The Proclaimers, Hibs and “Sunshine On Leith”

Last time I wrote about Elvis Presley, a performer who could only have come from the southern states of America. His accent, his good manners, his songs, all reflected his roots and his “place” in the world, right from the very beginning and throughout his career. In Scotland, we didn’t produce an Elvis Presley but we did produce The Proclaimers. Like Elvis, their accents, their good manners and songs were very much of their “place” and like most Scots I am really proud of what they have achieved.

I will admit that unlike Elvis they were never destined to become teen idols, but ever since twins Charlie and Craig Reid appeared on the music scene in the mid ’80s they have produced an impressive body of work and kept entertaining audiences around the world with their very distinctive brand of anthemic music.


I first saw them in concert in the autumn of 1986 when they supported The Housemartins who were touring the UK at the time. I can still remember my quite “posh” friend’s surprised reaction to the twins, as she had never heard anyone sing with such strong Scottish accents before. Also they sang about places and happenings that we all could relate to. It didn’t take them long to cross the Atlantic and appear on US television chat shows, their songs becoming big hits over there too. They have even appeared on Family Guy!


My favourite Proclaimers’ song is Sunshine On Leith which came from their second album and was a minor hit in 1988. It is a song that is just so connected to their birthplace, Leith, a district in the north of Edinburgh. A stage musical called Sunshine On Leith was written in 2007 featuring the songs of The Proclaimers, and an excellent film of the same name was made in 2013. It is one of the rare times I have enjoyed a film so much that I went back to watch it for a second time the next night.

Sunshine On Leith by The Proclaimers:

Like last time with the Elvis song, I have decided to include more than one version and these next two bring a lump to my throat every time. The first shows just what can happen when football fans adopt a song and in the case of Sunshine On Leith, that could only have happened with Hibernian FC, the club based right there in Leith. Fortunately Charlie and Craig are fans of the club and they must have been really moved by what happened after Hibs’ amazing Scottish League Cup Final win in 2007 – You can tell that the club’s manager, John Collins, definitely was.

Sunshine On Leith Cup Final version (best bit kicks in at 1:14 – no pun intended):

The second version of this song is from the film and is performed by Jane Horrocks. A completely different version from the one sung with such passion on the football terraces but sung with a different kind of passion, that of a wife for her poorly husband. If you haven’t seen either the stage show or the film, I would thoroughly recommend both although I would also thoroughly recommend bringing a large supply of tissues as I ran out last time – Not a pretty sight leaving the cinema.

Sunshine On Leith from the film soundtrack:

Sunshine On Leith Lyrics
(Song by Charlie Reid/Craig Reid)

My heart was broken, my heart was broken 
Sorrow Sorrow Sorrow Sorrow
My heart was broken, my heart was broken
You saw it, You claimed it
You touched it, You saved it

My tears are drying, my tears are drying 
Thank you Thank you Thank you Thank you
My tears are drying, my tears are drying
Your beauty and kindness
Made tears clear my blindness

While I’m worth my room on this earth
I will be with you
While the Chief, puts sunshine on Leith
I’ll thank Him for His work
And your birth and my birth

Author: Alyson

Whenever I hear an old song on the radio, I am immediately transported back to those days. I know I'm not alone here and want to record those memories for myself and for the people in them. 57 years ago the song "Alfie" was written by my favourite songwriting team, Bacharach and David. The opening line to that song was, "What's it all about?" and I'm hoping by writing this blog, I might find the answer to that question.

6 thoughts on “The Proclaimers, Hibs and “Sunshine On Leith””

  1. Wonderful post, Alyson (as always). Before The Proclaimers had their first & only hit in the US, I bought the Sunshine On Leith album (followed shortly thereafter by This Is The Story) based on the suggestion of a friend who knew I liked Scottish music. What a great recommendation that was. For the next few years I played the albums countless times and by 1993 I assumed they had split up. Then the rare miracle happened when “I’m Gonna Be (500 Miles)” was featured in a movie and it became a Top 10 hit here. A year later there was finally a third album, and I’ve continued to buy everything they’ve released since then. Nothing compares to the first two for me, but it’s always a pleasure hearing those two voices together. Thanks for sharing the movie version of “Sunshine On Leith.” At first I couldn’t recall where I knew the name Jane Horrocks, but then I remembered the movies Little Voice and Chicken Run. Thanks for the reminders of two wonderful films. At some point I might have to see the Sunshine On Leith movie even though these “soundtrack movies” (or whatever they’re called) aren’t something I usually respond to.

    Liked by 1 person

    1. First of all thanks for taking the time to read these older posts – It’s a fine balance isn’t it, finding the time to read other bloggers’ posts but also have time to write your own stuff – I sometimes struggle (on top of a full-time job).

      Really chuffed to hear you love The Proclaimers – They are just SO Scottish aren’t they but a lovely couple of chaps who are still making music and touring today. Glad you liked the movie version (I also wrote a post about the film when I featured the song Letter From America) but I’m not sure if you would like the football terraces version. Hibs just won another big game recently and again there were scenes of the faithful fans singing Sunshine on Leith for all they were worth. – Both versions make me all teary.

      As a matter of interest it was my husband’s boyhood friend who was credited with discovering them after hearing them play in a local bar (they often travelled north to Inverness) – He contacted the Housemartins who agreed to include them on their first national tour and the rest, as they say, is history. My daughter’s friend also won a competition in the local paper and the prize was to go back stage and meet them when they came to play at our big Highland Games – sadly the girls didn’t really know their back catalogue and just the 500 Miles song which had been adapted for Comic Relief (a charity telethon), but the twins were very nice to them and lots of pictures were taken!

      As for the film (think Jukebox Musical is the term), not sure if it would be your thing but I loved it. Very clever how they can concoct a whole storyline around the lyrics to an artist’s songs, but they do.


      1. My son’s. great passion was music and as we were cooking said listen to this and played Sunshine over Leith . It was a song that he always played for me when he came home , which was only for a few days each year . My son died unexpectantly just before Christmas 2017 and this song out of 800 or more on his iPod will always be the one he loved and shared with me .

        Liked by 1 person

        1. Thanks so much for sharing your story Shirley as it must have been hard to write, I’m sure. Music is such a powerful thing isn’t it and you will always think of your son now when you hear Sunshine On Leith.


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