Lingering Echoes of Auld

Many years ago when my grandfather died, we hired a bagpiper to play at his graveside. At the time, I remember feeling somewhat embarrassed about such a showy display of a hearkening to long, long, long ago Scottish roots—especially given the fact that none of us wander about wearing Campbell tartans or attending Robert Burns’ suppers. But, lately, I’ve been contemplating the mournful wail of those tunes as I’ve caught scraps of familiar cadences in current country music.


While it’s true that there is lots about country music that is missing subtlety or elan, the same can also be said for just about any musical genre of today. In 2013, Tom Petty was quoted in a Rolling Stone article describing today’s country music as “bad rock with a fiddle,” which I thought was hilarious. But even if his assessment is fair, there remain powerful undercurrents of those Scottish and Celtic highland tunes which linger in the harmonies heard today.


You may be interested to learn that the reason behind such a strong sound association of fiddles, bagpipes, and lyres with country music is a direct result of the widespread destruction of church organs by those dour Calvinists of the Scottish Reformation. In 1561, when Mary Queen of Scots returned from France, she brought with her a love of music as well as a tradition of court patronage for musical performance. But due to the fact that the organs were demolished, other instruments had to be employed during church services. Music performed at Lowland weddings further popularized these types of sounds. Two hundred years later, Robert Burns got in on the act by collecting folk songs from across the country and adapting them to make them more acceptable to a middle class audience (Auld Lange Syne is a tune most will recognize).


Now, what does any of this have to do with re-booting?


The echoes of our long ago past can intrude and insinuate themselves into our lives in the most unexpected of ways. This can include things we didn’t even know were part of our (collective) history. Why some random harmonic element would catch my attention when others don’t reminds me that there is a lot more going on beneath the waves of our awareness than what we realize. We’re reacting to something more. There’s a wistfulness in our response we don’t understand.


What is something that has caught and held your attention for no reason you can explain?


I didn’t grow up listening to country music. There’s a lot about it that grates on me–a cat being strangled comes readily to mind. I have a distinct saturation point when it comes to troubadours twanging on about beer, trucks, and honey sweet kisses. And yet, listening to certain runs reminds me of something I’d never claim as my own. I guess that’s what I was feeling that day the bagpiper played beside my grandfather’s grave. Is that artifice? Or is it the past reaching out and reminding us of a thing we’ve lost along the way?


Have you ever experienced anything remotely similar? How might this factor into your re-booting process? What unexpected undercurrents are influencing you?



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One Response to “Lingering Echoes of Auld”

  1. Kaaren Robertson Says:

    Really good, Chrisanna. I love to learn things like this. Thanks CXx Mom

    Kaaren Robertson


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