Tuesday, March 14, 2006

A song for the traveler

On my most recent trip to Ireland, my homesickness was exacerbated one evening as I sat by a turf fire in Westport, Co. Mayo, listening to Danu's rendition of "Co. Down." It's a stirring and poignant tale of one soul pining for another, a song worthy of its own blog entry if I was in the business of chronicling Irish folk and trad, another passion of mine. (The tune also earned composer Tommy Sands a 2004 BBC Folk Award for "Best Original Song.")

When the track ended, I remember thinking how a similar themed song -- only more positive in nature -- would be the perfect follow-up, a pick-me-up to counterbalance the despondency of "Co. Down," and how my choice would be Mogwai's "Yes! I Am A Long Way From Home." It's another track for the traveler, only instead of lamenting the distance between an individual and their loved ones in a way the Irish have seemingly perfected, this Glasgow post-rock outfit celebrates it.

"Yes! I Am A Long Way From Home" -- from the band's debut album, Young Team -- opens with the voice of a female ("If the stars had a sound it would sound like this," she tells us) before it's overtaken by a somber, flowing bass line and ringing guitars that lull the listener into a state of introspection. Then, two-thirds of the way through, all contemplation is washed away with a bevy of melodic guitars, a smile-inducing wave of sound that indicates the members of Mogwai likely have a record such as Spiderland in their collections.

Yes, one is indeed a long way from home, but there's no need to remain transfixed on those who remain behind, half a world away; amid the track-closing rush of guitars, Mogwai accentuates the positives of separation: the spirits and revelry in strange locales, the new-found connections, the freedom.

Hear it for yourself. Download: "Yes! I Am A Long Way From Home" by Mogwai.