Thursday, 24 March 2011

Lyrics - -

- - which stirred my curiousity - - Have you ever listened to a song on the radio with lyrics that piqued your curiosity? Happened to me recently - -
I rarely listen to the radio unless I am in the car on one of our periodic drives – usually it’s the local radio station – but now and again we catch BBC radio 2 – Graham Norton on a Saturday morning. He has a slot called Song with a Story – or something similar – a listener suggests a song title, they chat on the phone then Graham plays the record. Anyhow – a couple of Saturdays ago the chosen record was The Downeaster Alexa – by Billy Joel. Now this is not a new song – but getting on for about twenty years old I believe – yet I had never heard it before. I loved it – it, for me, was full of the sound of the sea – and I could see the boat rising and falling on the waves and hear the scream of the gulls – whilst the lyrics almost broke my heart.
As I listened – I found myself wondering – What is a downeaster? Where is Montauk? Nantucket? Which island was he singing of? What is a bayman? What are the giants he refers to? What are stripers? Why the mention of Atlantis? It made me so curious that when I got home after our drive – I logged me on to “ye trusty ol’ t’internet!” – first I tracked down the song , downloaded it to iTunes to put on my iPod and then set off in search of some answers. I found some - and learned so much along the way - geography, history, a lesson based entirely the around the lyrics - - and for a scrapbooker the most wonderful of all - stories - real stories in this book.
My curiosity had led me to a story I knew little about - yet as a coastal dweller – who has seen the same decline on my own island's fishing industry - so far away from the setting of the song I felt an instant affinity. I discovered that a "downeaster" was not unlike our queenie boats - probably a very practical design for fishing boats.
these same boats made up a fishing fleet that packed the harbour so tightly that it was possible to walk right across from one side to the other without getting off a boat - I think the fleet today might number half a dozen boats. And that makes me sad - for it is the loss of a way of life. The song and story also reminded me of a book read many years ago - also set in a fishing community but a historical novel -
and ultimately to track it down, buy it, and re read - the book I mentioned in yesterday’s post.
But that's another story!

Thanks for stopping by.
'til later
Bannaghtyn Jx


  1. I love where the song took you, and it is great that the internet makes 'research' so much easier!

  2. the power of music is magical at so many levels. great story. over here from bfs. maryjo


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