“Don’t be afraid of difference/The color of our skin/We all bleed the same beneath/Let the people in,” Kirwan pleads as the band serves up a viciously funky ruckus behind him. It is perhaps the band’s finest recorded musical moment.
“With that particular song, Larry asked me to think of Neville Brothers to get this funky Cajun feel,” Burcaw explains. “He would say, ‘don't push int too much, just lay back.’ It's cool because we throw in a reggae bridge section. I did some bass slapping, which was the first time you will hear that on a Black 47 album.”
“We are blessed with a very greasy New York rhythm section and a lot of that has to do with Hammy,” Kirwan says. He is a a great funk drummer and Bearclaw is just this amazing bassist. Joseph was a jazz drummer first and came to the pipes from a different place than any other pipe player I've ever encountered...he's like the Eddie Van Halen of the pipes!”
You didn’t think this band would get all soft on the way out, did you? Kirwan is mad as hell, the tongue that’s planted in his cheek being the only thing keeping the bile from coming out on “USA 2014.”
“Hey kid, got a job for you, now you’re finally out of graduate school/Here’s your desk your computer, excel sheet, roto rooter/You be workin’ 9 to seven, occasionally past eleven/But that’s okay, me oh my, jobs these days so hard to find/What you talkin’ about, cash in the hand, think this is a rock & roll band/You’re my intern, get with the program, your Daddy pay for your health care & your/Futon,” he raps over a funk strut.
“We always came out for gay rights on "Danny Boy" even though we lost gigs for making that stance and we have always come out on things without regard to consequences,” Kirwan explains. “It blows my mind that American people are prepared to let their children go into the world without a secure job: they're letting Fox News and MSNBC dictate what's going on. This is the final warning of 2014 from us. What happened the last 5 years, this decimation of the middle class, it’s major. I hope another band keeps the focus on things like this once we take our last bow.”
Speaking of the last bow, Kirwan saves the last verse of the song for a little reflection. I’m out of here it was a blast, Black 47 soon a thing of the past/So many gigs, could go on but I might end up repeatin’ this song/Thanks for the praise, love and all, especially the alcohol/Called it like we saw it so sorry, if we occasionally played out of key,” he sings.
With the announcement that this is indeed the band’s last call, Kirwan reports that the fans have been extremely gracious in acknowledging the impact that Black 47 has had on their lives. “The reaction has been very deep,” he says. “For a certain amount of people, they don't want it to happen. You've been a soundtrack to their lives and they measure their lives through the years the band has been alive. People have been telling me what the music means to them, which is gratifying.”
The fans aren’t the only ones feeling reflective. Burcaw is particularly reflective on how being in Black 47 has changed his relationship with the bass. “Larry always says to me, 'less is more' and that has been a revelation,” he says. “There are horns and everything else going on, so playing a lot of busy notes doesn't work. It works on jams like "Rockin' the Bronx" but otherwise, I hang back. My eyes are always on Larry's hands and Hammy's kick drum and snare. I didn't have that kind of high visual communication until I joined this band.”
Talk of the last gig is brushed off with a terse response by Kirwan: “I've never been one for reflection but as I get to the end I'll be thinking about it.”
When pressed on his future, Kirwan sees writing books, musicals, and plays in his future and knows there will be more music without knowing what that will look like.