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The Waterboys: Mike Scott in The Guardian, and new album Book of Lightning

March 26th, 2007 · 2 Comments · Books, Culture, History, Journal, Lit, Music, Mythology, Neo-Futurists, News, Performance, Poetry, Travel

Book of LightningMike Scott, singer, songwriter, and bandleader of The Waterboys, has a thoughtful and entertaining piece in The Guardian recounting his experiences trying to correct errors in the band’s entry on Wikipedia.

Meanwhile, the Waterboys have a new album coming out in April! It’s called Book of Lightning and you can hear samples of a couple of its songs on the Waterboys’ official MySpace page.

There’s also a video of The Waterboys performing the album’s first single, “Everybody Takes a Tumble,” live on on Irish TV. There’s a little interview with Mike at the end of it, too.

The album (which includes a PAL DVD) is available for pre-order from Amazon, and a CD single of “Everybody Takes a Tumble” (which includes a cover of George Harrison’s “All Things Must Pass”) is already on sale.

I’m looking forward to hearing the new album. The Waterboys’ music has been the soundtrack to my life for two decades now — I generally say that they’re my all-time favorite band, right after The Beatles.

I’ve had the good fortune to meet Mike Scott in person twice — the first time was in 1996, after a show at the Park West support of his first solo album Bring ’em All In, and again in 2003. A couple of personal Waterboys anecdotes after the jump.

That first time I met him in 1996, I found Mike to be the best listener and the easiest to talk to of the various rock stars I’ve met at shows and signings. We chatted for a few minutes about obscure Irish poets and Yoko Ono (who had played a show at the Park West that same weekend). At one point, I told Mike that I’d discovered The Waterboys in college when someone lent me a tape of their second album, A Pagan Place, while I was reading The Mists of Avalon. I told him that the book and the album went together beautifully — so beautifully that their combined impact had fueled my interest in Celtic mythology and Arthurian legend.

Mike told me: “That’s because I was reading The Mists of Avalon while I was making A Pagan Place.”

It was just the kind of charmed coincidence that infuses and surrounds The Waterboys’ music.

On my favorite Waterboys albums, like This Is the Sea, Room to Roam, and the aforementioned Pagan Place, Mike’s high-flying lyrical style evokes the feeling of traditional Irish and Scottish poetry, harkening back to the kind of work found in the Lyra Celtica.

I owe Mike for some wonderful travel tips as well. On my trips to the UK and Ireland, I’ve made a game of visiting the magical places mentioned in Waterboys songs: Glastonbury Tor, Galway Bay, the Isle of Lewis in the Scottish Hebrides, and the Aran Islands off the Western coast of Ireland. I’ve never been disappointed on arrival.

One other anecdote. The second time I met Mike was after the Waterboys show in 2003, also at the Park West, in support of A Rock in the Weary Land. I stuck around after the show to give Mike a copy of What the Sea Means, since I’d mentioned The Waterboys in a couple of poems.

I wasn’t expecting Mike to remember me from our prior meeting seven years earlier. As a performer myself, I know how many people you meet after shows over the years. After I’d been performing in Too Much Light for four or five years, greeting hundreds of audience members at the door every week, it seemed like my brain had burned out its circuits for recognizing people I didn’t know well. I can’t tell you how many times I’ve been embarrassed by my failure to recognize or place someone I’ve had lengthy conversations with after shows.

But Mike took one look at the cover of my book, and said, in his Scottish accent: “Oh, you’re Dave Awl! Big Yoko Ono fan, right?”

Granted, I *am* funny-looking, and there aren’t as many big Yoko fans in Chicago as there ought to be. But still — you have to give the man a gold star for his general sharpness of mind.

Bonus video: Mike performing his UK #1 hit “The Whole of the Moon” for an audience of clapping, singing-along schoolchildren.

(Hat tip to my friend Tim Haillay from The Kraken for the Guardian link.)


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