The Waterboys: Fisherman’s Blues
I’ve never understood why this Jewish New Yorker loves Celtic influenced rock music. It doesn’t make much sense, but it is true. It’s not like I was exposed to much of this style of music before I went to college, other than a little Jethro Tull and some Van Morrison, yet I remember falling in love with Horslips when I first heard them. And although I still think their soul inflected first album was better than their big hit, “Too-Rye-Ay,” I liked Dexy’s Midnight Runners’ version of Celtic infused pop. Over the years, I learned to appreciate more traditional Celtic music by bands such as The Chieftains and have become a fan of Fairport Convention and, of course, Richard Thompson, who often included British and Irish folk music, either traditional songs, or as influences on their original music, in their repertoire. More recently, I have enjoyed punkier updates on the sound by The Pogues, Flogging Molly, Dropkick Murphys and The Tossers. I guess it just goes to show you that you can’t always tell what art will appeal to a person based on their background. Some things just grab you emotionally, and other things don’t. Which is why someone can like The Clash and Genesis, or The Drive-By Truckers and Pat Metheny.
So, I liked The Waterboys’ early efforts, but “Fisherman’s Blues” was the first disc of theirs that I loved. Its mix of big, U2 style pomp, Van Morrison blue eyed soul, American country music and Celtic music resonated with me in my New York apartment. In the boisterous title track, I really like the way that the fiddle kicks in about 7 seconds in, and the way Mike Scott, the lead singer, exuberantly yells, “Wooh,” as if he was overcome by the music about 10 seconds before he starts singing the lyrics. It is a love song, in which the singer wishes that he could be free of his responsibilities and be with his beloved in his arms, and you can hear the joy and desire in his voice. Or, at least that is how I hear it.
“Fisherman’s Blues” was used in two pretty good movies, “Good Will Hunting” and “Waking Ned Divine,” as well as the underrated and prematurely cancelled TV show, “Lights Out.”