Most days when I'm not working on or preparing for night shifts I wake at 7.30am or earlier. I would like to say I practice my transcendental meditation and do my Prahma Yoga stretches after a swim in the cold Irish Sea. But I don’t! I’ve learned slowly to be disciplined in a simple way.
I wake early, change nappies, prepare breakfast for twin baby girls and then I check in with social media and emails.
I’m simple. And my world is simple. The only difference between me and the next lad who is mad at the world is my mindset. And goals to drive my purpose. You can look at things and say “I can’t even go to the gym / pub / social club”. And I could look at things and say “I’m changing nappies and working and being a Dad and I don’t have time for anything else”. But I find the time. I drive myself into figuring out how the fuck I will promote my music in during a gig famine.
Where am I going with this? What about you? You can’t get out and do what you normally do at the moment, can you?
I remember talking to a Logotherapist who explained how mindset is important in crisis situations. With simple anecdotes he was able to explain this to me. Here are two anecdotes I really like.
Sports and Military philosophies are bubbling to the top during feckin COVID. In Sport, like GAA for example, you operate under restricted boundaries. Things happen beyond your control. Sometimes things happen in the GAA that are completely unjust. Controlling the reaction of any group to anything revolves around mindset. The Military is the same - imagine war for example. Is there time to dwell? The Military has made mindset an integral part of their training - the US Navy Seals for example.
So you. Are you feeling like this COVID shite won’t end? Like you aren’t connected to your friends anymore? Like you just can’t make something happen?
You have goals that you have always wanted to achieve. Or a bucket list! Don’t let money control it. Control the controllable! You can still draw up that list. You can still imagine what it’s like in that new place. You can still learn that beautiful language. Those 4 or 5 things will come clear to you in amongst the 1 thing that is wrong.
If in a few months I’m playing a gig somewhere and someone says “i looked up Logotherapy man”, I would end up talking to them all night. I like to talk about meaningful shite.
Set your goals and write a bit of a journal and carry on. Be simple. Simple is how we are meant to be lads and lassies.
GO. GO. And find those 4 or 5 things you can get right in amongst all these shitty virus driven wrongs. And get in touch if you are in a cul de sac. There's always a way brothers and sisters.
Therein is the hope that hope will give.
All the best,
When it comes to songwriting I started off writing Rock Songs. As a band called ‘Mediator’ we were best known for our song “Away from Here” which reached the finals of the 2FM Song Contest where we played to a sold out crowd in Vicar St. We didn’t win though. My voice cracked during the high part of the song during the last rehearsal which was recorded for the judges to decide the winner before the crowd got there. I was devastated. It was the greatest lesson of all to start singing songs closer to a key that suits me and - most of all - to prepare my voice properly before I sing high. If you want a laugh look at the videos below this blog post.
There’s a point you get to in life where you realise you aren’t going to change too fast. Usually at that point you start to know your weaknesses. We know ourselves enough to avoid our weaknesses. Musically speaking, a weakness I avoid is dwelling heavily on a piece of writing or a recording. There is this middle ground where the song lives. Where the essence of the song exists. And then there’s all the fluffy bits. Fluffy bits can be important. But not as important as the essence. So here’s what I tend to do:
Write the song -> Record a little demo -> Leave the song alone for a week
Go back to the song and gauge the mood of it -> Tweak it a little bit
Leave the song alone for another few days -> Decide where the song fits in.
Plenty of times this has gone out the window. I have gotten carried away in the moment by what was influencing and driving the song. Then the song ends up being shared on social media when it shouldn't have ended up there. And that has been a weakness I have tried to avoid. It’s at points like this where it is crucial to get some mentoring. Admittedly, I have lacked any guidance in my songwriting life. So I have ended up learning the hard way when a song's message is mixed up or if a song did not reach its potential.
This brings me to ‘Holy Hole’, the song I shared with you all this week. I considered many things before sharing the song. But the overriding thing was that the essence of the song felt appropriately timed. Lots of music artists hold back at this point and say “I have to get to the studio and wait til I get such and such to play strings on this and then we’ll do that”…Usually by then the fluffy bits take over. Videos. Press Releases. Promotion. Production. Mastering.
Sometimes the importance of an issue and raising awareness takes a front seat over impressing your peers with Fluffy bits. With “Holy Hole” this was the way I was thinking. I didn’t want to moan and share some quotes on Social Media. I wanted to share my bloody song because it says what I want to through music.
The Church and the State have so much to answer for. The victims are getting older and older. And they need to know what exactly went on over their heads. This HAS to come out.
For posterity alone, let’s say I momentarily give in to my weakness of over analysing ‘Holy Hole’, what does the song say?
“While the Taoiseach and TD’s they kneeled down for Mass, Our babies slept under the grass”
A green area with a small grotto was the only remains of the County Home in Tuam. Under the green area is a mass grave that still hasn’t been fully excavated. What I called a Holy Hole. Learning about this grave appeared to be the beginning of Catherine Corliss’ realisation that there was wrongdoing in Tuam. And from records in the 40s and 50s there appears to be enough evidence to show that the State was aware of the conditions in the County Home.
“While the Emperors Bath sits in the Vatican state”
Nero’s bath in the Vatican is an artifact that is not of ecclesiastical significance. It is estimated to be worth over 2 billion euro. It is an example of the type of Wealth the Church had acquired from the Roman Empire yet they ran these Homes in Ireland more or less at the expense of the State. They supplied cheap labour on all fronts from the people in the Laundries to the Nuns in Charge. The Church never purges it’s wealth but expects worshippers to do this. Is this so they can buy their way to Heaven?
“Children are wanted by American friends, Ordered by mail and the money was sent”
100’s of children in the mother and Baby homes were adopted by Middle Class American families. How many? We don’t know. How much money was received by the Church after the plane fare? We don’t know. We know most of the families meant well. But does that mean the truth shouldnt be out there? No. They shouldn't be allowed to bury this.
Everything I said was with careful consideration and respect. And through sheer human nature I can’t but be pleased when the song hits a note with somebody. This leaves me open to criticism and I accept that. I’m brave enough to put up with a few arseholes. No problem.
Have a nice weekend,
NOTE: I want to apologize at this point because I say “Orphans” in the song where I should have said “Children”. Because it was well known that the Orphans were treated slightly better than the kids of fallen Mothers.
How’s things? This year’s New Year fad is planting vegetables. I made a bit of a boo boo and planted some sprouting Garlic seeds the day before the Snow arrived this week! I have plenty of work to do on the raised beds though. If any of you folks have advice for me get in touch through my Mailing list or on Social media. I’m planning to plant Rocket, Spinach, Kale and of course, Garlic!
What have you got going on? Let me know on social media. One of the best things I ever did last year was subscribe to Audible. I read loads of books last year. Books I have read include:
Make your Bed by William H McRaven - a great read to show how simple military teachings can help us overcome the biggest challenges. This is a short audio book and is perfect for a lazy afternoon.
The War of Art by Steven Pressfield - this is a book for anybody who doesn’t feel like they have reached their potential. Or who feels like they are procrastinating or are afraid to face any judgement. It was a good old kick up the arse for me. Thanks to my pal Welly for recommending this one.
Range by David Epstein - this is in the top 3 books I have ever read. The ideas fleshed out and suggested in this book are revolutionary. Everything from Golf to Music to Product development is used to describe how Generalists have begun to thrive in an increasingly specialized world.
The One Thing by Gary Keller with Jay Papasan - this book has the simplest concept. Can we focus our energy onto one thing? Obviously family life and providing are the top priority. But outside of that?
The One Thing encouraged me to cancel a lot of commitments I had in my life outside of playing and promoting my music. It’s my belief that Ireland, with a population just over half the size of Greater London, can’t support many Full Time Folk Musicians. I have dedicated myself to a Semi-Professional approach and I’m looking for like minded individuals to start a little team in 2021.
One last recommendation is Seamus Heaneys Collected Poems II. It's like an old well. Still pouring with the coldest freshest water you can imagine. Still sounding that bit different every day. Wonderful.
So, I've gone from Garlic to Greater London to Seamus Heaney. Happy Friday!
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All the best,