Sangstories
Stories of Scottish Songs

Tales of Scottish traditional
and newer songs 
sung by Sangschule 
of Linlithgow

From Greenland

by Ian McCalman

The mist was hanging on the hill,
The sun was still deciding
The old piper called the tune
And I was on my way
I called out your name
So loud you could have heard me
And the snow goose flies, in the northern sky
From Greenland

Darkness comes with winter speed
They journey far from home
Always struggling to survive
Ever more to roam
They come back to Scotland
We're brothers you and I
And the snow goose flies, in the northern sky
From Greenland
 
Seize the day for life is short
Live it while you can
I've never seen the highland hill
I didn't want to climb
But I will stop to watch the cloud
That flies across the moon
And the snow goose flies in the northern sky,
From Greenland


Brought to Sangschule by Scott and Anne Murray of Sangsters.

Ian was asked on behalf of this website for any comments he might want to give about the context of writing this song. This is what he said:

“‘From Greenland’ was a song relating to my on-going reluctance to tour with the band. It struck me that the only way I could start a journey was to have some assurance that I’d return home. The snow goose was the convenient allegory, though I did start a journey, I did call out my wife’s name in the car (most embarrassing for a Scot) and I did see geese returning to Scotland at the same time. The idea was that I was their brother and we shared the same fate, which was to constantly travel in search of survival but, both the snow goose and myself would ultimately return home.”

Ian studied architecture at Edinburgh School of Art in the 60s, and founded one of Scotland’s best known and loved folk groups on his first day there, October 6th, 1964, when he met fellow students Hamish Bayne and Derek Moffat. The McCalmans, affectionately known as The Macs, have gone on to produce many albums and tour widely at home and abroad. Ian has written around 45 of The Macs’ songs and for 30 years, took 70% of the lead singing, according to his website. Ian’s funny stories and introductions to songs have also been a very popular feature of their performances.
 
The structure of the group has known changes over the years, including, as a very sad change, the death of Derek Moffat.   Hamish left to live in Orkney with his wife Freda, to make concertinas, and was replaced by Nick Keir  - and the most recent ensemble featured Ian, Nick Keir, multi-instrumentalist, and Stephen Quigg, singer and instrumentalist.

Last year, 2010, saw the end of The McCalmans as we have known them, with Ian’s retirement as a touring singer, although his other musical activities continue, eg his recording studio Kevock Digital.  Nick and Stephen continue the good work as performers and news of their activities appears on www.ianmccalman.co.uk

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