Written April 2009
Don't mind old age, nearby incinerators, or over-exposure to cattle doused in growth hormones: self-preservation from the soundtrack to living in the arse end of Ireland is what puts hairs in your ears.
Rural Irish pubs who smugly advertise Live Music! on Saturday nights have not, as our innocent tourists and/or D4 socialites on hen weekends might think, booked a lively trad band to hammer home our gloriously melodic culture to the beat of Irish dancing shoes and a bodhrán. They have booked some mild fart with a keyboard and a microphone stand, who will use said keyboard entirely to provide a neverending synthesised waltz while he mouths through Old Flames and Old Shep in strict rotation until the last blue-rinsed biddie is manhandled into a hackney home. You have been warned. Also, this is the only time you'll get a mild fart in an Irish pub. You have been warned of that, too.
(A mild improvement is booking the local scut to do a three-hour set on his cd decks for a twenty-first, if you could call Cascada fading into Come On Eileen an improvement on Garth Brooks. Which I don't think you can, so ignore this paragraph.)
My disgust for this kind of bollocks is well-noted at home in South County Galway, but my family have a way of dealing with rebellious young wans with iPods full of flash-in-the-pan electronica.
‘Wait till you're our age,’ they nod, smugly. ‘You'll be into country music then, oh yes you will.’
‘I don't think you'll ever see me listening to Mary Black, Mary Duff, or any other kind of Mary with a penchant for bland renditions of songs about lost tractors,’ I counter, equally smugly.
‘You'll see,’ they say. ‘You'll see. You'll wake up one day with an appreciation for Christy Moore covers.’
‘You'll wake up one day with Christy Moore's head under the covers,’ says I, threateningly. ‘And his body won't be attached, either.’
‘We see your future,’ says they. ‘And Isla Grant features. Heavily.’
‘I've seen your past,’ says I. ‘And The Carpenters were as cutting edge as you fuckers got.’
‘I was into Iron Maiden,’ ventures Nearest Brother.
‘Iron Maiden are camp,’ says I, whereupon he flakes me with a hurley and thus endeth our family spat.
For the record, I would like to state that I will never, ever understand the awkward monster that is Irish Country Music. My mam insists that it is ‘our’ music, Irish music, and for the record I'd like to tell her that she's fucking mad. Irish music doesn't involve twanging and line-dancing! Mick Flavin has no place shitting all over what's left of our once-potent cultural heritage! Philomena Begley can take a running jump off Daniel O'Donnell's ego! They can all go and knob themselves, as far as I'm concerned; I'll still be into alternative indie/folktronica when I'm forty. It is a promise I have made to my ears, lest they spurt forth in hairy indignation. Approaching middle age is no excuse for subscribing to watery waltzes. Jesus Christ, older-family-members! Your generation gave us Led Zeppelin, The Kinks, The Clash . . . what the banjaxing banjos are ye at with Foster and Allen?
Oh, I dunno. My cousin Kidneys has fallen for Isla Grant already, and she's only twenty-four.