Stories of Home: Vic Galloway on Scotland and music
The broadcaster and author on why music is his home, as part of Scottish Book Trust's Stories of Home project
Stories of Home is a project started by the Scottish Book Trust to gather together writing that reflects upon the theme of 'home', with a view to publishing a collection of the best submissions as part of Book Week Scotland 2014. The following piece is from broadcaster, author and musician Vic Galloway.
In bricks and mortar, my home has always been Scotland; a country that continually manifests itself in different ways. It morphs and mutates, it shape-shifts and surprises. On one hand it’s my mother’s lentil soup and cosy, comfy living room; my brother’s daft impressions and a pint in the local; the endless sun on the East Neuk coast or the rolling hills of East Lothian; camaraderie and friendship, laughter and love.
But in an instant it’s the howling wind and the lashing rain, inner-city knife-crime and the cold, hard, concrete neglect of the schemes. It is petty pride and jealousy, sectarianism and bigotry. Scotland is simultaneously a broken home, and a united, happy, healthy one. This beautiful, harsh, complex, fascinating land is gladly my place of residence, but I choose to stay here for another specific reason.
I stumble through life like everyone else, doing my best, looking for constants, searching for balance. But I realise my own, personal dwelling-place isn’t necessarily a country, a community or an ideology as such. It’s something far more abstract and yet totally natural to me. I return to it daily as a place of comfort and refuge. It relaxes me, warms my cockles, soothes my pain, enrages me and sets my pulse racing. Calling on the full gamut of my emotions, it is always around me. It is music.
I have immersed myself and settled within its confines, and for as long as I can remember it has been my solace and salvation. Without music I would be lost. No identity. No direction. No joy. It has kept me out of trouble and given me focus. When all else has faltered around me, music has been my pillar.
Be it the clattering drums opening The Damned’s ‘New Rose’, the untamed swoops and sweeps of Jimi Hendrix’s lead guitar, the ambient throb of Brian Eno’s synthesiser, James Brown’s primal, soulful holler, or the pristine perfection of a harpsichord playing Bach… This is home to me. The thrill of hearing the human voice come alive with song and melody gives me more reassurance than anything else. The Everley Brothers, The Wailers, Le Mystere Des Voix Bulgares, Sam Cooke and the Soul Stirrers or an aria from Bizet’s Carmen can make my heart skip a beat and help me see endless possibilities.
The esoteric, emotive charge of harmony and dissonance helps answer my internal questions and give me a sense of peace. This is the time I feel truly at home. I do attempt to write and play it myself. I sing and strum a few chords. I record, layering sound upon sound, voice upon voice, lost in a euphoric state. I’ve communed with countless friends in different groups, and that connection made when performing music together creates an unshakeable bond. It forms a kind of family and a sense of belonging.
But with music as my home, I could potentially live anywhere. However, I’ve chosen somewhere where this magnificent, jubilant expression of the soul is overly abundant and thoroughly encouraged. Where playing and listening, dancing and cheering are all part of daily life. Where it’s in the blood, not just the peripheral culture; booming from every doorway and fostered in every living room.
I am blessed with the fact that I work with music; talking, writing, broadcasting and enthusing about it all year long. I champion the underdog and search out the off-kilter oddities. Scotland is now filled with stunning venues, world-class festivals, collective networks and scenes across all genres, styles and generations. Music thrives here through globally respected stars and no-hoper hobbyists. This country provides an environment in which it can flourish, blossom and bloom.
So I choose to stake my claim in a place where passions run high and creativity reflects that. I choose to live where stories are told and songs are sung. If music really is my home, then where better to set up house than here in Scotland.
Stories of Home runs until Mon 30 Jun. To find out more, and submit your own story, check out the Scottish Book Trust's website.