Not an Easy Crown

This song was inspired by the wonderful Pride Parade in Portland, Oregon, and the I made the “video” in the runup to the recent marriage equality referendum in Ireland – which we won!
Thanks to all the lovely couples who shared their photos with me!

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Song for Gaza

I’ve also uploaded it to soundcloud for those who might find the images too disturbing.
[soundcloud url=”″ params=”color=ff5500&auto_play=false&hide_related=false&show_comments=true&show_user=true&show_reposts=false” width=”100%” height=”166″ iframe=”true” /]

There’s not much more I want to add to this, but here’s someone who understands the complexity and the “West’s” complicity in what’s happening in the Middle East.

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Anyway the Sun


This song begun some years ago when a cousin of mine decided it was time to bring her journey through this world to an end. At the time, I could only get a few lines here and there. Then after my uncle was murdered in Kenya in 2009, I found myself singing it again, but still not feeling like I could find the right words.
Somehow the chorus was about consoling those who were left behind by making some sort of statement about where people go when they die – the problem being that I don’t know where people go, if anywhere, when they die. In some ways, it would have been easy to say they had gonehome, home to God, but that just didn’t seem right for me to say when I didn’t know it to be true.
Then, one evening, I felt drawn to revisit the song, and as before, I made very little progress, but was particularly upset and tearful while working on it.
The next morning I awoke to a deep sense of the oneness and the presence of all things. A sense that my uncle and everyone else was present here with me at this moment in time. I felt that the separation between the world of the living and those who had gone before was some kind of illusion, there wasn’t really any separation.
The world of form now seemed very insubstantial, there wasn’t anything to resist or regret or anyone to mourn for, my uncle hadn’t gone anywhere, and yet he was in a more peaceful place. In that space, I would have said my uncle was right there, he actually hadn’t gone anywhere.
So, even though the lyrics don’t quite reflect it, that experience gave me what I needed to write the chorus. Something that was consoling and uplifting, and which I knew to be true.
While making the video was a struggle for lots of reasons, I feel like the images of standing stones, sea arches, waterfalls, windswept trees, and the lovely flute playing of Fiona Walsh, somehow manages to evoke that experience of immanence and connection in a way words cannot    –      I hope you agree!

Music available to download here

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How Long?

Due in large part I’m sure to the fact that I wasn’t paying for it, (and so not counting the hours or the mistakes), this was, for me, one of those rare “no stress” recording experiences.   Also, I had no great expectations or ambitions for getting the “best recording possible”, which you do when you go to a studio.  My objective was simply to get a decent video of a performance of this song to share on “youtube” by the Solstice.
However, as Dan, the bass player and “sound-man extraordinaire” says of himself “I don’t do things by halves”.  He borrowed some nice mics, I borrowed a mic, we had a borrowed soundcard (recording interface), he set the stuff up and pretty soon we had a full-on recording setup going. In the meantime, the video boys, Colm and Owen set about reorganizing my living room under the guise of “setting their stuff up”. I was in the kitchen teaching Anna (who’s not in the band) the tune and rehearsing with Tim and Siobhan.
We all gathered in the living room, the boys pressed “record” on their various devices and an hour or so later we had a respectable recording to work with.
Dan did some mixing, Colm did some editing, Owen fecked off to Dublin  .  . . .   and we had it up for the Solstice.


I hope you like it!  Please share it if you do .  .

There’s background info on the song under the video.

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Lament of the Emigrant Banker

Heartbreaking stuff!

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Water into Wine

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The Great Aborted Bicycle Tour?

On a beautiful June day last “summer”,  I was heading up the country to do a few gigs.   I was somewhat unhappy about getting into my car to drive several hundred miles to sing songs about climate change.  Especially as my windows wouldn’t open and I don’t have air conditioning!
At some point on this hot and sweaty drive, I conceived the rather brilliant idea of doing a bicycle/performance tour.  I was very enamoured of this idea and hadn’t been able to let go of it despite its being highly ridiculous for a woman of my advancing years and precarious health.

This is what happens when you stay out in the rain!

This is what happens when you stay out in the rain!

Hadn’t been able to let it go until yesterday that is.  Yesterday, it was cold and wet all day – today it’s the same, and it will most likely be like this for much of  the “summer”.
If you think I’m being melodramatic here, you’re probably not living in Ireland!

Today I have visibility of about 5 metres out my window.  And yes, we’ll get the odd few nice days, but that’s not really enough is it?
Ask my squash plant here.

It’s not that I’m afraid of rain, it’s simply that when you have rain, cold and wind, and an intermittently sweating body, you have a recipe for colds, sore throats, flus, pneumonia and the black death all at once.  In addition, the tendency to grip the handlebars harder in these conditions precipitates tendonitis, carpal tunnel, tennis elbow, paralysis of the lower arm and ultimately amputation.

So can you see where I’m going with this?

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Go on and Fly

And when he found her, she was playing down by the water
Like the walls weren’t falling down, like she was standing on solid ground
He said “you know you shouldn’t build your castles on the sand
Not if you want the walls to stand
You must build them on solid ground”
Then he pointed to their houses built upon the rocks
He said “see built out of solid blocks
High above the ocean, way up above the storms

But there she was again,
She was standing out on the rocks watching the seagulls in the sky
Like she thought she could fly, like she thought she could fly
So he told her about the solidness of things, about gravity and wings,
and how Icarus fell in disgrace from the sky,
And so you see he said, so you see we cannot fly – everybody knows we cannot fly

She said I know we shouldn’t build our castles on the sand
But sometimes you want to take that chance
Take a chance on getting it wrong
Take a chance on it all falling down
Take a chance on losing everything you thought was solid ground
And go on and fly, if flying’s what you dream of
yeah go on and fly, have no thoughts but for wings
and when you go, know that we go with you and fly, yeah go on and fly

And then she found him, he was lying down on the sands, head buried in his hands
Like the walls were falling down
He said “everybody knows we shouldn’t build upon the sand
Not if we want the walls to stand, we must build on solid ground”
And then he pointed to their houses built upon the rocks
“See built of solid blocks
And we have built them on the shifting sands of oil
And I don’t know how to change it, I can’t turn it round,
I can’t find solid ground – and the walls are falling down”

He said “I’m so tired of it all, of holding up these walls
I think I’ll take my chances on the sand
Take a chance on getting it wrong
Take a chance on it all falling down
Take a chance on losing everything I thought was solid ground”

He said “everybody knows, everybody knows we cannot fly
but look at all these things they know and not one of them can show us how to love
So go on and fly, if flying teach you to love
yeah go on and fly, have no thoughts but for wings
and when you go, know that we go with you and fly, yeah go on and fly”

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The Square Root of 2, a brief theory of everything.

I just wrote a brief description of my  “post-philosophy degree” career for Cafe Philosophy,  a New Zealand-based philosophy magazine with impeccable taste in contributors.  It was commissioned on the basis of an article I had written for another philosophy magazine, Philosophy Now, 21 years ago.  Writing the article caused me to reflect on my life and thought processes over the years and so it seemed appropriate to link it to this song which is sort of my “brief theory of everything” thus far.    To this end, I uploaded it to soundcloud so the wonderful people in New Zealand could hear it.  And I’m not just saying they’re wonderful because they paid me 50 quid – sterling!

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And for the grand and gorey finale . . .


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