Monday, 13 September 2021

2021 Contenders: Old Friends

Andrew Howie is a Scottish musician I discovered recently through The Roddy Hart Show. I was very taken by a couple of the tracks I heard, and decided to investigate his new album, Pale White Branches, figuring he was a talented newcomer...

Turns out he's been on the go since the turn of the century, first recording under the name Calamateur, attracting the attention of John Peel and other Radio One evening jocks. A quick look at his discography reveals 21 records to investigate, ranging from acoustic to electric guitar, ambient to electronica. Further study is clearly required, but for now I'll content myself with Pale White Branches, particularly the song Broompark Drive, a stunning remembrance of a long lost teenage friendship from the 80s...

On Broompark Drive
In the summer of eighty-five
Where the crossroads cut
Through our lives

You gave me a home from home
An alliance to call my own
Footprints to follow through
The great unknown

It was a baptism into the American dream
For this middle-class kid raised on state-side TV
With your jam you called jelly, your room called a den
It seems pedestrian now but it was glorious then

You had a digital watch with its own secret PIN
This was cutting-edge tech you could keep phone numbers in
And when you gave me my own in September that year
It was like catching a glimpse of the final frontier

We had late-night sleepovers locked in your room
Reading James Dobson's book page seventy two
And you had to explain with a static silhouette
With your fingers and thumbs against the television set

When I spiked up my hair up and got laughed out of school
I'd come round to your house and we'd joke and play pool
And those cruel little bastards could never compare
To the warmth of your home and the peace I found there

Then your dad got a job back home in the States
And your good-bye gift was this alarm clock that played tapes
And it lay by my bed like a delicate shrine
Until the digits wore out and I lost track of time

Now it's been thirty-five years since we were warmed by that flame
And there have been times when I've thought I should look up your name
But some friendships burn bright and then flicker down low
And there are places and times we just need to let go

Like Broompark Drive
Nineteen eight-five
Where the crossroads cut
Through our lives


  1. Beautiful voice and great songs. Thanks for this.

  2. What a wonderful story song. The joy of having an American friend in the mid ‘80s.

  3. I like that song
    Similar story in that I had an American pal Andy Deitch in the 70s who returned to the States due to his dad's job.
    They had a table tennis table in their garage!


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