Stateside

New World Ulster

George Kerevan puts the Bush win down to the voting behaviour of the descendants of troublemakers expelled from the old country:

The part of America that doggedly voted Republican on Tuesday is its ethnic Scottish-Ulster heartland. These are the descendants of the lowland yeoman folk who colonised Virginia in the 17th century, then crossed the Appalachian Mountains to open up the frontier in the 18th, joined by the refugees from the Govan slums in the 19th.

They brought with them a Celtic tribalism, a small-farmer self-reliance and a rationalist Presbyterian morality based on the Good Book. They also brought their own home-spun music, with its sentimental narratives and view of this world as a trial to be endured. From the bluegrass fiddle music of the Appalachian crofts to the Burns-like honky-tonk ballads of the itinerant oil workers in the Texas dustbowl, country music has evolved to dominate contemporary musical tastes.

When you listen to it American popular music does seem to owe a lot to Scots rhythmns and Irish rhymes. Ulster Television made a great documentary twenty years ago or so about the journey of the Scots-Irish down the Appalachians and how their music morphed into country and bluegrass and how one branch eventually ended up being a constituant part of something called Rock and Roll.

Share this article.

shares