Slàinte Mhath

[Track Info] [The Lyrics] [Explanation]


Slàinte Mhath - Track Info

  1. Album version (04:45) [Clutching At Straws (1987)]
  2. Live (St. Goar, Germany - "Freilichtbuhne Loreley", July 18th '87) (04:45) [Live At Loreley (1987)]
  3. Live (Edinburgh, Scotland, - "The Playhouse", December 17/18/19th '87) (04:49) [The Thieving Magpie - La Gazza Ladra (1988)]

    Notes: studio version is joined to Torch Song, which comes before, live versions are joined to Intro - La Gazza Ladra which comes before. Live versions follow studio version; 2) has additional backing vocals by Cori Josias.

    Lyrics by Derek William Dick (Fish)
    Performed Live for the first Time: July 7th 1987

    Published by Marillion Music, Charisma Music Publishing Co. Ltd.

Slàinte Mhath - The Lyrics

A hand held over a candle in angst fuelled bravado
a carbon trail scores a moist stretched palm
Trapped in the indecision of another fine menu
and you sit there and ask me to tell you the story so far
This is the story so fa-ar

Shuffling your memories dealing your doodles in margins
you scrawl out your poems across a beermat or two
And when you declare the point of grave creation
They turn round and you to tell them the story so far
This is the story so fa-ar

And you listen with a tear in you eye
to their hopes and betrayals and your only reply
is Slàinte Mhath

Princes in exile raising the standard Drambuie
parading their anecdotes tired from old campaigns
Holding their own last orders commanding attention
we sit here and listen to all of the story so far
This is the story so fa-ar

Take it away, take it away, take it away
Take me away, take me away, take me away, take me away, take me away

From the dream on the barbed wire at Flanders and Bilston Glen
From a Clydeside that rusts from the tears of its broken men
From the realisation that we've been left behind
Is to stand like our fathers before us in the firing line

Waiting on the whistle to blow
We stand here waiting on the whistle to blow
They promised us miracles, and the whistle still blows
Broken promises but the whistle still blows
Waiting on the wistle to blow
We stand here waiting on the wistle to blow

(Oyster Bar, Edinburgh -- Country Bar, Dalkeith)

Copyright © 1997 Fraser Marshall, Matthew Anderson & Bert ter Steege.

Slàinte Mhath

'Slàinte Mhath'
Debbie Voller: SLÀINTE MHATH (Oyster Bar, Edinburgh/County Bar, Dalkeith) Fish: This is pronounced slanj-navah! Everyone says it in Scotland, it means "cheers, good health!" This is a very Scottish song, about broken dreams, and guys meeting in pubs and going (adopts very drunken accent) "Och, if ma wife hadnee left me and ma book hadnee been ripped off, I'd be famous now!" When I write, I like to sit with a drink, read a book, write on a beer mat and doodle at the side. So I'm doing this in Edinburgh and this guy comes over and goes, "scuse me! Whatya dooin? Are y' a writer? I'll tell you somethin' to write abooot!" and proceeds to tell me his _whole_ life story. And how he'd been down on his luck! And I wanted to say "You made a mess of your life, don't blame it on fate" but instead I just said, "cheers, good health!!"

Jeroen Schipper's FAQ: Slàinte Mhath means literally "Good Health" - Slàinte translates vaguely as health, "mhath" is the feminine form of "math" (pron. "maa"). In Scots Gaelic, we aspirate to make an adjective feminine. Thus the name "Mairi" (Marie) is given extra feminine emphasis by aspiration - "Mhairi" (pron. "Varry").

It is a gaelic word, too, which is where Fish picked it up. Irish, gaelic (scottish), and welsh are all related languages.

Pronounce "Slàinte mhath" as Fish does - "Slanzh'va", and utter it when someone buys you a drink!

A rather pleasant Scotch liqueur type thing.

'Flanders and Bilston Glen'
Flanders is the Dutch Speaking part of Belgium.
Bilston Glen is a depressed region of Scotland, known for its shipbuilding industruy. Or nowadays, the lack of one.

Steve Ross: The Bilston Glen area in Lothian also had several large coal mines which were closed by the Thatcher government in the 1980's. Much employment in the area relied on these mines and several violent labour riots occured at the time of the announced closures.

The Clyde is the river that runs from Greenock on the West coast of Scotland through to Glasgow. The conurbation of Clydeside, which in cludes the cities of Glasgow and Clydebank, is the largest ship building and marine engineering centre in Great Britain. To a local, Clydeside is virtually synonymous wityh the docks and ship building. In the 1940s and 50s, the shipbuilders on the Clyde were amongst the best in the world.

Since the 1960s, the industry has been in dramatic decline, with the attendant problems of high job losses and poverty developing. Successive governments failed to support the industry, despite saying publicly that they would. In the late 1980s, some of Clydeside was redeveloped and now experiences the same problems of gentrification that afflicted London's Docklands.


Last Modified: 27 Jul 2000