When Musicians Converse

So I actually left this house for a change after all these months of depression, helplessness, and no creativity whatsoever so as to travel to Cologne and see Lisa Hannigan perform live at Studio 672. While it was good to leave the house for a while, the place could not have been smaller and more awkwardly crowded. Standing shoulder to shoulder with dozens of strangers sweating like hound dogs in tiny spaces with nowhere to move is usually the kind of situation I try to avoid, but there I stood, and I thought to myself, ’What the hell, let’s get this over with.’ My feet hurt a little, yet all in all it was worth while. A different band than all these years accompanied Lisa, yet the performance was lovely – only the local sound system could have been better. After the concert there actually was an opportunity to meet and talk to Lisa, so I waited until everyone save me had left and thanked Lisa for motivating me to start playing the guitar again, which I had quit altogether for a couple of years since the music kept reminding me of someone of whom I no longer wished to think. This little conversation between two musicians revealed that this down-to-earth woman actually has much more interesting and intelligent things to say than in any given interview with her. The latter have always made her look a little stupid and empty-headed, although that may be my impression alone. I suppose it depends upon your specific statements and questions. Fret not, dear readers, though, I am not going to waste everyone’s time by reproducing the entire conversation here – suffice it to say it was a private conversation about our personal relationships to music in general and songwriting in particular.

A Musical Recommendation: Lisa Hannigan

Exploring the music produced by the UCD Choral Scholars under Desmond Early brought me to exploring the music played by Zoë Conway and Drew McIntyre. Similarly, exploring the music played by the latter made me discover Lisa Hannigan’s music. Lisa is an Irish singer-songwriter and has a very light and free demeanour, while at the same time her music is somewhat unconventional and she performs it passionately, without any artificial flavour. I wish to share this experience with you today with a small selection of videos:



Bríd Óg Ní Mháille

As I admitted elsewhere, traditional Irish music calls to me, as though it touched the very essence of my being. This traditional tune, Bríd Óg Ní Mháille, is, however, not only heart-wrenching if you know what the lyrics mean and connect them to the music, it may as well completely destroy you. It most certainly did destroy me.
There is also another modern version of this by the group The Corrs, but I prefer this version. To be sure, this is a matter of personal preference. Since I am not (yet) fluent in Gaeilge, I am simply going to provide a link to the lyrics here. I do not claim any rights or correctness thereof, both as to the original lyrics in Gaeilge and the English translation.
Now I shall leave you to the incredible beauty and sadness of this song.

A Musical Recommendation: UCD Choral Scholars

If you like choral music, and traditional Irish music specifically, you should definitely listen to anything the UCD Choral Scholars produce under Desmond Earley.
I discovered their works just a few weeks ago and have been listening to them ever since almost every day. Just to give a few examples, the mezzo-soprano solo (Marie Woulfe) in this piece goes right through me (in a positive manner, that is to say):

And seldom, if ever, you get to hear such a vibrant, clear tenor as this one (Glenn Murphy) with non-professional singers:


Belonging to the latest but, it is to be hoped, not the last productions, this piece’s lyrics are written in one of the most beautiful languages in the world, Gaeilge (Irish Gaelic):

Curse Humankind

Woke up in my grave today
I dreamed I heard you say
All of eternity was pain
I laid my head back down again

[…]

Out of the night comes a song that I know
Twisted and ruined and black
I can remember the people they were
Nobody knows if they ever come back

Lost in the ashes of time they still sting
Echoes of romance gone bad
I can remember them better than you
I shared the nightmare they had

[…]

(Motörhead: ‘Dead and Gone’; We Are Motörhead, CMC International, 2000)

When you see the devil, then you’re looking for relief
And there is no justice, keep your tongue between your teeth
You can be the devil, but you cannot count the cost
All your time is wasted, all your love is lost

The name, the name’s the same
The name – play the game

You can never be the one, you can never be the one
When you know all your love is gone

[…]

You will never know the truth, you will never know the truth
We both know you will never look

What you have is yours, my friend
You will never see the end
All your future gone to hell
All your past and empty shell

You can’t keep your secret self
Safe inside a broken shelf
You are not the Antichrist
You are not the Lord of Flies

You are not important now
You are not the one to dread
Everybody, everybody

The name, the name’s the game

(Motörhead: ‘Wake the Dead’; We Are Motörhead, CMC International, 2000)

Politics suck, you’ll be shit out of luck
If you ever mess with the methods they use
No way to doubt, three strikes you’re out
You against them, it’s your freedom you lose

Nobody questions the law
Nobody questions the man
Nobody cares ‘cos nobody knows where
We go to so we can kick out the jams

Hey what the hell, you know yourself well
Get back to your honor and pride
Time for some slamming, time for some jamming
Take us away from the snare of their lies

[…]

We’re on the run, we’re under the gun
Sneaking and hiding away from the sun
Breaking the law, don’t know what for
Our generation is made up of whores

Get out of town, get out of jail
Nobody here gonna make us our bail
Don’t really care that my life isn’t fair
Hard on your head in the electric chair

Out of your mind, deaf, dumb, and blind
Don’t know how people can be so unkind
Grown up too soon, grown up too soon
Too many wolves looking up at the moon

(Motörhead: ‘(Wearing Your) Heart On Your Sleeve’; We Are Motörhead, CMC International, 2000)

There is no escape. Feed the machine, or be fed to it. Of course, you can turn over the system. You can turn it over indefintely. But the course of history proves beyond a shadow of a doubt that, in the end, the status quo will always be restored, regardless of whatever precautions you may take. The problem is not that it were impossible per se to build another world. The problem is that the majority of humankind is easily fooled and contents itself with the little it is sometimes given by the wealthy and powerful. Most people are easily lulled to sleep and into a false sense of security. They easily and soon get tired of thinking for themselves and fighting against opposing powers. Thus, step by step, the status quo can be restored each time the system is turned over. Let it therefore echo from the pillars of time through all of history, both past, present, and future, that I feel nothing save contempt for humankind.