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A Different View

Singsongs and noble calls will rarely hit the right key

Dave O'Connell

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A Different View with Dave O’Connell

It’s great to hear Finbar Furey back at the top of the charts – because a new song from the oul’ warbler gives the inebriated entertainers of Ireland a new tune to murder during the dregs of a Saturday night session.

That’s no disrespect to Finbar, who is – to use that oft-abused phrase – a living legend. And his chosen song from the surprisingly addictive RTE series, the Hit, is a classic in the making.

He took a song written twenty years ago by a fellow Dub, Gerry Fleming, and polished it into a work of art that, despite the same words and lyrics, sounded completely different in his inimitable hands.

The Last Great Love Song, which hit the top of the Irish charts at the weekend, instantly sounded like it had been around for a hundred years and it may well be around for another hundred – which is to Finbar’s credit.

He is a unique talent, and there is a legion of folk legends who list him as one of the great influences and originators of the genre as we know it – but even Finbar himself would never claim that he had the musical range of more than one key.

Which is one of the many reasons that his repertoire has endured through the decades – because songs like the Green Fields of France or even the Fields of Athenry or Raglan Road or Dublin in the Rare Oul’ Times (I know the Fureys can’t be held responsible for most of those) don’t require a huge vocal range to batter to death in a singsong.

All it takes is an ability to shout with feeling – a talent that most of us find comes naturally to us after a couple of pints.

If you can’t even manage that, then choose a song that everyone can shout at the same time – any rebel song that mentions Black and Tans is always good and late at night anything that calls for a united Ireland is a sure-fire winner every time.

So the secret for bad singers is to pick a song you can shout – and if your own shouting is not enough, pick one that everyone else can shout along to with you.

That said, this is infinitely better than the alternative…..karaoke, and in particular that old staple that so many women in particular seem to think should be their party piece – the Wind Beneath My Wings.

Experience will teach you that this can often seem palatable – almost tuneful – until it gets to the point where Bette Midler moved into a different gear with that elongated ‘Fly’ part of the song….a wonderful evocative moment when it’s sung by a professional.

But placed in the hands of a pub singer with a misguided sense of their own ability, it’s as deadly as a grenade with the pin out in the hands of a mad Mullah from the Middle East.

It can have all the tunefulness of a canine mating call that will summon dogs for miles around, while leaving the audience itself with the sort of recurring tinnitus that once earned our UN veterans a small fortune in compensation for army deafness.

Pub talent competitions should carry a health warning – or at least offer plugs for your ears – because rarely in any other aspect of life will you get that level of delusion.

I can still hear one woman who sang the Roberta Flack classic Killing Me Softly without realising for a minute how apt the tite was – although one could dispute that killing was a soft one, from the audience’s perspective.

For more, read this week’s Connacht Tribune.

Connacht Tribune

Saw Doctors – 30 years turning the ordinary into extraordinary

Dave O'Connell

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You know you’re getting older when you doze off during the evening news and you wake up during Reeling in the Years – and you can no longer see the joins between one and the other.

It was the same sort of feeling last week when the Saw Doctors marked the 30th anniversary of the day I Useta Lover topped the Irish charts. Could it really be that long ago? Were our glory days now consigned to history?

Times flies, whether you’re having fun or not – and yet, when you see it as 1990, it doesn’t seem so long ago at all.

The Saw Doctors were the soundtrack to our younger days; pure Galway voices singing songs about Red Cortinas and Presentation Boarders, Clare Island and the N17; finding the extraordinary in the ordinary.

Their detractors dismissed their music as agri-pop, but they just missed the point. Bruce Springsteen built a career singing about Asbury Park – so why not a Galway band singing about Galway?

Of course they’re not to everyone’s taste and that’s fine, but to dismiss them as irrelevant is a different thing; they never played a gig that didn’t send the crowd home happy.

Even now, ten seconds into I Useta Lover and you’re smiling because they caught the symbolism of simple things in a way that few have before or since.

They weren’t just a Galway band – not least because about half of them weren’t from Galway – and they weren’t just an Irish band. I’ve seen them play in parts of the UK where the Irish haven’t a foothold and yet the crowd got them.

Because they knew how to entertain and have the craic – but they were also deadly serious about their art.

Read the full column in this week’s Connacht Tribune.

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Connacht Tribune

Ironing out those creases for one last and final time

Dave O'Connell

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Dave O'Connell

A Different View with Dave O’Connell

I was ironing our eldest son’s tee-shirts for the last time on Sunday night, and watching the telly as a young Sinead O’Connor, resplendent with those big eyes and a buzz cut, was singing Nothing Compares 2 U on The Late Late Show, back in 1990.

This was the last time, because, at the age of 22, he’s finally moving out – not emigrating or even leaving Galway, but living away from home for the first time nonetheless.

There was no great symmetry to the fact that the soundtrack to the ironing was LLS highlights from back in Gaybo’s day, because Cian wasn’t even born for another nine years after Sinéad was number one.

But I do remember the first time I ironed anything belonging to him. It was half-a-dozen tiny vests and baby-grows that were too small to turn an iron in. All of them dried on one radiator.

He wasn’t even home from Holles Street then, but he was going through these tiny outfits like Imelda Marcos used to go through shoes.

Then, as now, there wasn’t really any point in ironing his clothes – only, for some inexplicable reason, I kind of liked doing it.

Coming from a generation who pressed their jeans – on the seams, in my defence; not with a frontal cease – I think this ironing obsession caused more embarrassment than appreciation over the years.

Over the years, we graduated from the tiny vests and baby-grows to the trousers will frontal fasteners and – as training advanced – to those big-boy dungarees that only opened by unfastening the straps.

You can signpost some of the big occasions through ironing; the shirt for the First Communion, Confirmation, Debs; the suit-trousers for similar days.

For more, read this week’s Connacht Tribune.

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The Connacht Tribune Live app is the home of everything that is happening in Galway City and county. It’s completely FREE and features all the latest news, sport and information on what’s on in your area. Click HERE to download it for iPhone and iPad from Apple’s App Store, or HERE to get the Android Version from Google Play.

 

 

 

 

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Connacht Tribune

New rules may only add to the strain when you take the train

Dave O'Connell

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Dave O'Connell

A Different View with Dave O’Connell

There’s an old notion about adversity being the mother of opportunity – providing a chance to force through regulations that, in any other circumstances, might quickly bite the dust.

And that might go some way to explaining the diktat from the Welsh Government to its country’s bus and train users last week.

On foot of that, from now on, there is to be no more running for the bus or train; no more singing on them either if you make it on; no more eating, drinking, talking on the mobile or reading newspapers – unless you do it in complete monastic silence.

Some of it makes sense of course in the current climate, but more of it just tackles age-old irritations.

It’s true that nobody likes a loudmouth three rows up who is giving a running commentary down the phone – either about their journey (“we’re passing through some ghost town in Hicksville now”) or on their adventures last weekend.

We’ve all sat there, forced to endure the backstory to an event that didn’t last half as long as the analysis, when we’re just trying to mind our own business or read a book or the paper.

When you were still allowed to read the paper.

Equally, we’ve all been stuck beside someone with a particular penchant for Pringles or for extra-strong cheese and onion, where the smell is only surpassed by the cracking of the crisps themselves – invariably through a wide-open gob.

We’ve all tried to move to another carriage when a hen party jumps on board and attempts to regale one and all with off-key version of Sweet Caroline and the tribulations of Living Next Door to Alice.

So, thumbs up to our Celtic cousins for using Covid to tackle some of the great problems of our time.

But the reality is that most people on a bus or train immediately slap on the headphones or earbuds, and listen to music or watch a movie – bothering nobody until they reach their destination.

For more, read this week’s Connacht Tribune.

Get the Connacht Tribune Live app

The Connacht Tribune Live app is the home of everything that is happening in Galway City and county. It’s completely FREE and features all the latest news, sport and information on what’s on in your area. Click HERE to download it for iPhone and iPad from Apple’s App Store, or HERE to get the Android Version from Google Play.

 

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