(Not Available on iTunes)
(Debuted April 30, 1983, Peaked #34, 14 Weeks on the Chart)
When I was in the eighth grade, I learned a little bit about Greek mythology in Mrs. Metcalf's English class, with a student teacher named Mr. Boliver helping out. One of the stories we read involved Charon, the mythical ferryman who crossed the newly cross the river Styx into Hades. In return for the passage, he demanded a token for his trouble. Once I learned that, this song made a lot more sense to me.
Chris DeBurgh is usually identified as an Irishman, but it's only part of his heritage. His father was a British military officer and diplomat who traveled often. DeBurgh was born in Argentina and lived in places like Malta, Zaire and Nigeria before his family settled down in a castle in Ireland, his mother's country. After that castle was converted into a motel, DeBurgh gained practice performing for the guests.
"Don't Pay the Ferryman" was DeBurgh's first hit in the U.S. With its eerie lyric and matching synth line, it was catchy enough to reach the Top 40. Although he eventually had a bigger hit with "The Lady in Red" in 1987, this is still perhaps his finest song.
But before I present a video with the song...
One of the kids I grew up with is Marcus Mastin, who used this title for a book he wrote. Don't Pay the Ferryman was published in 2003, and is the first book in the Carthage Chronicles series of suspense novels. Carthage, by the way, refers to the small village in upstate New York where we both grew up. I have a signed copy of the book on my shelf. It's interesting to see that a kid I was in Boy Scouts with have his own page on Wikipedia. For information about Marcus's books, here's a link to check them out.