Looking back…

Over the weekend, I unexpectedly came across a picture of some friends and I, taken over 15 years ago. It brought back some great memories, and I was interested to note that one of my strongest reactions to it was to marvel at how little I knew about so many things back then. Then I realised that some day in the future I will look back at a picture of myself today and I will think the same thing. Yet right now I’m not thinking about how much I have to learn, and I wasn’t when I was 21 either. I would have no confidence in my decisions if I was. But I do. Imagine, in 10 years time, you’re looking back at a pic of you taken today. What would you like to have learned by then? When can you start learning it?

Wasted Time.

“You never thought you’d be alone this far down the line And I know what’s been on your mind You’re afraid it’s all been wasted time”   “And I could have done so many things baby If I could only stop my mind from wonderin’ what I left behind And from worrying ‘bout this wasted time”.   “So you can get on with your search baby, and I can get on with mine And maybe someday we will find That it wasn’t really wasted time”. Some of the lyrics from Don Henley’s Wasted Time – one of my favourite Eagles numbers. He uses a classic songwriting technique, where he takes the same phrase and makes it mean something different in each of the three choruses. Apart from the vocal, the chords, the melody, I love the message of the song. Everyone will take their own message from it, but here’s mine. When things don’t work out, it is easy to

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Monkeys stand for honesty, giraffes are insincere…

I was at the zoo yesterday. We had a great day out. The animals didn’t care about their audience – they went about their daily business as they would any day and we were happy to watch them do that. It reminded me of a gig I played a few years ago. It was an instrumental jazz gig in a pub on a busy Friday night. It was clear from the word go that our audience weren’t going to pay us much attention – so we decided early on to forget about our audience, and to add a bit of fun, said we’d see if we could go the whole gig without getting a clap. We nearly succeeded. As a result of that decision however, our playing freed up, and we enjoyed ourselves and played better music. That strategy worked for us that night. However I’m not sure if it worked for the pub owner, and certainly in the long

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Do unto others…

Paul Kimmage is an Irish sports journalist who played a big part in the downfall of Lance Armstrong. He is known for his anti-doping stance which brings him his fair share of admirers and also detractors. Love him or hate him, you can’t deny his passion and the drive for the truth in his work. The interviewer turned interviewee on the Second Captains Podcast recently. It was riveting. Kimmage readily, honestly and emotionally discussed topics from the death of his father to the realisation that a former colleague and friend had groomed and defiled an underage girl. He didn’t hold back. He didn’t mince words. He answered all the interviewer’s questions and more. He knows what it’s like to be the interviewer, he knew what the interviewer wanted, and he delivered. He was a great interviewee. As a musician, you need not only to think about how you want to play, but how the others in your group want you

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On plagiarism.

A confession – the ideas in these blogs aren’t all fully mine! Sometimes I take things that I have heard before and put my own twist on them. Any honest songwriter will tell you something similar – we all have our influences, and these manifest themselves to varying degrees in our writing. In law, sometimes this is acceptable and sometimes it isn’t, and the line is not always clear. Let’s look at a few examples. One that was in the news in January… Radiohead are suing Lana Del Rey for similarities between her song Get Free and their song Creep. Del Rey offered Radiohead 40% of the royalties but Radiohead declined and are bringing her to court. Make your own mind up – listen to the first 1min 25 secs of Get Free and then the first 1min 20secs of Creep. But…as it turns out the writers of The Hollies’ 1974 hit The Air That I Breathe already have credits on

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Salah…Oh Mane Mane….

This went viral. Not just this particular video – which has almost 4m views, but the song in it has spawned two other videos which have now been seen 5m+ times each. It is a song to the tune of ‘Sugar Sugar’ by the Archies with new words. Written by an Irish comedian called Richy Sheehy (in the guise of his character Kevin Murphy), it celebrates the great strikers Liverpool FC have got at the moment. It is now a staple among Liverppol fans, videos have surfaced of the players themselves singing it, and it is an example of something that circulated very quickly. How? Why? Well in the great tradition of football chants, it is simple and to the point. It mentions the names of the players and little else. It’s catchy. It’s funny (love the shaker!). It’s easy for others to learn and sing along with. It’s a happy song. Richy stated at the time of the release

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Leave it on the shelf.

Rufus Reid is in the very top echelon of jazz bassists in the world. He is 74 years old according to Wikipedia, which makes him 64 when he came to Sligo in 2007 and told a group of us to look at an imaginary shelf high up in the room in which we were. ‘See that shelf’, he said – ‘that shelf is where your ego should be left the minute you walk into this room and start playing music with others’. According to the same source Theo Katzman is 32 and Joe Dart looks to be a similar age. Theo came to Dublin recently and Joe was in his band. They are heroes to young music students and many others throughout the world. I was struck by how they both got up to play with the support act during her set, and also how they were the ones moving around microphones and amps between sets to make sure the

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