The Movement and Clinton Fearon debut their new collab single “Mountain,” today on Rootfire. Produced by Johnny Cosmic and Matt Goodwin. Listen to it here first!
Climbing a mountain is one of those things that some people do for fun while other people wonder why. I’m one of those who are in-between. Ask me to climb a mountain and I will hesitate. Of course now, after many casual mountains climbed, I will always say yes, but not without preeminently feeling the lactic acid burn in my calfs and quads. Climbing a mountain isn’t about the climb, it’s about the top. It’s what you see that you never could have. It’s the breeze of the summit drying your sweat, the epic views with the sun and the clouds.
I know The Movement. I know Clinton Fearon. I have been a fan of both artists for many years now and yet I can’t find the words to express how surreal and special it is to be writing about both of them working together. Everyone involved in this song knows about struggle, endurance, and beauty. All members are champions. To hear Josh Swain craft his always relevant yet timeless lyrics “we only need to climb this mountain and we will be free” only to be answered by Clinton Fearon, famous for singing about “The Other Side of the Mountain,” with the sage advice to “keep on moving and we will see what will be must be just wait and see you and me,” gives me the realest kind of shivers and goosebumps all over. As I write and listen right now, I have never felt this way writing about anyone.
And it’s epic. It’s a very special connection to observe. This is a nearly 50-year conversation happening. From roots to branches, a few of us in the North American reggae-ish scene have been fortunate enough to meet and work with our heroes and be unexpectedly blown away in ways we could never fathom. I have observed Clinton Fearon have this effect on The Movement in real time. We got to tour together in the fall of 2018. We had a couple of beautiful shows with Clinton Fearon opening the night on Acoustic guitar and The Movement closing the show. Clinton dubbed the tour “Roots to Branches” which was not only wise and clever but evidently accurate.
At the absolute very core of it all, in his deepest layer, beyond being a brilliant singer, a foundational bass player, and a good vibe projecting master, Clinton Fearon is a genius song writer. One of the very best of our time and then some. The songs in their purest form work magic that we all got to witness during his solo acoustic guitar sets. He picks out the bassline on the strings. He leaves lots of space, and he blasts you with vocals from another time a place (he ALSO has this effect over the internet on livestreams which he does from his house every other Sunday – it convinced me that livestream performance can be just as special as in person if you have the power). I am for real. This is something to be alive to experience. Clinton has climbed the mountains of life. You can hear it. He has seen the other side. He knows things and smiles about it. He gives advice to young musicians (or younger than him) to always keep creating. To live the life you love and love the life you live. It was a clinic on grace and peace to watch him do the very business of performance and work his show.
The Movement heard the message. Josh has also climbed the mountain. I feel often when he and I speak that we have been climbing it together only to realize that we cannot stop. We must keep climbing. Otherwise, perhaps all of this climb was for nothing. He wants to see the view and feel the breeze. He is willing to do the work. After watching him grind for many years, I feel like he has just started to be able to view the peak. The mountain is steep and treacherous but the pace is set and the path has been realized.
Josh is special. At his very core, beyond being an incredibly gifted vocalist, a seemingly effortless charismatic performer, and a guitar player who always plays something cooler than you thought was called for, Josh Swain is a genius song writer. His words always get to the next level. He takes the step that you thought was missing. Josh’s lyrics connect personally with strangers in a way that helps us all understand each other. I feel that way about them when I listen and I watch others in crowds feel the same way. This is the craft and the true power of the music that I love. Clinton and Josh were both born for this purpose of sharing their gifts with the world.
So on that tour of Roots to Branches, my favorite moment that made every step feel worth it, was when Clinton Fearon joined The Movement on stage at the Paradise Rock Club in Boston. I had come upon him a few minutes before backstage watching The Movement. I could feel him being inspired. I watched him admire Josh’s energy. Real recognizes real. I could see it. On perfect cue, he eased onto the stage in the second half of “Smoke” and perfectly matched an extra theme on the spot to the already legendary tune as if it was written into the song 50 years ago. They then launched into one of Clinton Fearon’s massive hits from his time with The Gladiators, “Chatty Chatty Mouth.”
There I was, dancing in the crowd, having one of my most-ever-enjoyed musical moments of my life. I don’t know why I didn’t expect it to happen, but it caught me off guard. I had been grinding hard working with my own band and all of the hard work that comes with the road. All of a sudden everything felt right. This moment was what the tour was for. I felt it and recognized it right then and it’s an unbelievable feeling to be writing about it now. Everything made sense. These artists were bound to meet and inspire each other. It was a blessing to be a witness to it. Thanks to a night like that, we have new music and new friends. The Movement’s new single featuring Clinton Fearon, “Mountain,” drops tomorrow, September 4, almost two years to the day after that show in Boston.
And when you are struggling in the middle of the climb of life, and you start to feel that burn, and you think you might give up and just live parked on the trail for the rest of your days, remember Gary Dread’s rhythm on this track. That is the music and the grooves that are going to get you up that mountain. Whether it’s in a dancehall, rub a dub, or reggae style, The Movement makes music they love. It’s from the heart. People like Clinton Fearon can sign off on it and give a blessing because it’s real and it’s real good. This song is sure to get you smiling wide. Smiling like Clinton Fearon. Smiling like Jay Smiles. Smiling like Gary Dread. Smiling like Matt Goodwin. And it’s gonna get you hype like a good yell from Josh Swain. Ain’t no mountain high enough for singers and players like these. “Mountain” was produced by Johnny Cosmic and Matt Goodwin, and we can only hope this single is the tip of the iceberg for their next full-length collaboration together.