January –February 2013.
The January Man comes round again in coat and boots of leather.
I just heard the sad news that Peter Cadle, poet, singer and songwriter has passed. We seldom met, but occasionally we did have dialogue about songs. When I recorded his song “Unfinished Revolution” in 1987 Peter generously allowed me to rewrite the 3rd verse. Later, for the book “One Voice”, he allowed me to include his song “Bless This Guitar”. I had attempted to record the song on a number of occasions but never succeeded. May he rest in peace.
Thanks to all of you who sent good wishes. The virus, which left me voiceless, seems to be receding. Having to cancel 2 concerts in the Bord Gais Theatre made for very difficult days. As my voice got weaker over the preceding days, I was left in a state of indecision and turmoil. I tried every cure suggested and I was also taking a course of anti-biotics. I subsequently learned that this had been a pointless exercise. Eventually on gig day I found myself unable to sing a note and had to throw in the towel. The most difficult aspect was knowing that a number of people were flying into Dublin to hear the songs. I was very aware of their dilemma yet helpless to do anything. The concerts were re-scheduled for February 1st and 2nd.
My colleague Paddy Doherty stayed at the venue both evenings. We expected huge numbers of people to arrive but the word went out very quickly. Thanks to Ticketmaster, Aiken Promotions, Áine Carmody, RTE and all who spread news of the cancellations. Four days on and the multitude of remedies and good wishes are taking effect. The old vocals are returning.
It is such a relief to be able to sing again. As I get older I realise more each day just how much singing means to me. I watched a brilliant programme on BBC4 during the week about Choristers in England’s Salisbury Cathedral. The choirmaster reflected upon the power of singing and what it meant to both listener and practitioner. It brought me back to my own early days singing in choirs in both primary and secondary school. The feeling that came from being part of a 4 part harmony ensemble is still with me. Brother Michael was choirmaster in the Patrician Brothers National School Newbridge back in 1957. I can recall the discipline but not the music. In Secondary School I met with Fr. Henry Flanagan and that’s when the passion for singing began to kick in. My voice broke in 1959 when I was 14. By September 1960 my bass baritone began to emerge and I was soon singing again. By the following year I was back in the choir singing the Tantum and Kyrie in the Latin mass… I was singing the part of Koko in The Mikado… I was at the Piano singing Heartbreak Hotel… The Clancy brothers were about to resound across the Atlantic and change the direction of many’s the young life.
53 years later I give thanks for everything that singing has brought to my life. Last week I also watched a programme from Alan Yentob’s wonderful series “Imagine”. He chronicled the life of Dame Shirley Bassey, “The Girl from Tiger Bay”. What a wonderful Diva she remains. Again, I marvelled at the insight into another singers life experience in their world of song. Be it Bess Cronin or Shirley Bassey, John Reilly or Bono, the human voice is an amazing instrument. I am always intrigued to hear singers share their experiences, their inside story. All singers have a unique relationship with their instrument, repertoire and performance. I know that in my own life these 3 relationships have changed radically over a 50 year period and continue to change even still.
A good number of songs in the workroom these days. I’ve been working with Luka on a song. It is based on a piece of his from 10 years ago. I have also been working with Wally Page on two pieces. “The Pearly King” has been on the screen for a few years and may blossom. A second piece is finished and ready to roll. It celebrates a recent cultural development here in Arthurland. I Have been working on and off for months on a piece by Mick Blake from Leitrim. He is a really good writer and musician highly respected on the Leitrim circuit. Declan and I have been wrestling on and off with Noel Brazil’s “Suffocate”. I recorded it back in 1987 but find myself back playing it again.
The “One Night Only” film with Gay Byrne got another whirl on RTE recently and was well received. The Barrowland gig received yet another outing on TG4. Recently happened upon it by chance one night and got sucked in again. What a great job done by Don Coutes and his team. Considering he had no rehearsals, Don got great shots of Declan’s breaks and licks, great audience shots too. He and his crew captured the Barrowland experience perfectly. I hope to work with them again.
I first met Tony Small at a Folk Club in London back in 1969. Later we swapped songs and I got to know all his family over the years. He gave me “Tribute to Woody”, the first Dylan song I learned to sing. Another night, decades later, he sang me the beautiful “Grey Lake of Loughrea”. Tony released a number of albums over his working life as a singer. Most recent was “Mandolin Mountain” which I spoke of here in a recent post. I was deeply saddened to hear of his death late last night. My sympathies to his family. They will be lonely without their singing boy.
This morning my thoughts are with two women. I watched Fiona Doyle being interviewed on TV. I am still reflecting upon her loss, her courage and that of her husband and children. I feel that this State of ours has failed Fiona Doyle. My mind turns to the recent death of Savita Halappanavar. We got to know Savita through hearing of how she was allowed to die whilst in the “care” of an Irish Hospital. We will never know the names of those who allowed her premature death. It’s almost as if they are cloaked by protective layers of secrecy behind which so much horror, abuse and cruel behaviour has taken place, much of it within the secret societies of the Catholic Church. I saw their cohorts protesting and railing against those of us who chose to walk silently through the streets in Savita’s memory.
In recent years we have learned of the cruel horror of symphysiotomy, that horrific and unnecessary procedure that left so many women disabled for life. We learned about the tragedy of countless, unnecessary hysterectomies carried out in Drogheda by Dr. Michael Neary and his staff. Let us not forget the Blood Transfusion/Hep C scandal where hundreds of victims were dismissed and treated with incredible callousness by this State when our Minister for Health was Mr Michael Noonan. Over the past 3 decades we have gradually become aware of the criminal behaviour in Magdalene Laundries, where State agencies colluded with Religious Orders to lock up and exploit innocent young women, sometimes for life. Similar attitudes within Church and State Agencies led to the forced adoption of countless infants from all parts of Ireland. Despite all these tragedies and injustices we still live in a country that refuses to grant equal rights to women, that gives bail and short sentences to rapists, that allows a young woman to die in Galway rather then permit a life saving procedure because “this is a catholic country”.
What a contrasting picture was there to be witnessed in Ruán Magan’s riveting documentary “LIFERS” which was screened recently on RTE TV. A beautifully made film it followed the life’s work of three Irish Missionaries who have devoted their lives to the communities with whom they live. John Glynn from Clare has been 40 years in Papua New Guinea, Father Pat Brennan from Roscommon lives with the indigenous people of the Amazon Rain Forest in Brazil. Sister Patricia Murray lives amongst the poorest of people in South Sudan (the world’s youngest State). Ruán Magan, with great skill care and sensitivity, gave us an insight into their lives. We saw the horrendous difficulties under which their communities struggle. We were also shown the love and affection these oppressed communities hold for John Glynn, Pat Brennan and Patricia Murray. All three, despite living in different continents, have much in common. All three live in constant and extreme danger. Each have witnessed terrible violence and have seen colleagues cut down. No one of them is seeking to conquer or convert, to break or to brainwash. Their mission seems to be to Love, to Share and to Learn. I felt at one with John when he stated that the Hierarchy of his church appears to live on a different planet.
As children, we were forced to learn the catechism “parrot fashion” off by heart. I still recall how the liturgy fashioned itself as “one, holy, catholic and apostolic.”
Weeks passed and the vocals healed, thanks be. The re-scheduled gigs went off very well. Declan and I both enjoyed the performances. I went to hear Declan gig his new album at The Button Factory where he performed with Vicky Keating. Having sat beside Declan for a thousand gigs it was very interesting to sit out front watching and listening to him perform.
Work is progressing on the next album. I am going back into the studio next week to continue the process. I’m looking forward to hearing what the musicians will play.
There was a query on the sister site 4711ers.org enquiring about the set lists for the recent rescheduled gigs. Here they are…..
|1.How Long||After The Deluge|
|4.16 Jolly Ravers||Quiet Desperation|
|7.Tyrone Boys||Ruby Walsh|
|9.Quinte Brigada||Black Colour|
|13.Ordinary Man||Arthur’s Day|
|14.Quiet Desperation||Delirium Tremens|
|20.Smoke & Whiskey||Hattie Carroll|
|22.North & South||Where I come from|
|23.John O’ Dreams||Nancy Spain|
|24.Where I Come From||Yellow Furze Woman|
|27.Arthur’s Day||Irish Ways & Irish Laws|
|28.Ride On||Honda 50|
This arrived this morning from Maryline in Chile who translated the words of Joan Jara.
Interview Joan Jara, Santiago, Chile, January 2013
“I am 85 years and a half. I have four grandsons. No girl, no great-grandsons… well, the grandsons are a bit slow…
I live on my own in the same house I lived with Victor. I never got married again; I never had a fling since he died. To be a widow was terrible at first, I was like a zombie. Especially because I had to flee from Chile. Therefore, it was not only the loneliness; it was also missing Victor and missing everything around him.
I have been Victor’s representative for 40 years. It has not been a heavy backpack; on the contrary, it has defined my life before and after the Coup. I am grateful I had to carry this legacy, because it pushed me to overcome my grief and carry on.
Today I feel tired but I cannot let myself be tired while I receive so much support and solidarity from the people, more than I deserve. They show me their love for Victor, they kiss me, they hug me. So I cannot allow tiredness and I try to go ahead.
My favorite songs by Victor are Paloma quiero contarte (Dove I want to tell you) and Deja la vida volar (Let the life fly), they are the ones I feel the closest to. But I don’t listen to his songs at home: one of the reasons is that it makes me sad to listen to him on my own and the other is that I am a bit deaf now.
His hand. This is my most repetitive memory of Victor. I will never forget the first time he took my hand tentatively, very slowly as he did not know if I was going to respond well. And of course I did. Since that moment we never left each other.
The last time I saw him was on the morning of the 11th of September. He said “I’ll be back as soon as I can”. Before that we had listened to Allende’s speech on Radio Magallanes. He had called the University and decided to go, in spite of the threats that he had received. He was wearing a very nice black alpaca jumper that he had brought from Peru, and his black trousers. I looked at him through the window; he grabbed the petrol can and poured the few drops left onto the Renault 4 and left. When I went to identify him at the morgue a few days later he did not have the same clothes.
For a long time I had nightmares thinking they could steal Victor’s body. Today, I don’t have bad dreams anymore but I confess I don’t sleep well. I stay awake thinking of all the pending tasks to do in the Foundation, so many things to solve. I fear I will not be able to accomplish all that has to be done. Also, I don’t know how to make speeches and now with the 40th anniversary of his death I get nervous as I have to make them.
I have not had much faith in the legal results of Victor’s case. In spite of the professional and persisting work of the Human Rights Brigade of the PDI (Police of Investigation) and of the Forensic Office, I still don’t get how the Legal System really works. The latest events have opened a little door, I would not say hopes. A few weeks ago, the judge prosecuted 8 ex-Army officers, two presumed authors and six accomplices of his death. We’ll see what happens. I take it with calm. I am not celebrating.
I don’t expect the responsible will ask for my forgiveness. Also, I don’t think it would make any difference for them if I forgave them. I would not like to have any contact with them. I feel a bit of repulsion.
While Victor was alive I was cheerful. In this second life that I have lived I have become more introverted, sadder. I am not very funny, I am rather gloomy. If someone were to invite me for tea and to watch the soap on TV I would likely say no.
I don’t have many friends. I don’t teach dancing anymore and I have been narrowing my doors. My personal friends are related to what I do and represent. I don’t have friends who distract me of it all because they are all connected to Victor’s world.
I don’t mind being physically alone. All my life I feel I have been in the company of Victor. Also, he lives in the Foundation, which is full of posters, exhibitions. So much that I could say “Ah… I cannot escape from Victor”. I don’t know how his presence can be captured but I have always felt his love and affection. This has given me the strength to carry on.”
See you along the road if all goes well…
PS … Doing a bit of work in The Factory Recording Studio at the moment. It is located in a funky building on Barrow St. Lots of film and drama activity happens there and there is a creative buzz in the air. I was standing in the jax yesterday, minding my own business, when a poster caught my eye. It was from 1976 and was announcing an outdoor gig in Dalymount Park featuring Status Quo, Judas Priest and … Suddenly it dawned on me that I played that gig. Between Priest and Quo I played a set with Jimmy Faulkner, Declan McNelis and Philip Donnelly. Kevin Burke may have been there too. If memory serves no one paid the slightest bit of attention to our set. To say we died the death would be gilding the lily. The Festival was promoted by Pat Egan. We adjourned to the Artists Bar for soothing lotions and we were settling in nicely when all hell broke loose. Seemingly there existed bad blood between two of the Heavy Metal Crews and suddenly it all kicked off into the most amazing melee. We became extremely anxious as we had a table full of drink that needed protecting. When The Garda arrived we realised twas time to get out of Dalymount Park. We loaded up the Renault 4L and drove a half mile down to The Meeting Place where Red Peter’s Band were getting ready to blast off in the upstairs Lounge of those most agreeable premises. That day we played;
One Last Cold Kiss
Go Move Shift
Van Diemen’s Land
Home by Barna
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Here is a night to which we are looking forward …
On March 3rd a benefit concert will take place in Vicar Street in Dublin for guitarist and singer Henry McCullough who suffered a heart attack in November 2012 and has suffered permanent damage.
Henry started his music career with The Skyrockets and later Gene and the Gents in Enniskillen but came to prominence in the 60’s with his band The People later to be named Eire Apparent. They toured the world with The Animals, Pink Floyd and The Jimi Hendrix Experience. Things went well until, in Vancouver, Canada in mid February 1968 while the band was touring with The Animals, McCullough was busted for possession of marijuana and sent back to Ireland.
Henry returned to Ireland and joined the popular folk group Sweeney’s Men for a short time. Soon Henry was back in London as a member of The Joe Cocker Grease Band who was hugely successful worldwide, helped by a stunning performance at the Woodstock festival in 1969.
McCullough played on The Grease Band’s eponymous album after splitting with Cocker, and during his time with the Band he also appeared as lead guitarist on the original 1970 recording of Andrew Lloyd Webber and Tim Rice’s rock opera Jesus Christ Superstar.
In 1971 Paul McCartney asked Henry to join his post Beatles band Wings and his ad lib solo on the song My Love is considered one of the great guitar solos.
Henry spent 2 years in the band but quit Wings in 1973 and went on to play in The Frankie Miller Band before recording his first solo album for George Harrison’s Dark Horse label. Sessions with Marianne Faithfull, Donovan, Spooky Tooth, Eric Burdon and Dr. Feelgood, among many others, followed.
In the mid 80’s Henry returned to Dublin and joined The Fleadh Cowboys before resuming his solo career and writing and recording a number of records. His song Failed Christian was covered by Nick Lowe.
Up until his heart attack Henry was gigging regularly with his band from Northern Ireland and The Ed Deane Band in the South.
Sweeney’s Men are coming together for only the second time in decades to perform on this show. The Fleadh Cowboys are playing together for the first time since 2011
SALUTE TO HENRY
CHRISTY MOORE & DECLAN SINNOTT
THE FLEADH COWBOYS
ALAN MURPHY (SCOTLAND)
ED DEANE BAND
SARA PETITE (USA)
TICKETS AVAILABLE FROM TICKETMASTER – CLICK HERE