I bring you a double shot for this week’s Song Lyric Sunday. In 1985 the Waterboys released their third studio album “This Is the Sea” marking the end of what was known as ‘the big music’ era in the band’s history. The first two tracks “Don’t Bang the Drum” and “The Whole of the Moon” both make mention of musical instruments in their lyrics. The first one is obvious as it appears in the title and the second mentions trumpets later in the song.
“The Whole of the Moon” is the most recognizable and commercially successful of the band’s songs. The lyrics contrast the songwriter’s limited perspective with the full experience the song’s subject is capable of seeing. The writer summarizes the difference in the lines “I saw the crescent / You saw the whole of the moon.” which repeats throughout the track.
The opening track “Don’t Bang the Drum” is a classic LP opening track with a long intro and a lush trumpet instrumental that builds as the needle drags through the groove at 33 and a third RPMs. A fine example of ‘the big music‘ sound the band was known for in their early recordings.
Unfortunately, the consumption of music and the way artists are compensated has relegated songs like these to history. Today’s artists only see royalties if a song is streamed for a minimum of 30 seconds while the average listener forms an opinion and decides to play or skip a track within the first ten seconds. Before streaming, the listener laid out hard-earned cash to physically own a piece of their favorite artist. The amount of music a person could afford was limited. Purchasing music meant making a commitment, listeners formed relationships with their favorite artists and the sounds they produced. Today every song that was ever written is available with a click, on-demand and on repeat with thousands of new tracks uploaded weekly. Unlike songs that were written and played as part of a collection, music in today’s single-driven model is written to grab the listener’s attention immediately, using sappy hooks and choruses upfront. It is the only way for an artist to survive when music is consumed as a disposable commodity.
“This Is the Sea” resonated with me as a youth. The lyrical genius of Mike Scott forever burned into my mind as it spun repeatedly on my turntable and then later on CD. It is a recording that has stood the test of time and one that I come back to again and again.
The consumption of music in the streaming era has lost some of the lustre that captivated me during my formative years. I’m not saying there isn’t quality music available today, only that the connections we made with bands like the Waterboys and the music they produced has changed and with that something special has been lost.
The Whole of the Moon
I pictured a rainbow You held it in your hands I had flashes But you saw then plan I wandered out in the world for years While you just stayed in your room I saw the crescent You saw the whole of the moon You were there in the turnstiles With the wind at your heels You stretched for the stars And you know how it feels to reach Too HIGH, too FAR, too SOON You saw the whole of the moon I was grounded While you filled the skies I was dumb-founded by truths You cut through lies I saw the rain, dirty valley You saw Brigadoon I saw the crescent You saw the whole of the moon I spoke about wings You just flew I wondered, I guessed, and I tried You just knew I sighed ...but you SWOONED I saw the crescent You saw the whole of the moon With a torch in your pocket And the wind at your heels You climbed on the ladder And you know how it feels to get Too HIGH, too FAR, too SOON You saw the whole of the moon The whole of the moon Unicorns and cannonballs Palaces and piers Trumpets, towers, and tenements Wide oceans full of tears Flags, rags, ferry boats Scimitars and scarves Every precious dream and vision Underneath the stars You climbed on the ladder With the wind in your sails You came like a comet Blazing your trail Too HIGH, too FAR, too SOON You saw the whole of the moon
Songwriters: Mike Scott
Don’t Bang the Drum
Well here we are in a special place What are you gonna do here? Now we stand in a special place What will you do here? What show of soul are we gonna get from you? It could be deliverance or history Under these skies so blue But if I know you you'll Bang the drum like monkeys do Here we are in a fabulous place What are you gonna dream here? We are standing in this fabulous place What are you gonna play here? I know you love the high life you love to leap around You love to beat your chest and make your sound But not here man - this is sacred ground With a power flowing through And if I know you you'll Bang the drum like monkeys do Here we stand on a rocky shore Your father stood here before you I can see his ghost explore you I can feel the sea implore you Not to pass on by Not to walk on by and not to try - Just to let it come Don't bang the drum Just let it come Don't bang the drum Just let it come Don't bang the drum Do you know how to let it come now? Don't bang the drum Just let it come now Don't bang the drum now Don't bang the drum
Songwriters: Karl Wallinger, Mike Scott
Contains prompt from
Jim Adam’s Sunday Song Lyric.
Date: 2022-03-12 | Theme: Musical Instruments
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