Strings and Soul: The Songs of Dougie MacLean

If you like wistful ballads with a Celtic flavour performed with strings, here are two pieces that I like. Both are written by the Scottish composer Dougie MacLean (b. 1954) who also composed the main theme for the 1992 film, The Last of the Mohicans. The first ballad is “Caledonia”. Caledonia is the traditional name for Scotland and MacLean’s song wistfully evokes the emotions of a homesick traveller pining for home. The song has become the most popular of all MacLean’s recordings and something of a Scottish anthem. It has been covered by a great number of artists, the majority of whom are Scottish or Irish.

The second song is the beautiful ballad, “Broken Wings” written by MacLean in 1985. Here are the lyrics:

Broken Wings (1985)

A tall tree
Turn and face the west
O we’re running with the wind
A high clifftop
We’re waiting with the rest
For this journey to begin


But these broken wings won’t fly
These broken wings won’t fly at all

And O how we laugh
But maybe we should crawl
And ask to be excused
We shout loudly,
Have answers to it all
O but we have been refused


Girl child
You’re dancing with the stream
Growing with the silver trees
Your young questions
You ask me what it means
O but I am not at ease


And here is the “Broken Wings” performed by Dougie MacLean at The Perthshire Amber Festival, October 2005.

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