Wednesday, 9 January 2008

City hall came calling

His Girl Friday's recent post reminded me of the music of Capercaillie, and particularly of one of my favourite songs. It's called Outlaws (see lyrics below).

It's a beautiful song, beautifully sung by Karen Matheson. And that would be enough for it to qualify as a favourite.

But there's more to the song for me. I really feel an emotional tug whenever I hear it. It seems to me to be very Scottish in nature, conjuring up images of clearances and declining primary industries, but I guess that the picture is more universal than parochial.

The line "Till city hall came calling... " haunts and challenges me. As someone who works in 'city hall', it reminds me that behind the policies and reports and performance information there are real lives - affected by what I do and say. It's easy to forget sitting behind the bureaucratic desk, but I need to be reminded regularly!

She stands at the window
Proud Mary, bad news
Demands from the credit
And the sheriff's men too
The wife of a fishermen no longer at sea
She can always find him where whisky flows free
She never called it poverty, the doorstep was clean

Till city hall came calling to show what it means

Have you seen it before
The names of good women and men
Decreed by the sword and the pen
To be outlaws all over again.

The names in the churchyard are long overgrown
Still she came kneeling with flowers of her own
They're watching you Mary
In hard times afraid
As counsel finds guilty
For charges unpaid
And even as the last hope is labelled and sold
We're all for one, Mary
Outlawed for gold.

1 comment:

His Girl Friday said...

Hi ER,
thanks for the link to my blog. The song does make one think. I know that my great-grandmother, and her siblings were literally 'farmed' out as young children (not sure if they were orphaned or the parents were just too poor to keep them)...still, sad