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by Ruaraidh Gilmour
03 February 2023
Richard Thomson MP: Political Spin

Richard playing at T in the Park

Richard Thomson MP: Political Spin

What was the first record that you ever bought? 

I think the album that I bought was the Rock and Roll Music Volume Two album from Woolworths in Dunoon. But the first one that I went out to buy after that, I was about 12, was Appetite for Destruction by Guns N’ Roses. That was my first proper album.  

What is your karaoke song? 

Take On Me by A-Ha. I’ve got quite a deep voice, but I have also got a falsetto in there, so I can hit the top notes. They’re an underrated band, and I think, a bit like ABBA, they were better than they needed to be. 

What songs do you want played at your funeral? 

It is a song that was written by an American folk musician called Si Kahn. It is a song that Dick Gaughan always used to open with. It’s called What You Do With What You’ve Got. The chorus goes: “It’s not just what you’re born with, it’s what you chose to bear, it’s not how big your share is, it’s how much you can share. It’s not the fights you dreamed of, it’s those you really fought, it’s not just what you are given, it’s what you do with what you’ve got.” It’s not an easy one to sing along to, but it is one that I would dearly love to have played, and it has meant a lot and inspired me along the way.   

What song is guaranteed to make you cry? 

Travellin’ Soldier by the Dixie Chicks. It’s a song about a kid being sent off to Vietnam and being killed in action. There is a bit when he is waiting on a bus to the army camp, he meets a young girl who is a waitress in a café. He doesn’t have anyone to write home to, and she agrees that he can write to her. She is the only one who seems to care when the list of the dead is read out. I’m good pals with Clare Adamson, and she has a brilliant singing voice. I have played the fiddle for years, so she, I, and her husband, who plays the guitar, have been known to play that at SNP cèilidhs and folk nights.  

What music would you always associate with your childhood? 

Probably anything that Robbie Shepherd would be playing, either on Take the Floor or The Reel Blend. Those were programmes that were always on in our house on a Saturday, or if we were ever going out anywhere. I have played the fiddle for a long time in dance bands and things like that. It is a type of music that has brought great joy to me, and hopefully many people. Ours was a family where that tradition was always important. My grandfather was a bothy ballad singer in the north east of Scotland, and he played the fiddle as well.  

What record do you absolutely hate but can’t get out of your head? 

We are just heading into cold turkey for this, but Wonderful Christmastime by Paul McCartney. I loathe and despise that song.  

What record would you be embarrassed to owning up to having in your collection? 

I’m not sure there is anything that I am particularly embarrassed by, but I dare say if you looked at it there are a few late 80s and early 90s metal records in there that haven’t stood the test of time.  

What was the last band you went to see and who with? 

The last gig that I remember going to was pre-pandemic, it was to see Def Leppard and Cheap Trick at the Hydro. I went with Karen Adam, we were councillors in Aberdeenshire at the time, so we drove down. One of my new year’s resolutions is to go out and see more live music because we certainly missed a lot of that over the last two or three years. 
Have you played any big venues yourself? 

I played in a cèilidh band called the Canongate Cadgers, and we did T in the Park two years in a row. The laugh of it is on the poster, you’ve got David Bowie away up in big letters as the headliner and if you get your magnifying glass out you can see us.  

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