Fisherman’s Blues 30th Anniversary, Fresh as Ever


I remember the first time I heard the song “Fisherman’s Blueson my local college radio station in California. I had been listening to the Waterboys first 3 Albums for years, and it had been fun trying to get import copies of them in the early 80s in San Francisco. I had really enjoyed what had been called,  “The Big Music”, a single from their A Pagan Place album, a music sense that spirituality and the land and people came together, and a music sound that was big and grabbed you. When I heard the change in the Waterboys music with the new single, it took a few times of playing the tape over, but I was hooked. Blending traditional and new sound, they were creating a bigger, deeper music. The Waterboys were definitely going in new directions. I think I played the album on cassette until I stretched that tape too much. Got it on vinyl. Had to sell it during dire straights, got a copy back a few years later, used as I wanted the original issue.  I have had it in various forms ever since. There may have been times in my life that I didn’t listen to it, it lay dormant as some of our favorite albums do due to family issues, me issues. However, I always found a way back to it when it was needed.

This October marks the 30th anniversary of the album. It was a record that may have only been released with 10-13 tracks depending on your country, however much, much more was recorded over the two year recording period and released on subsequent compilations. I have a fantasy that the final boxed set that came out in 2013 will be released as vinyl, if it was, I may find it. Yes, 100 plus songs. Heavy load, but always uplifting or sad. When You Go Away, always one that makes a tear

Fisherman’s Blues was released on October 17, 1988. It would take two years to record, and two countries. Steven Wickham had joined the band after the Waterboys This is the Sea album had been released. Other musicians were called in to join in the many lengthly recording sessions. The Waterboys recorded the beginnings of the album at Windmill Lane Studio in Dublin during January to March, 1986. The band then had a madcap adventure in California and a recording session at Fantasy Studios in Berkeley, where much of the recordings would make it onto subsequent albums. During March to August of 1987, the band returned to Windmill Lane in Dublin.  The main members of the band were present, Mike Scott, Steve Wickham, Anto Thistlethwaite on sax, Trevor Hutchinson bass, and Roddy Lorimer on trumpet. A large crew of guest musicians played on many of the tracks. Pat McCarthy was the recording engineer.

The remaining bulk of the over 100 songs and recordings were created at Spiddal House near Galway, Ireland. Where more madcap adventures came forth. And something about burying a electronic metronome timing device? And a shotgun?download-5

Out of this wealth of recordings, 13 tracks made it to the original release on October 17, 1988 (again, depending on country). Of these, “Fisherman’s Blues, about a man wanting to explore his life and the world around him with the burning need to explore, released as a single in October 1988, and “And a Bang on The Ear, a song about Scott listing many romantic entanglements and what the hero learned in the end, was released in June 1989. The rest of the songs recorded over the two years would be released on Too Close to Heaven UK or Fisherman’s Blues Part 2  in the US. In 2006 the Collector’s Edition was released with additional tracks, followed by the Fisherman’s Boxed Set in 2013 including all original songs totaling 121 tracks. 85 of the songs had not be previously available.images-5

Fisherman’s Blues entered Billboard’s US Modern Rock charts at 3rd place, and the single reached No. 32 on the UK singles charts. It has appeared in several film scores, including Waking Ned Devine and Dream With the Fishes. The album is considered one of their best albums in a 30 plus year career span.

images-10For more on the madcap adventures, I strongly suggest you read Mike Scott’s Adventures of a Waterboy.

Sadly, Fantasy Studios in Berkeley closed its doors this last September. Their site is still up if you want to see the long list of artists who have worked there over the years.

Song interpretations are always my own, just like you have your own meaning for songs that you hear. To find the meaning behind the lyrics, go to the Waterboys Lyrics page and decide for yourself.

Waterboys Discography

All Music Writeup

The Big Music and it’s Revival?

Spiddal Reunion Concerts



The Punk, Post-Punk, Gothy Girl is Resurrected.

Gaol Breaker

I’ve bunked off from the gaol. It’s been some 6 weeks or so since I have blogged. I have spent the last 5 weeks crawling out of a weird, wet, dank abyss called Recovery From Major Medical. I have survived a surgery that some don’t, I was lucky I was very fit going in. I am forced off work and we don’t have temp disability here. Why, I feel like I did back in the early 1980s, no hope, no future. I’m alive. Appropriately listening to The Specials ‘Ghost Town’, because the Tibetan Tube Throat singing with accordion/box music at the cafe was really grating on my nerves. Now we’re on to The Fall, ‘Totally Wired. I’m waking up. I pay my taxes, and no real help for me in medical. Oh, yeah, I live in America, the corporate health empire of the world. If you are lucky and live in Canada, UK, Ireland,or the continental EU and have social medicine. Fight to keep it. Here you spend your whole recovery period fending off calls from hospitals while the insurance companies duke it out. So now I am listening to Talking Heads ‘Once in A Lifetime’, wondering where this life is going. And now we segway into ‘Mirror In The Bathroom’ by The Beat. Yeah, girls, makeup after a medical just doesn’t want to work. Actually not wanting to work for a while now. Argh. So not going there with the Albatros Eyebrows so fashionable lately. Again, unless you can pull off a good Siouxsie brow, just keep it simple.

This was a life changing event for me, but I am trying to crawl out of it. Vaughn likened it to having a Scottish Basket Hilt or Japanese Katana Sword run through me and twisting the ribs apart. Now I have to heal from it. I managed to get my Sandman tee shirt on, black skirt, black jacket, boots and thigh high socks on. I look like a Gothic wreck. Good. My red curls got unfurled from the stupid braids of sickness.  I drove for the first time, really slow, no maniacal California driving. Was very good and did not play tunes in car, needed to focus. Speed limit, don’t attract trouble. Made it to the cafe.

Ah, ‘Fade to Grey’ by Visage. Ooo, baby I feel even better already. I have been listening to a mix of digital and records when I can get to the turntable. Unfortunately the non-working thing has curtailed any record buying. But I am selling things off on eBay hoping I can maybe afford the 40th Anniversary Reissues of the Bauhaus Catalog on colored vinyl starting next month, check out Peter Murphy’s site for details. I’m working on the second cup of decaf coffee. I made it to my cafe I usually write in. I really just wanted to feel somewhat myself.

Bauhaus to Reissue 6 Records on Colored Vinyl for 40th Anniversary 

Record Store Physio

One of the tests of where I am truly at with the body has been a visit to two local record shops, Music Millennium and Everyday Music. One I actually found a vinyl copy of The Waterboys ‘An Appointment with Mr. Yeats’, which unless you are on the East Coast or L.A. aren’t likely to find. It was nice to hear some Yeats set to music and try to get back to listening to records. At EDM, it was more of an exercise to see how long I could stand up, can I flip record bin dividers, and even better spell Siouxsie right so I could look for the 12 inch? I kid you not, the really bad side effect of being a Ginge and anesthesia, is it may take weeks to get most of your spelling back. It’s scientific. Yeah, so flipping the records in the bin is a great way to tell how you are doing when recovering.

I’m in the Hawthorne. There are two record shops, Exiled and Jackpot. Okay, no money, but the singles bin can be a great find for super cheap. Hmmm. Oooo, playing ‘Generals and Majors’ by XTC now, that’s the marching orders, right. Also, there is a convo going on in the cafe I have been trying to drown out, because I don’t want to know. Time for ‘Sorry for Laughing’ by Josef K right now, turn that volume up.

Alternative/Punk/Post-Punk/ Group 

I’m dying here in Portland. Great music when you get to it, if we can get them to come. Got tickets for PiL and Echo and the Bunnymen in the next months. But really dying for some Alternative Culture. Yeah, you can still be Alternative if you are over 30, get over it.

I lived in San Francisco too long. It’s hard meeting people when they know you’re from another state. Portland may be the Weird Capital, but they can take a while to warm up to you. And finding anyone into my musical tastes near mine has been impossible. I was so desperate I looked on social networking sites. Nada. So, in my insane creativity and having to think about it, I decided I would try an experiment and create a group and see if anyone shows up. Insane, I know. Probably no one will come or be interested, but I have to get into the Phoenix frame of mind, that bird with singed wings is gonna fly. So, I have to craftily word an invitation. What insanity can I brew from this crazy idea, or will it be typical and no one will show?

Sad about this world that we have gotten so distracted we have to meet in pre-fabricated ways like this. It used to be that you met like minds at the record shop. Here if you try to talk to someone about an exciting find they think you should be sent to the looney. Funny thing, you are already there. Isn’t that what it’s about?

The Real McKenzies

If I make it through this week of killer Phisio (yeah actually they have me going to medical Physio), Vaughn has said we will attempt to see a great Canadian/Scots Punk band called The Real McKenzies I have been listening to for the past few years. If I can show that I am doing better. I need to see if I can manage to get through a show, even if it means being taped to the pillar and doing Pathetic Pogo. I may do a chair Skank if I can find one. But my minder is telling me it depends on how I do this week. So bunking off and driving and making it back in one piece will count I hope.

Oh, and for those of you in the US (West Coast), and don’t know yer ancient history, Gaol here refers to jail. It’s how it was spelt in dem olden days.

We’ll leave this on Elvis Costello’s, ‘I Can’t Stand up For Falling Down’. But really, ending on XTC’s ‘Dear God’, because our world is just as bad as it was 40 years back and what have we learned in this time? Share the music, share the lyrics, wether it’s old school or new groups, get the music out there. It’s the only way to save this race. Hope you enjoyed the convoluted playlist.

Music, Literature and The Fight For My Life

Music, Literature and The Fight of My Life

I must confess that my recent Renaissance in music listening has been sadly influenced by a catastrophic last two years, building up to the climax of the ultimate fear. How will I live? I have been reclaiming my personal self as much as I can because the world turmoil going on with the current regime in office, running/ruining my country, has me in mortal fear of the country heading to a civil war, and the great loss of the Human Race. The battles are already begun. The most recent being internment camps for children. This must mean we are already at war. We have lost 80 years of the Civil Rights fights. And we don’t have guaranteed health care in this country. Life itself is under threat. And don’t get me started on how all our lawmakers get free guaranteed healthcare that I pay for.

So I started really listening to music again and going back to my youth and the mindset of fighting The Machine. I guess you can accuse me of the mid-life crisis thing, but really it’s about history sadly repeating itself. It’s about me sitting in a B&B in Oban, Scotland in 2016 crying to John Lennon’s “Imagine” and George Harrison’s “My Sweet Lord”. They’re back, the evil crushing conservative nightmare from the 80s. It’s Thatcher and Reagan all over again.

Two years later I have been hit with a personal crisis. One that makes me think Punk Rock/Neo Punk will always have it, that voice to bash at The Machine with a resounding, belligerent “no”. I have been told I need a heart operation or I will not make it. At least it’s not a triple bypass, or that extreme. Still, incredibly invasive and a price tag I cannot reach. But it’s the thing that keeps you alive, without the heart the rest doesn’t work. You have only one heart. There is no choice, no shopping around. I was told I must do this or I may not live. What hit me like a barreling train down the track more than the fear of surgery, was what would come after. The American Corporate Medical Machine, and all the conservatives that make money off our failing health, is what has frightened me to the core. You see in the US we don’t have universal healthcare. We don’t do that socialist thing. We don’t have a guarantee of health coverage. The Medical Care Act just forces many to buy insurance they still can’t afford, and doesn’t cover serious, catastrophic life issues. Still a very broken system.

The Next Great Civil Battle: The Right to Medical Care and Life

Countries like the UK, Canada, France and most of the EU, have socialized medicine. It’s something many of us have been fighting for in this country for years. While many things about access and wait lists make it an imperfect system, at least it is acknowledged that everyone should have a right to life. If your life is in danger due to life threatening illness and following treatment, it will get addressed, however belatedly. The UK is fighting to keep their NHS system, and so is Canada. It appears that corporatization has started to eat at their systems just like here. People are raging against it in the press. We all must vote to stop this madness, while we still can.

In my country, even if you have insurance of any kind, you fight it and then there are the looming costs not covered that hit you two months down the line when you are trying to get your life back after the first pitched battle. Try doing that when you have had Chemo for months. Many a person has had to declare bankruptcy after their operations. Results can be devastating. Parents with a child having multiple surgeries who will never get to buy a house for that child to grow up in. Adults that don’t own a house, probably never will due to having surgery that amounts to the cost of a house, and having to bankrupt themselves. Some of them ending up sleeping rough on the streets after losing everything. Welcome to the American Medical Machine. A mentality created by corporations that we as humans in America don’t have the right to feel that our most basic need is met, that of existing. Sadly the government is ignoring a right that even the Founding Fathers thought of when forming this nation. Life was in there, read a little Locke, a little Rousseau. 

Music and Literature as Savior

During my youth, music and literature are what kept me sane. Getting bullied at school and all the walls I was up against, it’s what gave me something to  feel I had a voice and shared a commonality with others. During the 6 weeks of not being able to work and recovering, I shall go mad if I don’t have music and literature to get me through it. While I may be forced to be quiet and rest, my mind will not. So maybe some Rage Against The (Medical) Machine is in order, definitely many Punk, Post-Punk and other music movements of the 80s and 90s will get me through. There is always Bowie and the Beatles. Music is an anthem, a light, a thing that always uplifts and gets you back on the ground, while somehow floating above it. The power to heal and fight with an anthem of spiritual medicine, and a cause. I better start my list of songs, in my head.

And Thanks

I want to thank a favorite musician, Mike Scott of The Waterboys (@MickPuck), for taking time to send me a Tweet back with a list of C.S. Lewis books that were not so religious. I had heard the author had some Sci Fi and other fiction writings, but the books had been hard to find in the shops where I am. I now have a stack of books to read while this phoenix crawls out of the ashes and goes on to the next battle. I may even re-read the Chronicles of Narnia books that I read so many times the pages started falling out. Thank you, kind Puck, for taking time out of your busy musical schedule.

To Go a Begging

Now I am faced with a bizarre decision. I may be forced to put together a crowd sourcing page to help me fight this battle. I am really even embarrassed to have to think about it. If I can’t win a battle with the state to help with the costs, I don’t know what else to do. I’ve never had to ask for help like this before.

I hope maybe that someday musicians can take up the fight and rally us towards a social healthcare system in this country.  I’ll buy tickets to that tour. Thanks for allowing me to rant and rage Against The Machine. I will be hunting more vinyl as soon as I am physically able.