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Borne On The Carrying Stream – The Legacy Of Hamish Henderson

Borne On The Carrying Stream – The Legacy Of Hamish Henderson
EBERHARD BORT -  Grace Note Publications - ISBN: 9781907676017

What can be said about Hamish Henderson?  Poet, soldier, scholar, folklorist, song maker, political activist, nationalist, internationalist, traditionalist – to quote Dick Gaughan, “a mass of contradictions”.  This book is a collection of 18 essays by a variety of people, mostly taken from the annual Carrying Stream Festival.  This is hosted by the Edinburgh Folk Club and celebrates the life and legacy of Hamish.

The book is divided into sections: Songwriting and Songcollecting; Poetry and Politics.  Brian McNeill in his Champion Of The Oral Tradition, says that the Freedom Come-All-Ye was Hamish’s greatest gift to him.  That it is possible to reconnect the language with the lives and aspirations of ordinary punters and grafting it to a good tune was an important element.  It taught him the songwriter’s most useful lesson.

A Singer’s Perspective by Geordie McIntyre highlights Hamish’s work as a song hunter gatherer, songsmith and skilful singer.  How he spoke and wrote eloquently of the vital oral core or heartbeat of a democrative muse.  This chapter has the words of the D-Day Dodgers printed in it.  Sheila Stewart’s A Travellers Tale tells how Hamish came into the Stewarts Of Blair’s lives in July 1954.  He put up his tent in the berryfield at Essendy among hundreds of travellers, then recorded them for the next five weeks.  Ewan McVicar details the collecting of children’s lore and how it’s strongly associated with play, riddles and lullabies.  Transatlantic Folklore Studies is discussed by Margaret Bennett and Gary West writes about the Piping Tradition Of The North East.

Titles under Poetry include Apollyon’s Chasm by Mario Relich, As The Poet’s Saw Them by Timothy Neat and Scottish Poets Of The Second World War by Joy Hendry.  Under politics, Pino Mereu writes about Hamish Among The Partisans and there’s Corey Gibson’s Folk Revivalism and Rob Gibson’s Headful Of Highland Songs: Journeying Hopefully.  The Coda has an interesting essay on Hamish’s library – his love and passion by Donald Smith and The Living Legacy Of Hamish Henderson by Steve Byrne.

Eberhard Bort has done an excellent job of gathering different essays and talks on an extensive subject.  Dotted throughout are various songs and poems, some with the tunes.  Each essay has listed references to continue the research into Hamish, short biogs of the contributors and acknowledgements of where and when printed.  The whole book gives interesting reading either read straight through or picking and mixing the essays at will.  It all paints a fascinating picture of this multi-facetted Scot – the father of the Scottish Folk Revival.

Kathy & Bob Drage

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This album was reviewed in Issue 89 of The Living Tradition magazine.