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'Journeyman' is the long awaited all-acoustic song of Iron Maiden. It has been compared to 'Prodigal Son' for this similarity, although 'Prodigal Son' contains some non-acoustic elements, whereas 'Journeyman' doesn't. Maiden are not renowned for their acoustic pieces, but when they compose one, they really give their best and the result is an unusual although very recognisable Maiden tune of very high caliber.

There isn't much that can be said about this song, except that it is a brilliant piece that is probably along with 'Paschendale', but for different reasons the best song on the Dance Of Death album. The lyrics are not in any apparent way related to the Orson Scott Card novel of the same name. A journeyman is someone who has learned the skills of a particular trade and who travels around a country for a few years to exercise this trade before finally settling somewhere as a master of his trade. Journeymen hold nowadays a certificate in their trade indicating that the holder has met certain standards and learned the skills of the trade.

The journeyman of the song doesn't seem to have any other trade than that of living, which he has exercised virtually everywhere on the planet, "From the red sky of the East to the sunset in the West", indicating that we are all journeymen in our own right, but never becoming a master in the art. The philosophical aspect of the lyrics show that although "We have cheated Death" and indeed the human lifespan has vastly increased in recent years "He has [also] cheated us" in the way that a longer life still inevitably ends at one point anyway, and whatever we have undertaken in our lives is just a dream (the "strange illusion" that is referred to in 'Hallowed Be Thy Name'). Life is just made of subsisting memories of our deeds, good or bad, and our achievements are nothing but "shadows we made with our hands" in the eye of the Great Leveller.

This is basically a song of hope, inciting us to "turn to the light" that burns in the darkness of our lives instead of chosing desolation (a verse that seems to be whispered once again by Bruce during the soft instrumental break). This is our own individual choice that no-one can take away and, as journeymen, we can practise our trade the best we can to try and make things better for ourselves and for those around us. A brilliant song indeed, both musically soothing and lyrically deep.



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