Wednesday 23 September 2015

Today: Eric Bogle

It is Eric Bogle's birthday today: born 23 September 1944 into an honest working-folks family in Peebles on the River Tweed in S. Scotland. It was pretty hopeless in Scotland during the 1960s with the toppling collapse of heavy industry and engineering dominoing large parts of the economy into recession, so Bogle upped-stakes and emigrated to Australia in 1969.  He said goodbye to his mother at the railway station (she promised not to cry) knowing that he might never see her again:
On the far side of the world, he made a living at various jobs and wrote songs which came blurfing up from somewhere deep inside his Scottish heart; full of compassion and anger . . . and loss, as with Leaving Nancy. If you're a bloke you might listen to these songs in the car where nobody will see you blubbing; but drive carefully and stop if you can't see clearly.
When we lived in Newcastle in the NE of England (and not so very far from Peebles) we weren't mad folkies but we heard that Eric Bogle was doing a gig in a hotel in Tynemouth about 15km away on the coast. Bogle was definitely a Name in the folk scene, so it was a bit disconcerting to find it happening in in upstairs room for maybe 50 people. It was plain delightful; he told his stories and sang his songs and broke our hearts and made us laugh.  As I say: a great heart, a man sewn up in kindness.
But Bogle is most widely known for his commemorations of the bloody futility of at Gallipoli 1915
At Gallipoli "Johnny Turk" was led with reckless bravery, excellent intelligence and strategic mastery by a young officer called Mustafa Kemal. After the collapse of the Ottoman Empire in the 1920s he became Atatürk, "father of his people".  In 1934 he paid tribute to the WWI fallen of both sides "You, the mothers who sent their sons from faraway countries, wipe away your tears; your sons are now lying in our bosom and are in peace. After having lost their lives on this land they have become our sons as well."  Well even if he didn't, the sentiment was and is in the air and now carved in stone.

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