Friday, 22 November 2013

On the eve of the St Andrew's Day March and Rally, STUC will be holding its second songs festival featuring songs on the themes of social justice and equality from Scottish schools including from Shetland and Dornoch Firth.  So over the next week we'll be featuring some blogs about songs and social justice.
Today’s guest blog was written by Daniel Gray, the Edinburgh based author of ‘Homage to Caledonia: Scotland and the Spanish Civil War’, ‘Stramash: Tackling Scotland's Towns and Teams’ and ‘Hatters, Railwaymen and Knitters: Travels through England’s Football Provinces’. 
 For as long as there’s been struggle there’s been song. It is as much a part of protesting, of building a better tomorrow, of ‘getting up off our knees’ as The Housemartins sang, as are placards and books.
Many who stand tall to stop hospitals being closed or raise fists of anger to shout ‘No Pasaran’ at the Scottish Defence League are deeply creative people. When principles and music meet, the results shatter the heart, lift the chest and remind us we’re not alone.
I can be anywhere, doing anything, and when one of these songs arrives via Shuffle mode the goosebumps pop and I feel comforted by the shared identity they represent, that club of rebels and wits that sometimes lets me in.
I am sorting out the laundry when Alistair Hulett’s version of the Internationale comes on; I wave t-shirts over my head as banners and sing-along into damp socks. I am on my way to work when The Wakes’ These Hands comes on; ‘BUT HAD MY PART TO PLAY’ I blurt aloud, very much frightening mothers and their children on the way to school. It can happen via the jukebox in a pub too; Ghost Town comes on, asking me if I remember the good old days before the ghost town and I half-dance my way back to the table with a pint in my hand, loving the song, hating what That Woman did to My England.
But enough of my private demons. The Unions into Schools Songs Festival is about writing songs and righting wrongs. The first of those are the myths that claim young people don’t care and protest song is dead. They do care and protest song is more alive than ever, sharpened through its shove to the margins by radio stations, record companies and the music press, enlivened by the possibilities of the internet and the hope of youth.
The other wrongs we know too well: racism, fascism, homophobia, warmongering, the rich man in the castle having the lot while the poor man is booted out of his house for not paying the Bedroom Tax.
So play on, struggle on, sing on.
Daniel Gray
Twitter: @d_gray_writer

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