I mentioned in the last post that after Rory Gallagher died in June 1995, The Guardian published an appreciation that I sent them … I wrote in my diary at the time that it was ‘quite heavily edited down, and somewhat disappointing’. Anyway, Milo expressed an interest, so I’m posting it here for him – he has an excellent Gallagher tribute blog here. This is the edited-down version, for what it’s worth; I no longer have the longer piece that I wrote originally.
Blue shades of green
If asked to choose seminal music footage from my teenage 1970s, when my part of Ireland was a single-channel area lacking even Top of the Pops, I might consider Planxty, Horslips, Bob Dylan or Steely Dan. But in the end I would choose Rory Gallagher, probably performing in a three-piece band at some festival on the European mainland with the song title misspelt on the screen; singing, seeming to play rhythm and lead guitar simultaneously, or acoustic guitar and harmonica, or maybe mandolin. Long hair, check shirt, closed eyes, jeans, sweat, wild rhythm and blues. This was as exciting as music could get. It still is. Continue reading →
Sean liked Coldplay, but wasn’t a huge fan – he may have been influenced by Pauline, who always said they were a boring band. He did put ‘Violet Hill’ on a superb compilation CD, now missing, that I have often referred to – I liked this song from the start, and it really reminds me of Sean.
The only other Coldplay song I remember hearing him listening to on the other computer in this room (and singing along to) was ‘The Scientist’ … a track that I really like, with its poignant lyrics:
Nobody said it was easy
It’s such a shame for us to part
Nobody said it was easy
No one ever said it would be so hard
Oh take me back to the start
‘Valerie’ is a track from what I now think of as the golden age of listening to music with Sean, while we were working or playing on our computers in the evening – probably in his Leaving Cert year of 2007/8 – and he introduced me to a lot of music I hadn’t known.
I really took to this track, and Sean used to play it a lot … I associate it with Against Me’s ‘Thrash Unreal’, which was another favourite at the time. The Amy Winehouse version is good, but we both preferred this one. The video is pretty cool too. It’s a fun song to sing and play on the guitar at a session, as I have discovered.
Sean never played any other Zutons songs as far as I remember. ‘Valerie’ is The Zutons for me, and the The Zutons are ‘Valerie’.
There was a particular period, a few years ago, that I have mentioned before – Sean’s last year at school, I think – when he and I used to spend a lot of time in this office in the evenings … I was on this computer, probably blogging, and Sean was immediately behind me, facing right, on the other computer … probably chatting or playing games (in exactly the spot where he would die).
He played music all the time while he was doing this, and I was introduced to a lot of good stuff that was new to me. We would talk about the tracks and the bands he played, many of which I have already featured in this ‘Sean’s music’ series of posts. There were two tracks by the Irish singer/songwriter Damien Rice (with Lisa Hannigan) that we really liked … softer, gentler music than Sean usually went for. ‘Nine Crimes’ and ‘The Blower’s Daughter’ – beautiful and wistful. We listened to them a lot, and they capture part of the mood of the time, which I remember so well.
The Welsh singer-songwriter David Gray had massive success in Ireland with his fourth album, White Ladder, and this Irish acclaim led to his international breakthrough, which was well deserved.
White Ladder is a great album, in my opinion. We bought the CD and used to listen to it in the car – Sean really liked it, although Susanna claimed that the tracks are too similar (‘Didn’t we just hear this one?’). We later bought the Life in Slow Motion CD, and Sean put a track from it (‘You’re the One I Love’ – a song about being in love and dying) on a now legendary (in my mind), and lost, compilation CD of his. I mention Gray in my song ‘Come Back and See Me’.
Sean and I often discussed music. I remember I said that I thought ‘Say Hello Wave Goodbye’ was a weak track – perhaps I was prejudiced against it because it was a cover of a Soft Cell song. Sean disagreed, and brought me round to his way of thinking. Some people would probably deride Gray as uncool or ‘middle of the road’, but Sean never cared about things like that, and nor did I. Continue reading →
Sean liked Thin Lizzy … in particular, he regarded the guitar riff in ‘Emerald’ as the best rock riff ever. That was his favourite Lizzy song (it’s in his YouTube ‘favourites’); others he liked included classics such as ‘Whiskey in the Jar’ and ‘The Boys Are Back in Town’.
I wrote a piece on Lizzy on another blogsite a few years ago … here it is …
Thin Lizzy were arguably the best Irish rock band. They started as a three-piece in the early seventies … Phil Lynott and drummer Brian Downey from Crumlin in Dublin; Eric Bell, the lead guitarist, from Belfast.
‘Whiskey in the Jar’ is adapted from an old Irish ballad: I think they recorded it as a kind of joke or novelty track.. They expected nothing of it, but it got them on Top of the Pops and on the road to success, and excess. It’s still a great track, in my opinion … one of those happy accidents that manage to capture and preserve some magic from the place and the time and the people present. Continue reading →
Sean always had a soft spot for hard rock/heavy metal and for hard-working bands. AC/DC fitted the bill, and there are a few tracks of theirs on an excellent ‘rock mix’ CD he made – ‘Whole Lotta Rosie’ (of course), ‘You Shook Me All Night Long’, and one or two others that I don’t remember right now. Those two stand out, and take an honourable place among the Songs That Will Always Remind Me Of Sean.
He particularly respected the fact that their recent work was as good as (not to say virtually indistinguishable from) their early classics. He often played them on the other computer in this room.
I notice that their 2008 album Black Ice was produced by my famous namesake Brendan O’Brien, and released on 17 October – now and for ever a significant date.
Yesterday we headed ‘up north’ to visit family and friends. On the way we listened to a ‘rock mix’ CD that Sean put together a few years ago. There are three tracks on it by the Red Hot Chili Peppers – ‘By the Way’, ‘Otherside’ and ‘Zephyr Song’. Coincidentally, our host last night is a big RHCP fan and put on one of their CDs while we were having dinner.
Sean enjoyed the band’s music and listened to them quite a lot. These songs remind of a time (not too long ago) and a place (right here, but with added Sean). Continue reading →
I think Sean first became aware of this Californian band when ‘Hospital Beds’ was featured on Scrubs. He used to play this track a lot a couple of years ago; I associate it with a large batch of songs by other people, such as the Kings of Leon, Against Me! and Eagle-Eye Cherry, that he was also playing at the time – he would often say that he wanted to ‘show’ me a new song, or play something and ask me to guess who it was. Happy days and nights.
‘Hang Me Up to Dry’ became another favourite – I think these are two great tracks. ‘Hospital Beds’ will always be one of the songs that most remind me of Sean – one of the couple of hundred songs that can make me cry, as I wrote in a song of my own. Continue reading →