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Rory McLeod – Defending Our Homes (90s – 65)

August 9, 2013

Part 2 in this series of what I heard on the Night Planet – this time from the earlier Robyn Johnston era. And also the first time I’d influence the musical listenings of quite a few friends.

One night – and I was at school and I shouldn’t have been up this late to listen to the Night Planet – Robyn Johnston did a special on weird and unfashionable instruments. We heard from euphonium, steel drums, the banjo, bagpipes, flower pots and tap shoes.

The wielder of the tap shoes was Rory McLeod. He has equally unfashionable because he played trombone. And he lived in a bus. So he was the sort of outsider I was interested in, the rule breaker, the non-mainstream.

I had never heard of Rory McLeod before I heard this track but despite later buying several albums, or hearing the albums me friends bought, this still remains my favourite track. As a song it covers many large issues: the changing face of towns and villages, the rising power of corporations versus the will of locals; and homelessness and the lack of support for returned veterans. All this McLeod snappily protested about in this song. In fact this is perhaps the first protest song I was aware of, though not the first I had heard (which was probably Stop the Cavalry back when I was young). I wouldn’t hear Billy Bragg or Joe Strummer, nor XTC’s similarly themed Ball and Chain until years later.

When I got to the University radio station, I found they had a copy of the Travelling Home album from whence this song came. I played it and my friends liked it. I would like to say my friends, most of whom were at the station, came from a cross section of the University. In fact they probably were the large-cross section of the University as they were predominantly those who didn’t play sport or go to church. Being a country University they all found their way to the station because they were interested in music but also because their other interests lacked a large enough group of people to form a separate social group. So at various times the station had punks, skankers, ravers, LGTGs, greenies, student politicians (form all sides – but ie political wonks), nerds, gamers, movie buffs, metal heads, mature-aged, a few high school kids and a girl who could ride a unicycle.

So I played Rory McLeod a a few of my friends like his music. They played the songs on radio, they bought CDs and a few of them traveled to see him live. Which is the only time I know where I’ve had a large-scale influence on the listening tastes of other people. For once I was they person, that enthusiast to whom I gave music to others, instead of just a radio presenter playing music into the ether.

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