You can't judge a book by its cover is an adage that means before you can judge something; you need to take a deeper, closer look at it. The worth of something is not always evident from what we see on the surface, so we should save our judgments until we know more. You can't judge a book by its cover means that when you have only seen the surface of something, you cannot know what is on the inside.
How many times have you formed an opinion about something without giving it a chance? I am definitely guilty of doing this. Often times when you do this, you miss out on something enjoyable and maybe even exceptional or special. Just because you had a preconceived notion.
In the past I was at fault for doing this when it came to music. Unless it was some form of rock, I wasn’t going to listen to it; wouldn’t even give it a chance.
Country ‘n’ Western? It didn’t have a hope; I didn’t like either of those styles. Jazz, Rap, Techno, Bluegrass, Hip Hop or Opera? Forget about it, no way. The same for Grunge, Punk or Metal. None of these were my cup of tea.
So in my case, judging a book by its cover meant not listening to music simply based on its genre. With such a musical bias, it’s no wonder that I was constantly listening to the Who, Queen, R.E.M. or the BoDeans.
That is until recently.
In the past few months I have come across some music that is not only pleasurable to listen to, but also has words that have meaning.
Consider these lyrics:
Now the battle hymns are playing
Report of shots not far ways
No prayer, no promise, no hand of God
Could save their souls that April day
Tell their wives that they fought bravely
As they lay them in their graves
By a lonely harbor wall,
she watched the last star falling
As that prison ship sailed out against the sky
Sure she'll wait and hope and pray,
for her love in Botany Bay
It's so lonely 'round the fields of Athenry.
Whose music is this? Is it U2 or Dylan? No, think something a little more current. Could it possibly be Faith Hill, Eminem or even Jay-Z?
No, it’s these guys –
They are Dropkick Murphys, an Irish-American Celtic punk band formed in Quincy, Massachusetts. Their influences include Stiff Little Fingers, The Pogues, The Clash, AC/DC, and the Swingin' Utters.
Dropkick Murphys have been known for supporting working class and union causes, and have a strong relationship with the AFL-CIO. On February 22, 2011, in support of Wisconsin workers’ rights, the band released their song “Take ‘Em Down” from the album “Going Out In Style” on their website along with creating a limited edition “Take ‘Em Down” t-shirt which will benefit the Workers’ Rights Emergency Response Fund.
From their album, “The Warrior’s Code”, the song, "Last Letter Home", contains excerpts from personal letters between Sgt. Andrew Farrar, his mother and his wife. The following is taken from the album notes:
We had already finished this song that was based on general correspondences to and from the soldiers serving in Iraq, when we were contacted by the family of Sgt. Andrew Farrar who had recently died while serving there.
The family wanted to tell us he was a big supporter of the Dropkick Murphys. They also passed on a letter that he had written to his mother shortly before his death in which he thanks her for sending him a Dropkick Murphys CD and said that if anything should happen to him while in Iraq, he would like one of our songs played at his funeral.
He also left behind a wife, Melissa and two young boys Tyler and Liam. His tour of duty in Iraq was coming to an end and was due to come home and renew his wedding vows with Melissa to another song of ours, “Forever”. Sgt. Farrar died on January 28th, on his 31st birthday.
We were present at his funeral to grant his wish and played "Fields of Athenry" as his casket entered the church. This song was re-written to include excerpts from that letter.
The band released a single, with the family's permission, including the Andrew Farrar-dedicated “Fields Of Athenry” and “The Last Letter Home”. All proceeds went to the Farrar family.
Pretty good stuff for some loud “punks” from Boston. And to think, not so long ago I wouldn’t have given them the time of day based solely on their looks and musical genre.
Please remember, you can’t judge a book by its cover. You just might be missing something special. Until next time…from the booth.