Glasgow is now a city I am longing to live in. The first time I visited Glasgow was in November, 2016. I felt an instant affiliation with the place. It had been many years I had wanted to visit Scotland’s most populous city. My first (and subsequently ONLY one up until that point) visit to Scotland had been a 16 hour whirlwind visit to Edinburgh and, to be honest, Edinburgh really didn’t do much for me at the time, and so I had always wished to see Glasgow to compare and contrast.
Well, it only took me another 15 years to get to Glasgow! It was a “freebie”. I had auditioned and secured a place on quiz show Fifteen To One, so my trip was all expenses paid. I arrived on the evening of November 5th – Bonfire Night. I was up on the 11th floor of the Jurys Inn on Jamaica Street. I may not be a “kid called hope” and the only reason I was holding out my hand was to film the view of the Clyde from “this highrise land”. And I wasn’t seeing the Northern Lights, but I was seeing fireworks being fired off all over the south and east sides of the city. It was beautiful.
Obviously my soundtrack for that night WASN’T Oh Jungleland but Colours Fly And Catherine Wheel.
The first thing I did when I arrived in Glasgow was to get a cab to the Old Dumbarton Road and to Tantrum Doughnuts. I bought three of them to go so I could enjoy them once I got to the Jurys Inn. As I waited for the taxi to come and collect me and get me to the hotel, I was offered a cigarette by a very dishevelled (in all likelihood homeless) but kindly gent. “No, I’m sorry. I don’t smoke, but thanks for offering anyway.” Even a Weegie that hard on his luck would offer a complete stranger a cigarette. Was I a little scared? I’d be lying if I said I wasn’t. That section of Old Dumbarton Road at that time was not exactly teeming with people and it was already dark and I was alone. Despite feeling a little vulnerable, I felt a huge sense of being welcomed.
Anyway…on to the song itself!
Uplifting from the get go with a fun little keyboard melody and a great guitar riff from Mr Burchill. Subtle yet perfect basslines from Mr Giblin and immaculate Gaynor drumbeat.
Only Jim could make a bleak and cold winter in Glasgow sound romantic “you’ve got the long nights” – put a parentheses of lines around it “you’ve got the love drugs” and “you got the heartbeat that spirals to heaven” and you have an irresistible romantic image of the city.
It has been a favourite Simple Minds song since I first heard it back in 1985. The only album I ever had of Simple Minds’ for many years was Once Upon A Time. I played the whole album regularly once I had it…but I never really kept up the momentum of being a Simple Minds fan. Never felt compelled to explore the back catalogue. Lost touch with them after a year or so after OUAT was released. Remember liking Belfast Child a few years later…but that was it.
Oh Jungleland to me is much more a homage to Glasgow as a whole. Waterfront concentrates more on the Clyde to me. Mr Kerr may tell me otherwise.
It’s uplifting and gives a sense of belonging. It feels like it says within the context of the lyrics…“This is my city. My people. It’s the city that made me.” The place has a beauty all its own. I see it every time I’m there. And that phrase…the city’s moto has never been a truer symbol of a city I have ver seen “people make Glasgow”. They do.
They place I grew up in is an area of south-western Sydney called Busby. On a street called Ayrshire Street. The family surname is McInnes (that’s the Scottish version of the spelling, either this or Mac). I have a mixture of Irish, English, German and Aborigine (the Scots blood is in my siblings – I should have actually been a Lawson, but took the McInnes name for convenience – well, more had it foisted on me). I can’t tell you what kind of annoying hell that was growing up – having the name Larelle – which NOBODY in Australia seems able to pronounce properly! – combine that with McInnes – then put Ayrshire Street, Busby into the mix and I DREADED being asked for my name and address over the phone! At least in person I could just ask for a pen and spell it all. Phone calls that I knew I needed to make where these questions would be asked became ritual “Larelle = L – A – R – E – double L – E. McInnes = M – C – I – double N – E – S. Fifteen – ONE FIVE Aryshire Street: A – Y – R – S – H – I – R – E street. Busby = B – U – S – B – Y. I DO NOT miss those days! And, yes, I still do have to do spelling of my name and address, but now in the days of the Internet, not so much. Phew!
Back then I would have NEVER foreseen the notion that one day I would be moving to Scotland. It was never really something on my radar. There was always more of an allure to the UK, culturally. The music in particular. I think I would have described myself as (erroneously) as an Anglophile. But I suppose the pull was stronger to England, initially. But the pull to Scotland gained more force. And over the past 10 years became a pipe dream of getting out of England and moving to. But it never seemed something remotely tangible until about 12 months ago.
So soon, somewhere in Scotland will be home. And with any luck, “Oh Jungleland” will be the place I call “home sweet home” – or as a little plaque I saw in the market stalls in Merchant City on my most recent trip up had said “Hame Sweet Hame”. I was SO tempted to buy it, but I didn’t. Hopefully the market seller will be there in several months time when there is a wall to hang the plaque on.
And that is a rather personal account of why I love Oh Jungleland.