Sometimes you just need a soaring, triumphant song about love. It may not happen often, but when it does, you can hardly find a better pick than Beverly Penn, a Big Music era cut from The Waterboys that could make even the most hardened cynic melt just a little. While it uses the Mark Helprin novel Winter’s Tale as a jumping off point, recounting the romance of main characters Peter Lake and Beverly Penn, it’s Waterboys’ mastermind Mike Scott that brings the song to life, especially in its final verse. Up until that point, Scott had stuck to recapping the plot of the novel, albeit doing so with beautiful, poetic imagery. When he gets to the final verse though, he inserts himself, describing his heartbreaking yearning for a life-altering love:
I would die in a freezing river/Set fire to a hundred men If I could for just one time/Love somebody the way that he loved Beverly Penn
His voice ascends, full of emotion as he draws out the space between the finals words with dramatic emphasis. It’s one in a sea of earnest, improbably effective elements employed by the band: a jangly piano, a rip roaring sax solo, Scott’s high pitched hooting. The whole thing borders on unbearable dad rock, but it manages to transcend its pieces to create something much more. It’s a transportive, uplifting ode to true love that I defy anyone to resist.