I’m still thinking about Dougie Maclean’s concert last week and playing his music on my iPod as I’m writing this. All his songs are very beautiful and powerful but, when people go to one of his concerts, there is one song, above all, they want to hear.
Caledonia was the name the Romans gave to Scotland, the country beyond the wall that they were unable to conquer. (Sound familiar, Game of Throne-ers?) Somewhere around Perth (not Hadrian’s Wall) is where The Roman Empire ended. Caledonia, the song, has become popular world-wide.
The Americans love it, the Irish claim it as their own. It’s played at weddings, funerals, football matches, military tattoos, rugby games, adverts and is often called Scotland’s unofficial national anthem.
Dougie Maclean calls Caledonia his loveable monster because it’s taken on a life of its own. He wrote it a long – long – time ago on a beach in France when he was feeling very homesick. It’s a song of longing – and belonging – written from the heart.
And therein – I believe – lies its magic.
As writers we’re told to write about the specific, not the general. By writing about the specific – in the case of Caledonia, Maclean’s homesickness – he touched on one of the unique experiences and emotions every single person in the world feels, understands and relates to.
You don’t need to be Scottish to understand the love you have for your homeland – whatever that country may be – or your need to be with your ‘ain’ folk.
You just need to be human.
There are all different versions on Caledonia available on Youtube, but even though I’ve already posted this one several times it remains my favourite. Enjoy.