IF YOU WERE A TEENAGER in 1983 and/or spent anytime watching MTV then you likely heard the debut single from Big Country, “In A Big Country.” That song was a pretty big hit at radio and the music video channels – I listened to it nearly every day for a year – and Big Country never had as big a hit again. That they never did hit those heights again belies the fact that they continued to make some really great music, with a few other songs getting decent airplay after that huge debut.
Fast forward 10 years and Big Country are a “whatever happened to…” question. That was answered with the release of The Buffalo Skinners in 1993 – a truly great album. Every song was powerful; every song was damn good, with those twin, melodic guitars still sounding great – and often like bagpipes – just like they did on “In A Big Country.”
The song from that album that has always stood out, that still blows me away every time is “Long Way Home.” It’s just so damn powerful. The twin guitars are intact, providing a soaring melody right from the start. The late Stuart Adamson’s vocals are as passionate as they were back in 1983. To me, as much as those twin, Thin Lizzy-esque guitars were the band’s trademark, it was the rhythm section of Tony Butler on bass and – on this album only – the amazing Simon Phillips on drums, that really propel this song – pay attention to it in the verses.
Adamson always was a passionate singer and that’s evident on “Long Way Home.” The song is an anthem, that I think asks for empathy for the lost: “Underneath your own safe sky/You may never wonder why/Some will never make their peace/ Some have never been released” as people are “Searching for the Long Way Home.”
While the album version is fantastic, the anthemic qualities of the song really shine live. The guitar solos are more aggressive, too. The song has been a fixture on my mp3 player for ages – it will really kick you into gear in the middle of a workout, too.