Poguetry In Motion

I mentioned on Wednesday that I’d be spending Patrick’s Day immersing myself in Irish culture. I had planned to take it easy on St Patrick’s Eve, but shortly after writing the post I got an unexpected text from a good friend of mine. It didn’t take too much for Tom to persuade me to call over to his place for a few drinks and to watch Chelsea take on Inter Milan in the Champions League. Watching English football teams is one of the most popular pastimes amongst Irish males and the tie was nicely balanced at 2-1 to the Italian team. I brought along an 8-pack of Bulmers cider (the Irish one, not the English one). The game was quite close, but Inter scored near the end to ease their passage into the quarter-finals. As the number of cans got fewer and fewer, Thomas put on one of the best Irish films of recent years, In Bruges (it’s in Belgium). The next morning, Tom’s lovely lady Linda made an Irish breakfast for the three of us. Even though Linda was unable to offer any evidence as to the food’s heritage, I had no reason to believe that it wasn’t an Irish one. It was cooked and eaten in Ireland and it even tasted like an Irish breakfast. After that, Tom checked out Cheltenham and we watched the Irish trainers, horses and riders cleaning up. After Linda cleaned up, she dropped me home. My thanks to Thomas and Linda for a lovely Irish day

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A Cut Above The Rest

Barber Shop

After weeks of contemplation, I got my hair cut yesterday. I try to get it cut every three months or so, whether I need to or not. I didn’t get too much cut off as I don’t like to have it too short and I prefer to show off my curls. The barber told me that he was not as busy as he used to be as people were not getting their hair cut as often. However, I might have to go back sooner that I would like as he didn’t take that much off. Here are some tunes for all the barbers and hairdressers who’ve had the pleasure of cutting my hair over the years!

01 Cut Your Hair – Pavement

02 Devil’s Haircut – Beck

03 Greetings to the New Brunette – Billy Bragg

04 Hairdresser on Fire – Morrissey

05 Bernice Bobs Her Hair – Divine Comedy

06 Bangs – They Might Be Giants

07 Sally Let Your Bangs Hang Down – Bill Carlisle

08 Dreadlock Holiday – 10CC

09 Curly Locks – Lee “Scratch” Perry

10 Crazy Baldheads – Bob Marley

11 Bald Head – Professor Longhair

12 Hairless Youth of Bosnia – Strip Squad

13 Derrière ses cheveux longs – La Rue Ketanou

14 Der Afro Von Paul Breitner – Die Artze

15 Black Is The Colour of My True Love’s Hair – Christy Moore

16 That Silver Haired Daddy Of Mine – Everly Bros

17 Gentlemen Prefer Blondes – Eddie Noack

18 Strawberry Blonde – Ron Sexsmith

19 Dumb Blonde – Dolly Parton

20 Lemon Haired Ladies – Dory Previn

21 The Haircut – The Waifs

22 Almost Cut My Hair – CSNY

23 She Cuts Hair – Darren Hanlon

Strange Weather

Eating a banana on the Aran Islands

Eating a banana on the Aran Islands

We’ve been having some strange weather here in Ireland this past week. A country that is more used to grey skies and lots of rain has been experiencing bright blue skies, sunshine and warm weather for the past nine days. The beaches have been filled with eager sunbathers and many people are taking early holidays. Sales of cider, ice cream and sun tan lotion have gone through the roof and everyone is happy. Well, everyone except secondary school students who’ve just started their exams. And even they were given a day off today as someone gave out the wrong paper yesterday. This week of glorious weather was preceded by a wonderful trip by me to Germany and since I’ve returned I’ve been quite busy. I’ll try to post about what’s been going on soon, but first here’s some summer songs for you to take the weather with you. It looks like a change is going to come

01 In The Hot Hot Rays – Fleet Foxes

02 Sundress – Ben Kweller

03 Kokomo (Beach Boys cover) – Adam Green (w Ben Kweller)

04 Here Comes the Sun (Beatles cover) – Richie Havens

05 Higher Than the Sun (Primal Scream)- Bat for Lashes

06 Don’t Look Back Into The Sun (Libertines cover) – The View

07 Don’t Dream it’s Over (Crowded House cover) – Sunshiners

08 Weather With You (Crowded House cover) – Aswad

09 Seasons In The Sun – Terry Jacks

10 Sunshine Superman – Donovan

11 Sunny Girlfriend – The Monkees

12 That Summer Feeling – Jonathan Richman

13 Sitting In The Midday Sun – Ana Egge

14 Sunshine on Leith – The Proclaimers

15 The Lazy Sunbathers – Morrissey

16 A Little Sweet Sunshine – Bert Jansch

17 Saturday Sun – Nick Drake

18 Bless the Weather – John Martyn

19 Evening Sun – Gemma Hayes

20 Hebridean Sun- Vashti Bunyan

21 Sun It Rises – Fleet Foxes

No One Can Hold a Candle to You

Lisa Hannigan

Every week I try to post about Later…With Jools Holland, but I missed the last episode as life has been a bit hectic for me lately. I got to see the shows and I quite liked the new stuff from The Manic Street Preachers and Grizzly Bear. Most likely I’ll miss a few more episodes before it finishes up due to holidays and work and life. So, I’ll probably do a post at the end featuring the best of what I’ve missed out on. This week’s show looks quite good and here’s what’s coming up

Fresh from his tour of Ireland and the subject of a symposium at the University of Limerick, Morrissey will be the big draw on this week’s episode. He’s always worth watching and his new album’s got enough good songs for him to draw upon. However, it’s unlikely that he’ll need as many shirt changes as he did when I saw him in Galway a few weeks ago. No One Can Hold a Candle to You is his version of a song by a band called Raymonde

UPDATE: I guess Morrissey wasn’t so fresh from his Irish tour after all. He had to cancel due to illness and has also had to postpone a few gigs. I hope he didn’t catch a cold from removing his shirt so often on his Irish tour or that he didn’t have the same experience in Belfast as Lloyd Cole.

No One Can Hold A Candle To You (Raymonde cover) – Morrissey

Morrissey has always been a big fan of The New York Dolls and he even wrote a book about the band before he began his own musical career with The Smiths. They formed in the city that gives them their name and were a big influence on the emerging punk scene both in New York and in England. Their look and sound also owed a huge debt to The Rolling Stones and singer David Johansen obviously learned a lot from Mick Jagger. They broke up just before punk rock took off in the late seventies, but Morrissey got the remaining members of the band to reform for the Meltdown Festival in 2004. Personality Crisis opens their first album

Personality Crisis – The New York Dolls

I first came across Lisa Hannigan’s voice when she sang on Damien Rice’s first two solo albums. She could be heard on most of the tracks and was often quite prominent on a number of them. She also toured with him and seemed quite shy on stage. That old faithful “musical differences” caused them to part ways and Lisa (pictured above) went out on her own. She has recorded an album called See Sew that has been out in Ireland for a while and is now been given a bit of a push in Britain and the USA. It’s a bit of a grower, but I’m starting to get into it with Lille being my favourite at the moment

Lille – Lisa Hannigan

Victoria Hesketh is an English singer and player of various keyboard-style instruments who goes by the name of Little Boots. She has a first-class honours degree in cultural studies from the University of Leeds. Rich Boys is her version of a song by another up-and-coming act called The Virgins

Rich Boys (The Virgins Cover) – Little Boots

Annie Lennox had a host of hit single in the 80s as part of The Eurythmics. They were hard to miss on the radio and TV back then and I liked a few of their singles. I haven’t really kept track of her solo career except for her album of covers called Medusa from which her version of Bob Marley’s Waiting in Vain is taken

Waiting in Vain (Bob Marley cover) – Annie Lennox

Asher Roth is a white rapper from Pennsylvania whose first album has just been released. It’s called Asleep in the Bread Aisle and The Lounge is a bonus track from the album

The Lounge – Asher Roth

Everyday Is Like Wednesday

Mozz Set List
Ten days ago I went to see Morrissey play the Leisureland in Salthill, Galway. Unfortunately, I haven’t had a chance to write about it until now. This delay was a combination of work, laziness, European rugby and football semi-finals, socialising, and going to the pictures. I went to the gig with my old friend, John, and a brand new one named Laura, who I had had a good chat with at the Morrissey Symposium the previous weekend. John drove up and, after a cup of tea and some cake, the three of us spent a while in Charlie Byrne’s wonderful bookstore. By the time we had left the shop, their bookshelves were a little lighter, but their cash register was a little heavier. Then, John went for a stroll around the streets of Galway, while Laura and I walked over to the pier and had a look at the “big birds flying across the sky, throwing shadows on our eyes“. It was coming up to six o’clock and the smell of books and the sea air had given us an appetite, so we met John at McDonagh’s Fish & Chip shop. We each had a plate of cod, chips and mushy peas. At our table we met a trio from Sligo who were also going to the gig. The six of us hoped that Morrissey wasn’t a vegan as well as a vegetarian and that the smell of fish wouldn’t cause him to leave the stage

Galway had not been as busy as usual and this could have been due to the rain that had been falling all day. Salthill looked miserable because of the weather and it was as if an early Morrissey sinlgle, Everyday Is Like Sunday, had come to life. When we entered the venue we were struck by the heat and the smell of chlorine that came from the adjacent swimming pools. The venue itself resembled a school gym with its wooden floor and lack of seating. We found a nice spot near the front of the stage, but not too near, and waited for the support act to begin. The best that I could say about Doll & the Kicks is that they looked like a rock ‘n’ roll band and they had a very energetic lead singer. They played about a half dozen songs and Doll hollered and danced and bounced around the stage for five of these. For one song she simply stood at the microphone stand and sang the song instead of shouting it, as had been her wont. Funnily enough, that was the only song by them that I enjoyed. Her band simply got through the songs without impressing too much. The guitarist had a rather ugly see-through guitar and also had a single key on a chain around his neck. Perhaps he had no pockets in his jeans

Once Doll and the Kicks had left the stage there were about twenty minutes to kill before the main act took the stage. What followed was visually and sonically more interesting that what had preceded it. We were treated to a series of music videos and live performances on a screen featuring some of Morrissey’s favourite musical acts. These included Sparks, The New York Dolls, Vince Taylor, Shocking Blue, and what looked like a young Shirley Bassey giving it loads. These video performances seemed to be more effective at warming up the crowd than the band had been

Then the screen went up and a version of You’ll Never Walk Alone by Nina Simone played for a couple of minutes before the lights came up to reveal the band on stage followed by a characteristically subdued entrance from Morrissey. He went straight into a Smiths’ song, This Charming Man, one of their best. The musical accompaniment was heavier than on the original, but the vocal performance was excellent and it was a great opening. It was the first of five Smiths tunes that would get an airing before the end and three of these were among the highlights for me: How Soon Is Now? Girlfriend in a Coma and Ask. He also played Some Girls Are Bigger Than Others, but I’ve never been a big fan of this song. I could be biased, but I felt that these songs got a better reaction and more crowd participation than his solo stuff

Only one of the songs on the set-list (see above) didn’t get played (The World is Full of Crashing Bores). The solo songs that we got were evenly split between his new album, Years of Refusal, and his earlier albums. The ones I liked most from the new album were the singles, I’m Throwing My Arms Around Paris and Something is Squeezing My Skull. Other highlights included Irish Blood, English Heart and The First of The Gang to Die, the encore. Most of my favourites appeared early on in the show, but my attention never waned as he is a great performer with a lot of charisma and stage presence. It was quite warm in the room and I think that the heat got to Morrissey. He was sweating quite heavily throughout the gig and had to change his shirt halfway through and at the end. One “lucky” audience member even got a souvenir of the gig in the form of his sweat-drenched shirt. At the end, the rest of the band threw out set-lists and plectrums to the audience as well. Fortunately, they kept their shirts on

Lighten Up, Morrissey – Sparks

Steven (You Don’t Eat Meat) – Sandie Shaw

Batyar (Bigmouth Strikes Again) (Smiths cover) – The Ukrainians

Bigmouth Strikes Again

Morrissey Symposium UL

Last night I returned home from the best part of two days spent at The Songs That Saved Your Life (Again), a symposium for an English singer named Morrissey that took place at the University of Limerick. It was not uninteresting and it got me out of the house for a couple of days. I got to hear some interesting talks about the Mancunian singer, his passionate fans and his songs. I watched a number of documentaries of variable quality and saw a Smiths tribute act of questionable quality. I also met some fans of The Smiths/Morrissey as well as some less fanatical individuals

The weekend began with the European premiere of Passions Just Like Mine by Kerri Koch. This documentary looked at the huge following that Morrissey has amongst the Hispanic community in Los Angeles. It featured interviews with many of these fans and with some of the members of a couple of Hispanic cover bands who play the music of The Smiths and Morrissey. The film was a bit too long and repetitive and some of the interviews suffered from poor sound and lighting. Additionally, a lot of it was unintentionally funny as the interviews gushed about their love of Morrissey and his music. Attempts to uncover the reasons why Morrissey is so popular amongst this community were unsuccessful

The symposium’s second film was shown later that night just before the tribute act took the stage at Dolan’s. The World Won’t Listen featured sixty minutes of Indonesian youths singing karaoke versions of Smiths’ songs. A couple of the versions stood out, but this was way too long, extremely repetitive, and quite pointless. The third and final film of the weekend, Is It Really So Strange? was shown on two small screens at a bar following the final paper on Saturday. It seemed to cover much the same ground as the first film and even featured some of the same interviewees. I tuned out after a while and drifted to the bar and chatted to some of the other less fanatical attendees

The first night closed with a performance by a Smiths covers band called These Charming Men. I must admit that I’m not a big fan of tribute acts unless they are absolutely terrible. These guys were merely adequate. The guitarist was the best of the lot, the rhythm section was poor, and the lead singer reminded me more of Johnny Rotten than Morrissey. Nevertheless, the group got progressively better with each pint I drank and some of their songs were better than others

The highlights of the weekend for me were the various papers that were presented on the second day. Some of the topics covered included representations of the working class in Morrissey’s songs, fanaticism, and the influence of other works in his songs. I particularly enjoyed two of the presentations. Kieran Cashell delivered his paper on the philosophy of suicide in relation to a number of songs by The Smiths and interviews that Morrissey has given in the past. He began by looking at suicide from a philosophical perspective and then showed how these views are present in Morrissey’s interviews and in a number of his songs. He provided an excellent analysis of a Smiths’ b-side entitled Asleep and, due to time constraints, a shorter analysis of their single, Shakespeare’s Sister. It was a well-written paper and it was delivered passionately by its author

The presentation that I enjoyed the most was given by an American who now lives in New York City, although he grew up in Denver, Colorado. In the Haze of a Drunken Hour by Dan Jacobsen focused on a weekly Smiths party that takes place every Sunday at a venue in New York City. Jacobsen’s description of the venue, the people who attend it and the events that occur there every week was wonderful. He described it in great detail with humour and wit and he certainly had the audience’s attention throughout. He spoke about the cynicism of many of the hipsters who attend not from a love of the music, but to take the piss out of the genuine fans who show up each week. Additionally, he traced the roots of one of The Smiths more popular songs, There Is a Light That Never Goes Out, back to an early Marvin Gaye single, Hitchhiker. He revealed that this is part of a larger project that will culminate in a book about the venue and The Smiths

All in all, it was an enjoyable and interesting few days and a nice introduction to Wednesday’s Morrissey gig in Galway. Many of the people who attended were huge Morrissey fans, but I met a good few who were, like me, simply music fans. Here’s a few songs that I wouldn’t mind hearing on Wednesday

Bigmouth Strikes Again – The Smiths

Shakespeare’s Sister – The Smiths

Suedehead – Morrissey

Everyday is Like Sunday – Morrissey

This Charming Man

He'd charm the hind legs off a turkey

He'd charm the hind legs off a turkey

It’s going to be a busy week for Irish fans of Morrissey. This weekend The University of Limerick will hold its second symposium on the former Smiths’ lead singer. The packed schedule will feature a range of papers on the cultural impact of Morrissey and his music, the European premiere of a fan documentary and a concert by a tribute band at Dolans. Amazingly, the total cost of entry to all of these events is a recession-busting €25. For this price, you also get lunch and refreshments, although I don’t know if meat is on the menu

Morrissey is also touring Ireland next week and will be performing at venues in Killarney, Galway, Omagh and Belfast. This tour seems to have caused the University of Limerick to revert to some form of olde English as they have announced it here as “Morrissey’s Irish lege of his 2009 “Years of Refusal” tour” (my italics). I’ll be going to Galway next Wednesday to see him play at the Leisureland. I’ve seen him once before, a few years ago in Dublin, and he certainly puts on a good show. I prefer his stuff with The Smiths and feel that a lot of his solo work has been a bit inconsistent, but there’s always a few good tunes on each of his solo albums

Here are a couple of Morrissey-related cover songs. First up is his version of A Song From Under the Floorboards by fellow Mancunians, Magazine. Their original kicks off side two of their Correct Use of Soap LP from 1980. Its opening lyric should give an indication as to where the song is going: “I am angry, I am ill, and I’m as ugly as sin. I don’t know what keeps me alive and kicking”. I always play it after I’ve been on a session with my friend Damien as it perfectly sums up how I feel the next day. It’s an amazing song and Morrissey’s version does it justice. It can be found on the CD single of The Youngest Was the Most Loved from his Ringleader of the Tormentors album from 2006

A Song From Under the Floorboards (Magazine cover) – Morrissey

Cemetry Gates appears on The Smiths’ best album, The Queen is Dead (1986). The song offers perfect advice to the participants at this weekend’s symposium: “Don’t plagiarise or take on loan/’Cause there’s always someone, somewhere/With a big nose, who knows/And who trips you up and laughs when you fall”. This version is from Cork’s finest, The Frank & Walters, and was recorded for a tribute album called The Smiths is Dead (1996), which features British and Irish bands covering The Queen is Dead album

Cemetry Gates (Smiths cover) – Frank & Walters