Haunted by Music – Chris Wood
I put Hollow Point up on a pedestal as one of my haunted-by-music songs. Its impact on me was severe, profound, disturbing.
I was not a fan of English folk music – I thought it lacked guts, was boring, exhibited no warmth nor personality. And I don’t suppose I thought Mr Wood was “an English folksinger” – in my mind he is a protest singer, and that sounds, and feels, a lot better.
However [how heavy that words weighs!], his songs are resounding and sounding around my head and I find myself stopping the iPod and listening again, and again, and again. To the music and the lyrics, to the intent.
At the moment, One in a million and The Cottager’s Reply are filling my head, being perfect examples of story songs; they have a compelling narrative and a perfect marriage of voice and simple instrumentation.
One in a million kidnapped me as I was taking a long wintry walk through the Renfrewshire countryside. It is a romance, highly improbable and parochial and completely wonderful. I walked hypnotised, awaiting the conclusion and outcome of a domestic love affair dodged by misunderstanding and shyness.
The Cottager’s Reply is based on a poem by Frank Mansell and is a gem, a polite rebuttal of urban land-grabbers. It is gentle and strong, sweet and stern. It is happy and challenging, a rare mixture.
His version of English life is, for the first time to me, intriguing and interesting; he has a foot in the past and in the future and both need alteration and comment. He is not British the same way I’m not British. Our identity is built up from rich roots in family and a strong sense of place and belonging. We don’t deal with amalgamations – Britain, UK, Europe. I live in Neilston [full stop].
So, I will work my way through the albums, immerse myself in his songs and tales. I’ve missed a chance to see and hear him live at Celtic Connections – maybe next time.