Mull of Kintyre

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Way back in 1978, I got a stereo for my birthday.  It wasn't fancy, but it played albums, 8-tracks (about to leave the marketplace), and cassettes (entering...).  The first four "records" I bought with my money were The Beach Boys' "Endless Summer," Fleetwood Mac's "Rumours," "The Best of Earth, Wind, & Fire," and "Wings Greatest Hits," the Wings_Greatestfirst two on 8-track and the latter two on vinyl. Not a bad way to begin a collection...

My sister influenced my fondness of the Beatles, so the Wings album made sense, even though, by title, I wasn't familiar with the songs.  It became a mainstay long after I had more listening options, but ultimately fell away as the funds became available to get McCartney's solo/Wings releases.  The album has a good mix of singles that received airplay, but there was always one oddity that stood out, "The Mull of Kintyre."

A snippet of the lyrics is as follows:

Sweep through the heather like deer in the glen
Carry me back to the days I knew then
Nights when we sang like a heavenly choir
Of the life and the times of the Mull of Kintyre
Mull of Kintyre, oh mist rolling in from the sea
My desire is always to be here
Oh Mull of Kintyre

Add some bagpipes and enthusiasm, and it's obviously a heartfelt song for a special place.  Having listened many times to the Royal Scots Dragoon Guards "Amazing Grace,"  (thanks to a 1st or 2nd grade teacher who played it in class... hey, it caught my ear) I didn't mind the bagpipes at all.  They were just unexpected after the rocking "Hi Hi Hi" or the slick pop of "Silly Love Songs."

I recall looking at a National Geographic map trying to locate the Mull of Kintyre - accurately predicting Scotland solely due to the bagpipes.  Mull of Kintyre... kintyre mapsounded like a cove, a small bay, maybe some docks, seagulls and whatnot.  No luck. (It's the small house symbol at the lower left).

Maybe "mull" was an island?  Again, no such luck.  The word "mull" was not in my Americanized dictionary and ultimately came to rest in the category of "forgotten unsolved mysteries."

Until yesterday when, not wanting to think of a  particular CD to which to listen, I grabbed ol' faithful and cranked the volume a bit.  Whoa... there's that song again.

The iPhone has made me keenly aware of how easy it is to find out an answer to anything with Google at one's fingertips.  Maybe its portability is factor as a means to find an answer when the question arises.  How easily I forget the PC sitting right in front of me.  "Mull of Kintyre," your time has come.

From Wikipedia, a "Mull" refers to a land formation bare of trees, such as a rounded hill or promontory.


It's not as... visually stimulating or charming as I might of imagined (note to self: remove from future vacation destination list) 

Anyway, I kept reading.  There was a castle (good), of which not a stone remains (bad), that was significant in clan histories (good), until in 1647 it was besieged by the English (bad)( if you're Scottish), fell due to the now clichéd shortcoming of an undefended fresh water supply (bad again), and ended in a massacre (really, really bad).  The 300 or so MacDougalls, MacAlisters, and MacDonalds surrendered expecting to be treated as prisoners of war, but after being held for 5 days, it is said, the Presbyterian minister accompanying the English officers persuaded them to kill all the prisoners.  No Christian burials were provided, and the remains were eventually buried together.  History.  It happens everywhere.

I assume Paul McCartney and crew were staying somewhere with more secure plumbing, and obviously this sordid tale didn't figure into what he (or co-writer Denny Laine) were thinking about when they wrote the song, but it's darned interesting to see where a simple inquiry ends up.

mull of kintyre lighthouse

The "scenic" Mull of Kintyre does include a lighthouse, now unmanned, and has a couple of caretaker homes which are available for rent, as well as others in the area

Fishermans Cottage

Released just before Christmas,mull of kintyre single cover "Mull of Kintyre" was the first single in Britain to sell over 2 million copies, exceeding the record set by "She Loves You" all those years before.  Obviously, it wasn't a hit in the US, but it still qualifies as a "greatest hit." I might add that "Simply Having a Wonderful Christmastime" is hardly as worthy a gesture for our ears, but I digress.

For the curious:

Well, the above may not have been filmed at the Mull of Kintyre proper... But I'm not sure if there's a suitable flat spot for filming.  In any case, the video below would not have been featured in "Lifestyles of the Rich and Famous," McCartney's travels notwithstanding.

1 comment :

  1. Thanks!
    It reminds me of why I like some of Paul's music and why I dislike a lot of his other music. Not that MoK was bad, it just went way under what I want to hear of Pau.

    Thanks & cheers!