The Scottish folk duo The Corries have have helped provide the soundtrack to the lives of anyone who has lived in Scotland over the past half century. This fascinating autobiography gives a detailed account of the life of one of its members, Ronnie Browne, from his earliest memories as a child in wartime Scotland until the death of his beloved wife Pat after 52 years of marriage in 2012. This is a book that can be enjoyed at many different levels. It is a book that gives the reader a captivating account of one man's life and of a loving and highly successful marriage that produced three children and four grandchildren. It is also a book that tells with disarming honesty the definitive story of the establishment of The Corries, of their early trials and tribulations, of their growing success, and of their establishment as Scottish icons. This is also, almost in passing, a book that provides a snapshot of life in Scotland during a period of huge change.
What turns the book from a simple personal account into something that will be of lasting historical importance is that it is not just based on one man's recollections. From 1963 to 1990 Ronnie Brown kept a series of business diaries, and from 1973 his wife Pat kept personal diaries. In writing his autobiography, Ronnie has been able to draw on these documents.
Most potential readers who pick up this book in a bookshop will do so because of The Corries. Between these covers we find out how "The Corries Folk Trio and Paddie Bell" was formed in 1962, at a time when Ronnie was holding down a full time job as a teacher. We also hear how "The Corries Folk Trio" lost a member and became "The Corries" with Ronnie Browne and Roy Williamson, at the start of 1965. One song did more than any other to establish The Corries' iconic status, and we hear how "Flower of Scotland", written by Roy Williamson, was first performed in public on 2 February 1968, and later became the de facto national anthem of Scotland.
More tragically, we also read about Roy Williamson's death in 1990, and Ronnie Browne's later solo career, which over time increasingly took a back seat to his career as a portrait artist, something he has done throughout his adult life. The book concludes with a note that Ronnie Browne ended his singing career when he sang "Flower of Scotland" at the Commonwealth Games in Glasgow on 21 July 2014. "You have to know when to stop". Yet the book also ends hopefully, having told "the story so far."