Scottish folk singer-songwriter, story-teller. 1954 - date
"Native peoples, like the North American Indians and the Australian Aborigines, put a large emphasis on this connection [with the land]-- there is a respect, love and deep caring for the land that they depend on... I think it's very important to make songs from your own real feelings."
A musical and cultural powerhouse of a man, Dougie MacLean is one of Scotland's foremost folk singers, born of a tradition of folk culture and Scottish pride. His father was a gardner, his grandfather a shepherd near Loch Etive. Originally crofters from Mull, the family moved to Perthshire on the mainland, and Dougie was born in Dunblane on 27th September 1954.
Dougie is a man of many talents, and is definitely a "man of the people", in touch with their needs and desires, and telling tales and singing songs not just that appeal to them, but in a voice that they understand and appreciate. He's worked at many things, from gardener, engineer (with a degree in engineering) and busker.
Whilst still at school, he joined up to play with Andy Stewart and Martin Hadden (both later of Silly Wizard), and was spotted busking in 1974 by Roy Gullane of the Tannahill Weavers, and invited to join the band, which he did. In 1977 he left to tour Germany, and then returned to play the fiddle with Silly Wizard and tour with the "Tannies" again.
In 1979 he released the single Caledonia, which marked the start of a new career, way of life and a new voice for Scotland. By 1981 he was totally solo again, and formed Dunkeld Records in 1983, both for his own recordings and those from other local folk artists.
Now married to artist Jennifer MacLean, he has two children, Jamie and Julia. Still living near Dunkeld, he also runs a local folk bar (MacLean's Music Bar) in Dunkeld, and tours and travels. The bar is a centre for local musicians and artists to play and support others, and he actively supports and evangelises the preservation and spread of Scottish culture and history through music.
Musically, Dougie is a well respected and talented artist, playing guitar, mandolin, fiddle, bodhran and mouth organ with equal skill and verve. His songs are drawn from his cultural heritage and experience, as well as his travels - many of his songs concern the preservation of tradition and cultural identity (especially the Gaelic/Scots), although he is not too "political". He draws together the threads which are common to all, and highlights global parallels, drawing comparisons with Scots, Australian aborigines, native North Americans and others, always singing the value of tradition, history and culture.
Live, he is outstanding. I based a two-week camping in Scotland around his gig in Dunfermline, and seeing him live was an awesome experience. Slight and modest in appearance, he carries with him a great humour and wisdom, one moment making you laugh, the next, having you deep in thought. He is a great story-teller, weaving in his own experience and giving background anecdotes, history and gentle political philosophy between songs. By the end of the performance, we were left with a sense of awe at the depth of his love for his country and heritage. It was a humbling moment, and we were proud to have been privy to it.
One of his most famous songs, Caledonia, is well-known and loved by many, and has been covered by many artists. Some have said it's almost a second Scottish national anthem. When he finished his encore with it, the whole audience sang proudly, and in that moment, I wished that I had been Scottish, such was its power.
In addition to his folk music, he has written a symphonic orchestral work, Perthshire Amber, and incidental music for the film Last of the Mohicans. His song Broken Wings is also featured in the film Angel Eyes (2001), sung by Mary Black.
His website at http://www.dougiemaclean.com is well worth a visit, to listen to, and order his music.
I have permission to reproduce his lyrics here.