It’s nowhere near St Patrick’s Day but I have decided to go green. Full on green. I have made the RAndom executive decision to call Irish Week. Yep, I am jumping on the Armitage bandwagon. Assuming that people are following his progress from Hannibal/Toronto to Pilgrimage/Ireland and unashamedly exploiting the fact that the fandom and subsequently my readership may be receptive to anything that relates to Mr A’s current
or soon whereabouts, I’ll dress this up as an Ireland 102 for Armitage’s information, if that makes it less tentative. But ok, I admit – it’s pretty OT. Sure, it’ll be grand, though? I really just want to gush about the wonderful country that is/will be hosting Mr A. After initial notes on language, customs and interaction, I’ve identified a few topics I’d like to post on. Music. Film. Literature. Landscape. History. But I’ll keep it light and fluffy. Let’s start with music. Hello Jazz, I am branching into your field here, sorry.
A little introductory note: The impact of Irish artists on contemporary music is quite astonishing considering that this little Atlantic island has only 4.5 million inhabitants. It’s legendary musical success (most successful participant in the Eurovision song contest with a total of seven wins, two of them in a row 1993 and 1994!
ok yeah, that might actually speak *against* Irish music…) may have got something to do with the English language, contemporary music being dominated by English-speaking artists and lyrics. But it can’t be just fluke that Ireland has produced critically acclaimed artists such as Rory Gallager, Thin Lizzy, U2, The Undertones, The Pogues, The Blades, My Bloody Valentine, The Frames, as well as a host of popular bands over the years – The Corrs, The Cranberries, Aslan, Westlife, Ash, Boyzone, The Hothouse Flowers, The Boomtown Rats, Bell x1, Snow Patrol. The music scene is alive and vibrant here, and there are plenty of young artists and bands out and about that are worth listening to: Delorentos, Fight Like Apes, Ham Sandwich, Kodaline, Two Door Cinema Club, Riptide Movement, The Frank and Walters – and Hozier…
We know that Mr A is a musically inclined man and likes to put a playlist together to help him get into the mood of his chaRActers. Where will this take him with Pilgrimage? Haunting Celtic melodies? Esoteric whale sounds? Melodic rock? Folksy diddly-eye? I have yet to see any folk material in his listening choices – he seems to prefer either (modern) classical or firmly contemporary music – but in the case of Ireland he will have a wide choice of material and genres to choose from. I’ve put together a few suggestions for Mr A what to put on his Pilgrimage Playlist, from the haunting to the folksy to the fast-paced rocky. Hope you’ll enjoy.
I’ll start with an eternal favourite of mine, now 30
feckin’ years old. Clannad with Bono – In a Lifetime. Haunting Irish feel to it, which the video nicely enhances with the dark, eerie landscape of the Atlantic North of Ireland. It was filmed in Co. Donegal, the county in the North Western corner of Ireland.
It’s not quite thriller-ish enough for a medieval monk chase movie, check Clannad’s “Theme for Harry’s Game” which has a bit more threat and ambiguity in it (it accompanied an ITV drama about the Troubles in Northern Ireland and is therefore suitably dark).
Bono provides a nice transition to my next choice. No way you could have an Irish playlist without U2. I love the eerie melancholia of “October” but again, on its own a bit too slow for something that is supposed to accompany a film of action and violence. The combo in this clip from the legendary Red Rock concert in 1983 *eeeek* comes closer to what I have in mind. Maybe a bit too “major”, though?
Christ on a bike! Bono so young! His screams still get me… Under a blood red sky… (oh, and the bum&thigh shots *eeeek*)
If we are talking traditional music in Ireland, btw, I’d stay away from the the diddly-eye, fiddly-tinkly-ho type and go for sean-nós (literally “old style”). I’ve heard this described as “primitive” – I find it the opposite, very ornamented, very complex. Bonus: You’ll hear the Irish language:
Traditionally sung unaccompanied. Mainly lullabies and laments, suiting the harsh life of the Irish through the ages. And still a bit too slow for our purposes, even if it clearly evokes Ireland. I cannot listen to sean-nós without pictures of looming green mountains and brown bogs in my mind.
Back to contemporary rock. Next comes a band that I recommend to Mr A particularly warmly. For many
good reasons. The Frames are the most underrated, undeservedly internationally unrecognized Irish band. Earthy tunes combined with great song-writing, very home-turf, fronted by Glen Hansard who won the Academy Award for Best Original Song in 2007 with “Falling Slowly” from his BAFTA-winning film “Once” (in which he acted and for which he wrote the music). Oh, which song to choose – “Lay Me Down”, “Perfect Opening Line”, “Santa Maria”, they all have resonance. I’ll go for “Revelate” for the frightful chanting “redeem yourself”, the harsh rock and the nod to folk via the fiddle solo, rooting it all clearly in Ireland.
I could go on and on. But I better finish up. Here’s my last recommendation – the most promising of all current Irish newcomers, Little Green Cars. Bonus: Video was filmed in the Burren, a stark, eerie landscape on the Atlantic coast not far from the current locations, and a curragh, the traditional Irish rowing boat that Weber and Holland were practicing in, makes an appearance. Little Green Cars evidently had a “soft day” when they were filming the video – grey, wet, cold. Welcome to Ireland, Mr A 😀
Call me Ciontach Ni ‘Pléisiúir (Guylty,
Daughter of Pleasure) for the rest of the week 😀