Sunday, 27 September 2015

Music of Irish Origin

Layzangentlefiends.  I get asked so often to come up with a top five of a particular artist.  Sometimes I copy them here, sometimes I don't, but this week, for the first time in ages, I said no.  No Ladies and Gentlemen, I am NOT going to do a Todd Rundgren top five.  Ain't gonna happen.  Nosirree Bob!. Instead, I'm going to do my very own MOIO (music of Irish origin) awards.  So without further ado, here they are.

And rather than begin with a number one, I thought why not begin with a theme tune for the whole show.  I'm not judging this tune at all, merely placing it, as a traditional tune at the beginning and end.  So we begin with a version by the Dubliners. So take your seats as you listen to the traditional song Oró sé do bheatha 'bhaile.  This is the modern version updated by Padraig Pearse, who among other things changed the leader who will come with a thousand warriors from Séarlas Óg to Gráinne Mhaol

1 Let's begin with Sinead O'Connor.  Well obviously, of course I'm going to choose Sinead.  The question is, will I choose, "This is a Rebel Song", or "This is the Last Day of Our Acquaintance", or maybe "Troy"?  All of those are marvellous songs but I'm going to pick "Famine", which tells the truth about the Great Hunger, often called the 'Famine' by those who would call it a natural event.  I confess that my own Irish ancestors left Ireland long before the Hunger, and even before the Wolf Tone Rebellion and became travelling people, but that doesn't mean this song doesn't make perfect sense to me.

2 I've noticed that with this one exception, I've chosen solo artists.  But my favourite Irish band is Stiff Little Fingers, and in defining them as such, I have of course defined Ireland with the most inclusive possible definition.   Might as well pick this one then mightn't I? Alternative Ulster!

3 Christy Moore wrote some brilliant songs, such as "Viva La Quinta Brigada", many find themselves sung by crowds, but he's also a fine singer.  And a man who sings that which is Truth to those who need to hear.  This is my favourite "If They Come In The Morning"

4 Shane McGowan produced some brilliant work in his career, from that Christmas Song that gets played so much we have to pretend we don't like it, to The Snake With Eyes of Garnet, but my favourite is this.  A Pair of Brown Eyes.

5 Luke Kelly cannot be missed from any list of Irish music.  A singer so great, a man so famous, they names a bridge after him.  A man loved on all sides and here he sings Patrick Kavanagh's "On Raglan Road".

There are so many I regret having to leave out.  Teenage Kicks by the Undertones.  Much of Mary Black's Gaelic work.  The Wolfe Tones, even the Boomtown Rats but that's all there is so let's go back to the theme tune.  It's a song sung by so many Irish artists.  I could have had Sinead or th Wolfetones singing it but let's go for the great Mary Black.  Goodnight.

Sunday, 13 September 2015

Roy Orbison

So here they are, the favourite five, the fervid fantastic feeling-fuelled five, the best of Roy Orbison as he exists in my head.

I Drove All Night
Beautifully sad, fascinating. I mean kinda creepy as well yeah, but I know how he feels. I know how she feels as well. This is the best kind of pop music, the kind that makes you cover your ears and rip your own heart out with a nailfile even while you love it beyond reason. Even while you shouldn't. Cause it IS kinda creepy.

Pretty Woman
I think I don't like this song. Maybe think I hate it even, but then I listen and remember that, yeah actually I do. It's camp and kitsch and beautiful. Roy Orbison sounds as though he ought to be wearing a red coat at Butlins, but the truth is, he's what they would sound like if they could get the best to play and sing for them. He is the Uber Redcoat.

Running Scared
Yes. I know this fear. The knowledge that I'm not good enough for you. The knowledge that you'll always choose the other over me. And so I play this song and by the time it reaches the crescendo, the bath is full. But before anything bad happens, I have to go pick up the arm and move the stylus back to the beginning again. Thank God they never invented MP3s.

I sing this in the bath. There, that's a confession from me. And Emily says to say she loves the version where Orbison plays with the delicious K D Lang. This is splendid. It's delightful and everything pop should be. So what happened?

In Dreams
I love it, I hate it. I want to kill this song. I want it to kill me. It is so brilliant. Do I want it at number 1 or number 5 or a number so large it's stretched to Peoria with the numbers on my screen. It's sad, it's great. God, I thought I was going to have trouble finding five Orbison songs I love. How was I to know I'd love the ones I hate? Thanks Mr Orbison for being.

And do you know which one it really hurts to leave out?  End of the Line, by the Travelling Wilberries because it celebrated Roy's life and marked his end.