Nfld. & Labrador·Parkway Sessions

Rum Ragged explore Newfoundland's relationship with the fishery in song

There are plenty of traditional songs about Newfoundland and Labrador’s fishery, but Rum Ragged’s The Thing About Fish is a bit different from the rest.

‘It’s a song that really hits home for me,’ says Mark Manning

Rum Ragged performs as part of CBC Newfoundland and Labrador's Parkway Sessions. From left, Colin Grant, Aaron Collis, Mark Manning and Zack Nash. (Lukas Wall/CBC)

There are plenty of traditional songs about Newfoundland and Labrador's fishery, but Rum Ragged's The Thing About Fish is a bit different from the rest.

The song, written by noted Newfoundland musician, writer and actor Jim Payne, came to the group as they were preparing for their second record, The Hard Times.

"I went to visit Fergus O'Byrne, he was playing downtown. I stopped by and was asking him about a couple of traditional tunes, and Fergus mentioned that Jim had some great original songs," Manning said.

Manning then went to visit Payne, who gave him a number of songs for the band.

"He cranked out a pile of tunes to us, and The Thing About Fish was one of them," he said. 

Manning, left, says the recording of their latest record, The Thing About Fish, grew out of the Jim Payne tune of the same name. (Lukas Wall/CBC)

But the song almost got overlooked.

"At the end of The Hard Times recording, we were like, 'Wish we recorded that on the last one, so we should probably start another record,' and it kind of grew from there," Manning said.

The song takes a modern look at Newfoundland's complex relationship with the fishery over the years as the province began diversifying its economy.

For Manning, the song is a reflection of his hometown.

"It's a song that really hits home for me, being from a fishing community and having a lot of family who were in the fishery, and just knowing the importance of the fishery to Newfoundland and Labrador," he said.

"In recent years we've kinda went with some different alleyways of income and making our industries different things, which is great, but we come from fish and the reason why we're here is fish, and the song talks about all that kind of stuff."

Watch The Thing About Fish, performed by Rum Ragged as part of their Parkway Session:

Parkway Sessions: Discover more music

Every two weeks, CBC Newfoundland and Labrador will bring you new performances from local talent, recorded live in Studio F in St. John's.

Tune into more Parkway Sessions, and other performances of music from Newfoundland and Labrador on our YouTube channel.

Read more from CBC Newfoundland and Labrador


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