Our Top 10 Songs from The Waterboys introduces us to a folk-rock band whose members majorly hail from Scotland, Ireland, England, and Wales. Singer, pianist, and guitarist Mike Scott formed The Waterboys when he was still a member of the band Another Pretty Face. At this time, he was alone in the band, having him make a couple of solo recordings at Redshop Studio. Scott also had made a short-lived band under the Red and the Black, where he tagged in saxophonist Anthony Thistlewaite and drummer Kevin Wilkinson, who helped him with The Waterboys band.
The band’s early sound was later known as “The Big Music” after a song under the same title in their album A Pagan Place. Notably, “The Big Music” denoted a transcendent celebration of paganism, having it influenced by bands that specialized in anthemic sounds. However, the band would later be influenced greatly by the folk vibe through which the band made a couple of reputable songs before returning to rock n roll. The Waterboys went on hiatus when Mike Scott decided to pursue a solo career in 1993. The Waterboys reunited with Mike Scott seven years later, saying he saw no difference between the band’s brand and his solo career. He remains the only constant member of the band, with the lineup changing multiple times, especially before the 2000s. Our top 10 songs from The Waterboys bring the best from a band whose career is influenced by a blend of rock and roll and folk music.
#10 – World Party
Ushering us to the top 10 songs from The Waterboys is “World Party” from the band’s fourth studio album, Fisherman’s Blue. The song brought together Mike Scott, Karl Wallinger, and Trevor Hutchinson in the song’s lyrics which were inspired by Live Aid, a music-based fundraising initiative. Without a doubt, the fiddle and piano tunes in the song are breathtaking and probably one of the reasons “World Party” received quite some positive reception amongst folk-rock lovers. Additionally, “World Party” served as a perfect farewell to Karl Wallinger, who left The Waterboys for his band under this song’s name.
#9 – Don’t Bang the Drum
Featured on the band’s third studio album, “Don’t Bang the Drum,” served as a perfect opening track to This is the Sea. Thanks to great songwriting skills from Mike Scott and Karl Wallinger that the song was quite amazing. Roddy Lorimer delivered a sublime trumpet solo for the song intro, making it catchy from the beginning. The song is known to call out in an earnest plea for brilliance and eccentricity among people.
#8 – We Will Not Be Lovers
Our number 8 song on the Top 10 songs from The Waterboys is “We Will Not Be Lovers,” a song that is immediately striking as soon as it starts playing. It starts with an ominous fiddle part that is prominent over other musical instruments, hence gracing the song with the folk vibe. The mandolin also proves to be effective, blending in with the song’s powerful drum and bass sounds that provide a magnificent hard rock sound. Finally, the song’s lyrics bring the plain rejection to a lady, denying any chance of them ever being together.
#7 – When Ye Go Away
Delivered in a perfect harmony of words and musical arrangement, “When Ye Go Away” was among the few songs that made the band’s album Fisherman’s Blue quite a success. The song is about a man who dearly loves a lady who, for some reason, has to leave. Admissibly, the man states that the lady will eventually pack and go despite all his efforts to keep her. The aftermath of her departure is tears and pain in the man’s heart, meaning that he will be heartbroken. Would such lyrics make a woman who wishes to leave stay? Not quite sure about that, but it’s quite an emotional song to listen to.
#6 – Strange Boat
Featured on the band’s album Fisherman’s Blue, “Strange Boat” is worth mentioning in the top 10 songs from The Waterboys. Notably, “Strange Boat” describes a crew’s journey by boat and then by car. The boat is used metaphorically to mean a difficult and wondrous journey. Additionally, the name boat was used as a dual reference as revealed by the band’s singer Mike Scott, with the second meaning refers to the crew members. Finally, the song was meant to be about how the band grappled with their newfound fame and success.
#5 – A Man is in Love
Short but sublime is the best phrase that can be used to describe “A Man is in Love.” Featured on their 1990 album, Room to Roam, this song is a perfect short explanation about traits of a man in love behaves like. From confessing to other simple romantic things like whispering a woman’s name with closed eyes, these are the few elements that can tell a man is in love with a woman.
#4 – And a Bang on the Ear
“And a Bang on the Ear” is a superb folk-rock song from the band’s most successful album Fisherman’s Blue. Written by Mike Scott, the song was so great that it reached number one in Ireland, featuring prominently on the UK Singles Chart. The song, in some way, signified that Mike Scott had got the much-awaited breakthrough he wished for when he made The Waterboys band. And true to the word, the song became a hit regarded by some as an authentic folk song that brings the most of the band’s adopted heritage.
#3 – This is the Sea
Featured on its 1985 self-titled album, “This is the Sea” ranks high, thanks to its message about leaving the past behind. We all have some baggage that we need to lose for a better life, something that Scott put clear in this song which used horns, piano, and a string section to evoke an oceanside. Unfortunately, with the song’s atmosphere so rare to replicate, “This is the Sea” is not the band’s favorite for live performances.
#2 – The Whole of The Moon
“The Whole of The Moon” is the best song in The Waterboys’ 1985 album, This is the Sea. Writing this song when he was 26 years old, Scott was inspired to illustrate how much more there is to learn more about what we already know. Notably, ‘whole of the moon’ refers to the big picture, which takes a specific vision to see. Despite not being finished when the band recorded their 1985 album, the song would later surpass all the other ballads to become the album’s best release.
#1 – Fisherman’s Blue
And the top song from The Waterboys is “Fisherman’s Blue” from its 1988 self-titled album. The song helps crown Fisherman’s Blue as the most popular and best-selling album from the band. “Fisherman’s Blue” was inspired by a personal situation where Scott was under massive pressure following a relationship breakup. He would also take The Night Mail by W. H. Auden, a poem he read at school as part of his inspiration for the song’s lyrics. In addition, the song marked the band’s switch from their grandiose ‘big music’ sound to a more prominent folk sound.
Top 10 Songs From The Waterboys article published on Classic RockHistory.com© 2021
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