It has already been shown throughout “lyric views” how Bruce Hornsby has demonstrated a concern for general social and human issues. This song is clearly another case in point. In fact, we might link this song with Look Out Any Window from Scenes from the Southside. In that song, Bruce hinted at the plight of the man “sitting in a boat, pulling lines from the water, just trying to stay afloat, filling nets is getting harder.”
The Tide Will Rise develops the plight of the small fisherman. Again, Hornsby has probably based this song on a theme from his native Virginia. In this case, the Chesapeake Bay tidal water. However, as with most of his songs, they can be applied to situations all over the world, (as the beleaguered cockle pickers (and Hornsby fans) of the Carmarthenshire coastline in south west Wales will testify!)
There is very little to develop in terms of the lyrics, it’s quite straightforward. However, one point to note is that in almost all of Hornsby’s songs of social interest, he tends to concentrate on the human aspect, rather than overtly attack any specific political individual or administrative organisation, as he did once in Defenders of the Flag.
So in The Tide Will Rise, we get a sense of perpetual struggle, both against the elements and the changing environmental conditions.
“Sometimes I get lucky, most times I come up short…” “..Red sky in the evening, better times are coming, they say, but why do I feel like it’s all coming to an end?”
However, there is an equally strong emotion, that is the pride and independence of the small fisherman.
“Never bowed to no one, always went my own way…Broke down, run aground, but I won’t run away”
I’m not too keen on the synth instrumental at this point. I think there was a chance here for one of those brief but sweet guitar solos from Marinelli (see The Show Goes On, Scenes for the Southside.) However, this is splitting hairs. This song is an inspiring one for me, as I am entirely dependent upon the sometimes equally precarious occupation of busking for a living.
The Tide Will Rise
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Band show; audience recording
November 10 2000