Edinburgh this summer and when I asked about it, they told me, they went there for the Runrig concert. They even spent their honeymoon in Scotland, which I didn’t know before either. Turns out that he has been a huge Scotland fan for years and years. After we got back from Munich I went to buy some CDs and decided to look for Runrig as well. I found a “Best of” for a rather reasonable price and ofcourse it includes “Loch Lomond” in a live version. The booklet (which I read on the train on my way back home) states about this song:

The traditional Scottish folk song that became the band anthem. Written in the 18th century by a soldier, in gaol, awaiting execution for his part in a political rising. Runrig recorded this in their own particular style, and it became a huge hit. It is now firmly established as a song sung by everyone from the members of the Tartan Army, that follows the national football team, to party revellers at a disco or a wedding, where it is a firm favourite to finish off the evening.”

When I got home that evening I did not just listen to the song immediately, but aIso searched some more for the “Tartan Army” and this song on youtube, where there are quite a few clips. And it sounds awesome (well, as awesome as any rather low quality private recording in a football stadium can, but still…). I just love the mere idea of sport fans choosing a traditional folk song as their team’s anthem and as a sports team fan myself, I just have a thing for these kind of songs. That’s why I downloaded the “Hampden Mix” of this song right away, which Runrig did with the Tartan Army. The proceeds go to the “Children in Need” charity, so that’s even for a good cause.

I also checked wikipedia again for more information about this song and it’s meaning and I very much liked what I read there:

One interpretation is that it is attributed to a Jacobite Highlander who was captured after the 1745 rising. The English played games with the Jacobites, and said that one of them could live and one would die. This is sung by the one who was sentenced to die, the low road referred to being the passage to the underworld.

I’m a huge fan of the Outlander series, which deals with the 1745 Jacobite rising (at least the first few books do). So of course I tend to of love everything related to that. And if Jamie Fraser – my all-time Highlander hero – had been this rebel sentenced to die, he definitely would have said something like that to his friend Murtagh. It’s just such a Highlander-ish thing to say. At least to me, who might have a biased and screwed view of Highlanders :-)
It’s actually a really sad song, but if it’s sung a bit upbeat and by thousands of fans it just sounds great as supporting song. I’ve been listening to on my iPod for dozens of times in the last few weeks…I even made it my new ringtone on my new phone ;-) WordPress doesn’t let me embed youtube clips, so here is a link

Runrig & The Tartan Army – Loch Lomond

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1 Response to “I’ll be in Scotland before you…”

  1. suz says:

    Reminds me – jeeeezus! I just digged out my complete Runrig anthology, occupying 40% of my iPod music. They’re absolutely fucking awesome.

    The best memories – three Runrig gigs in 364 days in 2007-8 including a backstage party in Hamburg (it’s about who you know :) ). I’m not the biggest fan, but we just happened to bump into someone my friend knew and that guy had backstage passes in his hands (not for long tho). Some of the Hamburg Scottish gang went to their gig in Loch Ness in 2007 (google it, massive!)

    No Runrig gig is complete without “Loch Lomond”. It’s always their last song. Always.

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