Co-founder and life long member of THE CORRIES until his untimely and tragic death on August 12th 1990, composer, musician and singer ROY WILLIAMSON ranked high among the many great Folk Music artists Scotland has produced through the years.
Amid the wealth of traditional and modern Scottish folk songs recorded by The Corries. Roy Williamson has a place in history assured due to Flower of Scotland', his passionate ballad adopted by the people of the country as a national anthem in recent times.
Thankfully, during the illness that took his last breath, Roy Williamson continued to compose, play and record.
The result is this new album of solo work produced during the final years of his life.
THE LONG JOURNEY SOUTH proves Roy Williamson retained his deep love of music until the end.
We are the more fortunate he did.
Royalties from sales of this album are being donated to Greenpeace.
THE LONG JOURNEY SOUTH — Roy viewed many of life's miracles with awe however nothing surpassed his fascination with whales. The dire effects of pollution on these enormous creatures and the sad fact they are being needlessly killed, touched the very core of his being. Roy's heart went out to them because of their growing inability to communicate with one another now a man made film of oil covers the oceans and seas. As a musician he felt it similar to a song being sung yet remaining unheard by everyone. During what were to be his final months Roy found a great deal of comfort in listening to an album of whale sounds. He came to cherish the serenity it brought, and I know he was grateful he had been given a gift enabling him to blend his musicianship with that of the whales' unique song. THE LONG JOURNEY SOUTH was therefore very special to Roy for many reasons, he would be pleased to know royalties from sales of this album are being donated to Greenpeace.
LAGGAN LOVE — Deep in the same ancient Celtic vein as 'The Garton Mother's Lullaby' and George Weir's 'Lord Yester', LAGGAN LOVE brings forth the combolins in a fey aura of dreamy times gone by. Steeped in historic mist and beautifully coloured by a voice second to none in this particular field of music.
THE SKYE BOAT SONG — Few singers have tried to better that 'certain duo's' version of THE SKYE BOAT SONG. Roy's working of it here, using his own voice in self harmony, was an attempt to improve upon his own original arrangement. The result is musically fascinating and of course the song remains timeless in its classic beauty.
DONALD OG — This was the type of singing Roy preferred to all others. For Roy, DONALD OG was one of the songs lying at the fertile root of all traditional Folk Music. This was the way in which the balladeers of old would sing it out on a Saturday night in the pub... belt it out with plenty of grace notes and a lot of heart! It mattered little if the occasional note went haywire or the guitar leapt out of tune, an intense personal emotion was being portrayed through the sheer joy of singing.
PEGGY GORDON — Roy's love of conventional Folk Music is clearly represented in his own version of PEGGY GORDON. Songs affording him the opportunity to 'do something' with his voice were always among his favourites. Peggy Gordon offers the type of melody that may be deeply enhanced with lots of grace notes and feeling, elements of singing he enjoyed most of all.
NICKY'S THEME — Written for me alone therefore just NICKY'S THEME now and always.
NUMBER ONE — Given this title as it was Roy's first serious attempt at 'going it alone'. He disappeared into the recording studio for two full days, occasionally asking for coffee or a fresh pack of cigarettes before emerging triumphant with a grin on his face and NUMBER ONE on a cassette. I was amazed at the short amount of recording time required to produce this quite intricate piece of music however Roy was well rehearsed, apparently, I had been hearing its development every night for the previous two years as he relaxed each evening with a guitar.
TUSCAN — The recording of TUSCAN was born only a few days after 'NUMBER ONE'. The melody had been on Roy's mind for a long time and he played about with it for years before attempting to record it. The story woven around the tune is that of an elder Tuscan generation (the deep guitar) who sit contented after a hard day's work to sip wine and smoke their pipes, being confronted by a younger generation (the higher guitar) who question the fulfillment of back breaking labour for very little pay or reward.
THE LONG JOURNEY SOUTH (reprise) — Rounding off the instrumental part of the album and bringing it full circle to a tranquil close.
Seven months before Roy left this Earth, he simply told me he knew I would do something with his music. Being unaware then he was dying, my bewilderment at his statement had little reason to linger.
It was several weeks after his departure when his words returned, repeatedly and insistently, until I could find no rest except within the small confines of his recording studio. There I spent long days with miles of tape whilst engaged in a technical battle with a tape machine, one of whose more mysterious functions, 'BIAS', seemed to sum up its opinion of my limited expertise in its operation. Thanks need to be expressed therefore to a good friend of Roy's, namely Dave Sinton of Forres who patiently showed me how to start and stop the stubborn machine in order to listen to dozens of unlabeled boxes of master tapes. Unlabeled, as filing was never one of Roy's stronger points. Eventually after several weeks of careful listening and finding to my surprise along the way a few songs I was unaware Roy had even recorded, I emerged thoroughly shaken yet elated, with this selection. Here on this album THE LONG JOURNEY SOUTH (known affectionately within the family as Roy's Whales) you will find an array of Folk Music both vocal and instrumental, some of it traditional, some of it his own, all of it featuring the 'Williamson' touch.
Had Roy been given more time I know he would have polished one or two of these recordings a little more, however, from the solo bard's guitar in DONALD OG the interweaving of combolins and voice in Laggan Love', the flutes, concertina and sheer concert style of 'Tuscan', you will instantly recognise and I hope remember, the Roy Williamson you knew as one of The Corries these many years.
My sincere thanks go out to Roy Ashby and David Martin without whom this album would not have been.
Special thanks also to Colin Heatherington who has been in charge of artwork and who had the brilliant idea of having one of Roy's seascapes feature in the design.
Finally, it is with an innate thankfulness to the invisible hand that strongly kept forcing me on I would like to turn to now. "Here's to you, Roy, it was but your hand that created this music."