Music for a Celtic Soul

Celtic soul is a term I use quite a lot when describing some of my favourite music.  I devoted a chapter to it in my book, I Was There – A Musical Journey. It’s music that almost always has a sense of melancholy, longing, loss, even when the sounds are big and bold. It’s music that doesn’t disguise its emotions. It always sounds great, but it sounds even better after a few beers. It is, for me, the music of Scotland and, especially, Ireland. It’s a feeling which travelled the Atlantic and became fundamental to American country and folk music. And when that collided with soul and the blues, we ended up with rock’n’roll, which conquered the world.

On one level, this is just a playlist of some of my favourite Scottish and Irish bands over the years, going right up to the present with, you guessed it, Honeyblood. But it is also some of the music I love the most: music to which I will always return – especially after a few beers!

And maybe it’s the Irishman in me. While I was born and grew up in England, and have lived in London since 1980, my mother is from Belfast, and my father’s mother was from Dublin. Next weekend my wife, Kath, and I are going for a few days’ holiday in Belfast and the surrounding area. It will be the first time I have been to Belfast for anything other than work. I’m really looking forward to it – and I think this playlist may provide a soundtrack…


About John S

I'm blogging about the things I love: music, sport, culture, London, with some photos to illustrate aspects of our wonderful city. I’ve written a novel called “The Decision”, a futuristic political thriller, and first of a trilogy. I’m also the author of a book on music since the 1970s called “ I Was There - A Musical Journey” and a volume of poetry about youth, “Growin’ Up - Snapshots/ Fragments”. All available on Amazon and Kindle.
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4 Responses to Music for a Celtic Soul

  1. dc says:

    try a few other ones

    • John S says:

      Thin Lizzy, U2, Rory Gallagher, Van Morrison – all good! Never really listened to Horslips, and never heard of Flogging Molly. Will give it a whirl.

  2. Dood says:

    Good playlists both. I was intrigued by the inclusion of John Martyn, though I accept entirely the fact that his music carries this vibe. I’d always assumed that he was a Londoner. Turns out that although he was born in New Malden, his father was Scottish and he spent a fair amount of his early life there (and college in Glasgow). Real name Iain David McGeachy – and that was new to me too

    Delighted to see Glasvegas represented – with their doomy and passionate songs, big sound, and general air of judt about clinging on to life, they seem the very embodiment of Celtic soul!

    A bit poppy maybe, but small mentions to the Skids (all hail the mighty Jobbo) and The Big Country, who started strongly and then disappeared?

  3. John S says:

    Yes, I always thought John Martyn was Scottish, and his music caught that celtic soul vibe. Glasvegas were undone quickly by drugs, I think. Shame – first album was terrific. To the Skids and Big Country you could add Altered Images, Rezillos, Stiff Little Fingers, Undertones, Boomtown Rats. Great bands all. But that would be a different theme!

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