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Walking Back Home: Deacon Blue and me by Ricky Ross

09 December 2022

John Davies reviews a rock memoir that keeps its feet on the ground

HOW did a child of a Brethren Assemblies gospel-hall family become the leader of one of the most successful rock groups of recent decades? This is a story that Ricky Ross tells of himself in his memoir Walking Back Home: Deacon Blue and me.

Ross founded Deacon Blue in Glasgow in 1985. They achieved success with their two first albums: Raintown, and the chart-topping When the World Knows Your Name, which included a top-ten single, “Real Gone Kid”. They have released 11 albums, selling more than seven million copies, most recently Riding on the Tide of Love in 2021. Ross has also enjoyed songwriting success outside the group, and is a broadcaster, notably with BBC Radio Scotland’s Sony Award-winning Another Country.

This book might be considered a companion to the official Deacon Blue chronicle Deacon Blue: To be here someday by Paul English (2021). Ross intends Walking Back Home to be less a biography and more a series of portraits of people who have influenced his life and music, and accounts of significant moments or encounters along the way. These figures include his parents and their extended church community, and people whom he met while a youth worker in Dundee and a teacher in Glasgow, described alongside his later encounters with the likes of Bono and Bruce Springsteen.

Ross devotes a long chapter to Springsteen, for him a paragon among musicians. Another who receives similar treatment is Bruce Cockburn, a Canadian singer-songwriter of spiritual depth and political acuity. Ross understates his Christian faith and commitment to social action, but these core elements of his character underpin his recollections.

Another constant here is Glasgow. The city is Ross’s adopted home, and its people inhabit much of Deacon Blue’s material, from the group’s popular hit about a Pollokshields council litter-picker who dreams of owning a “ship called Dignity” to the girl who looks like “some kind of princess in a poor man’s house” in their 2021 track “Not Gonna Be That Girl”. This memoir extends the reach of Ross’s storytelling skills, as it confirms his rootedness in the lives and concerns of everyday people.

The Revd John Davies is Priest-in-Charge of Clapham with Keasden and Austwick with Eldroth in the Diocese of Leeds.


Walking Back Home: Deacon Blue and me
Ricky Ross
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