John Quinn. To answer that question? In a nutshell? NO. The album came from two things. A chance meeting outside a supermarket with a very talented local musician I know, Paul Fitzpatrick, a few years back now, and the fact I am a sometimes poet.
‘I write music,’ Paul said, ‘But I can’t get past June, moon and spoon when it comes to words.’
Me now? Write music? Not for toffee. I sent him a few of my poems fully expecting him to do a runner. But instead he came back with the Ballad of Peter Black. For those who don’t know about Peter Black, he was a local lad from across the water in Newport-On-Tay…….
There’s more about him here.
Anyway, maybe we weren’t Rogers and Hammerstein but that was the beginning. Paul brought a load of Dundee musicians onboard, singers, guitarists, string and accordion players, you name it, all of whom gave their time for free in the hope of putting together an album about the city and its people, past and present that would be sold for charity. It took a while, given the logistics of that AND the fact that yes, we paid for some recording studio time and were helped in this by a local Dundee businessman, but the rates were reduced, so folks came together when they could and when the studio could let us in.
John Quinn That must have been an oversight….. Of course if we had known of Donovan and his great talent…….
John Quinn –-okay guys don’t fight amongst yourselves. Of course I didn’t overlook it but the fact was, there were no Dundee hamsters that..that I knew of. The songs are all about different things. And people, people who were players in the city in some way, for example Jim Maclean, a Dundee footballer and Dundee United football manager, who put Dundee on the world stage, as you can see
Mary Shelley—-who hasn’t heard of Frankenstein, right? William McGonagall the world’s best writer of bad verse. Winston Churchill? Why is he here? Because the last man to take him down before Joe Biden, was Eddie Scrymgeour the phohibionist MP elected by the ‘drunkest city in the British Empire, just to get Churchill, who they also served maggots in kippers to, out. https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Edwin_Scrymgeour
Mary Slessor, https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Mary_Slessor. Dundee mill lassie and missionary in Calabar. So far as I know no Dundee hamsters went there or of course, I’d have made the song about them.
Many of these people had been depicted in my play O Halflins an’ Hecklers an’ Weavers an’ Weemin. So much so that this album also includes two songs that Shey and myself wrote the words and music for. Mother of All the People and No Pasaran, Albert Square. But there’s also a song about Kenga Kuma, who designed the V & A Museum here, as you can see from the back cover, with your typical Dundee bairn, more interested in his mobile phone than any stunning vista!
But it’s not only people who were players that these songs are about.’ In Juteopolis’ was inspired by Annie Golden my Irish born great-grandmother. By the time she was ten she was having her boots packed with jute so she was big enough to stand at the loom in a jute mill!! No Passeran is the story of the Dundee men who went to fight in the Spanish Civil War, and never returned. Peter Black I’ve mentioned already. The title and title track are a slightly surreal take on the stunning view of the city and the river from the top of Dundee Law. The Giza Pyramid may be in Egypt but here ‘Gie’za’ means Give me a, so it’s Giza Pyramid, Gie’za V&A.
John Quinn. There’s every style, rock, pop, folk, Spanish, quite a bit of metal in McGonagalls’s Ghost. Paul’s son Michael, did an acoustic version of the title track, recently at home, just to keep things ticking over, given that like everything else right now, this has been delayed by Covid, and put it on Facebook. Bear in mind it’s not the official recording.
John Quinn. Well, believe it or not, it was quite hard to get a charity onboard and we didn’t want NOT to have them named on the cover.
Yeah, but finally we did and a very good charity it is at that.
In fact the Archie Foundation is the official charity of Tayside Children’s Hospital at Ninewells, who look forward to the pressing and to selling the CDs online.
I have set up a Just Giving page to which many of you have already very kindly donated, so we can go ahead and get the pressing done. But if anyone else feels like putting in any sum at all, believe you me, it’s hugely appreciated.
ABOUT JOHN QUINN
John Quinn’s Twitter profile tells him he’s a persistent Dundonian, left footer, ex-teacher, global justice worrier and “wid be scriever.” His poetry has appeared in numerous publications including Poetry Scotland, Northwords Now, Mind the Time, and Lallans. He has performed his work including slam poetry in various places ranging from public parks to coffee shops and pubs. However, unlike his Dundonian predecessor, Oor Wullie McGonagall, he has found that to date, people have only thrown words at him. He is also the author of the play ‘O Halflins an Hecklers an Weavers an Weemin’ about the history of Jute and its impact on the City of Dundee. In 2017 and 2018 the play was performed in the High Mill at Verdant Works Museum accompanied by the music of Michael Marra. And again in 2019 at the Hamish Matters Festival (The Hamish Henderson Festival) in Blairgowrie, Perthshire. His book, The Eyes of Grace O’Malley is published by Black Wolf Books.
John Quinn lives above the River Tay with his wife.
Find John Quinn here.