Big Country Info Big Country Info


24 October 2017

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Introduction: recent events in America vs. the episode content.

Trouble the Waters – song DEEP DIVE by Svein and Tom

  • Breakdown of several demo variations and overall song development.
  • A song using three specific and then recent examples of hate crimes in America.
  • We discuss each verse in turn, talking about the murders of James Byrd, Matthew Shephard, and the school shooting at Westside Middle School in Arkansas.
  • The symbolism of ripples in the water, stemming from a stone being thrown into the water. Are the murders the stone hitting the water, or is it a ripple? Did something happen earlier in their lives that set them off on their paths, making what happened a ripple?
  • The religious aspects of throwing a stone vs. the concept of fault and blame (which lies heavily over the chorus).
  • The red line between this song and a song like “President Slipped and Fell” – carefully chosen examples with strong common points.
  • The postscript to these crimes: the passing of the “Matthew Shepherd and James Byrd Jr. Hate Prevention Act” signed in October 2009 by President Obama.
  • The atmosphere of the song; that beloved “Big Country uneasiness.” The feeling of things not being right, the music reflecting the mood of the music.
  • Kudos to the keyboard sounds in this song.
  • We play archaeologists and dig into he musical patterns and instrumentation that are hid in this track.
  • The title “Trouble the Waters” vs. the old negro spiritual “Wade In the Water”.
  • The chorus asks who to blame, but do we take the time to look? There is a desensitization of these types of crimes, to school shootings…  where will it end?
  • The concept of “painless violence.”
  • Another example of Big Country evolving, yet maintaining the Big Country sound.
  • How can the song matter be so bleak, yet have such a catchy chorus?
  • Comparing the demo versions. The first likely only Stuart (with a very Middle East-sounding breakdown part in the middle); the second one a more finished band version.
  • Is something missing musically? Should it have had a solo, or perhaps a different part?
  • Tom reads out his review of the song from 1999, and we check whether his opinions have changed after 20 years.

Speakpipes from Lisa Knell and Shawn Streeter.

Bella – song DEEP DIVE by Tom and Svein

  • Tom recalls hearing those opening chords for the first time – shocked, stunned, too much. Do we want or expect something that sounds like The Rolling Stones to come from Big Country?
  • The keyboards in this song brings up stirring emptions in one of the co-hosts. We explore these feelings closely.  
  • The guitar sound – it sounds like they plugged straight in, no big treatment given to them. Very refreshing.
  • The INXS comparison. Were Big Country “inspired” by the chorus to INXS’s “Baby Don’t Cry”? They sound eerily similar.
  • On the other hand: were INXS “inspired” by the guitar intro of Big Country’s “Wonderland”? Who borrowed from who, and who borrowed first? [Check out some follow-up to this point in episode 76.]
  • Indications and references which point to the lyrics being are about Stuart’s relationship with his daughter Kirsten (who also sings backup on this song) and how they dealt with long-distance separation.
  • The bridge with the lyrical allusions to meeting in the afterlife – morbid or a lovely notion?
  • The demo timeline and breakdown of how this fits the band’s opening slot on The Rolling Stones’ European tour in August 1998.
  • People’s expectations on the Bella discussion, in context on how universally disliked this song seems to be.
  • The build of the two-part chorus – the so-so first part (the INXS part) and the decent second part.
  • The return of the strings! While not bad… why on this of all songs?
  • The keyboards again, and more on why they are the bane of a certain co-host’s existence.
  • The dual guitar break of the song, which the demo didn’t have, and the demo’s pull-back in the final chorus part, which the album doesn’t have.
  • Calling out the elements in the lyrics that point to the father-daughter scenarios rather than the relationship angle, or anything else.
  • Given the unusually high amount of songs from this time, and several high-quality b-sides in particular, should Bella have been on the album?
  • Tom reads out his review of the song from 1999, and we check whether his opinions have changed after 20 years.

Speakpipe from Arlin Bartels.

Your Spirit To Me – song DEEP DIVE by Svein and Tom

  • The demo timeline of this song.
  • A song that operates on a spiritual level, but with something else going on. We quickly get the feeling that things may not be what they seem.
  • The lyrics at face value: a song about accepting Christ (or another person? Something else?) into your life.
  • The song is beautiful, but still conveys a feeling of something going wrong.
  • Looking at the quotes Stuart gave us about this song.
  • “There’s only seconds of your life that count for anything. All the rest is killing time, waiting for a train.”
  • Sometimes, Big Country will serve us a line that is so powerful that it transcends the song it is in and the album it is on, becoming part of key messages from the band.
  • Looking at what the character in the song is telling us – what he experienced as he was sitting by himself, and how it felt so powerful at first, but also how it went away, didn’t come back, and ultimately things didn’t change.
  • At face value it may seem like a song about finding faith, but in looking closer, it is about someone who experienced the full force of that faith/spirit for a short time, but then lost it again, and finds himself reeling in the aftermath wondering what happened with a bigger sense of doubt than ever before.
  • The music to this song – the most atmospheric moment on the album? The second uneasy “something is coming/something is about to happen” song on the album.
  • The instrumental passage after the second chorus, which aren’t instrumental in the “John Wayne’s Dream” remix but contain new lyrics.
  • The touches of female backing vocals – the third and final appearance of Eddi Reader on the album.
  • After looking closer at the lyrics, and knowing Stuart’s deep spirituality at the time, it becomes a fascinating glimpse into his headspace. His own religious journey did not seem to give him the peace he was looking for, either. He seemed to always be searching. Is the song autobiographical?
  • Live versions of the song, and a few differences in the musical approach.
  • Production choices and how the song could have been even more powerful.
  • Tom reads out his review of the song from 1999, and we check whether his opinions have changed after 20 years.

Speakpipes from John Lewis and Lance Eagan.