We’ll return shortly to our review of The Huffington Post’s Best 100 Canadian Songs Ever, pausing for a look around Bearsden, Scotland. Even we can’t we talk about Canadian music all the time.
Bearsden is a lovely, leafy suburb on Glasgow’s northwest fringe. At its heart lies Kilmardinny Loch, a pleasant reservoir that is host to ducks and swans, and which features pleasant walking trails frequently inhabited by local dogs and their owners. A keen eye occasionally glimpses a deer or fox. The gently rolling landscape surrounding the loch features a mix of fine homes of varying size, some fashionably art deco and quite generously proportioned. Bearsden is also home to the Kilmardinny Arts Centre, housed in an historic estate perched above the Loch, and within a 15 minute walk lie overground rail connections, a quaint village of small shops, pubs, and cafes, and the ruins of an historic Roman wall and bath house. It’s also served as home to a surprising number of musicians who at least spent a fair portion of their formative years here. Is it something in the Loch? Who knows. Here are a few of Bearsden’s finest:
Born in Edinburgh, Collins moved to Glasgow at 15 with his art-industry parents. Educated at Bearsden Academy before finding pop fame as the pretty-boy leader of Orange Juice, who somewhat presaged fellow baritone teen sensation Rick Astley with their 1983 hit “Rip It Up.” Collins embarked on a solo career in 1985, scoring a massive chart success with 1994’s “Girl Like You,” featured on the Empire Records soundtrack. Collins suffered a double brain hemorrhage in February 2005, and has recovered to the degree that he can speak and walk. Now based in the Highlands, Collins continues to recover and make music, while also producing an extensive works of bird drawings, which have been launched in exhibition.
The Franz Ferdinand frontman was born in Almondsbury, England, but largely grew up in Scotland, attending high school in Bearsden before completing a Bachelor of Arts from the University of Strathclyde. All the while active in the local music scene, Kapranos formed Franz Ferdinand in 2001. Three years later the band exploded onto the charts with their second single “Take Me Out,” which reached #3 in the UK and remains recognized by some as one of the best 100 songs of all time. To date Franz Ferdinand has produced four studio albums with three million in worldwide record sales, and although though the band’s chart presence has quietened somewhat since its’ massive self-titled debut, the band continues to be active and innovative. A collaboration with Sparks, under the supergroup moniker FFS, has resulted in a newly released album and a raft of European tour dates. Perhaps fittingly, Kapranos also narrated the 2008 BBC documentary Edwyn Collins: Home Again.
The legendary fingerstyle guitarist first found tremendous success with his band Dire Straits, formed with his younger brother David Knopfler. Born in Glasgow in 1949, Knopfler attended Bearsden Primary for two years before the family re-located to the town of Blyth in north-east England. Dire Straits cut its’ first demo tapes in 1977, including Sultans of Swing, which propelled the resulting album to chart hit status. Dire Straits are widely known and their history is easy enough to find, so we’ll wax poetic about it another time. Since disbanding Dire Straits in 1995, Knopfler has carved a prominent solo career, collaborating with a host of remarkable musicians too long to reproduce here, and scored film soundtracks including 1987’s timelessly popular The Princess Bride. He is a multiple award winning musician whose haul includes four Grammy Awards, three honourary doctorates from universities across the United Kingdom, and an Order of the British Empire. Whether his early life in Bearsden has impacted his musicianship or approach to the craft we may not know. It is, however, a real trip to walk by Bearsden Primary and wonder if anyone spied greatness even at that young age.
We’ll return to the Canadian countdown next post, but we’ll continue to have a look around the Glasgow scene over the next couple of months. Stay tuned!