Press and Reviews
Sept 2001 RTE Guide - Passion and Peeves
Since my daughter Eve was born almost three years ago my passion for life has unfolded. She's at an age now when she has just mastered the art of conversation. She comes out with lines like "Daddy what's a planet?", or even "Daddy look at this ladybird, it's so pretty!"
I am suddenly starting to see the world through the eyes of a child. Everything is "why?" and it makes me question so many things I take for granted. Her sense of innocence and confidence about the world seems unlimited and I worry about the day when I have to explain and protect her against the darker side of life's reality.
Music obviously plays a big part in my life and she seems to have picked up on this. She's sometimes in my studio in the house just watching me playing guitar or listening to music. Lately I was listening to "It Ain't Me Babe" which she instantly took a liking to. Some time later I asked her who her favourite singer was, and I was thinking secretly that it was going to be me. She replied "Bob Dylan".
Nothing could ever have prepared me for the moment when I first heard her singing "Lucky Star", one of my more recent songs. She was just after her bath and humming in her bed before sleep, when the melody came out so sweetly, just like she was singing the Tweenies song. I felt really elevated!
Along with the joys there are also the tears. Eve has sometimes found it difficult to cope with my lifestyle as a touring musician. Several times as I have prepared to leave for a gig or a tour she spots the signs - the bag packed or the guitar case in the hall. The tears start - she wants to come with me.
I explained to her that this was my work and after buying her a child-size guitar of her own I said that when she could sing and play a few songs on the guitar, she could come with me. Little did I know. On leaving for my last tour in Ireland, with the van loaded, I called upstairs to Eve to say goodbye. She quickly appeared on the landing in her pyjamas with one yellow welly on the wrong foot and her guitar in hand saying "Daddy I'm ready and I'm coming too".
PEEVE A HAON
Maxi, one of my peeves is that being a vegetarian is perceived as a hassle. Some people still believe you only eat a lettuce leaf, wear open sandals and go on walking holidays. I suppose where I want vegetarianism to be is more a mainstream choice. It drive me nuts to go to a restaurant and choose the vegetable soup only to spot the floating bubbles of the chicken stock on the top, or to be offered the vegetarian option on the menu, which is the main course without the meat.
I still find it funny when people say I'm also a vegetarian, I only eat fish or chicken! For me, I sum it up quite easily - "I don't eat anything with a mother or a face!"
It would be somehow unfaithful of me not to mention music as a passion. I remember when I was about fifteen and Tom, my brother, came back from College with music tapes that I had never heard before. "A Case Of You", sung by Joni Mitchell awoke a real passion in me - the purity of her voice and her words and phrases somehow opened some secret door inside me. Right at that moment I knew that if there was anything I was going to do with my life in some way it would be connected with music and writing.
Tom, without knowing it, introduced me to a whole new world of Jackson Browne, Joan Baez, Crosby, Stills, Nash and Young. I remember also the power and anger of Richie Havens' song, "Freedom". The soul and emotion that he could convey, even without the visual. Little did I know then that fifteen years later, not only would I perform on stage with him in London, but also he would record one of my songs, "Paradise Is A Hard Place To Find"!
Maxi, song writing is now part of my soul. The biggest buzz I get is when I can touch someone in the audience, a stranger to me, yet bound by the words I have written.
I really notice lately the changes in Ireland and I know a lot of it is really positive - Celtic Tiger and all that. But I also see massive cultural changes. At the best of times I suffer from paranoia (a condition familiar to most musicians) but is our island turning into a 'Little America'?
It's all the change in language and concepts and signs for Retail Parks, Chill Out Bars and Drive Ins. The move away from villages and towns into faceless mega stores, where the Malls rule OK. Maybe I am being too precious about this but it peeves me that we are starting to lose whatever it is that makes us uniquely Irish. The stuff that in the past protected us against the naked consumerism that one finds in America and the UK
I remember as a child going out for the Sunday drive, down to the lake or the 'look-out' as it was known locally, and that was the highlight of our week. Now it seems every day is nearly the same, with retail therapy replacing the Sunday drive. Are we going to get to a stage in Ireland, as it is in America, where it's shop till you drop 24/7? Oh maybe I just get scared that the new generation will embrace only the glitz found in the retail and theme parks. But then hey, as I said, I'm just paranoid!