In my late teens, I used to listen every night to Colin Murray on Radio 1. He played a good mix of indie music and older stuff, occasionally even playing a track or two by my favourite band, the Proclaimers, usually commenting that their output is far more than just ‘I’m Gonna Be (500 Miles)’, which is true on so many levels. I have written about the Proclaimers quite a few times on this blog, usually working a lyric or two into posts without too much difficulty, most recently in the post about Newcastle last week where I roped in ‘The Joyful Kilmarnock Blues’ into a paragraph about anglers on the river Tyne. Other posts include Post 101: Talking, which covered a lot of the territory I was going to go into just now about struggling to make myself understood, and Let’s Hear It…, which was nothing more than a Proclaimers blether. Apparently there are no fewer than twelve posts here out of 180-odd that talk about Craig and Charlie and how they are more, much more than ‘I’m Gonna Be (500 Miles)’.
I always say that there is a Proclaimers song for every mood and every occasion. For many of those moods, ‘Sunshine on Leith’ is just the song for the job. I have sung it many, many times, to motivate myself and in the presence of thousands of others at football matches, most poignantly at the Scottish Cup Final on 21st May and following the win over Hearts in the Cup replay in February, truly one of the special nights of my life that led to perhaps the greatest day. It is after days like those that I can’t listen to ‘Sunshine on Leith’ for a few days, as if listening to it detracts from the memories and emotions of the recent occasion, be that football-related or having heard it live from the mouths of the Proclaimers themselves, as I have a couple of times now. Particularly after the Scottish Cup Final, I couldn’t listen to it myself but ended up hearing it blaring from cars as I walked to the end of the parade in Leith Links the following day. The DVD Hibs have produced to mark the Scottish Cup win features quite a few snippets of ‘Sunshine on Leith’ and more than once I ended up greetin’, just as I did on 21st May itself, stood in the South Stand at Hampden Park. On the best days, it makes me smile the widest smile, usually tinged with tears, while on fine days it is enough to gee me up and bring the spirit of those best days to bear, much as the memories and clips of Liam Henderson delivering do.
‘Sunshine on Leith’ is taken from the album of the same name, which also features ‘I’m Gonna Be (500 Miles)’ and ‘I’m On My Way’. One of the lesser-appreciated tracks on that album is ‘It’s Saturday Night’, which is one of the funnier Proclaimers songs, all about being pissed, not a state I know very well, to be honest, but it captures what I understand of it:
‘So let me walk straight, don’t let me feel pain
I’m gonna scratch cars with my key again
‘Cos when I go home and fall on my bed
If it doesn’t leave my stomach, it’ll split my head’
I just love the matter-of-factness of the second line there. It isn’t criminal, it’s just a byproduct of the drink, capturing the essence of a Saturday night (and Sunday morning) in many towns and cities across Scotland and beyond. Just go listen to it, my words do the Proclaimers no justice. Their words convey more than I ever could and that suits me fine.