"Where You're meant to be....A funny wee film about music and death"

"Paul Fegan’s first feature documentary follows Scottish cult-pop
raconteur and former Arab Strap frontman Aidan Moffat as he tours
Scotland in 2014, performing his modern re-interpretations of old folk

It was meant to be a tour that celebrated communities and lore. But
just before they hit the road, Moffat met Sheila Stewart: a 79-year-old
force of nature, the last in a line of travelling folk royalty, and a
balladeer whose life – and unexpected death, in 2014 – upturned Moffat’s
folk assumptions, and diverted the course of Fegan’s film.

The ensuing film is a warm-hearted journey through music, mortality,
landscape and time. It’s also a moving, wry and enlightening depiction
of two of Scotland’s most distinct and vital voices, as they cross paths
(and words): Moffat believes Scotland’s oldest songs are ripe for
re-working against a contemporary urban backdrop. Stewart does not."



  • OK, not a proper review but a few thoughts about the film.

    I watched this film at the weekend and, although I appreciate that it was a very well produced and interesting piece of work, I came away feeling very angry about the attitude of Adrian Moffat towards the Scottish tradition and his disrespectful attitude towards the music, song and performers especially the late Sheila Stewart. He is not a sympathetic or likeable character nor somebody whose company I'd choose to seek. His notion that the "old songs" should be adapted and updated for modern day urban consumption is flawed in itself but the whole situation is exacerbated by Moffat's total arrogance and obvious ignorance of the Scottish tradition.

    To be fair, his attitude did appear to soften a little on his travels as he learned or was "put right" over a few things. However, I am convinced that had it not been for the sad death of Sheila Stewart, the direction of the film would have been quite different and likely to have been even more dismissive of Scotland's folk traditions.

    For what it's worth, I believe the old songs should be left as they are although I am quite open to hearing interesting and imaginative arrangements as long as these are tasteful and respectfully done. Also,I have no objection to musicians and singers brought up in the tradition being involved in such projects... The late Martyn Bennett springs to mind here.
    However, Moffat's efforts were crass, vulgar, and little more than third rate parodies. I didn't see the point of the whole thing.

    If he is so keen on "relevant modern" folk songs, why doesn't he just write a few new ones of his own instead of interfering with and "blootering"(Sheila's words) the old ones?

    You will see a few "weel kent" faces from the Scottish traditional singing scene in this film. I think they were surprisingly restrained and polite with their comments. Much more than I would have been.

    Rant over.

  • A more direct link here....

  • I haven't watched it but I did hear that the film started out with Aidan Moffat centric approach but when he met Sheila it all changed as she challenged his views which he took on board. I suspect it was too late to change the narrative and film would end up slightly confused but as I say I haven't seen it.

    Have you seen the Hamish film?
  • You should watch it. As I say, it's very well produced and the scenery is beautiful.

    sure not everyone will come to the same view as me especially those who
    have had little involvement or previous knowledge of traditional music.
    However, having known The Stewarts and the others for so many years, I
    couldn't help but feel angry and hurt on their behalf at being used in
    this way. Of course, they may well be far more "thicker skinned"
    Also attempts were also made to portray Moffat as a bit
    of a buffoon and he, at least, managed to portray a "self deprecating"
    personality throughout the film. As I said though, I'm sure this
    "balancing factor" was influenced by the turn of events and wasn't the
    original plan.

  • I still have to see "Hamish The Movie".
  • I really enjoyed the film.  I knew nothing about Aidan Moffat beforehand but had heard and met Sheila Stewart many times.  I thought the film showed Aidan's growing respect for Sheila and for 'the tradition'.   And as someone who writes parodies myself I enjoyed Aidan's modern urban takes on traditional rural culture.  To me, writing a parody indicates that the original has made an impact on the listener.  So don't pre-judge the film, go and see it if you get a chance.
Sign In or Register to comment.