Poetry News

More on Yeats from The Waterboys' Mike Scott

By Harriet Staff

We've reported on The Waterboys' album An Appointment With Mr. Yeats here and here, and now, with the album out in the world, comes this Wales Online interview with Mike Scott.

Let's jump right to Yeats' impact on the lead singer:

“When I was 11 years old, my mother, who’s a university English lecturer, took me to a Yeats summer school in Sligo, Ireland, and even then I can remember being impressed by the effect his words had on so many people,” says the Edinburgh-born 53-year-old.

“And it’s to my mum’s eternal credit that she never tried to ram Yeats down my throat back then, because it’s likely I’d have been turned off him for good if she had.

“She knew I loved music more than anything and, as someone who values artistry of all kinds, was totally behind the direction I wanted to go in.

“In fact, when I started up my first band as a teenager, she’d often help drive our gear to the gigs, bless her,” he laughs.

However, despite being more in love with the punk sounds of The Clash than the world of academia by the time he reached college in the late ’70s, Scott felt himself drawn once again towards the great Irish wordsmith he’d been introduced to as a boy.

“I started going back to his work and liked what I read. After that I ended up buying volumes of the stuff.”

Waterboys devotees will be aware though that this latest record isn’t the first example of Yeats’ influence creeping into Scott output – the singer having adapted the poet’s The Stolen Child for the group’s 1988 release Fisherman’s Blues, while later adapting Love and Death for 1993’s Dream Harder.

But was there ever any trepidation about taking such esteemed work and crafting it into something as inherently different as anthemic Celtic folk rock?

“No not really, not sure why,” he shrugs. “Maybe it’s because Yeats isn’t with us any longer (he died in 1939) and can’t pass judgement."

More after the leap.

Originally Published: May 14th, 2012