On This Week’s Musical Discovery

I’ve learned over the years that writing is occasionally less a planned activity than it is a series of serendipitous accidents.

Consider the BBC’s Scotland Introducing podcast.

I can’t tell you why, over a year ago, I started listening to this podcast. But I do. Every Friday, I download the new episode and give it a listen. On occasion I’ve found a band that’s intrigued me — q without u, Beatnic Prestige, a couple of others. The big discovery for me was Y’all Is Fantasy Island, a Scottish folk outfit that I’ve found absolutely pleasant to listen to, and their albums, especially In Faceless Towns Forever, have seen pretty heavy play when I’ve been writing “THOD.” More often than not, however, I listen to the episode and forget it entirely.

This week’s episode of Scotland Introducing had tracks from a number of bands. The episode started out as nothing spectacular, but then, about halfway through, I stopped the mp3 and went back.

I’d heard something I liked. Not only did I like what I heard, it reached out through my headphones and shook me hard.

It had the right sound.

The band? Washington Irving. The song? “The Magician.”

What sound was I looking for? That brings us back to “THOD.”

One of the characters in the story belongs to a Celtic punk band. Think the Pogues or the Real McKenzies or the Tossers or the Dropkick Murphys. Something in that vein. Except, I knew in my head, the band didn’t sound like any of those. I couldn’t put the Tossers’ In the Valley of the Shadow of Death in the stereo and get my head in the right “space,” for instance. It didn’t have the right sound.

That one track from the Scotland Introducing podcast, that track had the sound. I had found the band.

Okay, it’s not exact. There’s no bagpipes. Or even an e-bow distorted guitar to generate a bagpipe-like sound (a la 80s New Wave band Big Country). And they don’t sound particularly punk-ish; actually, they sound a bit like Snow Patrol-meets-Jethro Tull. But I can fudge that in my mind. Because the rest of the sound is right.

I’ve found the band. A serendipitous accident. :cheers:

The surprising thing to me in writing “THOD” has been the influence that Scotland, a place I have never been, has had on the composition. It’s Scottish musicians I tend to put in the stereo when I sit down to write. Whatever the reason, it works.

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