Sunshine on Leith

If you’re from or have lived in Manitoba, Canada, you’ll know about the local phenomenon, “the social” (when I was very young, it was called a “social evening”). It’s a big sort of party, usually in a hall or community centre, with a music person playing unbearably loud music well beyond the negligible acoustical accommodations of the space, while people try in vain to talk across long tables adorned with paper plates of potato chips and pretzels. $10 or $15 gets you in the door (or, more recently you can buy a $10 “support ticket” to help the cause while avoiding the aforementioned “experience”), and liquor and beer tickets are bought at a table and redeemed at a bar. 

In furtherance of the cause of raising cash, one can also purchase tickets for prize raffles. Then, near midnight if one can make it that long, the house lights are suddenly ablaze while cheap cold cuts, rye bread, pickles and cheese cubes come out. The event is usually held to raise money for a couple getting married or, less often, for sports teams or other causes. There is even a local legend that people sometimes will surreptitiously put a slice of salami from the cold cuts tray onto someone’s shoulder (a variation of the “kick me” sign, maybe?).

Anyway, some of the mainstays played for the benefit of the dancing crowd at a social are, “The Chicken Dance,” “Mony Mony,” “Rasputin,” “Love Shack,” “Stairway to Heaven” (or was that just at high school dances?) and many others, plus quite often, “I’m Gonna Be (500 Miles).” (Please leave a comment and let me know one of your social dancing faves!) The latter song is one of the singles from the 1988 release, Sunshine on Leith by the Scottish twosome, The Proclaimers.

Today’s song, the title track from that album, has been a favourite of mine since first hearing the album when it rose to popularity. It and other songs from the album are featured in a 2013 movie musical with the same title. The movie is a heartwarming look at love and real life in the port city of Leith, near Edinburgh, the birth home of The Proclaimers. I recommend the movie for its beautiful scenery, uplifting qualities and the clever, often amusing performances of The Proclaimers’ songs. The movie is currently a $0.99 CAD rental on the iTunes store; well worth the price and investment of your time, in my view.

“While I’m worth my room on this earth
I will be with you
While the Chief, puts sunshine on Leith
I’ll thank him for his work
And your birth and my birth”

(from “Sunshine on Leith,” by Charles Reid, Craig Reid)

I found the album yesterday when gathering up CDs from around the house and alphabetizing my collection. I did this with my LPs during the bleak midwinter last year, and find it helps a lot when looking for an album to read its liner notes or find songwriting credits. Those that have taken the time to do this know the satisfaction of it far exceeds that achieved when plugging a USB device into the receptacle and getting it the right way the first time around.

Now you know a little about why this is my song of the day for today. Thanks for joining me here, and please enjoy.

Here’s a BBC video of The Proclaimers and band performing at T in the Park (a major musical festival that ran in Scotland from 1994 to 2016):

3 thoughts on “Sunshine on Leith

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