A song for Robert

My Silver Son is a song I wrote for my second son Declan, just before he turned two. I finally managed, a couple of months ago, to write one for my first son Robert.

First In My Eyes is a song about being a father, making the most of the time we have with our kids, and the hopes we have for them.

Audio only:

I finished writing it in time for Robert’s 5th birthday in October, but between a busy period at work and a troublesome appendix I didn’t manage to record it in time. (They finally took the aforementioned appendix out just last week.)

I spent an evening at Mathieu Siegrist’s K-yak Studio in Gland in late November. He did a really nice job on recording, arranging and mixing the song, with great ideas for the instrumental parts and harmonies. I’m hoping we’ll have a chance to work together more in future.

While I wrote this for Robert, its sentiments apply – of course – equally to Declan… they’ll both be first in my eyes, whatever paths they eventually choose to take. I think/hope the sentiments in this song will resonate with any parent. (And I’m not just saying that in case Declan is reading this text many years from now! Don’t forget, Declan, you got your song first!!)

You can download the song from Soundcloud here.

First In My Eyes

You fell off the swing that day; it seems just like yesterday,
I pushed you too hard, I rushed you too soon.
Now you like flying high, a big boy, a bigger smile,
Maybe someday you’ll fly to the moon.

I’ll keep holding your hand for as long as you want to hold mine,
I’ll be reading you stories as long as you think that’s alright.

I know in time you will live your own life,
And I hope you’ll be strong and be happy, be honest, be kind,
You’ll go your own way, and you’ll run your own race,
But wherever you finish you’ll always be first in my eyes.

I love singing songs with you, or playing a board game too,
We can hop on the bikes, go for a ride.
I think now I understand how the child makes the man,
From father to son and on down the line.

I’m teaching you things but I’m learning from you all the while,
So I’ll tie your laces and maybe one day you’ll tie mine.

I know in time you will live your own life,
And I hope you’ll be strong and be happy, be honest, be kind,
You’ll go your own way, and you’ll run your own race,
But wherever you finish you’ll always be first in my eyes.

I won’t forget the day we met, they put you in my arms, I tried not to break you;
I buttoned up your tiny vest, cradled you against my chest, we made you, we made you.

I know in time you will live your own life,
And I hope you’ll be strong and be happy, be honest, be kind,
You’ll go your own way, and you’ll run your own race,
But wherever you finish you’ll always be first in my eyes,
I don’t care where you finish you’ll always be first in my eyes.

Playing to the crowd

Three weeks, three very different gigs, three very different audiences.

Eoghan O'Sullivan singing at the Little Green House crèche

One Tuesday morning in late November I finally delivered on a promise to bring my guitar down to the crèche that Robert and Declan attend, the Little Green House in Gland, to join in song-time. I had an enthusiastic audience, none more so than Robert, who took his place right next to me.

The set list was improvised on the spot, but included such classics as Old MacDonald Had A Farm, The Wheels On The Bus and Incy Wincy Spider (in both English and French). I tried to push things a bit with The Rattlin’ Bog, but it was probably a bit beyond them. Nothing a bit of Baa Baa Black Sheep couldn’t rescue.

Eoghan O'Sullivan singing at Le Box (photo: George Leitenberger)

On Friday 27 November I was thrilled to have a chance to perform some of my own songs in Le Box, a really nice venue in Carouge, just outside central Geneva. I was part of an acoustic showcase evening with a duo called Zepless at the top of the bill. I was one of two support acts.

It was such a pleasure to play to an audience that was there to listen to the music. There were 40-50 people in the room, candles on small tables and a small stage. The atmosphere was intimate and warm.

I did a 45 minute set, which was recorded by the sound engineer, Alan Fosman-Starkman. I think I sang pretty well on the night, even if my voice wasn’t in great shape. The guitar playing isn’t too bad, although I’m not anywhere near as fluid as I have been in the past when I was playing more often. I’ve made seven of the ten songs available on SoundCloud. I particularly like My Silver Son, with the audience singing along…that feels really amazing when it’s with a song you wrote yourself!

(Thanks to George Leitenberger for taking a few photos on the night, by the way, including those used above.)

 

View from the stage in Mulligans Geneva

And finally, it was back to the familiar surroundings of Mulligan’s of Geneva on Saturday 5 December, where David Graham joined me for our now (almost) traditional pre-Christmas Mulled gig. There was a great crowd in – even busier than in the above photo at times – and a really fun atmosphere all night.

We “only” played A Perfect Christmas three times on the night, with a smattering of other Christmas songs, along with a variety of acoustic covers: from Toto and the Bangles to Weezer and Wham, with lots more along the way.

The true star of the night was probably David’s new Christmas jumper. Having left his Rudolph jumper behind in Ireland I had to go out and get him a “flashy” new one. He’s never had so many people eager to feel – and hit – his body.

David Graham and Eoghan O'Sulilivan in Mulligan's of Geneva

In search of the Perfect Christmas video

A quick recap:

In the last post I wrote about the whole experience back in February, I suggested that I was finished with this particular project:

That, I think, brings the curtain down on this little project of ours. From this point on A Perfect Christmas will have to fend for itself in the musical wilderness. I retain the slim hope that some intern tasked with finding the perfect track for a movie soundtrack or Christmas advert will stumble upon it some day, rescuing it from obscurity and making David and I rich beyond our wildest dreams. Or at least recoup the money we’ve spent on recording, releasing and promoting it.

But….with Christmas approaching again I haven’t been able to resist trying a few more things to increase the chances of the aforementioned intern stumbling upon our song at some stage. We’re not spending any more money on it, but I’m still on the lookout for places to post a link and spread the word. You never know…

Video #3

The original video has chalked up thousands of YouTube views, albeit many of them via some advertising dollars that came our way. The fact that the original video wasn’t quite finished off fully bothered us a bit, particularly when we decided to spend some money on promoting the song in 2014, which is what led us to having a second video made, very cheaply via fiverr.com, with just the song lyrics featuring.

This past weekend a musical friend posted his own Christmas song to Facebook. It’s a lovely song – worth a listen – but the video also caught my eye. He used a very early film by Georges Méliès called The Christmas Angel, now in the public domain and so free to use in this way. It’s very effective.

 

It just so happens that I had been thinking last week about putting together a new video for our song and was planning to revisit one of our early ideas to use some stock footage of Christmas scenes, maybe cheesy jumpers from the 1970s or suchlike. Seeing Gus’s video prompted me to search for older footage and in the end it was a search for that same director, Georges Méliès, that threw up another Christmas-themed work of his, Rêve de Noël (The Christmas Dream).

To cut a long story short, we now have a third video for A Perfect Christmas.

With a bit more time and patience on my part to get the timing just right it could be even better, but I think it works well as it is. (In case you’re interested, I edited the video using WeVideo.com.) I can’t help smiling each time the chorus starts and the guy with the violin comes goose-stepping across the stage. They must have had lots of fun making that film way back in 1900.

Selling myself

I’m excited about a gig I have coming up on Friday this week, when I’ll play at Le Box, in Carouge. I’m one of two support acts, with a duo called Zepless at the head of the bill. It’s a dedicated music venue with a proper audio and lighting set-up, dedicated sound engineer and – hopefully – a nice warm atmosphere.

As most of the people who’ve seen me play regularly in Geneva know me primarily as a covers act, I put together the montage below to give an idea of what can be expected from a set of my own songs. It has served its purpose well I think as the Facebook upload has been (relatively speaking) widely shared. (Top tip: if you want a video to be popular on Facebook, upload it directly yourself rather than just sharing a YouTube link. Facebook will serve up videos on its platform to more people than those on other platforms, as it wants to keep people on its own site for as long as possible.)

In case you’re wondering, I used WeVideo.com, a really cool online video editor, to put this together. It’s free to use, but I paid USD $5 to remove the WeVideo watermark. Highly recommended.

Making this video made me realise how little decent quality live footage I have, but I guess the homemade feel gives a fairly accurate impression of the way I tend to approach my performances, so it’s quite honest.

Iain’s Acoustic Jukebox

Last night in Mullligan’s of Geneva I was joined by friends, old and new, for The Acoustic Jukebox, an evening to remember Iain Twigg and raise money for The Brain Tumour Charity. What a night!

The idea was that I would play any and all requests received, as long as they came with a donation. There was a minimum of 10 CHF, with higher sums required to skip the queue or to join me on stage to sing. I was a bit nervous about how it would work out, but in the end – and with particular thanks to Andy Andrea for managing the requests and the cash – it went really well. Couldn’t have been better in fact.

IMG_0001 (2)

As you can see, it was an eclectic selection of songs, from Van Morrison to Right Said Fred via Daft Punk, the ding-dong song and The Stone Roses. Thanks also to Pete for loaning me an iPad loaded with the Ultimate Guitar app, which meant I could pull up chords or lyrics for songs I didn’t know. In the end I needed it for about a third of the songs.

There were many I knew well and had played often before, but I played a number of songs for the first time last night: Ash’s Girl From Mars, Joni Mitchell’s Big Yellow Taxi (excellent job Lizzie!), or Oh La La by The Faces.

A few people gave me advance requests for songs to learn (again with a higher donation attached). The most difficult of these was the Grateful Dead’s Box of Rain, a song that really got under my skin over the past week as I listened to it over and over again trying to get to grips with a melody that has subtle variations in every very and chorus. As Esbjorn (the requester) explained, it was an apt choice for the occasion, having been written for the father of the songwriter when he suffering from terminal cancer.

“…such a long long time to be gone and a short time to be there.”

The most special moment of the night for me was singing Shed Seven’s Chasing Rainbows. It was one of Iain Twigg’s favourite songs from one of his favourite bands. He suggested to me six or seven years ago that I should learn it. I did, but I never got around to playing it for him before we and they left Geneva. Sadly by the time I finally got to sing it for Twigg he was no longer with us: singing it at a memorial event we had for him last January was an emotional experience to say the least. Last night was easier but still moving, as together his friends raised their voices in tribute.

Everybody had a laugh and then went for an early bath, did you?

Twigg’s favourite band was Oasis, who also featured last night, including a gutsy performance of Wonderwall by my brilliant wife Nadine. It was very much a family affair at times, as Nadine’s dad Jeff was also in the house and delivered a rousing performance of Delilah. He brought the house down and people were soon chipping in with donations to bring him back to the stage later when he sang Love Is In The Air.

The generosity of those who came last night was remarkable. Apologies to anyone whose requests I missed. In particular to Frode and Valentina for failing to get to their 50 CHF request for Love Me Tender before they had to leave. I did sing it, but about five minutes too late. Apologies also to Andy for not managing I’m Forever Blowing Bubbles; to Mike for failing to spot the broken string request; and to Marc for not stepping up to the “Göddligulgufúr” plate! There were also a few requests in absentia, with generous commitments from Simon and Mairéad if I performed the two songs below.


The other guest performers on the night all deserve a mention. Lawrence delivered a memorable Get Lucky and was back again later on to add some sweet harmonies to I Can See Clearly Now. A woman called Namilah gave an unforgettable performance of Knockin’ on Heaven’s Door, and Paul, Nadine and Tonya reprised their 2007 hit The Final Countdown. (They’ll get it right eventually…maybe February 2017.)

 

Tonya, Nadine, Paul and Eoghan - The Final Countdown

Two broken strings during Springsteen’s The River brought the curtain down on a memorable evening. I can safely say I’m unlikely to ever again finish up a gig with A Boy Named Sue, but it was totally in keeping with the surprising spirit of the night. Huge thanks to everyone that came along and to those who supported it from afar. Twigg would have loved it. And I’ll be sending just about 1,900 CHF to The Brain Tumour Charity in the UK in the coming days.

(If you took any good photos or videos on the night, please get in touch…)

Singing in the sunshine

Lots of al fresco musical adventures in the past six weeks or so, from jamming with Ecolint teachers at the end of an in-service training day, to doing short sets at a couple of the school fairs where I was working (in my capacity as Ecolint’s alumni guy), to our local village festival and, most recently, the Fête de la Musique in Nyon. It’s been really nice to be singing in public again and in such a variety of different venues and contexts.

On the Ecolint stages I stuck to cover songs, with the exception of the set I did in the Greek Theatre at the LGB Kermesse on 30 May, when I opened and closed with a couple of my own songs. I had John Marc Davies, music teacher at LGB and talented violinist, join me for that set. As you can see in the video below, he did a really nice job, particularly given that he didn’t know the songs.

At the Nyon Fête de la Musique I was given an hour-long slot on a lovely little stage at the Place de Savoie, close to the lakeside. I was first on stage at that location, at 13h30 in the afternoon, so it was quiet enough as I began. But by the end a nice crowd had gathered and I was pleased with how it went. I decided in this context to play only my own songs. The video below is just a short snippet of My Silver Son, the song I wrote for my son Declan.

It feels good to have reached a stage where I can fill an hour with my own songs – even leaving out a few that I would have been happy to sing – and get a good response. When I have an opportunity to perform somewhere now I have to decide whether to play covers, originals, or a mix of both. It really depends on the context, timing, audience, my own mood, etc… At Vich en Fête, our newly revived village festival, earlier this month I was more than happy to stick to well known covers. It’s still a lot of fun to sing The Beatles, Paul Simon, The Kinks, etc., in the sunshine for an appreciative audience of friends and neighbours.

A song for “my silver son”

Tomorrow, 2 April 2015, our second son Declan will be one year old. As any parent to more than one child will know, there’s a huge disparity between the amount of time and attention showered on baby #1 compared to baby #2. For Robert’s first birthday we created a montage of photos of some (!) of the people he met in his first year – see below. We couldn’t do this for Declan because he didn’t meet as many people, he was held by even fewer, and those rare occurrences were almost never photographed!

Robert's first year montage

That we took fewer photos of Declan does not, of course, mean we love him any less than his big bro. No, this common phenomenon is mainly down to two factors: having two kids to care for instead of one (and thus rarely a free hand to take a photo, or a free head to even think of it) and, second, the fact that the novelty, naturally, wears off. For Robert (who was also the first grandchild on Nadine’s side of the family) it was important to record all of the firsts; with Declan I think we feel more able to actually just watch and enjoy them: to be in the moment. (Hmmm… Maybe that last point is stretching it a bit, but it sounds good, right?!)

All of this is to explain why I was keen to do something for Declan that I haven’t (yet) managed for Robert, and that was to write a song for him. I had also been trying to capture short snatches of video footage now and again with the intention of putting together at least one video like those I made for Robert. (This one still makes me smile whenever I watch it.)

Well, I did manage to write the song and to do a reasonably good acoustic demo recording of it; and I did have just about enough footage of Declan to put a video together. The song is My Silver Son, for Declan, “my only second one“.

There are quite a lot of songs written by parents for/about their kids. My favourites include two by Ben Folds (Still Fighting It, for his son, and Gracie, for his daughter). I also like Loudon Wainwright’s song Daughter, and of course Harry Chapin’s Cat’s in the Cradle is rightly considered a classic. In a way I believe such songs are the truest, most noble kind of love song.

But in general I think it’s a really hard thing to get right. It seems to me that something about the context – writing for your child – makes it difficult to avoid sentimentality, and sentimentality is often the enemy of quality. To put it bluntly, a lot of the songs written by parents for their kids are really cheesy, and although the world needs cheesy music, it’s not generally the place to look for great songs and great songwriting.

I didn’t find it easy to write this song for my son, but I got there in the end. I’m certain some people will find it cheesy and I don’t make any claim to being a great songwriter. But I’m glad that I wrote it and I’m proud of the end result. Hopefully one day I’ll write one for his big brother too. For now he’ll just have to take comfort in the fact that we took ten times more photos of him! (And at least I included a reference to him in the chorus.)

[The audio is available for download from SoundCloud, here.]

My Silver Son (Song for Declan)

The birds don’t sing for you,
They’ve been singing since the day you came, it’s true,
But you know, that’s what they do
So I will sing for you,
Anytime you need a melody or tune,
Whatever kind of song you might need,
Your daddy’s got it right up his sleeve.

And so my silver son, my only second one,
Well who is the man you’re gonna become?
With your brother’s big blue eyes,
And your mother’s open smile,
You will always find a world that’s bright as a silver sun.

Time will wait for you,
Take as little or as much as you need to,
Your smile will see you through.
Cos the world that waits for you
Is so full of possibilities, so new,
But maybe while you’re taking your time
You’ll hang around with me for a while.

And so my silver son, my only second one,
Well who is the man you’re gonna become?
With your brother’s big blue eyes,
And your mother’s open smile,
You will always find a world that’s bright as a silver sun.

Keep smiling, keep smiling, keep smiling,
Keep smiling my silver son.

Three stars and the truth

Having failed to set the world alight with our first attempt to make it to the top of the Christmas pops with our song A Perfect Christmas, we decided to have one more crack of the whip and throw a bit of money at the problem. Following 2013’s DIY approach to music promo, this time David and I (who together are Mulled) hired a professional promoter to ensure that the job would be done properly. Did it work? All will be revealed!

The amount of money one could spend promoting a single has a lot in common with the length of the proverbial piece of string. Our piece of string, however, was definitely on the short side and so we had to go for what was probably close to the cheapest package with which one could reasonably expect to have an impact.

Around the time when we were trying to decide how we could try to break into the Irish radio market in 2014, I happened to read an article in the Irish Times – “How to get ahead in rock’n’roll” – that included advice from Emma Harney at Orchestrate PR. What caught my eye was the line “The cost depends on the project: it can start at €750, which would be for a tailored indie campaign“. Within a few short weeks we had signed on the dotted line and by mid-November our campaign was up and running.

Bad money after good?

The total campaign ended up costing just short of €1,400, as there was VAT to be paid on that €750, another €200 to have 100 CD singles printed up (for which we used CDduplication.ie), plus €250 in costs (again to Orchestrate) to cover postage and the monitoring of radio and print media for plays and mentions. The single was “plugged” to all relevant radio stations in Ireland, going to Heads of Music and some DJs too. We got weekly reports on the feedback received. This varied from those who didn’t like the track at all, to those who liked it but didn’t feel it fitted with their station, to those that would consider it for some plays, to those who said they would add it to the playlist. Of course talk is cheap…the question was how many would actually play it in the end.

One song, two videos

We still had the super animated video from the previous year, kindly made for us by our friends at Lovely Toons. By November it had racked up north of 20,000 views, largely thanks to YouTube advertising credit that the other half of Mulled has access to. While having this many views certainly made a good impression, the fact that the release date on the video was 2013 didn’t help when we were in fact trying to spin it as a new release for 2014. We thought, therefore, that in some cases it’d be no harm to have a new video with a 2014 release date. We got something very simple made for the princely sum of €35 thanks to an efficient, friendly and talented chap called Calvin who sells his services via Fiverr.com.

(Nice to see that the new video has more than 1,000 plays already. We still mostly focused on the original animated video, so this isn’t too bad at all.)

Results?

Thanks to Orchestrate, we could be confident that our song was reaching the right people and that they’d at least give it a listen. But did anything actually come of all this effort? Probably the two highlights were getting “exposure” on two of the most important media outlets in the country. First up, The Irish Times reviewed us on 5 December, as follows:

Irish songwriters Eoghan O’Sullivan and David Graham outline various cliches they could do without this Christmas (snow, Santa, carollers), before unveiling their one wish: “Oh, won’t you please come back to stay this Christmas.” Any similarities to Christmas (Baby Please Come Home) are coincidental, we’re sure.

Not earth-shattering, but it came with three stars. Given that Eminem’s new single only got two stars that same week, we were pleased enough. The best was yet to come though.

It seems the Head of Music at RTE Radio One really liked the song – enough to add it to their Christmas playlist! I couldn’t quite believe it when I saw us listed there on the RTE website alongside the likes of Lisa Hannigan, Imelda May, Norah Jones. The problem was that getting onto the Radio One playlist is just leading the horse to water; making him drink was another thing entirely. The individual producers on the different shows actually decide what songs to play and they can – and do – completely ignore the playlist. In the end we were played only once, very early in the morning, by Shay Byrne on Risin’ Time.

We picked up various other reviews here and there, mostly music blogs regurgitating the sales pitch that had reached them from us via Orchestrate. (“It might just become your new favourite Christmas song.“) But there were one or two that went a step further. I particularly liked the description on FeckingDeadly.com: “…a lovely sing-along with a ‘ding-dong-ding-dong-ding’ refrain that will stick with you for weeks to come.” I also did an interview over the phone for a show called ArtsWave on Dublin South FM, but I’m not sure it ever actually went to air.

Unlucky 13?

Aside from that one play on RTE Radio One, not a whole lot more came to pass. We were played on a handful of local stations, sometimes more than once: Beat 102-103, Midlands 103, Northern Sound and Shannonside all played it. The song also aired a couple of times on 2XM, a digital only station from RTE, as well as on 8Radio.com, an internet station. And we shouldn’t forget our good friends at World Radio Switzerland in Geneva, who again played it a number of times in the run-up to Christmas. (I also did an interview for Drivetime with Tony Johnston, who was as supportive as ever.)

The RadioMonitor service registered a total of 13 plays on Irish stations and estimated that it was heard by about 30,000 people. Nothing to write home about there.

The (Mince) Pie Chart

I was pretty active on Facebook and Twitter again. Probably the thing that got the best reaction on the social channels was the pie chart I threw together on a whim one evening. I realised that you’ve got to give people something that they might feel like sharing, liking, commenting on.

Mince Pie Chart

For a brief moment I thought our campaign to reach the #XmasNo100 might gather some momentum, but it wasn’t to be. Perhaps if we had a team of social media whiz kids backing us we could have done more here.

My favourite Twitter interaction had to be this one with the legendary John Creedon:

Rich yet?

In terms of sales, we actually did worse than the previous year, selling only 16 downloads via iTunes! Given that the 37 we sold in 2013 earned us only $34, we’ve gone quite a bit further into the red. In reality the kind of campaign we mounted was never going to result in significant sales: we’re not a real band that tours and has a fan base we can call on. Once any friends that do actually download music from iTunes had bought the single, that was more or less it, unless it had somehow gained a bit of momentum from radio airplay (which, as we’ve already seen, was not the case).

Needless to say, we reached neither the #XmasNo1 nor the #XmasNo100. Maybe we were the #XmasNo1000 – I guess they stop counting at some point.

Ireland’s Christmas FM once again refused to play the song or even to acknowledge our emails asking whether they’d consider doing so. It seems a bit odd, particularly given some of the really terrible songs they do play. On the other hand, thanks to one of their DJs, Keith Shanley, the song was included on a royalty-free in-store music mix that was used by various retail chains in Ireland. I got reports of the song being heard in sports shops in Dublin and Donegal, so it seems it was heard by shoppers all around the country.

The End… Perhaps.

That, I think, brings the curtain down on this little project of ours. From this point on A Perfect Christmas will have to fend for itself in the musical wilderness. I retain the slim hope that some intern tasked with finding the perfect track for a movie soundtrack or Christmas advert will stumble upon it some day, rescuing it from obscurity and making David and I rich beyond our wildest dreams. Or at least recoup the money we’ve spent on recording, releasing and promoting it.

And, of course, it will probably always be a part of Christmas in the O’Sullivan and Graham households. Ding dong ding dong ding dong ding…

Bonus Track

As a reward for reading all the way to the end, I thought it might be amusing to let you hear where A Perfect Christmas came from. I give you, in all its glory, the original demo of “Come out to play”, recorded (I think) in summer 2003 by me in the RTE Limerick studios late one night. The lyrics left a lot to be desired, but the melody and harmonies were all there. Skip to 3’00” for what became the ding-dongs. I think David and I did a good job in turning this into festive gold, right?

In the Hot Spot on a cold night

I played last night in the Hot Spot Music Club, a new-ish venue in Greystones, the town where I grew up. I was a bit nervous about playing in Ireland for the first time in about ten years and singing in front of an audience that was for the most part friends and family (plus a handful of others). There were about 45 people there, which wasn’t bad for a Monday between Christmas and New Year.

Eoghan O'Sullivan at the Hot Spot Music Club

I really enjoyed it. As it was a “proper” venue, rather than my usual pub troubadour thing, I played two distinct sets of about 45 minutes each. I wanted to play a few of my own songs too and I had been described as a singer-songwriter, so I decided to focus on songwriters in the set list. The first part was mostly songs from the 60s and 70s; the second had some more recent stuff.

Here’s what I played (and if there’s no songwriter mentioned the song is one of my own):

Set 1

Have No Regrets
Fire and Rain (James Taylor)
Moonshadow (Cat Stevens)
America (Paul Simon)
The Cat’s in the Cradle (Harry Chapin)
Half-Hearted Love Affair
Til There Was You (Meredith Wilson via The Beatles)
Lazing on a Sunny Afternoon (Ray Davies, The Kinks)
You’ve Got A Friend (Carole King)
Long Distance Kiss

Set 2

I’ll Be Around
Mardy Bum (Alex Turner, Arctic Monkeys)
Fast Car (Tracy Chapman)
The Blower’s Daughter (Damien Rice)
Ride On (Jimmy McCarthy)
You Completely Complete Me
Common People (Jarvis Cocker, Pulp)
Black is the Colour (Trad. via Christy Moore)
The Night Before

Fairytale of New York (Shane McGowan & Jem Finer, via Christy Moore)
American Pie (Don McClean)

I tried to stick with songs that a) I like myself, b) might appeal to quite a wide audience and c) I felt I could perform well. I played six of my own songs and I think they went down quite well.

I had to leave out a lot of songwriters that I would like to have included: Tom Waits, Van Morrison, Leonard Cohen, Neil Finn, Ben Folds, Conor Oberst (Bright Eyes), Colin Meloy (The Decemberists), Josh Ritter, etc… So little time, so many brilliant songs.

As I said at the end of the gig last night, I think it’s really great that Greystones has a venue like the Hot Spot. I hope very much that it will be a success – and that I’ll have a chance to sing there again in future!

Crilly goes to Rio

My good friend Alan McCafferty, who I first met 20 years ago (eek!) at Dublin City University where we were both studying Communication Studies, has always been something of a wordsmith. He got in touch earlier this week to ask whether I’d be able to quickly record some lyrics he’d written, inspired by Christy Moore’s famous Joxer goes to Stuttgart (my favourite line of which is “When the cock crew in the morning, it crew both loud and shrill, Joxer woke up in his sleeping bag many miles from Arbour Hill”).

It was to serve as a wrap-up to an epic World Cup prediction competition he ran where he works – there’s a bit more background on their blog here. The lyrics are a bit specific to some of his colleagues in places, but anyone familiar with the original and the Bishop Brennan episode of Father Ted should enjoy the Craggy Island twist.

The lyrics are clever and funny, to the extent that I don’t think it does any injustice to Christy’s original. Think of it as an hommage if you will.  It only took twenty years for Alan and I to collaborate on a musical project…hopefully it won’t take so long the next time.

(Link to Soundcloud in case the embed doesn’t work in your browser.)