Sunday, March 16, 2008

Everyday is Like Sunday, Except for Blue Monday and Ruby Tuesday, and...Well, Friday I'm in Love: Weekly Mix #8

It was inevitable. If I made a St. David's Day mix a couple weeks ago, I had to make a St. Patrick's Day mix for today. Strangely enough, I discovered I didn't own nearly as much Irish music as I thought I did. Music that came from Irish descendants, yes. Music that may sound like it could be Irish, yes. But music that actually came from Irish people, not as much. Unlike others making St. Patrick's Day mixes, I didn't want to include bands with Irish ties but which didn't actually come from Ireland. So, you won't find Flogging Molly or Dropkick Murphys. That would be making my life too easy. You're all lucky that I didn't get tired and didn't just throw in tracks by Daniel O'Donnell and Ronan Keating.

I've been to Ireland once (during that famous backpacking trip around Europe in 2003), but I would like to go back and see more of it. I only managed to get to Dublin, nearby Dun Laoghaire, and Sligo. And I will admit that my experience of Ireland is heavily coloured by the raging sinus infection I had at the time. Dublin is a blur of painkillers and kleenex. I vaguely remember going to the museum and viewing Egyptian artifacts and an interesting exhibit on the IRA (as interested as I am in Welsh history, I've also always had quite an interest in "The Troubles"). I think I also walked along the shoreline in Dun Laoghaire in a medicated haze. Oh yeah, and I also remember being pelted by rocks by small Irish children. I enjoyed Sligo and Sligo County more despite having to take an afternoon off to sleep in the hostel. I still remember the sympathetic look from the guy behind the counter in a Sligo sandwich shop - I appreciated it considering I looked like Rudolph with the pox. By taking a bus tour, I saw the Isle of Innisfree, the Carrowmore megalithic cemetery, Dolly's Cottage, and the Holy Well, interspersed with rattling along in the bus listening to Yeats's poetry over the PA system. Unfortunately, my only experience of Northern Ireland was the ferry port in Belfast, but I hope to get back there one day.

As far as Irish music firsthand, I only got to experience some rather authentic Irish music in a Dublin pub. My awareness of popular Irish music probably began with U2 since my dad was a fan - in retrospect, as a child, I obviously didn't know much about U2 as an entity and I liked what I heard from Joshua Tree (give me a break, I was a kid). Once I got a little older, I went back to the earlier albums of U2 and found several of their political songs appealing. Although I don't particularly listen to U2 much anymore, I still think their first few albums were much better than the ridiculous caricature they became by the end of the '80s. Back then, U2 was just another idealistic young band trying to say something important and get famous in the process - not such a different story from many of the bands I admire. So, I did include U2 on this mix, but I made sure it was an early track that reminded me of their post-punk roots and not overblown arena shows and Bono's messiah complex.

From U2 as a child, on to my discovery of Irish music as a teenager. When I was about fourteen, I first heard I Don't Like Mondays by The Boomtown Rats and Teenage Kicks by The Undertones, and I recall quite liking them, prompting me to seek out other music of that period (once again, at the time, I didn't know Bob Geldof's more recent history and the fact he didn't really ever have another hit). When I was eighteen and living and working in Northeast England, I first heard Ash, watching the video for Girl From Mars on TV. From there on in, I became an Ash fan, and sometime after that, I found JJ72, a Dublin band fronted by a cherubic boy with a childlike voice that could explode into shrill beauty. Unfortunately, JJ72 disbanded after two albums, but singer, Mark Greaney, has now moved on in a band called Concerto for Constantine whilst bassist Sarah Fox joined industrial rock band Lluther. In adulthood, I got into The Pogues, My Bloody Valentine, Whipping Boy, and several others. However, I'm still surprised that there aren't more Irish artists in my collection. If anyone out there knows of a particularly great Irish band or artist, I would love to hear about it.

All in all, this is a mix of well-known and not-so-well-known Irish artists from my collection. Admittedly, I'm not much of a Van Morrison fan, but I figured he should be included in an Irish mix. I would also like to acknowledge that I'm probably the only person in the world who liked Snow Patrol's Final Straw album more than their latest because Chasing Cars just doesn't seem to have an effect on me - thus, I included an earlier song on the mix. Also, you can't get much more Irish than Gavin Friday singing a duet with actor, Cillian Murphy, for the Breakfast on Pluto soundtrack. I wish I had some more traditional Celtic music to add to the mix, but it will have to wait until next year. Regardless of my apparently meagre Irish music collection, I think Ireland is a country filled with art, history and beauty - had this been a literature blog, I would have had an endless list. (I don't need people thinking that I hold my sinus infection against an entire nation.) I'm going to call this mix Hear Me, I'm Irish.

No comments: