Saturday, November 12, 2022

At the Council of Darkness

 New (free) Substack newsletter, first of my weekly diaries with pix and pontification. This time: on being a nuclear target, flirting with arms dealers, pedestrians at risk, why councillors don't really matter much (but officials do), keeping vulnerable families warm and fed and the shame of burning coal. Also, it's very dark and...did I mention my new book?

Thursday, October 27, 2022

Bought, Begged and Stolen - as heard on 60 North Radio, 28 October

Jessie Buckley and Bernard Butler — The Eagle and the Dove

Simple Minds — The American (acoustic)

The Magpie Arc — Love Never Dies

Mary Chapin Carpenter — Between the Earth and the Stars

Steve Earle — Guitar Town

Unthanks — The Old News

John Smith — To the Shore

Karine Polwart, Spell Songs — Bramble

Benjamin Francis Leftwich — Oh My God Please

The Staves — Nazareth

Glen Hansard — Cold Comfort

Dry Cleaning — No Decent Shoes

Stevie Nicks — For What It’s Worth

The Waterboys — Glastonbury Fayre

Elvis Costello, Rusty — Don’t Lose Your Grip on Love

Drive By Truckers — The Driver

Dream Syndicate — Every Time You Come Around

Taj Mahal, Ry Cooder — My Baby Done Change the Lock on the Door

Gerry Rafferty — Wild Mountain Thyme

Nihilists — White Stripes

Finaly Morton — Harvest the Wind

Robert Gordon — Rock Billy Boogie

David Lindley — Mercury Blues

James and Bobby Purify — I’m Your Puppet

Dan Penn and Spooner Oldham — I’m Your Puppet

Lindsey Black — Undone

Taylor Swift — Bejewelled

Friday, September 30, 2022

Bought, Begged and Stolen - Friday, 30 September

Jon Strider — Point of No Return

James Yorkston — Sometimes the Act of Giving Love

Nick Lowe — A Better Man

Suzy y Los Quattros — Radio! Stereo!

Dada — The Last Time

Led Zeppelin — Communication Breakdown

Dropkick — Until I Fall Away

Pugwash — The Perfect Summer

Wynntown Marshalls — Low Country Comedown

Boz Scaggs — Cadillac Walk

John Mellencamp — Small Town

Patty Griffin — Angels are Falling

Jon Allen — Heat of the Moment

Mark Knopfler — Occupation Blues

Smithereens — Dear Abby

First Aid Kit — Out of my Head

Teenage Fanclub — The Concept

Jesus and Mary chain — Sometimes Always

Echo and the Bunnymen — Lips Like Sugar

Sugar — If I Can’t Change Your Mind

REM — Fall on Me

The Beths — Knees Deep

Superchunk — On the Floor

Kurt Vile — Like Exploding Stones

Lemonheads — It’s a shame About Ray

Go-Betweens — Streets of Your Town

The Las — There She Goes

Paramore — This is Why

Dillard and Clark — Train Leaves Here this Morning

Johnny Cash — God’s Gonna Cut you Down

Christine and the Queens/Redcar — Rien Dire

Tuesday, September 27, 2022

Tom Morton's Holy Waters: Do Abbots Dream of Electric Soup? Buckfast for beginners

 Reading some of the tasting notes for Buckfast Tonic Wine from my new book Holy Waters: Searching for the Sacred in a Glass. Beware the Buckie Baws!

Thursday, September 08, 2022

Bought, Begged and Stolen, 9 September

On 60 North Radio Fridays 7-9pm. Special preview on Mixcloud. Link after playlist. Where else can you hear the Suede Crocodiles, Linda Ronstadt and Scott Walker doing Jacques Brel?

Tom Petty — The Waiting
That Petrol Emotion — Big Decision
Nick Lowe — Crackin’ Up
Graham Parker — Local Girls
Sonny Terry and Brownie McGhee — Beer Garden Blues
Taj Mahal — Diving Duck Blues
Jackson Browne — Doctor My Eyes
Jesse Ed Davis — Rock’n’Roll Gyspies
Allman Brothers Band — Blue Sky
The Low Miffs — Cressida
The Wake — Talk About the Past
Public Image Ltd — Rise
Warren Zevon — Johnny Strikes Up the Band
Linda Ronstadt — Mohammed’s Radio
Jason Isbell and Amanda Shires — Mutineer
Shakin’ Pyramids — Take a Trip
North Country Fair — Sunny Side
Flutes — This is No Country for Old Men
Syndicate — Baby’s Gone
Sandy Wright — Hotel Caledonia
Eddi Reader — Shining Light
Los Lobos — Will the Wolf Survive?
Neil Innes — How Sweet to be an Idiot
Marshall Crenshaw — Someday Someway
Suede Crocodiles - Paint Yourself a Rainbow
Kevin McDermott — Suffocation Blues
Kevin McDermott Orchestra — Healing at the Harbour
RJ McKendree - Villager
Walker Brothers — Jackie

Friday, September 02, 2022

Bought, Begged and Stolen, 2 September

Kitchen table digital version of the show this week, with some technological faffing about, but on the whole, pretty listenable, I think. Includes new stuff from Trashcan Sinatras and Lindsey Black, old stuff from Friends Again and The Bathers, and VERY old stuff from The Who and Wilson Pickett. On 60 North Radio and Shetland Webcams 7-9pm Fridays. On Mixcloud now and link is below playlist.

Pete Townshend — A Little is Enough

The Who — 5.15

The Kinks — Come Dancing

David Heavenor — It All Soon Passed

Lindsey Black — Undone

Fairport Connection — Si Tu Dois Partir

Gallagher and Lyle — Mhairu

Yvonne Lyon, Gareth Davies-Jones, David Lyon — Trouble

The Sonics — Louie Louie

Paul Revere and the Raiders — (I’m Not Your) Stepping Stone

? and the Mysterons — 96 Tears

Monkees — I’m a Believer

Pearlfishers — We’ll Be the Summer

Friends Again — Sweet Jane

Bathers — If Love Could Last Forever

Byrds — Feel a Whole Lot Better

Robyn — Dancing on My Own

Grace Jones — Private Life

Prefab Sprout — Moving the River

Bob Dylan — Visions of Johanna

Wilson Picket — 634-5789

Kirsty McColl — In These Shoes

Hello Saferide — Berlin

Pentangle — Light Flight

Al Stewart — Year of the Cat

Joni Mitchell — You Turn Me On (I’m a Radio)

Tim Hardin — Reason to Believe

Linda Ronstadt — Desperado

Gerry Rafferty — Waiting for the Day

Trashcan Sinatras — Lay of the Land

Friday, August 26, 2022

Tom Morton's Bought, Begged and Stolen, 26 August

New show for the week of 26 August. 7-9pm on 60 North Radio, also on Mixcloud and the 60 North archive after 9.00pm. From Nashville to Kelvin Way via some Lost Horizons. Player after playlist:

Al Stewart — Terminal Eyes

Nick Drake — From the Morning

Taste — I’m Moving On

Van Morrison — Into the Mystic

Rachel Unthank — The Sandgate Dandling Song

Diesel Park West — Out of Nowhere

The Shires — Nashville Grey Skies

Jackson C Frank — Blues Run the Game

Beverley Ann — You’ve got Your Mind on Other Things

Magnetic Fields — Papa was a Rodeo

Peter Nardini — Between the Clyde and Heaven

Fairport Convention — Who Knows Where the Time Goes?

Earthquake — Tall Order For a Short Guy

John Fahey — I am the Resurrection

Gregson and Collister — The Things We Do For Love

Paolo Nutini — Last Request (live)

John Martyn — Over the Hill

String Driven Thing — Kelvin Way

Stone the Crows — Touch of Your Loving Hand

Bobby Bare — Hard time Hungrys

The The — This is the Day

Iain Shaw — Blitzkrieg Bop

Incredible String Band — Job’s Tears

Mylo — In My Arms

Gin Blossoms — Lost Horizons

Rembrandts — End of the Beginning

Steely Dan — Any Major Dude

Kevin Coyne — Marlene

Michael Marra — Hermless

Friday, August 19, 2022

Bought Begged and Stolen, 19 August

The Bought Begged and Stolen show which went out 7-9pm on 19 August on 60 North Radio. It's on the 60 North archive and streaming right now on Mixcloud, with the link at the end of this post.
Fairly eclectic playlist:
Frightened Rabbit — State Hospital
The Verve — This is Music
Moby — Run On
The Chimes— Still Haven’t Found What I’m Looking For
The Valentine Brothers — Money’s Too Tight to Mention
Mickey Jupp — Bad News Can Travel Slow
Graham Kendrick — With Your Love
Arcade Fire — The Suburbs
Aberfeldy — Come on Claire
Van Morrison — Madame George
Withered Hand — Heart Heart
Spare Snare — Field Trip
Nyah Fearties — In the Barn
Sunset Gun— Be thankful for What You Got
Hot Chip — Ready for the Floor
Al Stewart — Roads to Moscow
Neutral Milk Hotel — In the Aeroplane Over the Sea
Robert Wyatt — Shipbuilding
The Go-Betweens — Head full of Steam
Suicide — Dream Baby Dream
Randy Newman — Albanian National Anthem/Rolling
Richard Hawley — As the Dawn Breaks
Ry Cooder — How Can a Poor Man Stand Such Times and Live?
Richard and Linda Thomson — It’ll Be Me

Friday, August 12, 2022

The Bought, Begged and Stolen show from 12 August - first of the line

The debut, full-length Bought, Begged and Stolen show goes out on 7-9pm, on Friday 12 August, available on the Shetland Webcams, through Radio Garden, the 60 North Radio smartphone app and various other high-tech facilities. It's also streaming on Mixcloud now (link follows) and will be on the 60 North archive after 9.00pm on Friday. Everything played from my own CDs or albums. Paid for with money. Or not.

The Mixcloud link is below and is live now.
Mickey Jupp — Standing at the Crossroads Again
Gregson and Collister — For a Dancer
Faces — Wicked Messenger
Peter Skellern — They Can’t Take That Away From Me
Goldfrapp — Ride a White Horse
Laibach — The Lonely Goatherd
Ry Cooder — Little Sister
Taj Mahal — Ain’t That Lot of Love
Elmore James — It Hurts Me Too
Luka Bloom — Don’t Be Afraid of the Light That shines Within You
Neil Young — Down by the River
John Stewart — Hollywood Dreams
Staple Singers — Slippery People
Bob Dylan and Mavis Staples — Gonna Change My Way of Thinking
David Crosby — Music is Love
Nils Lofgren — Keith Don’t Go
Bruce Springsteen — Living on the Edge of the World
Primevals — American Road Trip
Idles — Well Done
Rachel Unthank and the Winterset — Blue Bleezin’ Blind Drunk
Neil Sedaka — Rock’n’Roll Wedding
Hindu Love Gods — Gonna Have a Good time Tonight
Little Feat — Sailing shoes
Debbie Scott — Anne Grace Henderson/The Chief/Donnie Henderson’s Reel
James Taylor — Riding on a Railroad

Tuesday, July 26, 2022

Pilot show: Tom Morton's Bought, Begged and Stolen

This is the one-hour (well, 50 minutes) pilot for my new show, set to replace the Beatcroft Social from mid-August. The idea is simply that all the music is played from physical media - mostly vinyl and CD, but with the occasional cassette, shellac disc and reel-to-reel. 

It's not about the 'analogue quality so much as the fact that I chose to own - to keep - these tracks. I haven't trawled the infinite internet for downloads or streams. As such there are a few technical hiccups and fumbles. Forgive me. See what you think anyway. 

Playlist below or on

 From Trembling Bells to Archie Fisher via Sam Fender and We Free Kings...

The Blue Nile   — I Love this Life

Monkees         What Are You Doing Hanging Around

Michael Marra and the Hazey Janes — Heaven’s Hound

Clive Palmer — Banjoland

Love and Money — Cheeseburger

Ray Charles  — No Letter Today

Trembling Bells — Big Nothing/Knocking on the Coffin

Tom Waits and Crystal Gayle — Take Me Home

Sam Fender — Hypersonic Missiles

AndyPratt — Resolution

Ray and Archie Fisher - Glasgow Street Songs

We Free Kings — Love is in the Air

Tuesday, April 19, 2022

Means tests, stigma, hating Thought for the Day, and physical comedy during the Sermon on the Mount

“It’s 10 to eight; time now for Thought for the Day…”


I detest the patronising, often glutinous, stale religious croissant that is Thought for the Day on BBC Radio Four’s otherwise unmissable Today Programme. As smartspeakers proliferate, there will eventually come a time when, at 7.50am, the great collective British shout of ALEXA! OFF (or Google, or Big Facebook Ellon Musk Brother) will cause a minor earthquake, even in Langham Place, London.

Anyway, you don’t have to listen to the following homily. Or read it. But it does contain a bit of the 1611 Bible. You have been warned.

Ah'm no the factor nor the gasman

Napoleon nor Ronald Coleman

When ye hear me rat-tat-tat upon the door

"Have you money in the bank or money in the store?"

Ye'd better look oot or else ah'll get ye

Try and dodge me if ye can,

For ah'm neither Santa Claus nor Douglas  Fairbanks

I am the Means Test man…

Money. Money in the bank, money in the pocket. Money that comes in monthly and goes out daily. Money for food, heat, lighting, cooking. Money for internet, TV, buses, cars, clothes. Money in the hand. How much do you have? Not enough to keep warm or feed the kids or yourself?

There is help available, but you have to ask for it. You have to identify yourself as in need. And then people come and check that you really need it. Or really, really need it. They test your means. 

Could there be anything more humiliating? Maybe queuing in front of your neighbours for a foodbank. Or I heard about a well-meaning Edinburgh lady who was in the habit of buying bags of groceries for neighbours she thought deserved help and hanging them from their front door handles. Prominently.

Means testing has been a feature of social benefits since they were introduced, and sometimes it was administered with grim, exhibitionist brutality. Humiliation was the price you paid. Of course, it’s understandable that only those who need help should get it, and there were - and are - inevitably those who seek to exploit the system for their own benefit when they don’t deserve it.

Nowadays it may be done with relative discretion but everything from Universal Credit to care home eligibility before death is means-tested, often by the provision of proof that you’re in receipt of some other aid, but sometimes by more intrusive methods. The state pension is not, just as long as you’ve paid your national insurance for long enough. As I have discovered, now being over 66 and in receipt of my monthly £817.44. And very welcome, after a lifetime of freelance scrabbling, it is too.

Now we are facing a cost of living crisis, fuelled by huge rises in energy prices, Brexit, food cost inflation, COVID-19, and worse to come.

The island community I live in has for decades been extremely wealthy, with almost full employment and an oil-rich Council, with its affiliated trusts, providing services and infrastructure second to none in Scotland. 

Now, however, in these troubled times, some residents are facing hunger, cold, the inability to feed family members or afford transport to and from work or shopping. And this is a proud community where admitting vulnerability or poverty is difficult. It is also a caring community where people tend to look out for one another. But there is, and will be for some time to come, a need for public bodies to help those, often those in work, with the provision of food, energy, and services they find themselves unable to afford.

Charitable organisations are already delivering this kind of help, and they do it in ways that endeavour to be accessible, open and stigma-free. Lunch clubs, free transport and the like are readily valuable. And there is more charities and other organisations could do. Could the Shetland Charitable Trust, which administers the isle’s oil compensation funds, reinstate the annual pensioners’ Christmas bonus, which was once paid automatically to all residents over pensionable age? Should the Shetland Community Benefit Fund, which administers compensation from the isles’ industrial windfarms, change its position on paying out only to organisations and find a way of supporting individual and families in need? Our local community development group, NCDC, spent some of the profits it gains from the hugely successful Polycrub on a ‘bonus’ last year for all Northmavine residents as a post-lockdown measure. 

What about the practicalities? Because although this is a caring and close society, that brings problems with confidentiality. Are there essentially invisible ways for public bodies to help, without the risk of stigma, blame, gossip and bullying, particularly of children?

Pre-pay electricity cards can already be subsidised using fuel vouchers. Could account cards for local shops be issued to all local residents, with those in particular need able to access additional discounts? Or maybe there should simply be temporary grants or discounts for all pensioners and all families with children under, 16? Child benefit obviously continues to exist, with clawback in tax from those with higher incomes, but I’m talking about extra measures to deal with the crisis we’re facing now.

I heard of a church in Edinburgh that simply put out baskets of food and essential goods along its wall every morning, for anyone to help themselves to. Sure, some abused the system. But not many. Maybe we have to be indiscriminate in our generosity.

I’m not in the habit these days of quoting the Bible, but I’ve always liked some of Jesus’ visual jokes. And you can imagine the Lee-Evans-like physical contortions that accompanied this vignette from the Sermon on the Mount (Matthew chapter six; this is in the King James Version, the only translation worth memorising):

Therefore when thou doest thine alms, do not sound a trumpet before thee, as the hypocrites do in the synagogues and in the streets, that they may have glory of men. Verily I say unto you, They have their reward. But when thou doest alms, let not thy left hand know what thy right hand doeth. That thine alms may be in secret…


It was 90 years ago…protests against the Means Test Act in 1932. the other cartoons are from the 1930s, courtesy of the University of Kent’s British Cartoon Archive.

Thursday, March 17, 2022

New Substack newsletter - free to view

My new free-to-read Substack newsletter. Clown bikes and the risk of weight-related comedic collapses... #bromptonlife #bromptonbicycle

Friday, March 11, 2022

The Beatcroft Social as heard on 60 North Radio on 11 March.

Full playlist and link to the Mixcloud stream follows.

Monkees — Me and Magdalena
Monkees — Salesman
Sandy Denny — Who Knows Where the Time Goes?
David Bowie — Can’t Help Thinking About Me
Tori Amos — Winter
East End Friend — Shine
Sakert! — Allting Flyter
Rozi Plain — See My Boat
Richard Dawson — The Almsgiver
Martin Stephenson and the Daintees — We Are Storm
Kevin Coyne — Marlene
Red Guitars — Steeltown
Claire Lynch — All the Diamonds
Bruce Cockburn — Isn’t That what Friends Are For
RL Burnside— Shake ‘Em On Down
Paul Weller — The Soul Searchers
Joni Mitchell — A Case of You
The Black Crowes — Jealous Again
Kurt Vile — Like Exploding Stones
George Harrison — Isn’t It A Pity?
Jackson C Frank — Blues Run the Game
Nick Drake — Northern Sky
Paul Brady — Arthur McBride
Nick Lowe — Mama Said
Bruce Cockburn — Easter

Friday, March 04, 2022

The Beatcroft Social from 60 North Radio, as broadcast 4 March 2022

The Beatcroft Social from 4 March is streaming now on Mixcloud and also at the 60 North Radio Archive. Link at bottom of playlist.

Marvin Gaye — What’s Going On

Mary Gauthier — Mercy Now

Graham Parker — One Guitar

Willie Nile — Vagabond Moon

Elvis Costello — Brilliant Disguise

Patti Griffin — Stolen Car

Mystic Knights of the Sea — Johnny 99

Shawn Colvin — Tougher than the Rest

Bruce Springsteen — Adam Raised a Cain

Patti Scialfa — Spanish Dancer

Nils Lofgren — Man at the Top

Kid Canaveral — Low Winter Sun

Hook and Pull Gang — Pour It Down Your Throat

Stella’s Baby — Port of Amsterdam

Tom Waits — Bottom of the World

Just the Job — Fears of the Years

Jackson Browne — For a Dancer

The National — Bloodbuzz Ohio

Wet Leg — Angelica

Hamish Hawk — Bakerloo, Unbecoming

Nick Lowe — What’s so funny about Peace Love and Understanding

Lucinda Williams — Sweet Old World

Tom Paxton — Peace Will Come

Shelby Lynne, Alison Moorer — Not Dark Yet

Bob Marley — One Love/People Get Ready

Tuesday, March 01, 2022

Mother Russia (On the Beach in Moscow, Ayrshire)

My new (free) Substack newsletter, Longish read, but comes complete with song...("Lenin, Trotsky, Stalin...the names roll off the tongue/Like Crosby Stills and Nash without Neil Young...")