Musical influences can come at us from a myriad of sources and get under our skin from an early age. Being Irish, my generation’s influence most certainly came from songs of rebellion and social injustice, and while the ‘auld’ ballads appeared to be done to death, especially as we got older, other musical genres , such as the blues, helped vent our inner rebel against any oppression. Around the time I first got the music bug as a teen, I also got the reading bug, especially any book that had a musical connotation.
Harper Lee’s , To Kill A Mocking Bird, was a stand-out book for me. Even today, this classic still sells about a million copies annually.
Set in the poor oppressed southern states of America in particular the town of Maycomb, a town and a people steeped in old fashioned values. The combination of the words and story that managed to transport me to this place where music just bubbled beneath the surface of the infamous”” Deep South,” …my friends we are talking, thee, birthplace of the blues.
A Mocking Bird, the book says, will “sing their hearts out”, simply for the pleasure of pleasing their audience, and so killing one was said to be an almighty sin.
Thus the Mocking Bird is really a metaphor for any decent, upstanding and rather innocent human being who would do anything to help his or her fellow man. This is a story of racial injustice and in equality told through a child’s viewpoint. Irish folk, intuitively understand any sense of injustice, you could say this as well as music, is in our blood. We identify with it.
Most musicians are carefree souls, content with a few regular gigs and decent skins and the Freight Train Preachers are no different. Just as that book transported me to the heat of those Alabama dirt streets, our aim with our love of blues and roots music is to transport an audience to such a place.
While we sometimes, include Dylan, Neil Young and such like, Roots music in our sets, our loyalty to hard hitting blues remains steadfast. Like the Mocking Bird we will sing our hearts out, killing off Roots and Blues we feel a tragic sin. We don’t get as much gigs as the younger, prettier boys singing pretty songs, so if you are of a certain vintage and leaning, we would love to see you at one of our blues and roots gigs. As I write this we are privileged to be playing in one of Cork’s better known live musical melting pots, none other than Cheers Bar in Fermoy, Co. Cork this coming Thursday from 9.30pm onwards you might say it would be a sin not to….