Stories and Meanings behind Rory's songs!

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Re: Stories and Meanings behind Rory's songs!

Postby Tokeiihto » 03 Aug 2013, 00:02

I get the impression that there is a misunderstanding between the meaning of the song and its actual genesis, which of course are two separate things and should be discussed independently of each other. Jay Jay's account of the circumstances under which 'Shadow Play' was conceived by Rory might very well be true (I can't comment on that since I haven't heard that particular explanation before) and could therefore be considered a fact, but what we - the listener - take away from the song is something entirely different.

While an artist might have a very clear and distinct vision of what the lyrics are about and how they should be read, what kind of sentiment the music is supposed to invoke, once a song (or any other work of art for that matter) is released, it's up to the audience to decipher its meaning. Naturally, people will interpret different things into it, depending on the individual mindset, knowledge, perception, mood, etc.

*which is not to say that every interpretation is equally appropriate or valuable.


To me, Shadow Play - and other members have already touched upon this - is full of potent and ambiguous imagery. The songs evokes a feverish, almost nightmarish dreamscape, a twilight realm were the subconscious manifests itself. The song seems to play with the notion of loosing your grip on reality. There's not doubt that this could be seen as a metaphorical depiction of the delirious state you find yourself in when sick, sleep-deprived and under the influence of medication.
"From the fool's gold mouthpiece the hollow horn plays wasted words, proves to warn that he not busy being born is busy dying." (B. Dylan)
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Re: Stories and Meanings behind Rory's songs!

Postby Jukka » 03 Aug 2013, 00:46

hi Tokeiihto,
excellent post, I have always liked your posts...you seem to be a very intelligent guy, you post great posts, thanks man !

Back to the "Shadow Play"...Once again, I quote JJ "The meaning in Shadow Play IS all about Rory's mentality"...all I want to say that if JJ had said : IMHO, The meaning in Shadow Play is all about Rory's mentality"...
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Re: Stories and Meanings behind Rory's songs!

Postby capo » 03 Aug 2013, 19:50

One aspect of "Shadow Play" I think is Rory's love of movies and escaping at the cinema. He sees his life as a movie, at times confusing, between the performer and the man off stage, as Roberta righty points out, "a little bit of Jekyll, a little Mr. Hyde", and he describes the image of " across the screen, a thin beam of magic light", after all a movie is just a play of shadows. And in the end , he's just like one of his beloved movies protagonists, "I cant run away from this Shadow Play". But of course, its all subjective, and because he was such a talented and interesting lyricist, he keeps us all guessing. Peace.
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Re: Stories and Meanings behind Rory's songs!

Postby JimLED » 03 Aug 2013, 21:56

Tokihito, I agree with Jukka about your posts. Sometime I need to find most of your words in vocabulary. But your English is really great. I think you're an journalist or theorist of literature, or something else, right?

About Shadow Play. I think I heard this Jay Jay's explonation early in some Roryfan's articles. Need to find it.
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Re: Stories and Meanings behind Rory's songs!

Postby SUBY1974 » 03 Aug 2013, 22:19

In this article Rory talks about his songs Loanshark, Philby and of course Shadowplay. He even mentions his STRAT. http://shadowplays.com/blog/?p=2147
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Re: Stories and Meanings behind Rory's songs!

Postby JimLED » 03 Aug 2013, 22:48

SUBY1974 wrote:In this article Rory talks about his songs Loanshark, Philby and of course Shadowplay. He even mentions his STRAT. http://shadowplays.com/blog/?p=2147


Sure, this article I meant.

Spencer Leigh: What about ‘Shadowplay’?

Rory Gallagher: I was in bed with the flu, bored stiff, and I had a 12-string guitar next to the bed. I was plonking away on it, and then the riff for ‘Shadowplay’ came out. I tried to write an ‘other worldly’ kind of song. It sounds like I was going off my head in four in the morning. It was fantasy based and there is a touch of nightmare about it.
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Re: Stories and Meanings behind Rory's songs!

Postby SUBY1974 » 03 Aug 2013, 22:49

Here is a six part interview that Rory gave gave to Spencer Leigh on BBC Merseyside Radio and where Rory talked about some of his songs. I really enjoyed listening to it on my Blackberry on my way to work. It comforting when one hears Rory's voice. Subrata. x

http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=5NjHUBgarPU
http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=2zEXLVcWK0M
http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=ju0cVsk2KtY
http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=MzwEoxXgZas
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Re: Stories and Meanings behind Rory's songs!

Postby Tokeiihto » 03 Aug 2013, 23:15

Thanks for linking the article, Sub. :)

I was in bed with the flu, bored stiff, and I had a 12-string guitar next to the bed. I was plonking away on it, and then the riff for ‘Shadowplay’ came out. I tried to write an ‘other worldly’ kind of song. It sounds like I was going off my head in four in the morning. It was fantasy based and there is a touch of nightmare about it.

Well, that confirms Jay Jay's story of the song's origin and simultaneously lends substance to some of the more metaphorical interpretation that people, myself included, have put forward.

@capo: Interesting theory. While I wouldn't necessary agree that "movies are just a play of shadows" - the working principle of screen projection, from a technical standpoint, is far more sophisticated than simply casting a shadow on a screen -, in a more figurative way this comparison actually makes a lot of sense. And lest we forget, the shadow play as a theatrical form of storytelling can be seen as kind of a precursor to cinema. That being said, I think there are a lot of other songs in which Rory's fondness for movies and crime fiction is more apparent and pronounced.

The "a little bit of Jekyll, a little Mr. Hyde" line is definitely intriguing. Much has been made of the contrast of Rory's oftentimes wild and electrifying on-stage behavior and his calm and quite demeanor when off-stage. This might have been an attempt to address the fact that there were two very different sides of Rory Gallagher that - at times - probably were at at odds which each other. Or it could simply be comment on the duality of man in general. Who knows.

@Yukka & JimLED: Thanks.
And no, I'm not a journalist. In the broadest sense of the term you could say that I'm working in the German film and television industry. Well, at least sometimes.
"From the fool's gold mouthpiece the hollow horn plays wasted words, proves to warn that he not busy being born is busy dying." (B. Dylan)
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Re: Stories and Meanings behind Rory's songs!

Postby RobertaSparrow » 04 Aug 2013, 05:49



Yeah, sometimes when I have insomnia or I'm feeling stressed I like to listen to Rory's interviews. His voice, his speaking voice, is very soothing and calming. He could have been a voice actor or radio announcer if he wasn't so gifted musically. :)
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Re: Stories and Meanings behind Rory's songs!

Postby Flamenca » 04 Aug 2013, 10:37

RobertaSparrow wrote:


Yeah, sometimes when I have insomnia or I'm feeling stressed I like to listen to Rory's interviews. His voice, his speaking voice, is very soothing and calming. He could have been a voice actor or radio announcer if he wasn't so gifted musically. :)


Rory had a beautiful speaking voice. I can listen to his interviews for literally hours. His eloquence and intelligence restore my faith in humanity, particularly when I'm feeling jaded after a hard day in Central London.
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