On each of our Glasgow Music City Tours, there are places that evoke particularly strong memories. The site of the late, lamented Apollo, which features on our Music Mile Tour, is a favourite, where people pause and sigh at the memory of what used to be. Such is the fondness in which its memory is still held, our walking guests have actually started bringing treasured old Apollo tickets along on tour to show to us.
Another site that provokes a similar reaction, and where people stop and linger, is the Barrowland Park Album Pathway, created by Glasgow artist Jim Lambie, which we visit on our Merchant City (and other points east) tour.
The Album Pathway pays homage to the iconic Barrowland Ballroom and its role in Glasgow’s musical history. Arranged like the spines of records on a shelf, the Pathway lists the names and dates of bands that have played there since 1983. Situated just along from the Barrowland, the Pathway forms a welcome “temporary” green space in the heart of a bustling urban area.
It was always intended to be temporary – the Pathway was installed as part of the “legacy” of the Commonwealth Games held in Glasgow in 2014. The plan is now to move it to another site. The problem, though, is that it works perfectly well where it is, right there beside the Barras itself: it makes sense here. Is it really so surprising, then, that it has already become a much loved, well used site, and that people are utterly dismayed when they hear it is to be moved?
Glasgow Music City Tours has been spending a lot of time there of late. Recently a local resident approached us, irate that the pathway could go: “I hope you’re enjoying yourselves, because this is going to get ripped up. We need more spaces like this in this part of the city, do you want to take my mobile and phone my MP? Here…I’ve got his number.” We assured him that we knew, and that we make a point of telling our guests about the proposed move, and point them in the direction of the online petitions to save it.
Our Album Pathway walks have become conducive to shared memories about gigs at the Barrowland: there was, for example, the girl who became quite emotional when she recalled dancing with Michael Clark Company’s Barrowland Project…
There was another who had performed at the Barrowland, and there was the family whose kids started looking at their parents in a whole new light when they began recalling one particular concert featured among the hundreds on The Pathway.
Those lucky enough to have seen Bob Dylan at the Barrowland in 2004, and then wondered whether they had actually dreamed it, get misty-eyed just looking at the album spine that celebrates it, it acts as confirmation of a glorious night when Dylan even smiled.
This stuff happens all the time: people look at the Pathway and they start to remember. Our own guides all have their own memories of the venue: one who has had the privilege of performing onstage; another whose grandfather was a bouncer at the Barrowland in its dancehall days; and one regular gig-goer who might as well have a season ticket to the place.
When we tell our tour guests that the Pathway is temporary and in danger of disappearing, they’re utterly baffled. They ask if anything can be done to save it, and we point them in the direction of the online petitions.
One is for people within the Glasgow boundary to sign here. This petition closes on September 16th, and at present signatures are still needed.
If you’re outwith the city boundary then there’s this one.
We think it would be a real shame if in future we had to point out the site of the former Barrowland Park Album Pathway; it would be great if the “legacy” did indeed become a legacy.