Geordie Munro: The mystery and history behind the renowned Kirkcaldy song

I’d never heard of Geordie Munro until I moved to Fife some 35 years ago.

Friday, 8th October 2021, 12:12 pm
The Alexander Brothers covered the song

Weirdly, I never knew the name of Mrs Munro, his better half, until last week!

But, the song is lodged in my head - an ear worm that resurfaces every time I’m in this rink or at Stark’s Park.

It’s arguably the closest thing Kirkcaldy has to its own anthem, however much it may be derided by visitors.

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The late Dennis Alexander, right, one half of Crooked Jack who helped to popularise the song Geordie Munro

True, not many great lyricists reference Kirkcaldy.

Even Paul McCartney and John Lennon were at the end of a long, tiring day when they sang about the Duchess of Kirkcaldy on the song ‘Cry Baby Cry’ on the White Album.

Trust me, it’ll never make any greatest hits collection from the Fab Four!

The Proclaimers may sing in a Fife accent, but you need to take a deep dive into the glorious catalogue of the late, great Jackie Leven to hear authentic songs about the places and people of Fife.

It’ll be ten years next month since he passed away aged just 61 - one of Scotland’s finest and all too forgotten singer-songwriters.

I’m pretty sure Jackie never recorded Geordie Munro, and I’m not holding out for Craig and Charlie Reid to launch into “Oh no, no-no-oh” anytime soon, although their voices would be perfectly suited to a barnstorming version.

So, all the more reason to dig deep and chip in a few bob for David Latto’s crowdfunder to give his version of the song the big production it needs.

You’ve heard it on match nights already, and David’s version has been aired on BBC’s ‘View From The Terrace’ programme.

Now he’s hoping fans from the town’s two big teams get behind his online crowdfunder which launched on Friday.

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Geordie Munro: New fundraiser to create definitive version of Kirkcaldy's song

In effect it’d reboot the song, picking up from where Crooked Jack, led by the much loved and much missed Dennis Alexander, left off.

The crowdfunder is a modest £1200 - so I’m absolutely certain we can do this, and bring a new version to match nights; one which is a step change from the traditional one we have heard for so long.

And, as much as Geordie Munro has been part of our lives for decades, its origins are open to debate.

I always thought Callum Kennedy wrote, but it’s often credited to the Alexander Brothers. More recently, credit has gone to singer-songwriter David Haggart about whom little can be found online.

I also didn’t realise that, a bit like the National Anthem, the song has more verses which are rarely, if ever, sung.

You know the story: Bloke wants to emigrate to start a new life, but his other half says ‘No’ - more than once.

He even takes her for a wee walk in the glen to ask all over again, and gets the same “we’re staying put, pal” response.

The forgotten verse reveals that, many years and seven children later the Munros still hanker after that move to the unlikely paradise of Idaho.

Other than rhyming with “I don;t want to go” it’s hard to see why they opted for what they wistfully call “old Idaho.”

Wikipedia has lots about the state’s history, but it’s wafer thin on exciting things to tell.

When your starter for ten is “Judy Garland performed the elaborate song-and-dance routine "Born in a Trunk in the Princess Theater in Pocatello, Idaho" in the 1954 version of the film A Star is Born” it’s hard to prevent your eyelids drooping.

Even the Idaho Vandals turn out to be a sports team rather than a mean gang of desperados armed with spray paint cans.

And as for Geordie’s wife? Her name was Maisie … possibly because it was the closest which rhymed with lassie.

So, now you know the story of Geordie Munro, give David a few bob and help him create a rousing version to ring round this rink.

This is the link you need to make a wee donation:

This column first appeared in Fife Flyers match night programme.