And I think of you in Glasgow
'Cause you're all that's safe
You're all that's warm
In my restless heart
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Glasgow skyline, c 2006
(thanks Martin Le Roy)
When you see the face behind the voice that is Michael David Rosenberg (aka Passenger), the first thing you think is that it doesn’t fit. He has one of the most unique and signature timbres in popular music, reminiscent of artists such as James Blunt, Debbie Harry, and Tiny Tim. But what he’s able to do with that voice is blend the novel with the familiar as he creates heartwarming tunes that stick in your head long after you’ve finished listening to them.
Such as it is with "Feather on the Clyde," a melancholy and bittersweet ode to the great river that runs through Glasgow in Scotland. The 109-mile long river boasts over 70 bridges along its course as it twists and turns through the Vale of Clyde, which is where Clydesdale horses originated. One of the major industries on the river is shipbuilding, and the last ocean faring paddle steamer, the Waverly
, was built in Glasgow in 1947 and still operates today. Also, during World War II, millions of dollars of Russian bullion sank to the bottom of the river after a mistake made by a crewman during a transfer. It was a secret then and nobody ever owned up to it. So where’s the money? Still in Glasgow?
Vale of Leven and the Clyde, from Greenock
(thanks Thomas Nugent)
Inhabitants of Glasgow are known as Glaswegians, and they pride themselves on their big, warm hearts, and their bigger and warmer stomachs. These are the people who invented Haggis (a savory pudding of heart, liver, lungs, onions, and oats stuffed into a sheep’s stomach and boiled) and who have a very popular alcoholic beverage (a kind of whiskey) named after their country. And they love their rugby. But there is also much culture to be found in Glasgow, from museums (even one devoted to transportation) to opera and ballet and even curling (remember that Olympic sport?).
The closing track on the Passenger album All The Little Lights
, "Feather on the Clyde" features the singer and an acoustic guitar (with a small horn section thrown in for good measure): simplicity at its finest. He needs nothing more to transport you to the centuries old city. One can almost picture the serenity of the slow-moving and constantly flowing water along the meandering course through the foggy city lights.
Rosenberg spoke about the town to VH1, “I've been going there for years. Playing the street, playing in pubs. It's one of those places where you get there first and it's quite rough in some ways, but the more I went there, the more I loved it. It's kind of that juxtaposition of that place — in some ways, it's quite bleak and cold, but on the other side of things, it's got this beating heart to it that's warm and kind.”
Personally, I have never visited Scotland, but I would be lying if I didn’t admit that my heart has yearned to see the countryside and walk the ancient cobblestone streets of cities like Glasgow and Edinburgh. Recently singer-songwriters from Scotland and the UK, like Passenger and Paolo Nutini, have reached worldwide acclaim and have reinvigorated this writer’s desire to trek out and discover the country’s secrets for myself. For I also “long for something that’s safe and warm.” And truthfully, I challenge anyone not to tear up after listening to Passenger sing, “Well, God knows I’ve failed, but he knows that I’ve tried.” A lyric like that literally speaks to each and every one of us.
Glasgow is known for its music scene. Many famous acts have begun their careers in the southern Scottish city, including Simple Minds and Franz Ferdinand. The town’s music venues are some of the crème de la crème, like King Tut’s Wah Wah Hut (where Oasis were discovered and signed), and the Queen Margaret Union (which has Kurt Cobain’s footprint locked in a safe. Who does that?) . Maybe someday soon, one of those venues will have Passenger’s footprint or guitar pick on display. One never knows in Glasgow.
Feather On The Clyde Songfacts
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