A Career in Ten Songs: Lorraine Wilson, freelance writer, reviewer and columnist

LORRAINE Wilson is a freelance writer from, and based in, Dundee. A former editor of The Scots Magazine, she now specialises in music and comedy and writes a weekly column in The Courier. Her book, Take it to the Bridge, charting rock and pop in Dundee, was published three years ago and she established the music programme at the city’s Gardyne Theatre. An occasional ‘professional talker’ on radio, she also sings with a Steely Dan tribute band called The Danoraks.

This is her career in ten songs…

1. Danny Wilson – Mary’s Prayer – 
Being fortunate enough to be born in Dundee, it was straight from the school gates into a job in magazines. As pop editor of [the now no longer magazine] Jackie, it was possible to give copious amounts of space to mates who just happened to have a single out. The guys in Danny Wilson would be the first to admit they were no heart-throbs but we treated them like latter-day David Cassidys – they’ve never forgiven me.

2. The Proclaimers 
- Letter From America – Moving to London in 1987 coincided with the release of The Proclaimers’ first album. Still being a bairn, I didn’t cope with the joshing from colleagues at IPC, who would sing this at me in the style of Russ Abbot’s ‘hilarious’ C U Jimmy character. Desperately homesick, the whole album kept my spirits up until I headed home.

3. Sam Brown – Stop! 
- Back in Dundee, I was asked to return to DC Thomson, and subsequently met Sam Brown to interview her for Jackie Pop Special. Apart from her extraordinary talent, it was clear that she was far from the usual pop starlet. Talking to musicians like her, rather than pop stars, became more interesting, so she was inspirational in me moving on from teen mags (at the grand old age of 22).

4. k.d. Lang – Summerfling
 – After joining The Herald in 1995, [arts editor] Keith Bruce finally gave in to my badgering to review gigs. After a week – when I had reviewed three gigs that could be loosely termed as ‘Country’, including k.d. Lang’s tour to promote Invincible Summer – it led to a first radio job, when Rab Noakes asked me to contribute to what was then The Brand New Opry.

Bryan Burnett proclaimed me “a natural”… and who am I to disagree?

5. Saint Andrew – Dinna Ast Me Chief (Eh Dinna Ken) – 
As The Herald’s resident professional Dundonian, Mr Tom Shields called upon me to translate the lyrics when he received a copy of Saint Andrew’s seminal work, The Word on the Pavey. The album, written by Saint Andrew and Michael Marra is a joyous celebration of not just the Dundee dialect but the Scots tongue in general – imagine if Engelbert Humperdinck and Frank Zappa had a love child born on the slopes of the Law.

6. Barenaked Ladies – One Week
 – Perhaps the best experience during any radio job came one morning, just before Christmas, when I was a studio guest with MacAulay & Co, on BBC Radio Scotland. I never knew who the other guests would be, and this particular morning there was a band set-up in the corner.

As a massive fan, when Barenaked Ladies appeared, every Christmas had definitely come at once…

7. Peter Gabriel – Solsbury Hill – 
Having left The Herald and been freelance for a couple of years, seeing Peter Gabriel live at the SECC was another turning point. I had almost decided to leave Glasgow and return to Dundee and something in the lyrics to Solsbury Hill touched me more than usual. “Grab your things, I’ve come to take you home.”

The decision was made then. Still my ultimate Desert Island Disc.

8. The Killers – Mr Brightside – 
I think everyone who has covered T in the Park over the years has their ultimate ‘T song’. It was a toss-up between this and Foo Fighters’ Best of You, but ultimately this is the one that resonates, not just from the stage performances, but from the terrible dancing that ensues once the copy is filed on Sunday and the hacks head to the Hospitality Tent to let off steam.

Fantastic memories of Mr Brightside for that.

9. Rufus Wainwright – Gay Messiah – 
Perhaps the strangest thing that has happened. Mr Fraser Smith, PR extraordinaire called, as friends and I were driving to the Usher Hall in Edinburgh, to see Rufus Wainwright. The upshot was that we were part of a spectacular-on-stage finale, shaking giant cocktails and then had to lie on the stage as a barely-clothed Rufus sang Gay Messiah.

10. Michael Marra – All Will Be Well
 – Writing the Take it to the Bridge book was an absolute joy, but the highlight was the time I spent speaking with Michael Marra. Hilarious, wise, perceptive and supportive, it was a lesson that sometimes you should meet your heroes as they can exceed all expectations. Sadly missed. All Will Be Well is a song to turn to in times of crisis.

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