Horse McDonald brings God’s Home Movie to Fife

Horse McDonald (Pic: Walter Neilson)
Horse McDonald (Pic: Walter Neilson)

Regular readers will know we like to offer celebrity health advice, so when Horse Mcdonald admits to be suffering from a “hideous cold”, we have to ask how she got through her gig the previous night in Lanark.

“I’ve skills from singing all those years so I picked my way through,” she confesses.

Horse McDonald on stage

Horse McDonald on stage

Playing for more than two hours can take its toll.

However, the Fife-born singer’s followers put the ‘fan’ in fanatic’. “The minute I walked on the stage, people were screaming and yelling – I put my heart into it, but if I’m not singing as well as I’d like, they don’t notice”.

Next stop is Great Yarmouth, with KT Tunstall also on the bill – who revealed recently her preference for (superpriced) superfood manuka honey in the fight to relieve tired vocal chords. The two may have a backstage disagreement on that score. “The only thing that touches your chords is steam,” she insists. “I won’t even have menthol –plus it doesn’t cost a penny apart from boiling a kettle!”

This tip comes second-hand from Cyndi Lauper, whom Horse met three years ago. “She steams before and after, but also does a vocal warm up and warm down – I’m usually running about getting things ready to go as I don’t have a big crew running about for me … it’s tough at the bottom!”

This (enforced) independent spirit also extends to her record label, the real subject of our chat. The classic album ‘God’s Home Movie’ is getting a re-release, 25 years on. But there’s more cause for celebration than a mere anniversary. Out of print for 15 years, the record has finally been wrested back from the original record label, after much wrangling with the bean counters of the music business.

READ MORE: Man dies after Kirkcaldy town square incident|Click here}

READ MORE: Probe over sectarian singing on Fife train

“I’d say ‘these are my babies’ and (the label’s lawyer) would say ‘So how much you going to give us?’” The demands left the singer exasperated. “I went away angry every time.”

But the imminent anniversary prompted one final push. “People would ask ‘where is it?’ - these songs are a soundtrack to people’s lives – there are grandchildren coming to shows that listen to that album.”

The reunion with her master tapes was, therefore, an emotional one. “When the originals arrived I sat in the living room for an hour crying my eyes out because of the joy of hearing that album again.”

The CDs should be around for Christmas and then a vinyl edition in January – in time for Celtic Connections, but more of that later.

And a download version should follow.

Horse is, like many musicians over the age of 16, in two minds about digital music.

“I was asked a long time ago when tech was beginning: ‘Isn’t the internet going to be great?’ but all I could see was going from being a drop in the ocean to a speck in the universe!”

“But today’s tech is wonderful,” she counters. “When we were young you could only go back so far, but kids now can access music from generations ago.

“Or maybe that’s what happens when you get older – you’ve not got the time or energy to explore.”

Maybe, though Horse isn’t lacking in energy, which given her recent diary, is just as well.

She is “constantly spinning plates,” and also an ambassador for music therapy charity Nordoff Robbins, and finds making a difference to lives ‘thrilling”.

And that sees her add another string to her bow – even if it’s more work for herself.

“There’s a cycle – make an album, tour, make an album … it was my wife who said ‘you should diversify, how about a play of your life?’ ‘Me, act?’ Anyhow, it grew wings, or legs ...”

A year forward, ‘Careful,’ written with Lynn Ferguson, was playing at the Edinburgh Fringe. “So I can add actor to my CV,” she smiles.

“This feels to me like a platform to move on again,” she enthuses, “I’m so excited about writing this next bit!”

But first, ‘God’s Home Movie’ at Celtic Connections.

“We’ve got some very different musicians that I’d not normally have – we’ll run through the album in order, but there’s a handful of things that are going to be incredible – but hopefully not too different that the fans will go ‘whit?’”

This carrot of special guests brings my standard ‘dream collaboration’ question, though she reels off Billy Mackenzie and John Martyn as two who would have otherwise been on her wishlist. She’s also sent an invite to the album’s lyricist, Angela McAlinden – “she is Bernie, I am Elton!”

The gig and reissue tie in perfectly, as does another anniversary, though it will surprise and probably terrify many that Horse recently turned 60. ‘Outed’ in a birthday message by her pal Lorraine Kelly, the cliche that age is just a number applies more than ever.

“I think I look and feel better now than I did 30 years ago, Back in the day, people at 60 were at the end of their lives. I have no intention to stop any time soon.”

‘God’s Home Movie’ is re-released this month. More at horsemcdonald.com.

Horse is live at the Adam Smith Theatre, Kirkcaldy, on Saturday, February 9. Ticket details at www.onfife.com