From my Daily Record column
So that was what Liam Clancy meant with “the parting glass”.
When Malcolm Jones raised his guitar for the last time, when the emotional rip current caught him, it really was “soraidh leibh”, goodbye to Runrig.
The unassuming Malcolm, always more attentive to his guitar work than the applause, was most affected by the crowd at the end of Saturday’s final gig.
Don’t worry Malcolm, in the dark, under the ramparts of Stirling Castle, there were many tears.
Younger readers will find out later, but a great trick of ageing, I noticed on Saturday, is that everyone stays the same when the 45 year soundtrack of our lives is played.
Like the “sìthean”, the little people, Runrig on stage still looked like the boys from the village hall, the ones who took their music to the world.
Lifelonrg friends spooled by with the songs. There was Iain “Smithy” Smith, a born for the stage musician, whose mandolin drove Donnie Munro’s evergreen set.
Great that Donnie was given his due, that Gaelic threaded every minute, that Gary Innes’s accordion echoed of the late Robert MacDonald, of Blair Douglas, of the ceilidh chords that set Runrig on the way.
When I recorded Seumus Heaney’s paean to Sorley MacLean he said the Raasay bard saved Gaelic poetry in the 20th century and so saved the language forever. Quite a claim but, you know, poets.
That honour now belongs to Calum and Rory MacDonald, the band’s soul brothers, whose music ensured Gaelic’s recovery. Their authentic Highland charm was ever the secret tune of Runrig’s success.
Where these boys led with song, others followed with words and deeds, pens and policies.
Without that 1970s “Runrig generation” we’d have been drinking a parting glass to Gaelic long ago.
Some of them were there on Saturday, forever young, dancing like the fairies, toasting the joy of a wedding, not a wake.