Posts Tagged ‘Popular Culture’
MY FAVOURITE BOOKS OF 2016
December 19th 2016
The political upheavals of 2016 will be captured for many years to come through books and publishing. I enjoyed my wide reading over the year, while still feeling that events and crises were racing ahead of publishers and writers.
I revelled in researching and writing my own book – Scotland the Bold – on the country, its politics, culture and ideas and prospects for change. Writing at book length always gives you permission and discipline to read widely – and beyond narrow subject categorisation – which is a joy. Anyway, without further to do, here are my highlights of the year …..
Chris Leslie, Disappearing Glasgow: A Photographic Journey, Freight Books.
A stunning book. One of social history, failed hopes and lives and communities which lived and disappeared often without any record – other than Chris Leslie and his photographs.
Madeleine Bunting, Love of Country: A Hebridean Journey, Granta Books.
A moving tale of remembering, recovering and reclaiming, while finding yourself and love in the Hebrides. Gives a whole new understanding to Scotland’s North West frontier.
Simon Barrow and Mike Small (eds), Scotland 2021, Bella Caledonia/Ekklesia.
Ambitious collection on Scotland after the 2016 election and SNP victory, Brexit and possibilities of independence, social change and a different politics. Read the rest of this entry »
MY YEAR IN MUSIC 2016
December 16th 2016
2016 will be certainly be remembered as a year and for more important things than music. But it was also a year of musical genius and of great losses – which words are not adequate to describe. Without further to do my musical highs:
MY BEST ALBUMS
- David Bowie – Black Star
A magnificent goodbye. Bowie’s best album since the early 1980s. Not easy listening and with added pathos.
- Nino Katamadze and Insight – Yellow
A Georgian Goldfrapp – only more melodic without losing the experimental edge. Latest in a series of themed albums: ‘Black’, ‘White’, ‘Blue’. Love them all.
- Solange – A Seat at the Table
Solange finally delivers the big album and promise after years of changing and shifting styles.
- Michael Kiwanuka – Love & Hate
A beautiful sounding album of soul reflections. So good and smooth that on first listening you miss its depth. Read the rest of this entry »
What do we do with lives and dreams after shopping?
The Scotsman, January 19th 2012
Another tottering titan fell this week with HMV going into administration. It is the latest in a long line of retail closures: Jessops, Blockbusters, Comet, JJB Sports.
This is part of a powerful challenge to the high street, to Britain’s sense of itself and its town centres, and in the case of HMV, the music industry, coming after the closure of Virgin, Zavvi and Tower Records.
These stories are usually imbued with a golden sense of nostalgia, people fondly remembering their youth and some key Woolworths purchase, and thinking the country is going to the dogs! Rarely are more complex feelings allowed to emerge, about what we do with town centres, the nature of retail, and the power of consumerism in our lifestyles and in how we make sense of our lives and pasts. Read the rest of this entry »
A Short List of Things I Love About Living in Modern Scotland
August 26th 2010
Years ago – inspired by the ending of ‘Manhattan’ the film – I wrote a list of over twenty things that made feel glad to be alive. Woody at the end of the film – feeling down in the dumps – cites a load of things that make life worth living; I cant remember if like me he cited Frank’s voice, but I feel he did in spirit, and can still recall him mentioning Louis Armstrong and other jazz references.
That list got a great positive reaction – and I was humbled to know it even served its uses around the world – with a friend in Australia coaching a friend through a painful break up – using my list to aid them making up their own about life!
This is a shorter and less grandiose list. I love modern Scotland in lots of ways, and love living here. Of course, as in any relationship it drives me mad, and I know that we are imperfect as a nation and society in all sorts of ways. I constantly write about those sort of things, but here for a change of tone … is a short list of things I love about living in modern Scotland. Read the rest of this entry »
It’s More than a Ball Game: Scottish Football and Culture
February 14th 2010
The state and importance of Scottish football both fascinates and repels large parts of Scotland – but there can be little doubt that the condition of the game and how we see it throws light on Scottish culture and society.
In the last week, I have watched Motherwell v Rangers and Aberdeen v Celtic live on TV, and went to the St. Johnstone v Dundee United cup tie. Taking all three of these together gives a number of pointers about the health of the game.
First, the quality of football in the first two matches was of a high standard. Motherwell and Aberdeen played intricate, intense, intelligent football which reflected well on the state of the SPL. These two teams are middle ranking in the league, Aberdeen in particular, struggling to find any consistency, and yet they both showed ability and finesse. Read the rest of this entry »