Music on Mondays (7-7-14)—For the pipers of the world

The Music Chronicles of Russel Ray

Julian is due back from Texas this week, possibly as soon as tomorrow. If you haven’t met Julian, see this post: Meet Julian Saenz.

One of Julian’s friends, Jack Waldman, plays the bagpipes, which brought back a flood of memories from when I was a lad even younger than Julian (16) and Jack (presumably 16, plus or minus a few months).

When my wise old grandmother adopted me in December 1965, we spent the next year visiting relatives throughout Texas. One of my great uncles was a career soldier in the U.S. Army. He had fought in World War II and was stationed in 1966 at Fort Sam Houston in San Antonio. He played the bagpipes. He had played them at army bases throughout the world during the war, and was in the Fort Sam Houston Pipers. The first time I heard him play the bagpipes, I thought it was the strangest-looking instrument….

….but I fell in love with the sound.

For today’s Music on Mondays, let’s see what music we can find with bagpipes.

The first one that comes immediately to mind for me is “Mull of Kintyre,” a 1977 song by Paul McCartney & Wings, and YOU, good follower, know how big a fan I am of The Beatles, with Paul being my favorite. Here’s Mull of Kintyre:

Pictures copyright 2012 Russel Ray Photos

“Mull of Kintyre” was written by Paul McCartney and Denny Laine. Laine was a member of Wings but was probably better known at that time as a founding member of The Moody Blues.

“Mull of Kintyre” was not a hit in the United States; in fact, I knew about the single’s release but could find it nowhere in Houston at the time. That’s how much of a non-hit it was in the United States. I finally acquired the record at a Beatles convention in Houston six months later.

On the other side of the Atlantic Ocean, “Mull of Kintyre” became Great Britain’s biggest selling single ever, and that includes all the hits by The Beatles! It was the first single to sell two million copies and still is Great Britain’s all-time best selling NON-CHARITY single. NON-CHARITY is important because Elton John’s “Candle in the Wind” rewrite/re-recording in memory of Princess Diana is the #1 selling single, but its proceeds went to charity.

Bagpipes have been in rock music from at least 1968 that I know of when they appeared in “Sky Pilot” by Eric Burdon & The Animals:

Pictures copyright 2012 Russel Ray Photos

I did not add “Sky Pilot” to my music collection until around 1978. By that time, bagpipes had appeared in “The Silent Boatman” by Parliament (1970), “Anthem” by The Sensational Alex Harvey Band (1974), and “It’s A Long Way To The Top (If You Want To Rock ‘n’ Roll) by AC/DC (1975).

Pictures copyright 2012 Russel Ray Photos

Pictures copyright 2012 Russel Ray Photos

Pictures copyright 2012 Russel Ray Photos

The call and answer interplay between the lead guitarist and the bagpipes in “It’s A Long Way To The Top” is among my favorite bagpipe sections.

Although there might be more songs that I could find by research, I only use songs that are in my collection here at Music on Mondays. I have one more song in my collection: “Tomorrow” by U2 (1981)

Pictures copyright 2012 Russel Ray Photos

Then there are the pipers themselves, a strange bunch if ever there was. To wit:

The BadPiper
performing AC/DC’s “Thunderstruck” as never performed before

Pictures copyright 2012 Russel Ray Photos

The Unicycling Darth Vader Piper from Portland:

Pictures copyright 2012 Russel Ray Photos

The American Rogues, America’s Celtic Band:

Pictures copyright 2012 Russel Ray Photos

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39 thoughts on “Music on Mondays (7-7-14)—For the pipers of the world

  1. Hollis Hildebrand-Mills

    I love this video. Of “Mull Of Kintyre”! Thank you for sending it and giving us the history. I remember Linda. And of course Wings, which in my opinion never did really well. I love Paul too!!!

    I never heard of this song. I have to add it my playlist. Thanks so much what a gift!!! I like that it was the top seller in Great Britain! And here we never heard it! 🙂 Hollis

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    1. Russel Ray Photos Post author

      Wings did great, even here in the United States, with:
      My Love #1, Live and Let Die #2, Band on the Run #1, Junior’s Farm #3, Listen to What the Main Said #1, Silly Love Songs #1, Let ‘Em In #1, With A Little Luck #1, Coming Up #1.
      But just like The Beatles, there were too many good people involved, all wanting the limelight.

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        1. Russel Ray Photos Post author

          Paul is like any other extremely good and talented individual.
          Paul Simon, Mick Jaggar, John Lennon, Brian Epstein, George Martin, Michael Jordan, LeBron James, Kobe Bryant……..
          All have been accused throughout their success with being very controlling.
          You don’t get to that level of success by accepting mediocrity.

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          1. Hollis Hildebrand-Mills

            True. I am a painter. An artist. You have to be controlling of your work. It’s when it spills into controlling (or trying to) others that it’s not only not possible, but it’s obnoxious. I think you are talking about focus. All successful people are extremely driven and focused. Painters are called controlling though so I get what you mean. I mean I’m controlling!!!! 🙂

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            1. Russel Ray Photos Post author

              I think there’s a huge difference between an individual and a team, though, especially as the team gets bigger. When one is on a team, controlling is unbecoming, But as I always say when LeBron James and Kobe Bryant mouth off: If they can back it up!

              I have always been self-employed, so to be successful I can’t wait around for others. I have to be controlling.

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  2. paulaacton

    I am not a fan of bagpipes, okay they can sound okay if played skillfully but too often it sounds like several cats are being tortured while a two year old tries to play a violin, maybe the distance from Scotland increases the pleasure they give but I live in the north of England 😀

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    1. Russel Ray Photos Post author

      You’re not the first one I’ve heard say that. However, I can tell you that, as a violinist, there are many adults who make it sound like someone’s being tortured. And as a pianist, I can’t tolerate people banging on a piano……….LOL

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      1. paulaacton

        I hold my hands up and confess to a complete inability to lay any instrument what so ever not even a triangle, if is not a lack of rhythm I can (or should that be could) dance but I have absolutely no control over my fingers, even typing requires constant correction lol

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  3. Gerard Villanueva

    I didn’t realize there was so much bagpipes in rock music. Austin has the “Silver Thistle Pipes and Drums”. How about bagpipes and samba? If you go to http://www.silverthistle.org and click on the “Samba Thistle” link, you can hear very short clips. It’s a collaboration of the bagpipe group and “Sambaxe”, a Brazilian style band I was in. Hard to believe but it worked.

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  4. laurie27wsmith

    I love bagpipes Russel, I find them quite stirring. As a lad in the north of England we had an ex-piper from a Scottish regiment called the Black Watch. On New Years eve he would dress in his full uniform (kilt and all) and march up and down the street playing his pipes. Then a few minutes before midnight he would enter the first house in the street via the back door and come out the front. Everyone in the street would follow. It was quite a spectacle, we didn’t have TV so I guess anything was interesting. 🙂

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      1. inavukic

        😀 😀 😀 mine is not complete but, hey, am still deeply in love – one never gets too old to enjoy Deep Purple, especially not if they were companion in younger days 😀

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        1. Russel Ray Photos Post author

          It took me a while to find their first three albums on CD or as downloads. I was in an orchestra ensemble in 1973 that played “April” from their 1969 album, “Deep Purple.” That was my first experience with Deep Purple. Been a fan ever since.

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          1. inavukic

            I was at their concert in New York, May 1973 – was studying at NYU at the time two semesters social psychology. The concert was mind-blowing – ah, youth 😀
            Great to hear of your musical past, must have been so rewarding then, it is now but then it was just such an era for great music

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            1. Russel Ray Photos Post author

              Regretfully, Deep Purple and The Beatles are the only two groups that I really wanted to see in concert but never did. Of course, with Deep Purple still releasing music (“What Now?” in April 2013), who knows?

              There was an 8-day span in the 1980s when I saw Chicago, Fleetwood Mac, Jethro Tull, Rolling Stones, Bachman-Turner Overdrive, Queen, Eagles, and Cars. I was living in Houston but traveled to San Antonio, Austin, Dallas, and New Orleans to see everyone. I don’t think I got anything done at work that week.

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              1. inavukic

                😀 What 8 days they were – glorious I bet. Eagles – loooooved them, also still listen to them as well on iTunes as I drive. I saw Beatles in Sydney, Australia 1964 I had to sneak out of the house on pretences going to friend’s to study as parents would have grounded me for sure had they known 😀 Last time I saw Fleetwood Mac was five years ago when they visited Australia at Hunter Valley vineyards open concert, those drums of Mick’s still ring in my ears as I braved myself at my ripe age and pushed my way to the mosh pit 😀

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  5. stregajewellry

    Russel, thanks for such an informative and interesting post! I love a day when I can learn something new and when it involves music, I’m doubly blessed! Great listening today.

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