Page last updated at 11:46 GMT, Thursday, 28 August 2008 12:46 UK

Burns fans mull over Jackson link

Michael Jackson and Rabbie Burns
Burns experts have been shocked by reports of the musical link

Rabbie Burns experts have reacted with astonishment to reports that Michael Jackson has recorded an album of the poet's work put to a modern backing.

The musician's friend David Gest said they had recorded the Bard's verse at a studio in California.

Southern Scottish Counties Burns Association president David Baird said he was "incredulous" at the reports.

He said he was happy to see the poet's work promoted to a modern audience but not if it made Burns "look silly".

Mr Baird, from Dumfries, said he was surprised when he heard about the project.

There are some beautiful songs in the settings Burns himself chose and I think it would be sad to move away from some of that
David Baird
Southern Scottish Counties Burns Association
"I was quite incredulous at the thought that Michael Jackson on the eve of his 50th birthday was thinking of plagiarising Burns and cashing in on the 250th anniversary next year," he said.

He said he had very mixed feelings about the proposition.

"The idea of turning Burns's tunes and songs, which he carefully collected, into 'show tunes' just kind of grates a wee bit," he said.

"I think it is great that anybody is trying to bring Burns and his philosophy and his poetry to the forefront of people's minds.

"But I think there are ways and means of doing it that don't actually make him look silly."

Own interpretation

Mr Baird added that while he did not think the poet's work should be preserved "in aspic" he felt any music should be in keeping with his words.

"There is myriad interpretations of Burns and every man has his own interpretation," he said.

"There are some beautiful songs in the settings Burns himself chose and I think it would be sad to move away from some of that.

"I think there is a need to reflect on why it is that he set particular pieces to particular pieces of music."


SEE ALSO
Paxman slammed over Burns comment
14 Aug 08 |  Scotland
New centre to study Burns' work
19 Jul 07 |  Glasgow, Lanarkshire and West
Burns museum wins 11.3m funding
24 Jan 07 |  Glasgow, Lanarkshire and West

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