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Sunday Spotlight: Weapon of Mass Seduction

November 29th, 2009 No comments

WMD are back in the news again, like a synthpop band (War-mongering Manoeuvres in the Dark?) from the Cold War days reforming for a comeback tour and a new album for the twenty-first century. Under the spotlight this week is a song that takes a lot of the language of the current Gulf War and reclaims it in the language of love. Like swords into ploughshares – killing words into loving words.

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Sunday Spotlight: Don’t Fall Again

November 15th, 2009 No comments

This week I point my spotlight on a rather private song I wrote in 1987. It was born out of the shock of hearing that my flatmate George had suffered quite a serious fall, smashing his elbow in the process.

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In my second and third years as a student in Edinburgh, I shared a flat with the same 3 friends. Two years is like an eternity when you’re 19 and 20, so we became a really close-knit bunch. We shared our flats in Tollcross and Marchmont with a couple of canine flatmates: Acorn and Ember. So regular dog-walking trips to the Meadows, the Hermitage of Braid and Blackford Hill.

Blackford Hill, Edinburgh

Blackford Hill, Edinburgh, scene of the falling incident 22 years previously

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Sunday Spotlight: The Chicken Song

November 8th, 2009 1 comment

For my Sunday Spotlight this week, I’m going right back to my songwriting beginnings with a song that was born back in 1985 on a Friday night in Kelly’s Cellars, Belfast. It wouldn’t be accurate to claim it as one of my songs as it was a spontaneous collaboration – a blues number that sort of wrote itself between a bunch of 18-year olds out for a bit of a laugh with a few pints and a sing song. For me, it became a fun song to belt out when the mood was right and it has endured in my repertoire down through the years.

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Sunday Spotlight: Blind Spot of Denial

November 1st, 2009 No comments

In the spotlight this week is a song I wrote just over a year ago when I travelled to Edinburgh for a weekend with a group from my East Clare football club, Mixed Bag United. The football was over and I was enjoying the last evening of the weekend, touring a few of my favourite pubs with one of the other Mixed Bag players.

Lyrics | No studio recording for this one, but I’ve got this video shot in November 2008 as part of the “Hats Challenge”, which was just a bit of fun on YouTube involving hats and songs.
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Sunday Spotlight: Napoleon’s Nose

October 24th, 2009 1 comment

In the spotlight this week is a song I wrote in my student days in 1987. Napoleon’s Nose was a deliberate attempt to add a “happy” song to my repertoire. Many people complained that I always seemed to be singing sad songs. Maybe learning Dick Gaughan’s A Different Kind of Love Song would have been a more appropriate response, as the sad songs are the best, aren’t they? But secretly I longed to sing the odd happy love song and I also thought it would be nice to have a happy song that was a celebration of my home town, Belfast, in some way. And so, Napoleon’s Nose was born.

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Napoleon's Nose / McArt's Fort / Cave Hill / Ben Madigan, Belfast

Napoleon’s Nose / McArt’s Fort / Cave Hill / Ben Madigan, Belfast

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Sunday Spotlight: Smokey Stoor of Scariff

October 18th, 2009 3 comments

This is the first in a series of articles taking a look at songs I have written down through the years. So have a listen to the song and I’ll write a bit about the background and the inspiration for writing it.

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First up is Smokey Stoor of Scariff, a song I wrote in 2002 shortly after I arrived in East Clare, about Scariff’s chipboard factory. Like many people coming to live in and around Scariff the Finsa factory came as a bit of shock. If the wind is blowing in your direction the sight and smell of the fumes is unmissable. Like most “blow-ins” to the area, my hippy tendencies were outraged by what seemed like obvious pollution and health concerns. However when you talk to the local population, the majority see the factory as the huge employer it is in the town and one that has helped their families through grim times, past and present. Read more…