Discuss the new Waterboys album with Mike Scott

Listen to the Waterboys' An Appointment with Mr Yeats and read Mike Scott's track-by-track guide. Better still, the man himself will discuss it in the comments section from 3pm today ...

Mike Scott returns with a new Waterboys album, An Appointment with Mr Yeats. He describes it as a culmination of a 20-year-old dream to "recontextualise the work of Ireland's most venerated poet, WB Yeats, by singing his words against a backdrop of gloriously full-tilt rock'n'roll." You can listen to the album in full using the player above, and read Mike's track-by-track guide below. Better still, Mike himself will be joining us in the comments thread from 3pm so do post any questions for him there …

The Hosting of the Shee

Using one of Yeats's mythological poems as a lyric, this song describes the riding forth of the war-like gods of old Ireland, the Shee. The first line mentions Knock-na-rea, an eerie flat-topped mountain overlooking the coastal lands of County Sligo from which one could well imagine a tribe of supernatural creatures spilling with malign intent. The musical arrangement is deliberately primal and drummer Ralph was instructed to play no recognisable rock or pop beat, but to keep the groove as a pre-civilisation, feral caveman stomp.

Song of Wandering Aengus

This lyric conjures in my mind's eye a moonlit wood on a hallucinatory night in some old Celtic dream time, and the bard Aengus, silver-bearded, wandering out on his quest. This music is the soundtrack to that vision. Flute solo by Sarah Allen.

News for the Delphic Oracle

A passion play in three parts. In the first we're hanging out with Pythagoras and the boys during the philosopher's golden age, on an ancient Greek beach in an atmosphere of somnambulant bliss. In part two we ride on dolphins' backs through the dancing waters of the sea between death and whatever unknown adventure follows it. And in the third passage, set to a crumbling waltz, we encounter human love, the kindling of sexual desire and finally, at the gates of his intolerable cavern, the great god Pan.

A Full Moon in March

A cracked nursery rhyme, set in a twisted psychedelic toy-town landscape. Jack and Jill have gone to play but Jill has murdered Jack. Chiming guitars by me and Joe Chester. Organ solo by James Hallawell.

Sweet Dancer

Created from three Yeats poems and set to music by myself and fellow Scottish songwriter, the excellent Freddie Stevenson. Lead vocal in the middle by Katie Kim, exquisite singer from Waterford, Ireland.

White Birds

One of the most beautiful of Yeats' love poems. I edited the lyric slightly for song format and inserted, as the bridge, a passionate speech by one of the lovers in Yeats's early play, The Shadowy Waters. Music again composed by Freddie Stevenson and myself. The soulful trombone is by Blaise Margail, the Catalan horn player.

The Lake Isle of Innisfree

In Ireland this is Yeats's most famous poem, a veritable national treasure, oft quoted in sonorous, grave tones. The only thing to do with such a piece was corrupt it, so I reimagined it as a delta blues song. Yeats helpfully included a line about a "hive for the honey bee", which Muddy Waters would have been delighted with. What sounds like an electric guitar at the third verse is Steve Wickham's fuzzed-up fiddle.

Mad as the Mist and Snow

The poet wonders if the ruminations and realisations of the great philosophers, for all their cunning wisdom, were nothing more than madness; whether in fact there is no purpose or rhyme to human existence at all. Meanwhile, Steve Wickham weighs in with two killer solos; the first a delicate, lilting, psychedelic Irish jig; the second an invocation of the mist, snow and madness itself.

Before the World Was Made

I share lead vocals on this short esoteric poem with Katie Kim. Forgot to tell you she has her own indie band, named after herself, and they're fab.

September 1913

A first take live in the studio by myself, Ralph, James and my co-producer, bassist Marc Arciero. No messing around! Yeats wrote the lyric as an attack on Irish politicians and clergy who refused to support workers in their struggle for basic rights. It resonates again in these days of corrupt banks, compromised politicians and paedophile priests.

An Irish Airman Foresees His Death

I tried to catch in the music the sense of the narrator's dislocation, his consciousness profoundly removed from all normal states of mind. The cor anglais solo is by Kate St John.


The final poem in Yeats's final collection of poems; an ageing man looks on young beauty and feels desire undimmed.

Let the Earth Bear Witness

Two verses from two Yeats plays, turned into one song. The first, "They shall be remembered…", from Cathleen Ni Houlihan, refers to Irish freedom fighters during the struggles for independence. When I was working on the music in June 2009, I became drawn into the drama of the Iranian election protests; those courageous people risking all to resist a vicious fundamentalist regime. I realised Yeats's lyric applies to all freedom fighters, in any culture at any time: by their sacrifice they truly will live forever.

The Faery's Last Song

The world changes, Katie Kim sings the last faery lament, a lone wind blows – and we bid you farewell.


Mike Scott

The GuardianTramp

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