Thursday, October 15, 2015

"Don't Pay the Ferryman" by Chris de Burgh

Song#:  1432
Date:  04/30/1983
Debut:  78
Peak:  34
Weeks:  14
Genre:  Rock

Pop Bits:  The son of a British diplomat, de Burgh's music career began when he signed with A&M Records in 1974. He issued a debut album that year titled "Far Beyond These Castle Walls," but in the UK and US it was a failure. However, it was a hit in other countries such as Brazil. His next four albums would see a similar fate - little attention in UK/US, popular elsewhere. Finally, de Burgh caught a break on his sixth album. The Rupert Hine-produced "The Getaway" contained this single that found its way onto both the US and UK charts. While it wasn't a huge hit (#48 in the UK), it did expand his audience and got the album into each country's Top 50. The song proved to be popular at US rock stations as well and it reached #29 on the Rock chart.

ReduxReview:  I fell for this song on first listen. It was just so awesome. The story, the charging chorus, the production, and the strange bridge added up to something that really struck my ears. I bought the single right away and then the album. De Burgh became more known for his ballads, but he had a few rock-leaning outings like this that I preferred by far. I was truly sad this single didn't get further up the chart.

ReduxRating:  9/10

Trivia:  The song tells a creepy tale of a man using a ferry to cross a river when a storm comes up. It refers to a hooded old man at the rudder, which is most likely a reference to the Grim Reaper. The story may have its roots in Greek mythology where the dead have to pay to cross the river Styx. One section of the song has a barely audible spoken word part. It is actually lines from Shakespeare's "The Tempest." The lines are recited by British actor Anthony Head.


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