“People Who Fix Saws”

The Saw Doctors played an all-too-brief free outdoor show at Lincoln Center tonight, and as usual completely tore the place apart. The audience was a strange mixture of hardcore fans singing all the words and waving Galway football colours, and befuddled New Yorkers who heard this glorious noise and came over to see what was going on. Leo Moran kept explaining, “We’re the Saw Doctors, for those of you who just wandered by.”

Why it takes explaining, I’ll never know. I’ve been describing them for the past few days thusly: Picture the three rock&rollers in U2 locking Bono in a closet, then picking up Bruce Springsteen and Joey Ramone (or Irish versions thereof) on the way to the gig. Raucous party songs, weepy wave-your-arms Irish tunes about Clare Island, and sarcastic kiss-offs like “I Useta Love Her,” which to date is the biggest selling single in Irish history. Or maybe that was “Hay Wrap”?

I’d kill for a pinta porter
Jayz, I’d kill for a pinta porter
There’s wild bad drink in Tuam hi
Get that wasp off my sandwich

Who remembers? And when they kick off “N17,” you don’t care. Anyway, they’ll be back a couple of times in the fall and I’ll be there.

Leo has explained that saw doctors are “people who fix saws.” Literally, it’s a reference to the tinkers that still wandered Western Ireland when the bandmembers were younger. Maybe they still do? Once in a while in Brooklyn, you will still see an old red Step-Van truck come up the street, ringing a bell, with a big pair of scissors painted on the side. You can bring out your knives and he’ll sharpen them for you.

Anyway, more relvant to a recent thread here about band names, he said,

” don’t know why we picked it, really. You know, you do one gig, and you think, ‘I’ll probably change the name after that.’ But you don’t change the name after one gig. And if you don’t change it after four gigs, you have it forever.

Which may support bobhowe‘s contention that it doesn’t matter what you name your band. Although I’d argue that it’s catchy, and refers to Galway culture which is central to their music. And perhaps it would have made more sense to pubgoers in Tuam than it does to us.

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