This page has been archived and is no longer updated. Find out more about page archiving.
Search BBC
BBC World Service
BBC BBC News BBC Sport BBC Weather BBC World Service Worldservice languages
spacer gif
You are in: Learning English > Watch and Listen > The Singer and the Song
Learning English
spacer gif
Mike Scott
Meet the Scottish born singer-songwriter Mike Scott from 'The Waterboys'. In the 1980's, many predicted that the band would eventually become as big on the megastadium scene as U2 or Simple Minds. However, Mike decided to follow his own Celtic path: he threw away pop success and moved to live in Ireland. His song Fisherman's Blues, in the words of a critic, 'couldn't have been further from the Big Music that had previously been central to the band's vision'. Find out here what the song is all about.
Mike Scott reads the lyrics especially for us. Listen and see if you can fill in the gaps in the lyrics.


I wish I was a fisherman, (...1...) the sea, far away from dry land and its bitter memories. (...2...) my sweet line with abandonment and love. No ceiling (...3...) me save the starry sky above, with light in my head and you in my arms. I know I will be (...4...) from the bonds that hold me fast. And the chains all (...5...) me will fall away at last. And on that fine and fateful day, I will take me in my hands. I will ride on the train, I will be the fisherman, with light in my head and you in my arms.
Check answers
Find out how Mike writes his lyrics. Learn the story behind his song 'Fisherman's Blues'.


OK Mike, tell us where the song came from. What were the 'bitter memories' you were trying to escape from?

The memories that I was working at escaping from were - I had a relationship that had… for me had been very hurtful. A romantic relationship. And I had a lot of business and professional relationships that weren't working for me as well. I was 27 at the time and I'd just had my first flash of success in rock-n-roll. A lot of people wanted a part of me and wanted me to do what they thought I should do. And I felt a lot of intense pressure from every quarter. And that was what I wanted to escape from. I wanted this sense of purpose and moving forward with purpose. It's a fisherman image, casting out his line into the sea to catch the fish - and what I mean is, to get on with what my dreams are without thinking about it too much.
'Light', 'bonds', 'chains', 'fateful'… What exactly are you talking about when you use these strong words?
Well, I'm getting more universal - I'm talking about my life as a human being. That I will be loosened from these mortal bonds and I will take up my true identity of being an eternal being of light - as we all are. By 'light', I mean spiritual light, and I should really have a capital letter on the 'L'. I mean, divine light. The divinity that I believe is in every person. I believe I can aspire to that, like everyone can.
How would you summarise your own song-writing, Mike?
I'm a romantic and autobiographical songwriter. But I don't believe that 'romantic' means 'unrealistic' in any way. I do believe that the world is a romantic place. And I believe in love, and I believe in wisdom, and I believe in the power of life. And I certainly hope to infuse the listener with that when I write. And that is the focus for my song-writing. I write primarily for myself, so the first person I'm trying to infuse with the sense of the magic and power of life is me. But if I can turn on a few listeners, then that's a job that's well done, as far as I can see.
Do you still believe that fishermen are the happiest people in the world?
When I went to live in the west of Ireland, I met fishermen, and their lives weren't quite as simple as I had idealised. But that's not important, 'cos it's a song, and the song makes a point - and that's all that matters.

Mike Scott
Did you get all that? Well, here's a chance for you to check if you know exactly what some of the words and expressions Mike used mean.

1:
When Mike says, 'I'd just had my first flash of success', the word 'flash' means...

breaking news
a photo opportunity
something that happens very suddenly and unexpectedly

2:
Mike says he felt 'pressure from every quarter'. But what is a 'quarter' here?
a particular group of people
a part of town
a period of three months

3:
You can say you get on with
something if you...
have success with what you are trying to do
start something you were about to do
have had a promotion

4:
If you infuse someone with something, you...
give them some hot herbal tea
mention it to them
fill them with it
Check answers

Music Directory

BBC copyright
 
Learning English | News English | Business English | Watch and Listen
 
Grammar and Vocabulary | Communicate | Quizzes | For teachers
 
Downloads | FAQ | Contact us