Songs In The Key of Fife: top three songs celebrating or from Kingdom of Fife

In the final part of our Songs In The Key Of Fife I must give an honorable mention to Dennis Alexander and his song about Auchtertool which he performed for years as Shaky Jake and with his band.
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At number three, The Proclaimers twins lived in Auchtermuchty growing up before they formed the band in 1983 and immortalising Leith in song. Their first single in 1987 Letter From America mourns the decay of Scottish industry and ‘Methil no more’ reflecting the decline in the Fife steel fabrication business joined Bathgate no more and Irvine no more in their anthemic hit single produced by Gerry Rafferty and reaching number three in the pop charts.

At number two, comes a line from The Beatles album track Cry Baby Cry and misspelled on the original lyric sheet as ‘the duchess of Kirkaldy’ but again any endorsement by the Beatles must feature strongly along with other placenames in their songs like Tucson Arizona, Strawberry Fields, USSR and of course Penny Lane.

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Written by John Lennon during the Maharishi visits to India in 1967 where the boys would sit round with Donovan on acoustic guitars, these short songs formed part of The Beatles LP (usually known as ‘the White Album’) and released as a double in 1968. Dismisssed by John as ‘a load of rubbish’ they never sang it live and mystery surrounds who the duchess was but it did ensure debate and inspire a local venue and restaurant.

The Proclaimers (Pic: Murdo MacLeod)The Proclaimers (Pic: Murdo MacLeod)
The Proclaimers (Pic: Murdo MacLeod)

Number one must be Geordie Munro as written by David Haggart for his band but picked up by Calum Kennedy in 1960 and released on Decca Records as the ‘B’ side to Highland Donald. I bought it in Forester’s record shop in St Clair Street and in the pre-Spotify & iTunes days took a MCPS licence to have it digital so it could be used at Fife Flyers and Raith Rovers.

Crooked Jack recorded it and actually sang it live at Stark’s Park, the Alexander Bros and Andy Chung performed it and a rearranged version by David Latto was featured on View From The Terrace on BBC TV then re-recorded after a successful crowdfunding campaign. Long deleted as a single, Kennedy’s version can still be found on the albums Skyline Of Sky (2014), The Very Best Of Calum Kennedy (2019), and Two Of A Kind (with Jimmy Shand in 2022).