WHERE does a song begin? “I had this daydream about George Martin,” David Scott, teacher, broadcaster, songwriter, is telling me. “In my daydream he phoned up and said, ‘We’re putting Cilla Black into the studio just like the old days. Have you got any songs?’”

Scott does have songs. A whole new album of them. And the title track was inspired by that daydream.

“The song Love & Other Hopeless Things,” he continues, “was kind of me saying, ‘What would you do if Cilla and George were alive and that record was getting done?’ The central character is Cilla when she was a hat check girl riding into town on the ferry.”

In a café at the University of the West of Scotland in Ayr where he’s a senior lecturer, Scott pauses and smiles at the image. For a moment both of us are thinking about Cilla as she was back in the 1960s, imagining her singing Scott’s song.

Truth is, I’ve spent most of the last couple of weeks imagining myself in the 1960s while listening to Love & Other Hopeless Things. It is the eighth album from Scott trading under the name The Pearlfishers, and every track on it sounds like it could have been on the Radio 2 playlist at some point between 1965 and 1975.

If Jimmy Webb or Burt Bacharach had been born in Falkirk maybe their songs would have sounded something like this. There are harmonies and strings and horns and “ba ba ba bas”. This is music that sounds like a dream you had about pop after listening to the Zombies, The Association and Glen Campbell on repeat.

Maybe that’s to be expected when you grow up, as Scott did, listening to your dad’s record collection. “While other people were losing their mind or, later on, the Sex Pistols or whatever, it was Burt Bacharach and the Carpenters for me,” he says.

“Now that makes me the uncoolest guy who ever lived, but for me there was a very pure connection to that beautifully structured heart-and-soul music that was very deeply about melody and harmony.”

He makes a great advert for “uncoolness”. And not just with his music. Silver hair swept up off his face, Scott, now 54, is open and enthusiastic as he shows me around the UWS campus where, among other things, he runs a Masters in Song Writing.

Read More: Scotland's Favourite Bands Part One

Read More: Scotland's Favourite Bands Part Two

The teaching is as much part of his story as the music. The broadcasting too for that matter (he’s working on a new series of Classic Scottish Albums for Radio Scotland). But Scott – everyone calls him Davie – admits making music is the “part that has my heart.”

That has been the case since he was growing up in Falkirk in the 1960s and 1970s. “I think, like a lot of people, I was the product of a small Scottish town where the bricks and the mortar of the place is physically and metaphorically woven through you.

“Certainly, I find myself writing more and more about my upbringing, about my hometown. The danger is you write songs that are dewy-eyed or misty. I don’t want them to be that. Neither are they heavily critical songs. I think the songs are about people and places, about streets and about buildings and about the day-to-day life which I still find really fascinating.”

Scott’s musical story is one of near misses and perseverance. Back in the 1980s he had a short liaison with a major label or two when Scottish pop was at its height and he was in a band called Hearts and Minds.

But when that didn’t work out, he didn’t put his guitar away. Instead, Scott has beavered away making music with friends – “I’m a peripatetic BMX Bandit,” he reminds me at one point – over the last 30 years. His back catalogue is a jewellery box of words and music.

It’s been a slow burn of a career, but one that started like a rocket. Growing up in Camelon, Scott started playing music in the Falkirk Folk Club doing floor spots. When he made a demo it got picked up for a compilation album and suddenly he had a record deal.

“I got off to a flyer in the music industry I guess in the eighties,” he admits. He moved to London, made some records and videos. What was the dream at that point, Davie? “The dream was never defined and that was probably the problem. I don’t think I ever wanted it enough, Teddy.”

Really? “Listen, I’m driven enough. You don’t make records for 30 years as I have done if you don’t have a bit of that. And I’m deeply concerned to find an audience for my music, which I have done.

“But there is a difference between that and being career-driven which I think I probably never was enough.

“By the time of Hearts and Minds I knew I could write songs. I think I knew I was a good songwriter. And that that point you start thinking, ‘Let’s make an amazing record.’ That was always the driving thing. Let’s make something that is a beautiful, shining thing that stands on its own two feet.”

And, Scott points out, when he lost his record deal in his twenties, you can’t pretend you are the cock of the walk anymore. You have to learn a little humility. “I think you have to ask yourself what you’re doing it for. And if you’re making music because you want to be noticed or whatever, if that’s the only reason, then you better go and do something else.”

He has made music because he wants to make music. The first Pearlfishers album, Za Za’s Garden, came out on Iona Records. Every album since, up to and including Love & Other Hopeless Things, has been released on Marina, the German indie label that has done so much to support Scottish music over the last 25 years.

“By the time I arrived at Marina I think it was probably not going to be a major label for me. I had to find a home that was going to understand what I was trying to do.”

Love & Other Hopeless Things is Marina’s last album by all accounts. Scott is not so sure. “My suspicion is they will go back on that because a vinyl junkie is a vinyl junkie.”

Scott is one of those too, of course. He can rave about Laura Nyro and Brian Wilson with the best of them. He has had the good fortune to have met Brian Wilson and Paul McCartney. George Martin, too.

“I always remember being in Utopia Studios in London doing this dumb video for Phonogram. At some point the door opens and I’m dancing about like an eejit and there is the very identifiable dome haircut of George Martin.

“I remember going ‘Cut!’ and running over and shaking his hand and telling him how much I loved the music. And he said, ‘Well, that’s lovely, but do you think I could have my hand back?’”

That was then. These days Scott lives in Troon with his wife Margaret and his two stepsons and in a state of contentment.

“Life is good and I think I always need that to make decent work. Conflict is not good for me.”

Harmony, in other words, is Davie Scott’s natural condition.

Love &  Other Hopeless Things is out next Friday on Marina Records.


Probably the last Celtic Connections show we did in 2016 where we had a big string section, horns and all the rest of it. That was a real high.


Losing the Hearts and Minds deal. That was cruel. That was a blow because that could have been great.


I think, “Finish the song”.


Would be Paul McCartney just because of his inventiveness. Favourite album? It’s been Pet Sounds for years and it probably still is.


Brian Wilson. For the general Brian-ness. Robert Burns. I'd love his take on our world now. And Judee Sill and Bobbie Gentry for the same reasons, i.e. their total genius and that question: what happened to you guys?

I'm planning the menu as we speak and feel certain that all would welcome a Scottish Bistro approach.