Today, I’d like to welcome best-selling Irish author Roisin Meaney to *DOSBBIS Island with her five musical choices.
Since I’m an Irish colleen (or cailín, if you want to spell it like we do) I thought I’d share with you my Irish top 5, as in songs sung by, if not written by, Irish people. Some might be familiar, some definitely won’t be. The last you’ll all know – and no, it’s not Danny Boy. Stop scrolling down and pay attention. For the size of our little land, we’re stuffed with musical talent that straddles every genre from classic rock through folk and traditional to heavy metal and jazz and pop – and we’ve even invented a few genres of our own, like Celtic rock and Paddypunk (OK, I made that last one up) – so my work was cut out for me, but I’ve whittled away like mad, and here goes.
Mystic Lipstick was written by Jimmy McCarthy, one of our most respected and prolific songwriters. He generally doesn’t sing them himself – he wouldn’t have the best voice in the world – but he usually manages to place them in some very safe hands, like Maura O’Connell’s – and if you like this one, check out The Contender, another of Jimmy’s gems.
The first time I heard this song, Sean Keane was singing it. One day my mother came into my house when it was playing. ‘That’s a Beatles song,’ she said. I thought she’d finally gone gaga. No chance: at 85 she’s still far more lucid than I ever was, am or will be. I do like Sean’s version, though (get the gorgeous flute solo in the middle).
Van Morrison is known as Van the Man. He comes from Northern Ireland and he’s probably the closest thing to a rock star that we have. He’s famously taciturn at his concerts and he’s not blessed with good looks, but he’s been shacked up with an ex-Miss Ireland for years. And the man can write songs, and sing em. Moondance is one of his most well-known hits from a long and very, very prolific career.
I love Mary Coughlan. She’s the quintessential bad girl – or she used to be. These days the flame-haired Galway girl is somewhat reformed – on the wagon, not stealing other women’s husbands – but she still belts out other people’s jazzy numbers. Ice Cream Man is one of my favourites from her brazen, gutsy, sexy interpretations – and if you like it too, check out her rendition of Seduced.
This is a bit of a cheat. As far as I know, and despite his name, George Frideric O’Handel wasn’t Irish (although as far as I know, it’s never been categorically ruled out) but you may not be aware that The Messiah was first performed in St Patrick’s Cathedral, Dublin in 1742. Yup, we’re talking world premiere here. And I managed to find an Irish choir performing, on a Dublin street, the only section that I could possibly include here, seeing as how it’s almost December (or maybe it’s already December, if Nettie drags her feet about putting his up). I chose this particular version not for its professionalism (it’s not very) but for the wonderful enthusiasm of the singing and the audience participation. I wonder if it’s only in Ireland that the audience gets to its feet when the Hallelujah Chorus begins, and remains there for the duration. At any rate, enjoy in whatever position you choose to adopt, and have a very Happy Christmas xx
*DOSBBIS Deserted Off Season But Busy In Summer