“The Island” by Paul Brady
For readers who may not know, there are officially two Irelands, if you will. Northern Ireland – along with Scotland, Wales and England – is part of the United Kingdom proper. Meanwhile, the Republic of Ireland is its own, independent country.
As for Paul Brady, he actually grew up in Northern Ireland though, by the looks of things, there isn’t really much difference between it and the larger Republic to the south with the exception of a political border.
Beyond that, Paul also came of age during a period in Irish history known as The Troubles. Of course given the situation highlighted above, there would be Irishmen who favored the island being part of the UK, while others would rather idealize complete independence. And during The Troubles, which lasted throughout the last three decades of the 20th century, violence between extremists on both sides was at its peak, to the tune of nearly 4,000 people losing their lives and tens of thousands more being injured.
Lyrics of “The Island”
Truth be told, war feels like a constant in this day and age. That’s actually what the vocalist proceeds to allude to at the beginning of “The Island”, by referring to reports of conflict in Lebanon.
And this track was dropped in 1985, several decades ago. But even now, you can turn on the news and on any given day be met with reports of serious beef in Lebanon or one of those types of neighboring countries.
What is less common though is hearing such news being emitted from Ireland – a fact that Paul also seems to acknowledge in the first verse. But more to the point being made is that nevertheless, the people there were, at the time, going through it also. Yet the lyrics do not go into much detail in that regard. Or as Paul himself expresses in the chorus, “The Island” wasn’t actually designed “to be no sad song”.
Instead what it speaks to is, let’s say the layman’s view of warfare. Our leaders, i.e. the ones who are always propagating conflict, have their rationales as to why people should be willing to ‘sacrifice their children’ in the name of the cause.
These Bloody Leaders!
The said leaders aren’t only the likes of elected politicians but also idealists such as the Irish Republican Army. Or put otherwise, there’s always some type of war, skirmish or what have you going on somewhere that may be very important in the eyes of such propagators, but not so much to the rest of us.
To the contrary, most people just want to enjoy the basic freedoms of being allowed to joyfully survive or, as illustrated in this piece, to love.
For example, at the time of this very writing, there is major beef going on in Iran which has been partially fueled by, believe it or not, the government’s insistence that women wear headscarves. And even though that may not be the very best example of what’s being alluded to in “The Island”, what this song does posit is it actually being the aforementioned types of leaders who are denying many of us the opportunity to live at peace.
As an example, the vocalist’s own personal fantasy revolves around peacefully chillin’ on the beach alongside the apple of his eye.
Ireland, to note, is actually a huge island, and there are beaches to be found accordingly. But the implication is that Paul can’t even take that simple of a pleasure for granted, as some nationalists or unionists or what have you may start suddenly wildin’ out and just totally f**k up the ambiance, to say the least.
As the song concludes, the powers that be like to sell the idea that freedom is achieved through ultimate sacrifice, that being the loss of lives. So in their eyes, those who rather prefer “peace and love” are basically copping out of their responsibility to fight for the cause.
And it isn’t such that the lyrics are disagreeing with the notion that freedom, at times, is something which must be fought for. But let’s conclude by saying that the vocalist sees irony in these leaders always suggesting that the road to peace – which again can be achieved through something as simple as romance – is realized by practicing the exact opposite, which is bloodshed.
Paul Brady is a singer from Ireland who has been consistently musically active, in a professional capacity, since the late 1960s. As an example, his own solo discography commenced in 1978 with “Welcome Here Kind Stranger”. His most recent studio album to date has been 2022’s “Maybe So”.
When was “The Island” released?
“The Island” dates back to Paul’s fourth studio LP, “Back to the Centre”. It was released as part of “Back to the Centre” in 1985.
Paul Brady wrote “The Island”, and the producer of the track is Ian Maidman (aka Jennifer Maidman).