John McCutcheon

Song Premiere: John McCutcheon “The Troubles”

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John McCutcheon

Americana Highways is hosting this premiere of John McCutcheon’s song “The Troubles,” from his forthcoming album Leap (his 43rd), due for release on September 2.  Leap was produced by John McCutcheon and Steve Dawson; mixed and engineered by Steve Dawson; and mastered by Mike Monsuer.

Musicians on the song are John McCutcheon on vocals, autoharp and guitars; Jon Carroll on keyboards, accordion, percussion and vocals; JT Brown on bass; Robert Jospé on drums; Pete Kennedy on electric guitar; Stuart Duncan on fiddle and mandolin; Seamus Egan on whistles;  Tim O’Brien on mandolin, bouzouki, and harmony vocals; Kathy Mattea on harmony vocals; and Tommy Sands on vocals. 

As a true folk singer and songwriter, John McCutcheon writes songs about truth, and this one is as deeply lovely musically as it is troubling lyrically, as are many of his works. It’s a folk song about Belfast and the wounds that don’t heal there. 

In 2019 I did a series of concerts and workshops in Belfast. Even though the Good Friday Agreement was 20 years old, most of the songwriters in my workshop wrote about the divide that was still present in schools, in neighborhoods, in people’s minds. They yearned for resolution but lived with the ever-present reminders of division. They wrote beautiful, powerful songs. When I returned home the political polarization here was reflected in the violent turns we saw in other parts of the world, be it in Ireland, Israel/Palestine, Africa, or the Middle East. Religion, ethnicity, politics, the building blocks of society fueling a kind of tribalism that spirals into violence. To see our own nation in that narrative is both humbling and horrifying. The Troubles, indeed. — John McCutcheon

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Enjoy our earlier interview with John McCutcheon here: Key to the Highway: John McCutcheon


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