I was pleased to see the news of Mumford & Sons’ Best Album win last night at the Grammy Awards. I became a fan just last summer, having fallen hard but late-in-the-game, for their 2010 debut album and its infectious song, Little Lion Man.
I was reminded of the crush fans, both Irish and American, at their appearance last June near Galway, Ireland, which occurred while I was teaching in the Study Abroad program at University of Limerick. I didn’t attend the festival but I saw the photos and heard about the performances and after-parties. Huge crowds were expected and, indeed, there were upwards of 20,000 visitors in Galway that weekend. Three of my students were able to get tickets to the sold-out show.
On June 9, 2012, Mumford & Sons headlined a mini-festival that included several acts on two stages in the seaside resort area of Salthill Park, just outside Galway proper. Transportation was tricky that weekend because a football championship semi-final was also taking place in Galway on June 9. All of the hotels, beds & breakfasts, and hostels were full. But my students were determined to be part of the festivities.
They took off early that Saturday morning on Bus Eireann for Galway and, once there, they walked quite a distance from the bus stop to the venue. Their intention was to find someone else at the festival with a room they’d be willing to share – if needed. Their hope was that the after parties planned in and around Galway would last into the wee hours of the morning and they could sleep on the bus back to Limerick on Sunday morning.
As it turned out, they found a guesthouse that was not great but tolerable and stayed in Galway through the weekend. After the festival closed, Galway’s pubs and nightclubs jammed with concert-goers and yet people still got served. In fact, a few who’d been overserved could be seen on Sunday morning sleeping along the fence that had enclosed the concert venue in Salthill. My students were quick to tell me that they’d been responsible drinkers, and the fact that they returned on Sunday relatively unscathed was proof enough for me.
They heard Mumford & Sons perform Little Lion Man live that day. When we talked about what it meant to them, each had a slightly different take. The song is pregnant with possibilities as to its meaning. The final verse speaks loudest to me:
Weep for yourself, my man,
You’ll never be what is in your heart
Weep, little lion man,
You’re not as brave as you were at the start
Rate yourself and rake yourself
Take all the courage you have left
Wasted on fixing all the problems that you made in your own head
Their Grammy win reminds me, too, that time has come for me to get to know the current album of songs, Babel, better.