My Favorite Song in Da Whole Wide World: Big Country, “In a Big Country”
I like lots of music. When I’m out driving in my car, I turn on the radio and flip through the stations until I hear something I’ve never heard before, then I listen to that for 10 minutes or so. You never know what you’re going to hear, although I admit that ten minutes of a guy playing saxophone while someone else smashes bricks together demands a high level of tolerance for unusual sounds.
That said, the music I love most is rock. And the song I love the most is a rock song: “In a Big Country,” by Big Country. I’ve loved these guys since I saw them perform on “Saturday Night Live” in 1983, when this song was released. I’ve looked for the video of that performance on the web, and it ain’t there so far as I can tell. So we’ll have to make do with this staged video performance from the same year, which nevertheless succeeds in getting the message across.
And what a message! This song is all about hope, and not just hope for love, or success, for the singer–a generous hope for the whole world, for everyone who’s been discarded and needs to come up off the floor screaming. If you don’t feel better about the world after you hear this, listen harder. It doesn’t hurt that the whole thing rocks like mad. The lads aren’t the greatest guitarists you’ve ever heard, but they use what they know brilliantly to change up the texture and mood of the song. When the traditional Scottish riffs kick in, I come up off the floor screaming myself. (And is there a better metaphor than that for what rock and roll is all about? I have no doubt that the guys in U2 put in some time listening to this piece.) The joy in the way these guys move is unmistakeable and infectious. I love it.
Stuart Adamson, who wrote and sang this song, died years ago. I’m glad he lived long enough to make this music. Thanks Stuart, and RIP.