In association with the Grosvenor
Where You’re Meant To Be follows musician Aidan Moffat as he seeks to reinvent and modernise traditional Scottish folk songs for his 2014 “Where You’re Meant To Be” tour. He seeks the help of traditional folk singer Sheila Stewart, presenting her with his version of her signature ballad, originally about a man leaving on a ship but here changed to a man leaving in a taxi after a night out. However, she sees this as disrespecting the original song and, therefore, her heritage. This highlights the conflict of the documentary: does Moffat have the right to rewrite these songs?
The documentary examines this contrast between Moffat and Stewart’s views. It mostly follows Moffat on his tour as he tests his new material while exploring rural and Highland Scotland. As the narrator of the film he muses on his relationship with Stewart over beautiful shots of Scotland, meaning his side of the conflict is far more fleshed out and examined by default. However, the film is self-aware enough to recognise that Moffat can be stubborn and self-centred. In fact the filmmaker, Paul Fegan, seems to respect Stewart’s point of view. Her mark can be felt throughout the documentary, making it surprisingly reflective in-between the louder and more humorous moments that mostly come from Moffat.
Music lies at the heart of the documentary, utilising traditional Scottish music to great effect. Traditional folk contrasts with shots of modern day Glasgow, people going on nights out and the M8 and this contrast really highlights the conflict that is the film’s heart.
While Stewart feels she must protect her musical and cultural heritage, knowing that it will most likely die out with her, Moffat suggests that it is crucial to the music’s survival to adapt and become more relatable to the 21st century. Where You’re Meant to Be, picks a middle ground, in that perhaps the two views are not irreconcilable: reinventing is not disrespecting, and that the traditional and the modern can live side by side as long as both are allowed to be celebrated together.