Monday, October 20, 2008

12 of my favourite songs on Youtube

Bendik og Årolilja (Gåte)
Bonden och Kråkan (Ranarim)
Dejelil och lagerman (Gjallarhorn)
Euchari (Garmarna)
Gamen (Garmarna)
öga berg och djupa dalar (Ranarim)
Hùg Air A' Bhonaid Mhòir (Julie Fowlis)

öttrarna (Gjallarhorn)
Oró, 'Sé do Bheatha 'Bhaile (Sinéad O' Connor)
Puirt-a-beul (Julie Fowlis)
Sjå Attende (Gåte)
Suvetar (Gjallarhorn)

All the songs I've posted are folk music of some kind and nine are from Scandinavia with the remaining three from Scotland and Ireland (which probably reflects what I listen to now and what I have in my collection - which I added to when I was in Sweden at the weekend). Celtic music is certainly better known internationally but the Nordic countries and especially Norway also have a vibrant folk music scene. I’ve always enjoyed listening to Scottish and Irish music on Radio Nan Gaidheal but since first hearing Scandinavian music when I was there two years ago I’ve came to like it even more.

It’s difficult to explain why I like it so much but I find folk and especially the Nordic stuff to be quite expressive and emotional and influenced by the natural environment. Many of the links aren’t really for traditional folk music (Gåte and Garmarna are both folk/rock groups) so they maybe don’t give an accurate picture of the differences between different styles of music. But I like both the old and the new and its always good to be open to different and modern influences.

Friday, October 10, 2008

Iceland - a terrorist state?

Poor little Iceland. A population of just 300,000 yet home to some enormous banks which are now going bust and which the government certainly doesn’t have the resources to save. A rapidly devaluing currency, sky-high inflation and a shortage of public finances are just some of the problems the Icelanders are now having to deal with. In addition Gordon Brown has decided they’re a nation of terrorists. Why else would he be using ‘anti-terrorist’ laws to seize their assets, declaring their actions “illegal” and “unacceptable”?

Whether or not Brown actually considers Prime Minister Geir Haarde to be another Bin Laden, his move is unprecedented and throws scorn on the idea that such laws are here to protect the lives and liberty of the average citizen, rather than to centralise yet more powers in the hands of an overbearing and imperialistic British state.

This, by the way, is far from the first time Iceland has had its sovereignty trashed by the big powers of the world. After the wartime allied occupation the Americans decided to hang on to their large base at Keflavik with little regard for the wishes of local people. And in the 1970s Britain sent in its navy in an attempt to force the Icelanders to accept the exploitation of their fishing stocks by UK vessels.

None of this is to deny the recklessness of the Icelandic banks in this particular case. But they hardly behaved any worse than banks in Britain or anywhere else. Unlike here where the government can seemingly chuck £500 billion of taxpayers money down the drain in a handout to the very same fat-cats who caused this problem in the first place, Iceland has far less options at their disposal. People like Brown should understand this before trying to crucify Iceland for doing exactly what they’ve been doing, and would do should they find themselves in the same circumstances.