Monday, April 21, 1997

Marillion’s “Estonia” featured on This Strange Engine



Writer(s): Steve Hogarth (lyrics), Marillion (music) (see lyrics here)

Released: April 21, 1997 (album cut)

Peak: --

Sales (in millions): -- US, -- UK, -- world (includes US + UK)

Airplay/Streaming (in millions): -- radio, 0.52 video, -- streaming

Awards: (Click on award for more details).

About the Song:

What song would you want played at your funeral? My closest friends would guess I’d want something by Marillion, my favorite band – and they’d be right. If pressed to guess which song, however, they’d likely be stumped. The only Marillion tune most would know is “Kayleigh,” the band’s minor album-rock hit from 1985 about regret over a messy breakup. Yes, it’s my favorite song, but it wouldn’t make a lot of sense at a memorial. No, I’d go with a song inspired by the deadliest shipwreck in peace times since the Titanic. ES

It happened in 1994. 852 people were killed when the cruise ferry Estonia sank in the Baltic Sea. ES The only British survivor of the disaster was Paul Barney, SE a documentary film maker. On a flight from Tallin, Estonia, he recounted his story to an interested passenger. He explained how he dozed off on a bench in a restaurant and then fell off it when the ship was leaning at 45 degrees. Barney climbed out a window, got a hold of a life jacket, and escaped the sinking ship. MN

That intrigued audience of one was none other than Steve Hogarth, the lead singer of Marillion. He’d been with he band since the departure of their original singer in 1988. The shoes weren’t easy to fill. With Fish, the former frontman, Marillion became one of the premiere neo-prog acts of the ‘80s, reaching #1 in the UK with their 1985 album Misplaced Childhood. However, the band’s loyal fan base stayed with the group and, in 1997, they recorded their fifth album, This Strange Engine, with Hogarth at the helm, surpassing the total of four albums they’d recorded with Fish.

Hogarth’s conversation with Paul Barney inspired him to write “Estonia.” However, instead of recounting the disaster, he wrote a song more about the loss of loved ones in general. MN The song also muses about the futility of trying to find answers, saying “you might as well talk to the stones and the trees and the sea.” However, Hogarth also proposes the more uplifting message that “No one leaves you when you live in their heart and mind / And no one dies, they just move to the other side.”

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First posted 10/19/2020; last updated 7/13/2021.