Dick Gaughan – Outlaws and Dreamers

Dick Gaughan – Outlaws and Dreamers

Tuesday, 6 November 2001, 12.00pm

Twelfth solo album by Dick Gaughan, released in November 2001 on Greentrax.

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The track or piece of music I enjoyed most: 

What You Do With What You Got

Why I gave the above rating: 

Of the many albums that Scottish folk singer Dick Gaughan has released, 'Cowboys and Dreamers' is the one that I return to most often.

It’s the song ‘What You Do With What You Got’, written by Si Kahn, that generally draws me back. I first heard Gaughan sing it at the Stirling Folk Club in Scotland, three years before this album was released in 2001, and at the time he opened every gig with this song.

It’s a song about disability, but it has much broader application. ‘It's not just what you're born with, It's what you choose to bear, It's not how big your share is, But how much you can share.’ Gaughan’s passionate performance grapples with the human challenge implicit in the lyrics.

The other song that leaps out is ‘Tom Paine’s Bones’ written by Mark Whyte, a brilliantly creative telling of the story of the eighteenth-century American political activist: ‘They say I preached revolution, Let me say in my defence, That all I did wherever I went, Was to talk a lot of common sense’. Gaughan’s intense guitar playing and vocal is perfect for the urgency of the lyrics.

There are several other highlights on the album, from the bouyant tune on guitar ‘Florence in Florence’ to the sadness of ‘When I’m Gone’, but the confessional title track ‘Outlaws and Dreamers’ is at the heart of the album. It's a song written by Gaughan in which he reflects on the impulse that has driven his musical campaigning over several decades, and why he won't change: 'Thirty five years of singing and playing ...They said I would change as I aged and grew old... I give my soul's promise, I give my heart's pledge, To outlaws and dreamers and life at the edge.'

Gaughan is currently not performing because of illness, but we can only hope that he will be back soon because his work is as relevant as ever.

p.s. here's an interview with Gaughan published in the Journal of Music in 2001: https://journalofmusic.com/focus/difference-between-rebel-and-revolutionary-interview-dick-gaughan

Who readers should listen to next: 

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