Monday, December 16, 2013

Melancholy and Memorials

Yesterday, I put up a sad post about a friend of mine whose life was cut short by a senseless act of violence back in 1988. Feeling both a twinge of melancholy and a bit of 80's nostalgia, I have to note that today is the anniversary of Stuart Adamson's death by his own hand. Stuart was best known for being the lead singer of Scottish band Big Country, though his music career began with post-punk band The Skids. Big Country was largely considered a "one hit wonder" in the 'States, scoring a top-forty hit with the song In a Big Country, while knuckleheaded radio presenters made a big deal about how this Scottish band somehow made their guitars sound like bagpipes (I find the comparison somewhat strained), an effect achieved through the use of an effects pedal and, in many cases, an E-bow. For a stellar example of the use of the e-bow in an extended intro, I can think of no better song than The Storm, a song about the futility of vengeance:

Stuart was a true bleeding-heart humanitarian, fronting an interracial band and championing African famine relief, nuclear non-proliferation, and non-violence. There is remarkable footage of him stopping mid-concert to admonish individuals in the audience who were fighting:

In this intro to a 1988 performance of the heart-wrenching song about unrequited love Thirteen Valleys in Moscow, Stuart describes the song as being about someone who has to endure great trauma:

Stuart had a knack for ripping his ribcage open and showing the world what was written on his heart. His ability to convey emotion in his lyrics and his performances was second to nobody's. Sometimes, it seems as if certain people possess so much empathy, they take on the pain of the world, and this often leads them to "self-medicate". Stuart struggled with alcoholism for years, and took his life twelve years ago. One of Stuart's catch phrases, repeated in the the chorus of the song In a Big Country, "STAY ALIVE" has become a rallying cry for the fandom. While Stuart ultimately lost the will to carry on, his work has bolstered others in times of difficulty. In one moving but poorly spelled Youtube comment, one fellow gave perhaps the best memorial a songwriter could ever have:

Ironicaly - you're music is the reason I didn't do it. Shine on - SA RIP. An insperation to a generation.

The world always gets you in the end, don't help it achieve this... as long as you humanly can, STAY ALIVE!

I feel that I should post one more video here, the song Just a Shadow, the lyrics of which are as timely as they ever were:

I know there is no need for what's been done
I know there is enough for everyone
Frustration brings a heavy hand to bear
And there never is a hand outside that cares

You left the world too young, Stuart. Your wisdom and humanity were needed more than ever in the dark years after your loss.

1 comment:

ifthethunderdontgetya™³²®© said...

I do remember that big hit, thanks to MTV. I'll have to listen to more of their stuff.