Song lyrics set to become works of art to highlight Edinburgh’s musical heritage

Classic songs are to be turned into works of art across Edinburgh under plans to create a new festival to champion the Scottish capital as a “music city.”

Monday, 25th April 2022, 4:55 am

Classic songs are to be turned into works of art across Edinburgh under plans to create a new festival to champion the Scottish capital as a “music city.”

Temporary murals, light projects and neon installations could help transform the city as part of efforts to highlight Edinburgh’s musical heritage.

The Proclaimers, the Bay City Rollers, Edwyn Collins, The Rezillos, Young Fathers, Garbage and Pilot are among the acts whose lyrics may feature in the festival, which is set to be officially backed by the city council this week.

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Edinburgh's newest festival is aimed at championing the Scottish capital as a 'music city.' Picture: David Wilkinson

Plans for the event have been drawn up after the publication of a new book seeking to claim Edinburgh as the birthplace of live music in Scotland.

Now Edinburgh Music Lovers, the campaign which collaborated with Edinburgh Music Tours on the book, is working on the new “music-based street art festival.”

Past and present venues, landmarks, disused buildings and bus shelters could be deployed for the festival, which is being developed with Edinburgh-based production studio TrenchOne.

Sunshine on Leith and Streets of Edinburgh are among The Proclaimers songs which could be featured, along with Saturday Night by The Bay City Rollers, A Girl Like You, by Edwyn Collins and Only Happy When It Rains, by Garbage, the rock band fronted by Edinburgh-born Shirley Manson.

The Proclaimers, Charlie and Craig Reid, during a visit to Edinburgh College to support Drake Music Scotland's, a charity that supports people with disabilities to get involved with music. Picture: Ian Rutherford

Other songs highlighted in the book Edinburgh’s Greatest Hits, include The Whole of the Moon, the biggest-selling single by The Waterboys, formed by former Edinburgh University student Mike Scott, and I Can't Stand My Baby, which brought fame for The Rezillos, the punk outfit formed at Edinburgh College of Art.

Pilot’s biggest hit Magic was said to have been inspired by founder member David Paton’s memories of sunrises in the Blackford Hill area.

The Fall frontman Mark E Smith wrote Edinburgh Man while living in the city in the early 1990s, while Ever Fallen In Love by The Buzzcocks was written in Edinburgh.

Edinburgh Music Lovers founder Jim Byers said: “We’ve been developing an idea during the pandemic that brings together music and art to help reinvigorate Edinburgh and boost people’s wellbeing.

Songs lyrics could be projected onto the side of the Usher Hall under plans for the new street art festival. Picture: Clark James

"The idea is to work with local artists to turn inspiring and uplifting song lyrics by Edinburgh and Scottish bands into amazing artworks and installations throughout the city.

"We want to highlight how music and art can have a powerful positive impact on the city and community, while showcasing and supporting local musical and artistic talent.”

Edinburgh Music Lovers recently joined forces with the city marketing campaign Forever Edinburgh to launch a search for a music writer in residence, who will write about live gigs in the city between May and December.

The street art festival is expected to secure £10,000 worth of funding this week from the city council. Also recommended for backing is a separate grant of £15,000 for next month’s Edinburgh-based music industry convention Wide Days.

Song lyrics are set to transform the historic landscape of Edinburgh city centre for a new street art festival. Pictue: Mihaela Bodlovic

A council spokeswoman said: “The events sector has responded to the ongoing pandemic with determination and innovation.

"Our events programme has always supported the city’s year-round cultural offering and by approving the funding we’ll be playing our part in boosting the sector following such a hard time.”