Best Albums of the 00s: Skylarkin’

Skylarkin' - Mic Christopher (2002)

My chronological look back at my favourite albums of the past decade continues with the only Irish entry on the list. Mic Christopher’s Skylarkin’ (2002) was the only solo album that he released. In the middle of November 2001, Mic played a gig in Groningen, Holland. He was found later at the bottom of a stairway, where he appeared to have slipped and hit his head as he fell. He lapsed into a coma from swelling to the brain and passed away a few weeks later. He is best known for the album’s opening track, Heyday, which was used in one of Guinness’ TV advertising campaigns. It is a shame that the rest of the album is not better known because it is a wonderful collection of eleven consistently good songs. That it works so well as an album is surprising considering that the collection was put together and released posthumously. Mic had put down all the tracks and had left instructions as to how the album should be completed. His friends and family followed these instructions to produce a consistent and cohesive collection of songs. The album was released in 2002 and won the 2003 Best Album at the Irish Meteor Music Awards

As I type this at work on a surprisingly sunny Irish December day, my own memorable first encounter with the Skylarkin’ album comes to mind. It was four years ago and my good friend Pia from Germany was visiting Limerick for a few days. One night, she had been invited to dinner by some of her other Irish friends and I joined them that evening at their home. I had been at the house before and, despite my lack of navigation skills, I managed to spot them through their window as they sat down to dinner. I gave them a wave through the glass, pushed down the handle of the door, strode through the hall, opened the door to their kitchen and held out the bottle of wine I had brought. At least, I thought it was their kitchen. The look of shock on the faces of the couple whose bedroom I had just entered must have been mirrored on my own face. I made my apologies, left their house and went to the correct one next door where Pia and her friends were wondering where the hell I had gotten to. I told them what had happened and the whole lot of us got into a fit of laughter that lasted for a good few minutes. When the laughter died out, I presented them with my bottle of wine and said, “Here’s something to break the ice”. After dinner, one of the lads, Phil, put on Skylarkin’. I had only known the one song, but after a few listens I really got into it. It has since become one of my favourite albums by an Irish act and it’s a real pity that Mic never got to release any more music. Success, however, came to his good friend Glen Hansard and here is a live version of Heyday by Glen that he often performs at his own gigs

Heyday (Mic Christopher cover) – Glen Hansard