This second iteration of the Songs for Scotland Project has two aims: as before, we are setting out to create a compilation album of Scottish songs that will take listeners on a deeply emotional journey, and that will thereby help to support our new, indyref 2 drive for independence. In this respect the project is very like the one in 2014.
But what exactly is the Alasdair Gray connection?
Here are some passages from a grant application we’ve already put in (one of three we’ve identified so far we’ll be applying for):
‘Alasdair Gray, now 81 years old, is Scotland’s magus. An internationally acclaimed writer and artist, he is a polymath of extraordinary scope and one of Europe’s foremost cultural figures. Alasdair created the murals for Scotland’s largest public art work, the Oran Mor venue in Glasgow, and penned one of the most influential novels of the twentieth century, Lanark. As a political theorist Alasdair pioneered the idea that ‘small nations work well’; and he is also responsible for such inspirational coinages as ‘Work as if you live in the early days of a better nation’. He has been described by Anthony Burgess as ‘the best Scottish novelist since Sir Walter Scott’, and by the New York Times as ‘Glasgow’s presiding genius’.
In 2015 Alasdair suffered a fall, broke his spine, and is now confined to a wheelchair.
First, we are asking Scotland’s leading singers and musicians in various genres to contribute songs towards a compilation of Scottish songs in Alasdair’s honour, their contributions to be selected with the theme in mind: ‘Work as if you live in the early days of a better nation’. Artists that have already agreed to participate include Allan MacDonald and Neil Johnstone, co-composers of ‘The Bruce 700’; folk/trad musicians Matt Seattle, Ewan McLennan and Kathleen MacInnes; the reggae artist Brina, Samba Sene and Diwan, Woodenbox and Eddie Reid; and hip hop artists Stanley Odd and Loki.’
Secondly, we will be raising funds to seed an Alasdair Gray Musical Scholarship Trust, to be administered by Hands up for Trad into the future. Our hope is that various charitable trusts will add to this initial sum to help us to sustain the fund on an ongoing basis.’
As a civilised nation it is vital that we honour the trail blazers who have been our eyes and ears and senses, and who have shown us the way forward. Such is Alasdair Gray, a larger than life figure and — importantly — a leading political theorist. Alasdair is deeply interested in this project and will be receiving regular updates.
The six minute video interview below captures the man beautifully, both his genius and his legendary eccentricity. Highly recommended!
Helping this project to succeed is incredibly easy to do — just share this post on your social media networks while we gear the project up. Thank you!