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Caves in the Canyons

  • Words Ian Davison / tune Ewan MacColl

    So in wi' the crane and the swingin' steel ball
    And oot o' the rubble the factor'll crawl
    Ta-ta tae the caves in the canyons

    The city is changin' a' year and a' day
    And it's changin' as fast in the night-time
    The next buildin's gone as you lay there and yawned
    And we a' know that now is the right time

    The buildin's were sandstone, the red and the grey
    But they turned black wi' a' the fires smokin'
    The sky's gettin' brighter, the concrete stays white
    And you don't hear the sparras a' chokin'

    Did you love stairheid lavvies, six families tae wan
    Were the steamie-washed claes never dirty
    Could you squeeze in a friend in your wee single-end
    Was your mother decrepit at thirty

    So clear oot the middens, let light in the close
    The high-flats'll beat the diseases
    It's miles tae the ground but there's grass all around
    And the watter supply never freezes

    As sung by Ewan McVicar

    Tune The Thirty-Foot Trailer

Susannes Folksong-Notizen

  • [1990:] When I was a teenager the streets of the city seemed like deep canyons. As you walked along you could hardly see the sky, let alone the skyline. When the Corpie [City Corporation] began dinging doon the tenements, they let the daylight in. As the demolitions spread you began to be able to see the hills that surround the city. When the high rise buildings rose they had great areas of green around them. You felt you could breathe more easily. We didn't at first learn about the new problems that had been made. The Fisher family moved out to a wonderful new scheme, all fresh and bright looking. It was called Easterhouse. They held a big bright party to celebrate their new abode. They moved back to Napiershall Street six months later.
    When a couple of years ago I heard Ian Davison's [song] I was startled that he had chosen the same image that I had for the tenement streets. He says he got it from an Edwin Muir poem, and points out that the skyscraper streets in New York were referred to as canyons. I think that must be where I got the idea - a song about New York. Then the skyscrapers came to Glasgow. Ian's song captures well the optimism of those days, and was written as a response to Adam McNaughtan's The Glasgow That I Used To Know. So was Jim McLean's Farewell to Glasgow. Nostalgia will always get you in trouble with people who remember the bad news as well as the good news. (McVicar, One Singer One Song 80f.)

    [1994:] In some parts of [Glasgow] there were 400 people to the acre and to rehouse them at minimal cost took precedence over what they wanted. People who had lived for generations in cramped conditions with outside toilets and no bathrooms needed better housing, but they didn't want to leave the areas where they had grown up and the close communities they lived in. It became a common sight to see sad little groups watching bleakly as their former homes, and those of their parents and grandparents were demolished. But the politicians still knew best. (Meg Henderson, Finding Peggy 89)

Quelle: Scotland

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