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:
“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:
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).
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)
Then there are the pipers themselves, a strange bunch if ever there was. To wit:
performing AC/DC’s “Thunderstruck” as never performed before
The Unicycling Darth Vader Piper from Portland:
The American Rogues, America’s Celtic Band:
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