Because it just does. The whole album it’s from is actually drenched in utter joy – the band was trying something new, holing up in a castle in Galway and drenching themselves in local trad rock and loving every minute of it. But the title track is just a glorious burst of joy – Mike Scott’s vocals trading off with the brilliant Steve Wickham on the fiddle, weaving beautiful melodies out of all his solos over a rough and rugged backup from the rest of the band. There’s a reason that this song has become the go-to for movie soundtracks when you need a scene in “a typical Irish bar”.
After remembering it, I played it to death on my way home from work today, listening over and over. But the words struck me suddenly – I know them all by heart, but noticed anew how bleak some of the words were for such a joyful song -- “I wish I was a fisherman tumbling on the seas, Far away from dry land and its bitter memories….”
But it’s a different kind of joy, I decided. It’s the joy of someone who’s lived through something very long and hard and difficult, and may not be quite where they want to be just yet, but – they’ve survived. They’ve at least made it out the other end of the worst patch. There is a long way to go for sure, but the trial has made them stronger, and they know they’ll get there.
We are once again at a point where we’ll be looking back on a single hard day, and remembering where we were eleven years ago. And it’s still not easy for me to do, because the past eleven years have been hard. I’ve been through a lot. So has nearly everyone I know. So has New York City, and so has Washington DC, and so has the country and the world.
But this year I feel like there is finally a bit of hope; because even though that day tried to break me, and even though the next eleven years tried to grind me down, I have made it through and I am stronger for it. I’ve got a long way to go, and so have all of us, but the past few years have just made us really, really tough.
Everyone of you will, and should, observe 9/11 in your own way, even if it is by not observing it at all. (Believe me, I kind of want to do it that way myself.) But I would appreciate it a great deal if, at some point during the day, you took the hand of someone you loved and danced to this song with them.
Because you’ve survived. Because you’re alive. Because it’s been another year and it’s made you better.
“I know I will be loosened from the bonds that hold me fast,
The chains all around me will fall away at last,
And on that fine and fateful day I will take me in my hand
I will ride on the train, I will be the fisherman
With light in my head, and you in my arms…”
Joy to you all.