This is my first record of new songs since Hooba Dooba back in 2010. It’s been rattling around me for the past three or four years. In that time I released the ‘Paul Brady Anthology’ and ‘The Vicar Street Sessions’ so I wasn’t doing nothing.. but I wanted to take my time with a new record. The record business was changing drastically over that period anyway and for a time I was, like many other artists, wondering was there any point in putting out an album at all.
Even so, I was writing and recording all that time at my own place in Dublin. Since I still wasn’t sure if what I was putting down would ever come out, I just kept doing it for fun at my own pace, being recording engineer, playing most of the instruments myself and not thinking of it as for an album. I’ve never liked the pressure of booking musicians to make a record in a set period. It takes time for me to understand what I want from a song. Often in those situations, because I have to commit myself to what’s going on at the moment, I can end up, when I get some distance from it, with something that is not really what I intended. I didn’t want that this time.
This time there are nine new songs and two traditional folk songs. Three I wrote with Paul Muldoon, five with Sharon Vaughn and one with Ralph Murphy.
The Muldoon co-writes were a major sideways move for me. Paul is one of Ireland’s best loved poets and his poetry always interested and excited me. I knew he had co-written songs before with, among others, Warren Zevon and when he started sending me song lyrics I was excited to find out what I could bring to them. What was really good for me was that he wasn’t precious about his input. When I had the musical shape of a song together and it seemed to suggest additional lyrics, or even to lose some, he was happy for me to finish things off.
Sharon Vaughn and I have always enjoyed writing together. On my 2005 album ‘Say What You Feel’ we wrote ‘Don’t Try To Please Me’, ‘Sail Sail On’ and ‘The You That’s Really You’. We always come up with a bunch of ‘keepers’ when we get together. This time I had a pile of tunes and one or two unfinished lyrics. In two days we had written four songs. The fifth came soon after. Sharon is a much loved member of the Nashville Songwriters’ Hall of Fame and it was a thrill to write with her.
Ralph Murphy and I have written several songs over the years. On ‘Hooba Dooba’ we wrote ‘One More Today’. ‘Once In A Lifetime’ on this record is another. It’s one of my favourites. My grand daughter Lyra loves singing it!
There are two traditional songs. ‘Lord Thomas And Fair Ellender’ I’ve sung forever since I heard it sung by Mike Seeger from The New Lost City Ramblers back in the 60s. I recorded it once before in The Johnstons in 1970. I just wanted to sing it again. This time I have the pleasure of Andy Irvine on harmonica and mandolin. The other one is ‘The Cocks Are Crowing’, I learned from the singing of the late Eddie Butcher from Magilligan in County Derry. I’ve always loved Eddie’s voice. I recorded his ’Don’t Come Again’ on my 1978 record ‘Welcome Here Kind Stranger’.
When I work with other writers, especially lyricists, I’m always surprised at the music that comes out of me. It’s like the process of co-writing frees me from myself and opens up the sluice gates. This record has all my influences on it, Jazz, Rock, Blues, Pop, Country, Irish Folk.
My thanks in no special order goes to John Munnis, Dave Hingerty, Keith Farrell, Bairbre Munnis, Suzanne Savage, Sinéad Farrelly, Richard Nelson, Anto Drennan, Andy Irvine, Francesco Turrisi, Frank Gallagher, Michael MacLennan, Michael Buckley, Ronan Dooney, Gavin Glass, Tadhg Walsh-Peelo, Brian Hickey, Gary Katz and Jayson Tomlin .
Special thanks to Philip Begley who mixed the record and gracefully put up with my shtick throughout.
Finally humongous thanks to Mary Elliott for always allowing me to be me…and for suggesting the album title.
Paul Brady Management: John Munnis.
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