Dylan Jones: 'A Wild Holy Band is an unapologetic road song'

Related Topics

In case anyone was in any doubt, magazine cover-mounted gifts have always been subject to the law of diminishing returns. I have rather a lot of previous in this area, and in my time have stuck CDs, videos, DVDs, books, memory sticks, posters, leather wallets, even sunglasses on the covers of various magazines I've worked for, and I've never known how effective they've been. Not only do many readers take free gifts for granted – is there any monthly music magazine that doesn't offer a free cover-mounted CD as a matter of course? – but as so many magazines offer them these days, they have long since ceased to be special. (Giving me a free memory stick? Can't I have a man-bag instead?)

Having said that, when I picked up a copy of The Believer's 2009 Music Special in a bookstore in San Francisco's Pacific Heights a few weeks ago, I didn't realise it included a free CD. I eventually pumped it into the car stereo, but, having been let down dozens of times before, my expectations were understandably low. As it was, the CD wasn't too bad, with various songs destined to end up on my iPod (including those by Beth Sorrentino and David Sylvian).

One song, though, crept up on me – possibly because it runs to over 10 minutes. "A Wild Holy Band" by former Waterboys frontman Mike Scott is a strange beast: minimally, almost sparsely produced, lyrically it is encumbered by cliché after cliché and sounds a little like an homage to any number of mid-Seventies epics. And yet, and yet, somehow it works. Haunting, deceptive, and engagingly pretentious, this is an unapologetic road song that almost wills you to dislike it.

"I wrote this song in my bedroom in Scotland at six in the morning, just up, in a songwriting mood, trawling through old notebooks and journals from the late 1990s looking for any ideas that might be lying there forgotten," says Scott. "To my surprise, I found the entire first verse intact on the page of a journal. The verse suggested more words, a lyrical theme, and in my head I heard a tune. The song followed." A song that sounds like someone wrote it 40 years ago.

Dylan Jones is the editor of 'GQ'

React Now

  • Get to the point
Latest stories from i100
Have you tried new the Independent Digital Edition apps?
iJobs Job Widget
iJobs General

Recruitment Genius: Senior Digital Marketing Consultant

£28000 - £45000 per annum: Recruitment Genius: A Senior Digital Marketing Cons...

Recruitment Genius: Assistant Stores Keeper

£16640 - £18500 per annum: Recruitment Genius: An Assistant Stores Keeper is r...

Recruitment Genius: Claims Administrator

£16000 - £18500 per annum: Recruitment Genius: This is an excellent opportunit...

Recruitment Genius: Software Developer - C# / ASP.NET / SQL

£17000 - £30000 per annum: Recruitment Genius: Developer required to join a bu...

Day In a Page

Read Next

Election catch-up: I’m not saying the Ed stone is bad – it is so terrible I am lost for words

John Rentoul

General Election 2015: The SNP and an SMC (Salmond-Murdoch Conspiracy)

Matthew Norman
Fishing for votes with Nigel Farage: The Ukip leader shows how he can work an audience as he casts his line to the disaffected of Grimsby

Fishing is on Nigel Farage's mind

Ukip leader casts a line to the disaffected
Who is bombing whom in the Middle East? It's amazing they don't all hit each other

Who is bombing whom in the Middle East?

Robert Fisk untangles the countries and factions
China's influence on fashion: At the top of the game both creatively and commercially

China's influence on fashion

At the top of the game both creatively and commercially
Lord O’Donnell: Former cabinet secretary on the election and life away from the levers of power

The man known as GOD has a reputation for getting the job done

Lord O'Donnell's three principles of rule
Rainbow shades: It's all bright on the night

Rainbow shades

It's all bright on the night
'It was first time I had ever tasted chocolate. I kept a piece, and when Amsterdam was liberated, I gave it to the first Allied soldier I saw'

Bread from heaven

Dutch survivors thank RAF for World War II drop that saved millions
Britain will be 'run for the wealthy and powerful' if Tories retain power - Labour

How 'the Axe' helped Labour

UK will be 'run for the wealthy and powerful' if Tories retain power
Rare and exclusive video shows the horrific price paid by activists for challenging the rule of jihadist extremists in Syria

The price to be paid for challenging the rule of extremists

A revolution now 'consuming its own children'
Welcome to the world of Megagames

Welcome to the world of Megagames

300 players take part in Watch the Skies! board game in London
'Nymphomaniac' actress reveals what it was really like to star in one of the most explicit films ever

Charlotte Gainsbourg on 'Nymphomaniac'

Starring in one of the most explicit films ever
Robert Fisk in Abu Dhabi: The Emirates' out-of-sight migrant workers helping to build the dream projects of its rulers

Robert Fisk in Abu Dhabi

The Emirates' out-of-sight migrant workers helping to build the dream projects of its rulers
Vince Cable interview: Charging fees for employment tribunals was 'a very bad move'

Vince Cable exclusive interview

Charging fees for employment tribunals was 'a very bad move'
Iwan Rheon interview: Game of Thrones star returns to his Welsh roots to record debut album

Iwan Rheon is returning to his Welsh roots

Rheon is best known for his role as the Bastard of Bolton. It's gruelling playing a sadistic torturer, he tells Craig McLean, but it hasn't stopped him recording an album of Welsh psychedelia
Russell Brand's interview with Ed Miliband has got everyone talking about The Trews

Everyone is talking about The Trews

Russell Brand's 'true news' videos attract millions of viewers. But today's 'Milibrand' interview introduced his resolutely amateurish style to a whole new crowd
Morne Hardenberg interview: Cameraman for BBC's upcoming show Shark on filming the ocean's most dangerous predator

It's time for my close-up

Meet the man who films great whites for a living