It’s hard to find a way to describe Dougie Maclean that appropriately marks his contribution to music during his forty year career, but there certainly seems apt that he is headlining one of the stages at the Tartan Heart festival in it’s tenth year.
Of course his most popular song, ‘Caledonia’, appeals to anyone with the slightest dab of tartan in their heart. The song has recently undergone something of a revival, if arguably it was required, following his collaboration with Anderson, McGinty, Webster, Ward and Fisher to promote the beer, Caledonia Best. “I’ve really enjoyed meeting and making music with AMWWF” reflecting on the recording adding “ [I] look forward to making more in the future.”
The song has an endurability and connection with it’s audience that has seen it achieve the status of Scotland’s alternative national anthem. Dougie explains; “I wrote the song when I was in my early 20s from a genuine feeling of longing for home. Since I first performed it all those years ago it has had a really strong effect on audiences…somehow it’s popularity has steadily grown and now it’s played by so many musicians all over the world…at football games, weddings, funerals…by pipe bands, brass bands, buskers in the street and school choirs! As a songwriter it’s a great honour to have written a song that’s somehow become part of ‘common culture’ and I will always enjoy sharing it with my audiences and enjoy others performing it.”
Of course the song has been covered many times before and Dougie finds it hard to identify a favourite cover ; “There have been so many good cover versions Amy MacDonald, Paolo Nutini, Dolores Keane and Ronan Keating in Ireland among many…and I loved Frankie Miller’s version which topped the Scottish charts some years ago.”
Dougie has also seen his music used in several films, possibly most notably his composition ‘The Gael’ being used in Michael Mann’s ‘Last of the Mohicans’. ”I know that it was the combination of Celtic/Scottish melody with a contemporary feel that led to my music being used in “The Last of the Mohicans” and for other films other songs or melodies that I’ve written just seem to suit. We’ve never really pitched my music for films…we’re just pleased when it’s chosen!.”
His passion for music is clearly evident for anyone to see and he finds it simple to describe his motivation for his art “I love to sing!… it’s a very intense way of being able to express yourself.” Clearly that enjoyment sees no sign of waning “I’m enjoying my music and concerts more than ever before.” One thing that’s contributed to that enjoyment is the success of our 10-day Perthshire Amber Festival (Festival Founder and Musical Director) in the autumn. “It’s a very personal, friendly festival involving musicians that have all had a connection with us over the years. Last year we had over eight thousand festival-goers from twenty two different countries coming to enjoy the music and the wonderful part of Scotland that has inspired much of my writing.”
September sees Dougie maintain his long relationship with his fans in the USA by returning to tour the country. “I’ve been performing in North America for the last 30 years and I’ve managed to build up a fantastic following…people who enjoy my songs and singing. Some will travel huge distances to come to the concerts, which is a great compliment.”
Dougie has received recognition for his singing and song writing in so many different ways, from the award of his OBE to an appearance in The Broons “It’s really gratifying to be recognised for the work that you do” he comments “…not only for myself, but for the wonderful people who have travelled with me on the musical journey…my family and my fans.”
You can catch Dougie Maclean headlining the Grass Roots Stage at Belladrum 2013 on Friday the 2nd of August and Anderson, McGinty, Webster, Ward and Fisher in the same tent on Saturday the 3rd of July.
Please keep track of our Belladrum 2013 coverage.