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Music / The Proclaimers

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Charlie and Craig Reid
"But I would walk five hundred miles,
And I would walk five hundred more,
Just to be the man who walked a thousand miles,
To fall down at your door."
— "I'm Gonna Be (500 Miles)"

The Proclaimers are a Scottish Folk Rock band based around identical twins Charlie and Craig Reid. The group started as an acoustic duo with just the brothers before expanding into a full Rock group for their second album. They're known universally for their 1988 single "I'm Gonna Be (500 Miles)" and their thick Scottish brogues, but they've had other hits in the UK and Ireland with "Letter from America" and "King of the Road", and "I'm On My Way" was featured in Shrek. While their song subjects center around Silly Love Songs and the struggles of familial life, listeners may be surprised to find serious discussion of Scottish politics and independence.

A highly successful Jukebox Musical based on their music, Sunshine on Leith, toured Europe to great reviews and spawned an equally-lauded movie in 2013.

Studio Discography

  • This is the Story (1987) - Just Charlie and Craig
  • Sunshine on Leith (1988) - First album as a full band
  • Hit the Highway (1994)
  • Persevere (2001)
  • Born Innocent (2003)
  • Restless Soul (2005)
  • Life With You (2007)
  • Notes and Rhymes (2009)
  • Like Comedy (2012)
  • Let's Hear it for the Dogs (2015)
  • Angry Cyclist (2018)

This band provides examples of:

  • Album Title Drop: This is the Story - "Over and Done With", the first line of each verse.
  • Affectionate Parody: On the receiving end of one from comedy duo Hale & Paces "Letter from Scotland", which was surprisingly faithful to the Proclaimers sound. See it here.
  • Artistic License Physics: Played for Black Comedy in the music video for "There's a Touch". With the help of video editing, the brothers survive falling off a tall building, getting hit by a car, and even being crushed by a helicopter crash, with only a few minor injuries. Needless to say, they likely would not have survived any of the above accidents if they actually happened.
  • Band of Relatives: The twins are the only official members, though they do have a backing band.
  • Black Comedy: The video for "There's a Touch" has the brothers fall off a tall building, walk away and get hit by a car, and have a helicopter crash on top of them. They walk away every time with only superficial marks, a slight limp, and tattered clothes; the guitar suffers worse than them.
  • Break-Up Song:
  • Country Music: One of the elements of Americana present in their music.
  • Cover Version: "(I'm Gonna) Burn Your Playhouse Down" by Lester Blackwell, "My Old Friend the Blues" by Steve Earle, "King of the Road" by Roger Miller, "Five O'Clock World" by The Vogues, "Whole Wide World" by Wreckless Eric, "Sing All Our Cares Away" by Damien Dempsey, "It Was Always So Easy (To Find An Unhappy Woman)" by Sanger Shafer and Arthur Owens Sr.
  • Drowning My Sorrows:
    • "It's Saturday Night"
      The drink that I had three hours ago
      Has been joined by fourteen others in a steady flow
    • "A Long Long Long Time Ago"
      I just settled down with a bottle of gin
      So I moved on to whiskey, and it hit me again
      Memories were raining punches down upon my head...
  • Folk Music: Folk Rock is one of the styles they play in.
  • The Fundamentalist: "The Light" is a scathing condemnation of the real-life examples of this trope from a moderate Christian perspective, with lyrics such as "I believe in God alright/It's folk like you I just can't stand."
  • Genre Roulette: According to Wikipedia, the band encompass Alternative Rock, Celtic Rock, College Rock, Country Rock, Folk Rock, Indie Pop, Jangle Pop and Post-Punk.
  • God Before Dogma: The narrator of "The Light" is one such person.
  • Grand Romantic Gesture: "I'm Gonna Be (500 Miles)":
    I would walk 500 miles and I would walk 500 more
    Just to be the man who walked 1000 miles to fall down at your door
  • International Pop Song English: One of the best known aversions: the band refused to tone down their thick Scottish accents for their music, and it became one of their defining features. They wrote "Throw the 'R' Away" in response.
  • Jade-Colored Glasses: The narrator of "Then I Met You" feels there's nothing left for him in the world until the "You" in the song comes into his life.
  • Jukebox Musical: Sunshine on Leith is a jukebox musical based around the Proclaimers' music.
  • List Song: "Cap in Hand", listing things the brothers can do, but they "can't understand why we let someone else rule our land".
  • Lyrical Dissonance:
    • "I Met You", while sounding happy enough for the narrator falling in love, has implications of Hope Is Scary.
      Thought that I'd be happy
      Gonna be so happy
      Living life alone and never sharing anything
    • "Don't Turn Out Like Your Mother", an uptempo, rollicking song about hoping the great woman this person is now doesn't turn into everything he hates about the older generation.
    • "There's a Touch", a very upbeat song about losing your lover to their lover before you.
  • Made of Iron: The brothers in the video for "There's a Touch", who walk away only moderately harmed from falling a lethal height off a building, getting hit by a car, and having a helicopter land right on top of them. One of them has his trouser leg set on fire at the end of it, but he continues walking away ignoring it.
  • Meaningful Name: Their singing style has lots of projection and spirit. They indeed "proclaim" what they sing.
  • Protest Song:
    • "Letter from America": about Scottish relatives living far away from home while their homeland was in a poor state.
    • "Cap in Hand": about England controlling Scotland.
      But I can't understand why we let someone else rule our land
    • "The Light": about Christian fundamentalism, from a moderate's point-of-view.
    • "Angry Cyclist": about the reemergence of fascism and open bigotry in The New '10s.
      Watch bigotry advance
      Give ignorance a chance
      With fascists we will dance by and by
  • Rich Language, Poor Language: "Throw the R Away" laments that Scots are encouraged to suppress their natural accents in order to succeed in other parts of the UK.
  • Rock & Roll: "Guess Who Won't Beg" is in the style of 1950's rock.
  • Scotland: One of the country's musical treasures, and arguably one of their most "Scottish-sounding" bands in popular music. Song topics sometimes include Scottish independence ("Cap in Hand"), emigration ("Letter from America"), and straight-up love for their home ("Sunshine on Leith").
  • Scatting:
    • The chorus to "I'm Gonna Be":
    Da lat da (Da lat da), da lat da (Da lat da)
    Da-da-da dun-diddle un-diddle un-diddle uh da-da!
    • "The Doodle Song".
  • Silly Love Songs: Much of their output is love songs, running the gamut of silliness ("500 Miles"), sincerity ("Let's Get Married"), and hardships ("What Makes You Cry?").
  • Something Blues: "The Joyful Kilmarnock Blues", "Long Gone Lonesome Blues".
  • The Something Song: "The Doodle Song".
  • Take That!:
    • "Throw the 'R' Away" towards the people who said they should tone down their accents in their music.
      I'm just gonna have to learn to hesitate,
      And make sure my words on your Saxon ears don't grate!
    • "The Light", a Protest Song about Christian fundamentalism from a moderate's point-of-view.
  • Three Chords and the Truth: This is the Story is composed of only Charlie and Craig, one acoustic guitar, and occasional percussion. Their voices and stories are given plenty of room to breathe as a result.
  • Title Track: Every album except This is the Story, Persevere and Let's Hear it for the Dogs has one.
  • Vocal Tag Team: Charlie and Craig sing every song together.
  • Wanderlust Song: Their cover of "King of the Road".
  • Workaholic: "Follow the Money":
    I need to toil, 'cause it's good for my soul
    I feel clean when I'm working

*Door slam*