Artist: Big Country
Album: The Crossing (Mercury)
When you hear the song In a Big Country you might think the band Irish, but Big Country was actually a Scottish group.
They rose to great heights at a time when music was dominated by “new wave,” like Duran Duran, The Human League, and Thomas Dolby. They were also contemporary with the pinnacle of the career of the great Boy George (there were nominated for a Best New Artist Grammy alongside George, who won), but also with classic bands that were more guitar-driven such as Journey, XTC, and even the Go-Go’s (to name a few).
In a Big Country was the third single released from their debut album, The Crossing. It went to no. 17 on the U.S. Billboard charts, no. 17 on the U.K. charts, and no. 3 in Canada.
They only had this one big radio hit in the U.S., but it was completely different than almost anything else on the radio at the time. Of course, U2 was beginning to make their presence known. Big Country may have stuck too close to the Celtic inspired sound to ever rise to the heights of U2, but they were quite a successful band, and frankly, their sound was just as big, distinctive, and inspiring as U2, and singer-songwriter Stuart Adamson’s words were just as idealistic and sincere, and perhaps more generous and accessible to their live audiences.
The sound of Big Country really had nothing to do with ’80’s new wave. It is usually described as “Celtic folk-rock” or “Scottish folk-rock.” That is about as close as you can get. The Crossing, their first album, sold over 3 million copies and the song In a Big Country is definitely one that will stick in your head. Their sound was distinctive and they really did sing about a “big country” meaning the highlands of Scotland, the part they make all the movies about. The song Harvest Home was about famine, Lost Patrol was about missionaries traveling across the country at night, and Fields of Fire was about a terrible battle.
There next few albums, Wonderland, and Steeltown lived up in every way to the promise of The Crossing but after that things went downhill a bit.
It is hard to say what might have been. In 2001, singer Stuart Adamson, who had moved to Nashville and was involved in country music with a band called the Raphaels, disappeared from his home. He had struggled with alcohol addiction for years. His body was later found in a hotel room in Hawaii, where he had hung himself, to the shock of everyone who knew him. He had ended concerts with the words stay alive, two words that stood alone in the band’s titular song.
Below is the official video for In a Big Country.
In a Big Country Official Video
1995 Live Performance of Fields of Fire
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