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Songs from a life—Paul Brady

Singer-songwriter Paul Brady chooses songs from his life

Paul Brady is one of Ireland’s finest song-writers.

Many won’t forget the first airing of The Island—a song for its time and for all time—or the sweet brutality of his version of Arthur McBride.

His memoir Crazy Dreams tells the full story of his time in the Irish folk scene, his life on the road and the people he met on his decades-long journey.

Here, he chooses songs from his own life that have marked the way.

A song from your early childhood

Now Is The Hour. A song from the early 20th century reputed to be of Maori origin. Recorded by countless singers mid-century including Bing Crosby, Vera Lynn, Pat Boone and Frank Sinatra. According to my parents, it was the first melody I ‘lah lah-ed’ to at the age of 18 months.

A song you return to

You Don’t Know Me by Ray Charles. A huge hero to me, I’ve always loved his voice especially from the period where he recorded all those Country/ R&B classic songs in Nashville produced by Sid Feller in 1962.

A song that arrived at a difficult point in your life

Follow On is a song I wrote in the mid 80’s in a dark time when I felt under a lot of pressure. Somewhere between a love song and a prayer, the original musical impetus came from a memory of a song by Kenneth McKellar called ‘Come Along’ that my father would sing from time to time. 

Come along, come along, Let us foot it out together, 
Come along, come along, be it fair or stormy weather, 
With the hills of home before us and the purple of the heather, 
Let us sing in happy chorus, come along, come along”  

A song that gives you comfort

River by Joni Mitchell from the ‘Blue’ album. Even though it’s a really sad song it is so real, so human, stunningly beautiful. This kind of beauty gives me comfort.

One of your own songs that you would save over others

The World is What You Make It. This song snuck up on me and was written before I knew I was writing it. Hey! I wish they were all that easy!

What are you listening to now? 

Theo Katzman‘s Like A Woman Scorned from his album ‘Modern Johnny Sings: Songs in the Age of Vibe’. Theo blows me away with his voice, playing, writing. This is a such powerful song.

Barry Devlin and Paul Brady at the launch of Crazy Dreams (Merrion Press), at Dubray Books in Dublin.