On Christmas Day 2016, Ian Davison died. One of Scotland’s most prolific and able song makers in the traditional style, Ian, born in Glasgow in 1939, was captured for the Scottish Folk Revival by a 1957 lecture given in Glasgow’s Partick Burgh Halls by Norman Buchan, one of the three key kick-starters of the Revival. Ian went on to co-found the Glasgow University Folk Club, then to teach English with Norman in Rutherglen Academy, and co-run the Academy’s very influential folk club.
For most of his teaching career, Ian was Head of English at Knightswood Academy, where he sang traditional songs to generations of pupils and, in the 1960s and 70s, collected from them several hundred street and playground lyrics and verses. He then used some of these finds in his own teaching.
Throughout the Scottish Revival, Ian has been a well-respected, clever and melodic songwriter, a performer earlier with his own Ian Davison Folk Group and latterly solo or in a duo with Carissa Bovill, and a developer in workshops of the songmaking skills of others.
He wrote, recorded and issued on his own label several cassettes, then CDs, of his political, comic, historical, love and other songs, including Mandela Danced in The Square, Going Home to Glasgow, The Muttonheid Wearies, McKinlayville, The Clydebank Blitz, Keeping The Elephants Out and Wrap Me In Yer Airms. Contributors to a Mudcat tribute page named several others they hold dear.
Ian wrote about Scottish socialist hero John MacLean, various fine and poignant lyrics about Middle East conflicts, in support of Israeli whistleblower Mordecai Venunu In The Jail Of Ashkenon, and many songs celebrating the language and life of Glasgow. Anyone commenting on a song of his would speedily be given a recording of it. A life long member and former secretary of of CND Ian worked tirelessly against the retention / renewal of Trident, and for many years could be seen on Saturdays busking for CND.
Ian was truly a ‘gentleman and a scholar.’
Carissa Swan composed and recorded the ‘Gentle Giant’ for Ian.