AUK’s Chain Gang: Christy Moore “Motherland”

This week we go from Peter Churchill’s choice of Carter Sampson’s ‘Holy Mother’ to another song with a maternal reference written by Natalie Merchant in 2001.

Motherland’ was recorded by Merchant a few days before 11 September 2001. At the time she said that the song, “has much a deeper resonance since the events of September 11th and its aftermath. I was far more cynical when I wrote it. Now the song is a desperate plea for innocence, to be ‘faceless, nameless, innocent, blameless and free’, expresses a craving we all share now for the world we took for granted and lost. Suddenly there seems to be no hiding from our past as a nation or our present, or our future. For me it’s the death of nostalgia”.

In 2006, apparently at the suggestion of the American actor Woody Harrelson, the legendary Irish singer-songwriter Christy Moore recorded ‘Motherland’ for his covers album, ‘Burning Times’. This version features Declan Sinnott, who’s worked with Moore for almost 40 years, and appears on his album ‘Live In Dublin 2006’. Natalie Merchant has said, “Christy’s versions have been so popular that when I do ‘Motherland’ in Ireland, they think I’m covering his song!”.

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