The Ultimate Holiday Playlist

19 April 2018

ben hope

Photo: Ben Hope by Paul Wordingham via CC

To get you in the mood for your summer holiday we have curated the ultimate playlist to inspire you as you count down the days till your departure. Distinctly Scottish music, rooted in a sense of time and place that will soundtrack your journey north and your time away from home. Here are a few highlights and why we think they make the perfect accompaniment to that Scottish holiday.

The quietest time to visit the Hebrides this summer will probably be the weekend of the last ever Runrig concerts in Stirling as large swathes of islanders will be making the journey to say goodbye to one of the most iconic bands of their era. It will be an emotional farewell to a group who have sound-tracked the Highlands for nearly 40 years and it is almost impossible to convey just how important the connection is they have with generations of highlanders. Maybe it’s the fact that they often sing in Gaelic, or use traditional melodies, as well as writing songs about important aspects of our history and culture, while at the same time still appealing to the modern music fan. The Summer Walkers is a great example, a tribute to an old fashioned rural Highland way of life now forgotten. The places and sights mentioned in the song such as Altnaharra, Suilven and Ben Hope are still as captivating as they have always been and a stay in somewhere like Seahorses will place you right in the middle of this landscape so you can see close up what inspired Runrig in the first place.

In contrast to Runrig’s modern take on traditional music Julie Fowlis is more firmly rooted in the past. Singing almost exclusively in Gaelic, this multi award winning folk singer from the Hebrides has appeared on the soundtrack of films such as Walt Disney’s Brave as well as achieving a measure of mainstream success. She produces evocative and soulful songs, often with little or no background accompaniment to her voice as well as traditional mournful laments. This is music for late nights, comfy chairs and single malts. Her second album Cuilidh was a collection of songs from her native North Uist and when watching the sun set over the beach from the deck at Clachan Sands Cottage the haunting melodies seem to take on an added power. The music is very much tied to the place itself and never seems to have the same emotional impact when listening anywhere else.

If Martyn Bennett’s name is not familiar to many then his music almost certainly will be. Used in films, adverts and most famously in Danny MacAskill’s The Ridge no other music seems to typify the Scottish mountains better. The performance of his seminal album Bothy Culture by the Grit Orchestra 13 years after his tragic death was by far the biggest spectacle of this year’s Celtic Connections with the SSE Hydro full to capacity. As well as being cinematic in its scope Bennett’s music is for dancing and anyone planning on a holiday shindig should get themselves in the mood by cranking up the volume and practicing your best dancefloor moves. Saltwinds would be a great base to explore the Isle of Skye, go dancing in the nearby Carbost Inn and explore the ridge for yourself.

John Lennon loved the north of Scotland, holidaying with his family in Durness every year as a child and returning with his own young family at the height of his fame. A memorial garden in the village now plays tribute to this with a plaque featuring lyrics from In My Life, one of his most famous songs. The implied connection between Durness and what is probably one of the Beatles most enduring hits has caused much good natured debate among locals who can still remember him as a boy and music critics around the world.

Not to be outdone, Paul McCartney, himself a long time Scottish resident, composed Mull of Kintyre about the remote peninsula where he lived. The frustratingly catchy song and accompanying video featuring pipers on the beach at Macrihanish was a worldwide hit and probably has done more for tourism in the area than any Visit Scotland campaign. The lyrics of the song are as poignant today as they have always been and the beach is just as stunning as it appears on screen. Achaglachgach Gate Lodge sits right in the middle of the peninsula with easy access to all the attractions of the area, for surfing, hiking and biking it really a premier destination and it will have you humming the tune regardless how much you try to avoid it.