Why Stuart Adamson was the greatest songwriter (and rare live video "Shattered Cross")





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Published on Dec 16, 2018

If you just want to hear the song, skip to 8:00
Part 2 of this tribute is here, an a capella version of "One Great Thing"

Two corrections:
1. Stuart originally wrote the song in 1998 although it wasn't released until 1999 [Big Country - Driving to Damascus UK Limited Edition]
2. The Raphaels album where it appeared is called "SUPERNATURAL" not "Superstition." I must've been thinking of Stevie Wonder.

0:00 Intro
2:12 Stuart's last days
4:56 Why Stuart was a great songwriter
7:04 Stuart's death
8:00 Conclusion, "Shattered Cross" performed by Stuart & the Raphaels

Lyrics for "Shattered Cross"

You don’t mess around with a man in black
You say something wrong that you can’t take back
You go for a ride in his automobile
The spot in the woods just over the hill
No, you don’t mess around with a man in black

You don’t fool around with a woman in red
You wake up alone in a cold barren bed
She’ll empty your pockets and rip out your heart
And leave you with ruins of a life torn apart
No, you don’t fool around with a woman in red

You never make deals with a guy named Doc
You’ll have a gun in your hands by 12 o’clock
’Neath the sodium lights with your heart in your throat
Your life won’t amount to a bottle of smoke
No, you never make deals with a guy named Doc

Don’t bring me your tales of temptation and loss
The rags of your dreams, your shattered cross
I’ve heard your confession, I know who you blame
If you had it all back you’d just lose it again
You can’t bank on redemption if if you ain’t saved

So don’t bring me your tales of temptation and loss
Oh don’t bring me the pieces of your shattered cross

* * *

Transcript in case yall can't understand my Atlanto-Philadelphian accent
(cut because of youtube's character limit)

"He had a heart as big as a mountain and he was a real romantic soul. Adamson wrote the songs that U2 wished they could write."
- The Edge, guitarist for U2

In late 2001, an ominous message appeared on his band, Big Country's, website
issuing a plea for Stuart, if he sees it, to come home, contact the band,
or reach out to friends, family or fans. Another message followed, a plea to
his fans, saying--and I found the actual quote from an archive search--:

"If anybody is harbouring Stuart because they think it is helping him
then please think again and turn him in. It could save his life."

Stuart was from Scotland, and he had recently relocated to the USA in
Nashville, but this was a man who was adept at disappearing, and it was
understood that he could be hiding anywhere on the planet. His bandmates
hired detectives to trace his whereabouts from the scant records and
credit card receipts that trickled in, but Stuart always remained 1 step ahead.
This was a man who did not want to be found. And he was very good at it.

Oddly enough, around the time when the band issued that plea and I saw it
on the band's website, Stuart was downstairs from where I lived. I am not
exaggerating. He was in Atlanta at a bar called Fadó on Peachtree Street,
one of my favorite haunts because it was right downstairs from where I lived.

Curse my starving artist budget, because Fadó was one of the classier joints
in the area and I couldn't afford to go there except on rare occasions,
otherwise I might've been there on Nov 15 when Stuart was there, the last
time he was seen alive.

Funny thing about Stuart's songs, particularly if you listen to the masterpiece
debut album "The Crossing" and contrast as I mentioned earlier. No one will deny
that these are rousing, fiery, inspirational songs, full of fight and good old
Scottish highland magnificence. But if you really pick apart the lyrics, what
he's saying is quite often horribly dark and depressing.

I don't think that it's any coincidence that Stuart Adamson hailed from
Scotland, the homeland of another gentleman whose existence was all about
contrasts and whose demons ultimately closed in on him, yet all the while
he held fast to his meddle, going out in literature's greatest blaze of glory,
crying: "Lay on, Macduff, and damned be him who first cries: 'Hold! Enough!' "

This is what Stuart transmitted in his songs. That the human condition is
bleak, dark, possibly hopeless, but the human response doesn't have to be so.

17 years ago this minute, on Dec 16, 2001, they found Stuart Adamson.
In Hawaii of all places; he had hanged himself in a hotel room with an
electrical cord. His blood alcohol level was 0.279 which is roughly the
equivalent of 16 to 20 drinks. An electrical cord. This was not planned.
Nobody flies to Hawaii, paradise of the pacific, to commit suicide in
a hotel room by the airport with an electrical cord. This was an impulsive,
unplanned act brought on by 3 bottles of wine that he had sent up to his room.
And that kills me. We lost the greatest songwriter of my time to 3 bottles of wine.


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