As I prepared for my podcast where I revisited the year 1971 (check it out here!), I came upon a band named Lindisfarne from Newcastle, England and their album Fog On the Tyne. Despite being the first time I’d ever listened to the prog-folk band, I’d quickly realize that I didn’t discover some forgotten gem from the 70s (Fog On the Tyne would be the best-selling album in Britain during that year). Regardless of their success across the pond, I still felt like I’d stumbled upon some unappreciated band, and I began scouring the internet for videos of them. My Lindisfarne binge made me quickly realize that this wasn’t some too cool for the room, hippie-folk outfit. These guys were a bunch of goofballs! No video better captures the band’s inability to take themselves seriously than a clip I found of them performing the title track to Fog On the Tyne.
In the video, the band plays it up for the camera, making cooky faces and completely garbling the lyrics into unintelligibility. On the album, every lyric to “Fog On the Tyne” is crisp and clear, but for their live performance it looks like the band decided to see how strangely they could pronounce each line. The result is a song that sounds like it’s being sung in another language, especially the bearded, hairy fella on the mandolin. If these guys are the Stooges than he’s Curly, bringing the humor to its crescendo. But my favorite character might just be the most laid back – the bassist/violinist. While the rest of the band seems to be having a pot-fueled zany-fest, the drugs seem to have sedated on him. Throughout the song he stares blankly into the distance, playing the straight man to their chicanery. I would recommend not listening to the album version of the song, if only so you can go on living thinking this song is about “crooked coffee makers,” and public urination.