Welcome back to Turntable Talk! Thanks to all the regular readers and welcome to any new ones. Briefly, on Turntable Talk we have a number of guest columns from other music fans and writers, sounding off on one particular topic. To kick it off in 2023, our topic is They’re a Poet Don’t You Know It... we look at a song that made a great impact on our contributors for its lyrics.
Today we have Deke from Deke’s Vinyl Reviews & More. Deke is a fan of rock on the harder side, so who might he pick to spotlight lyrics?
Thanks to Dave for letting me once again be a part of Turntable Talk. My pick for one of my all time favourite lyricists is Steve Harris from Iron Maiden.
Let’s rewind to the fall of 1984
The song I have chosen to talk about is “Rime of the Ancient Mariner” from the Powerslave album
Steve Harris delivers the track of a lifetime and I recall reading about the pre hype of Powerslave in a Canadian music magazine called Metallion that Powerslave was gonna feature a 14 minute tune titled “Rime Of The Ancient Mariner” and the album itself was going to clock in as a whole at over 51 minutes!
Now that’s getting your money’s worth. That alone sold me. MAIDEN, MAIDEN, more MAIDEN! Impressive that Harris and company could drop a real long tune at the end of the album so to speak and it could still draw me in as a listener.
Power of music, folks! More impressive is the fact that singer Bruce Dickinson could nail each line live and not cheat with any help with the lyrics being taped all over the place to remember the words to this epic track
“Rime” charges right out of the gate with Maiden loading up and delivering massive epicness of a sonic delight. At the midpoint you hear the creaking of the ship boards like you’re in the middle of the Atlantic with Harry and Crew. It’s amazing to me that Maiden during their “World Slavery Tour” would hammer out this tune every night, city after city and still toss in the usual after show party treats yet they could still deliver at a higher rate of musicianship than some of their peers at the time! (I’m not naming names!).
Check out Harris’ brilliant crafting of lyrics or cue up the tune on streaming choice, YouTube or better yet an old fashioned album.
“Driven south to the land of the snow and ice
To a place where nobody’s been
Through the snow fog flies on the albatross
Hailed in God’s name, hoping good luck it brings
And the ship sails on, back to the north
Through the fog and ice and the albatross follows on
The mariner kills the bird of good omen
His shipmates cry against what he’s done
But when the fog clears, they justify him
And make themselves a part of the crime
Sailing on and on and north across the sea
Sailing on and on and north ’til all is calm
The albatross begins with its vengeance
A terrible curse a thirst has begun
His shipmates blame bad luck on the mariner
About his neck, the dead bird is hung
And the curse goes on and on at sea
And the curse goes on and on for them and me”
HOOO BOY ….them Mariner fella’s are in deep doo doo…
Samuel Taylor Coolridge was the poet who wrote the original poem while Steve Harris wrote a tune about it!
Harris has always been one of my favourite lyricists as he wouldn’t write the same ole same ole of his counterparts. ‘Rime’ is the best example of this. Harris was probably in his mid 20s when he wrote this and it just boggles my mind that he had and still to this day has this kind of creativity.
So here’s a cool story relating to this song and I owe Steve a huge thank you!
Back in 1985, I’m in Grade 12 English and one of our assignments was to dissect a poem by an author and present it in front of the class.
Hip Hip Hooray as I raised my hand quicker than Billy The Kid drawing his pistol as I’ll never forget my teacher’s reaction as I had pretty much said jack shit all semester but now it was Deke’s time to shine….’I’ll do Rime by Coolridge I blurted out loud!’ All those little Duran Duranie girly fans sitting in the front row of Mr Babcocks Grade 12 class did not see that one coming…
Come presentation time not only did I show up with my notes of the poem(thanks Mr Steve Harris for simplifying the actual poem for me in song) but I showed up to class with a ghetto blaster(courtesy of my pal Tbone) and the cassette of ‘Powerslave'(once again courtesy of Tbone as I only had it on vinyl) and wasn’t going to drag my stereo system to school.
I’ll never forget those front row girls looked bored and dreaming of Corey Hart and Duran Duran and I plug-in and let the sonics of Maiden and Rime take over. No,the whole song wasn’t played that day in class, only snippets but man I wish I could have snapped a pic. BOOM….DONE….Mr Babcocks Grade 12 English class just got Maidenized that morning!
When the dust had settled I scored a mid 80s mark, took my seat at the back of the class and went back into my Grade 12 English Coma!