Albatross

Album: Albatross (2011)
Play Video

Songfacts®:

  • The Albatross became a famous literary device when it was used in the 18th century Samuel Taylor Coleridge poem, The Rime of the Ancient Mariner. An albatross is a large bird often seen over water. In Coleridge's tale, a ship is lost at sea but guided toward home by an albatross. The narrator of the poem (the Ancient Mariner) shoots the bird with a crossbow, not realizing that it is vital to navigation. When the weather turns ugly, the ship's crew makes the mariner wear the dead albatross around his neck as a symbol of shame. All of the crew dies except the mariner, who must live with the guilt. The albatross has since come to represent a past indiscretion that continues to torment a person. If something continues to haunt you, you can be said to have "an albatross around your neck."
  • In our interview with Big Wreck frontman Ian Thornley, he explained: "The song, that was one of those that took about 10 years to write, but actually fell into my lap in about five minutes. And as it was falling into my lap, I was like, Oh, I don't think anyone's ever done this before. Come to find, of course, that it has been used before, several times."

    Here are some of those other artists who have recorded their own "Albatross":
    Fleetwood Mac (the Peter Green Version), 1969
    Judy Collins, 1967
    Public Image Ltd., 1979
    Corrosion of Conformity 1994
  • This song doesn't fit the mould of a traditional single, but it was chosen as the first release from the album and made it to #1 on the Canadian Active Rock Chart. Lead singer Ian Thornley didn't think the record company would see it as single material. He told us: "I was actually shocked when they said, 'We want to go with 'Albatross.'' These guys have some balls. You know, if you're going to play the game of singles, you need to be hitting that first chorus within the first minute. That's the unwritten rule that is almost a written rule at this point. Hit the chorus by the first minute, keep it under three and a half, all these stupid things. And I don't even start singing till one minute of 'Albatross.' They didn't even service radio with a radio edit. They just wanted the song. So I couldn't be more proud of Anthem and Warner for having the nuts to get behind it."

Comments

Be the first to comment...

Editor's Picks

Chris Isaak

Chris IsaakSongwriter Interviews

Chris tells the story of "Wicked Game," talks milkshakes and moonpies at Sun Records, and explains why women always get their way.

Gary Louris of The Jayhawks

Gary Louris of The JayhawksSongwriter Interviews

The Jayhawks' song "Big Star" has special meaning to Gary, who explains how longevity and inspiration have trumped adulation.

Graham Bonnet (Alcatrazz, Rainbow)

Graham Bonnet (Alcatrazz, Rainbow)Songwriter Interviews

Yngwie Malmsteen and Steve Vai were two of Graham's co-writers for some '80s rock classics.

Richie Wise (Kiss producer, Dust)

Richie Wise (Kiss producer, Dust)Songwriter Interviews

Richie talks about producing the first two Kiss albums, recording "Brother Louie," and the newfound appreciation of his rock band, Dust.

Mark Arm of Mudhoney

Mark Arm of MudhoneySongwriter Interviews

When he was asked to write a song for the Singles soundtrack, Mark thought the Seattle grunge scene was already overblown, so that's what he wrote about.

Grammar In Lyrics

Grammar In LyricsMusic Quiz

Lyrics don't always follow the rules of grammar. Can you spot the ones that don't?