Eddi released her brand new studio album ‘Cavalier’ on 28 September 2018. She is celebrating her 40th year as a live performer, a career which started in 1978 singing on Scottish country rock tours, then appearing on worldwide festival and concert hall stages with Gang Of Four and Fairground Attraction through the eighties and her own successful solo live career which continues to this day.
Read Eddi’s own words about the new songs …
“Women waiting for men to come back from murdering other men”
After a house clearance I inherited Scottish and Irish music books. They had been hidden for 50 years and I was excited to plunder them for ancient ideas.
I was drawn to this idea of the loyalty of a woman in love. Traditional versions of this song are more plaintive but I heard brightness in the hopeful maiden in this story. For her, and all the women in the past who had to be content with waiting for their lovers to return from endless wars.
Siobhan Millar and Annie Grace gave me a sorority in their supporting voices. Mike McGoldrick echos the soldiers return and with John McCusker and Martin Kershaw filled the tune with birds. Here’s tae the Lassies.
THERE’S A HOLE IN THE DESERT DEAR DARLING
Someone very close to me passed away. He had been in my life since I was 18 and I realised that when we met in Paris in 1978 we had met in the middle of our world. I was a young adult then and my experience had been limited to street singing and the occasional work with different musicians in the folk clubs of Scotland. I fell in love with everything different and meeting Milou gave me the biggest adventure I had ever been on. He being born in North Africa and me being born in Scotland. We created our children. I woke up two weeks after he died in October 2018, just as our youngest became 25 years old and this song sung out of me from a dream in the middle of the night.
A SAILORS FAREWELL TO THE SEA
Every run up to Christmas, at 6-7 venues in Scotland, I sing Christmas-themed songs with Phil Cunningham, Karen Matheson, Kris Drever, Ian Carr, Kevin McGuire, John McCusker and 5 or 6 Musician soldiers who provide us with a brass ensemble. I adore these concerts and we like to think they are like our office Christmas get-together before we all go our separate ways. One instrumental tune was especially written for a fan of Phil’s and called ’Sheena’s Air’.
John Douglas was very inspired by this instrumental tune. He told me that he kept hearing ’No more will I go a-sailing’ when Phil played the tune.
When John finished the words I empathised with the theme of an old sailor saying goodbye to all he knew. To give up the sea.
Louis Abbot plays the ghost of the auld Jack Tar with his harmony in the chorus.
Without a doubt, this is one of Boo Hewerdine’s finest songs.
‘There is a place in your mind, that only an old song can find’. There is not a human being on the planet who ever fell in love with a song that will tell you differently. Music has been such a powerful force in my life and I wonder that we don’t build a monument to honour what it does to us all.
The finest musicians I know were those sat by a fire and singing for the pleasure some song that held their heart.
THE LOCH TAY BOAT SONG
Within the dusty books and old records you will find treasure. But in regards to this song I heard it first sung by an American jazz singer Kurt Elling. It inspired me to record it. I couldn’t believe that, as a fan of Scottish folk music, I had never heard this song before. Steve Hamilton plays a fantastic piano solo.
I pay homage to the great Scottish folk singer Davy Steele who was a man who took care of John McCusker when he started playing live gigs with his fiddle age 16. Davy Steele’s version of this song is also inspiring.
PANGUR BÁN AND THE PRIMROSE LASS
The journey to this song started with a tiny mouse appearing in our living room one winter night at 3 o’clock in the morning. It was a cold winter; soon we had a few of its’ family taking root in our home. I was sure we would be overrun. My sister Richeal leant me her cat, which had been quite a sedate cat until it arrived at my home and found its purpose in life suddenly. It chased all mice away with no carnage, and for three years they have never returned. Later in the year I was performing in Dublin and I visited the exhibit at Trinity College of the Book Of Kells. One of the ancient texts was projected on to the walls in the exhibit Space and the poem described the poets search for inspired thought being similar to the Focus of a cat hunting mice.
The poem is called Pangur Bán (White cat)
“Hunting mice is his delight, hunting words I sit all night”
I noted down the poem and brought it home. John Douglas ran with it and was inspired to write some extra words and create a brand new song. We asked Alan Kelly the accordionist who plays with me to come up with a traditional tune to accompany the song and although he didn’t know the name of the tune it fitted perfectly.
On gathering the details for the note and credits we realised that we didn’t have the name of this traditional tune in the middle of Pangur Bán. I played the finished track to Phil Cunningham who informed me that this same tune was played by Steeleye Span on an album from the early 1970’s. I then called Martin Carthy who was a member of Steeleye Span and he told me the tune was called ‘The Primrose Lassie”. When we googled that song we discovered that it was collected from Colm Keane of Conamarra, Ireland by Seamus Innes the song archivist, in the late 1940’s. Colm Keane just happens to be my husband John Douglas’s great Uncle, Brother to his Grandfather John Keane of Connemara. Full circle. Thank you winter mouse… come back anytime! ha!
I was wondering how to say farewell to my children depending on me. They have become fine young men and hardly need me around for anything. I remembered everything that was told to me by the older ones in my family when I was first leaving home and becoming independent. One of the first things I remember my mother and father saying was that ‘the door would always be open’.
My grandmother would say ‘Be good to yourself, you deserve it’
My grandfather would say ‘Always have the bus fare home’
I wanted to say all that to my children in this song.
A MAN’S A MAN FOR A’ THAT
Robert Burns has been my favourite Scottish songwriter for decades now and his words give me such a lift when I get to sing them. This is one I have always wanted to perform. I only use four of his five verses. The point for me is to make certain Burns and his wisdom is heard.
He uses the word man as a universal symbol meaning mankind.
“That man to man the world over shall brothers be for all that”. The masculine language of his time is what he used to describe human solidarity and I agree with every scrap of this song. I met a man who worked in the shipyards with my dad, He recited the line:-
“A man o independent mind— he looks and LAUGHS at a’ that”.
In that one afternoon in George’s Square that pal of my dads taught me how to sing this song.
For me songs like this are prayers and I hope its last line is a precise prediction.
It occurred to me that there wasn’t much in the way of support for parents going through the young adult periods in their children’s lives. Learning how to let go and not control these people we gave birth too, who were now becoming adults, has been one of the toughest lessons I have tried to learn. This is my support. Learning to see all bother as ‘Wonderful and happening’. Letting go of control seemed to work in my house.
A song about sharing the load, authenticity and love
This song was brought to me by Boo Hewerdine. It sounded like the classic 50’s American songs I was brought up listening too. I wrote a last verse and we recorded the male voice group the Keynotes in Dublin. The song dictated that we try for a Mills Brothers/ Ink Spots type of backing. A song that swims in romantica.
MEG O’ THE GLEN
These lyrics are from the poems of the Paisley Poet Robert Tannahill (June 3rd 1774 – May 17 1810).
The lyric is an extract from two of his poems; Meg O’ The Glen and Lass O’ Merry Eighteen. It’s a tale of superficiality and pretension. Our Meg looking for a lover but no one being interested in her due to her lack of fortune is forced to settle for a rich old man she didn’t want. Still Meg wins out in the end.
MY FAVOURITE DRESS
My husband John Douglas had a dream about his aunty Mary, who was living out the last part of her physical life in care and in a state of bewilderment. He dreamt that she asked for her favourite dress to be brought to her. I see all the generations before us dancing and falling in love in their favourite clothes. This song reminds us of how briefly we get to love, laugh and be merry.
DEIRDRE’S FAREWELL TO SCOTLAND
This song was found in the collection of ancient Irish and Scottish music that I inherited after a relative passed away and there had to be a house clearance.
The melody was simple to pick out on the old harmonium that I also inherited in the same house clearance. The words describe someone who came to Scotland for sanctuary and for some reason was doomed to say goodbye to this sanctuary. At the same time I was witnessing the news of people, refugees, running away from danger and coming to our countries in Europe by foot, land or sea, and some dying during the journey.
This song said something of that to me. John Spillane explained to me who the character in the song was. This song comes from the Scot/ Irish Celtic Ulster Myth story of ‘Deirdra of the Sorrows.’ It summarised as follows:
A pregnant Irish woman was about to give birth and a druid with powers of second sight. The druid foretold that the child would be a girl and the fairest woman in all the land, but that she would be the cause of many wars and much blood would be shed. The king, Conchobar, was informed and decided that he would keep the child and when it was of age he would have this beauty for his own.
Deirdra was that child and as she grew to become a woman she saw a black raven kill its prey, covering the snow in blood. She said that she would fall in love with a man with hair the colour of the raven, skin as white as the snow and cheeks as red as the blood. She was told she was describing ’NAOISE’ one of the Red Branch Knights who were the ancient Warriors in the Ulster Mythology. Deirdre fell in love with Naoise (correct pronunciation “Nee-shah”. I must apologise as I have this name pronounced incorrectly in my passion to record the song as soon as I fell in love with it. I couldn’t change the original recording as it would have altered that one take featuring me and Steve Hamilton on piano).
The couple escape to Scotland and live somewhere near Loch Etive.
They are hunted by the king and the sound of a cuckoo signals their eminent capture.
A song about how a refugee thanks the land that saves her.
John Douglas brought this to me. Our youngest skateboarding son was particularly disgruntled one very rainy summer. He inspired this song of hopes perseverance and knowing that all things must pass; including Glasgow’s rain.
MAID O’ THE LOCH
Me and John were asked to perform at a benefit concert fund raiser for the the boat Maid O’ The Loch. She floats in Loch Lomond and for generations made many visitors happy to sail with her on holiday days around the loch. Particularly the ‘Glasgow fair fortnight’ which is a 12th century traditional holiday for all in Glasgow and held during the second half of July. The boat is in need of repair and John wrote this song for her. I sing it for all those joyful memories she gave those who sailed on her. Please consider a donation to ; http://www.maidoftheloch.org
Eddi continues ..
Something happened to me over the past four years since my last recording Vagabond.
I inherited the music collection of a grand uncle. In that collection were some folk songs that seemed to grab my attention as I threaded my way through melodies on the piano.
DEIRDRAS FAREWELL TO SCOTLAND was one tiny sheet of music, brown and fragile. But when I picked the tune out with the harmonium I felt ancient worlds awaken in the chords.
The same with MAIDENS LAMENT and THE LOCH TAY BOAT SONG.
As with every song I have ever fell in love with all I want to do is show others the beauty I hear in it. I hope they get you were they get me.
The other event that has been happening to me in the four years since Vagabond was that my Children are growing independent of me. It was a transition I wasn’t as prepared for as I would have liked. But I explored that theme in the song Wonderful and Go Wisely.
I couldn’t separate my love of ancient song with my love of new songs, which Boo Hewerdine explains so well in his song OLD SONG. So I have ended up with a 58-minute album.
Perfect for a long drive between Glasgow and Edinburgh… if you’re ever up this way.
Cavalier is 16 songs of which took me all of 2017 to record. We played live in every song. What you are hearing are all of us on what would be the best take of maybe three to five attempts with each song.
Beyond capturing the best take we then overdubbed various ideas. That’s as technical as I can be bothered to be in this description. Iain Hutcheson is one top class studio engineer and I had wanted to work with him for such a long time. This was the time. I wanted to record in a larger space than I have been working in lately. Gloworm Studios in Glasgow is a fantastic place to work.
The recording sessions were all in Glasgow, Scotland. I grabbed time when it was available to me and when I wasn’t touring. I grabbed musicians when they were available and weren’t touring. On the last few days recording we used Gorbals Studio just so we could get this album out in time for this year 2018. The date is very significant to me. I realise I have been singing songs to people for 40 years now.
I decided to call the album Cavalier because I’ve been feeling that way of late.
It feels good to be able to send these songs into the world. This old sailor is not putting away her compass yet.