Crawford Hall Mackenzie is our first guest of 2015 and came in to the studio to play two great songs for our January podcast, ‘Pretty Darlings’ and ‘Darkness is only Temporary’. Both are on his CD, Restless Spirit.
Arriving in Aberdeen to study architecture in 1968 Crawford, lifted his student grant, went out and bought a guitar and started to play. It was a nylon strung Tatra classic from Bruce Miller’s on George Street. He played and sung for the first time in a coffee bar in the basement of the Salvation Army citadel at the east end of Union Street the same year. Without any suitable material on hand he wrote a couple of songs for the occasion and this propelled him into a life of song writing which has spanned over 40 years, some 80 songs and five albums with the band, The Weavers Hand, and his most recent solo album Restless Spirit.
The Weavers Hand began as a singing partnership with Marilyn Marshall, who backed Maggie Bell, and David Tooth who produced all their albums. The first album Vale of Tears was recorded in GRF studios in Glasgow in 1990. The band played in concerts throughout Scotland, Northern Ireland and England in church halls, schools and universities, village halls, pubs and prisons and disbanded after their final album, Bound in Time, in 2000.
Crawford was a late learner when it came to appreciating the medium of the popular song. As a teenager Buddy Holly, Elvis and even the early Beatles past him bye. It was Bob Dylan in the late mid-sixties that cracked the egg and opened the door on the pregnant possibilities and opportunities to express a whole world of emotion and lifetime of stories. The bitter sarcasm of Don’t Think Twice it’s Alright finally hit the button galvanised the mind. Bob Dylan remains the talisman and his work has never been eclipsed but others have had their influence. Paul Simon, John Sebastian, Mark Knopler, Pat Beneter, Bert Jansch, Sandy Denny, Nanci Griffith, Mary Chapin Carpenter, Paul Brady, Bebe, Coco Mbassi, Susanne Vega, Charlotte Dipande, and many others. All taking the simple construction of the art form and using it with great craft and power to laugh, mock, challenge, shake up or simply to tell tales laced with true humanity.
Crawford’s latest album, Restless Spirit, comes from the deep unease and sense that there must be more than this, that things are not always what they seem, the search for integrity, the desire to pass on what little wisdom we have found to the next generations, the beauty of humanity in friendships and love and the questions that still remain unanswered. Ultimately the search ends with God and the final rest found in him as David was able to express in his ancient song.