Celticsprite’s Blog


Crazy Dreams – Paul Brady reflects on his career as a Celtic trad pioneer and pop songwriter – by Danny Carnahan
November 28, 2008, 5:25 pm
Filed under: Influential Musicians, Reviews

Crazy Dreams by Danny Carnahan
Paul Brady reflects on his career as a Celtic trad pioneer and pop songwriter –
This Article appears as featured in Acoustic Guitar Magazine. All rights reserved by the author and posted under permission.
No musical tradition has enjoyed a bigger explosion of popularity or a wider spread of style and invention during the past 30 years than Irish music. And no musician personifies Irish music’s arc of popularity better than northern Irish guitarist and singer Paul Brady. Brady started performing in Dublin pubs in the 1960s, at a time when all Ireland seemed consumed with a rediscovered passion for its music and heritage. He dove into the music, and by 1967 he and his band the Johnstons were top draws everywhere in the British Isles.
After seven very traditional albums with the Johnstons, Brady joined Planxty, a band of astonishing innovators and eclectic musicians that included Andy Irvine, Christy Moore, and Donal Lunny. Planxty was, in every sense, the Beatles of modern Irish music. Through the 1970s, they propelled the tradition in a dozen new directions at once, infusing their sets with rock energy and Balkan exoticism while allowing all the essential Irishness to shine ever more brightly.
After a stint with Planxty, Brady went on to perform and record both solo and in harness with various combinations of Planxty members, including notable work with mandolinist Andy Irvine. Irvine and Brady’s eponymous duo album is still on nearly every Irish music fan’s Desert Island Disc shortlist. Brady’s “Arthur McBride” from that album is a riveting story so passionately sung and so tastily accompanied on guitar that it became an instant classic and remains a favorite in sessions around the world.
Brady’s career took another surprising leap in 1981. He shocked his fans by hitting the stage with a full rock band and singing original songs as powerful and catchy as anything since early Van Morrison. He followed his breakthrough album, Hard Station, with nine more and is now one of today’s most-covered Irish pop balladeers, with songs recorded by the likes of Phil Collins, David Crosby, Bonnie Raitt, Santana, Cher, and Tina Turner.
Last year, Rykodisc released Nobody Knows: The Best of Paul Brady, which focused on Brady’s long career as a genre-jumping songwriter. But two songs from Brady’s earlier Irish trad incarnation made it onto Nobody Knows–“The Lakes of Pontchartrain” and “Arthur McBride.”
I was particularly intrigued by the inclusion of “Arthur McBride” and by Brady’s decision to record a new version 25 years later, rather than simply include the familiar original. I caught him in Dublin on his way to master his next solo album, due for release this year. Brady chatted about the different hats he’s worn in his long career and about why he decided to revisit a 200-year-old Irish traditional song from his early days in the folk clubs.
For the past 20 years, every aspiring Celtic guitarist seems to have felt compelled to learn your version of “Arthur McBride.” What do you suppose it is about this particular song that speaks so strongly to people?
BRADY It’s a very interesting story, I suppose, and as a ballad goes it’s full of dra
ma. It’s full of antiquity, which attracts a lot of people. The style of language is quite archaic. I brought some of the dynamism I’d learned through playing blues and rock music into the presentation of that song, and I think that might have captured people, too. I’ve always tended to do that–even when I was working within the forms of traditional music–to attack songs in a way that wasn’t customary at the time. People tend to have this reverence toward songs and treat them as museum pieces. But I wanted to grab them by the scruff of the neck and turn them into something that had a lifeblood of their own.



Crazy Dreams – Paul Brady reflects on his career as a Celtic trad pioneer and pop songwriter – by Danny Carnahan
November 28, 2008, 5:25 pm
Filed under: Influential Musicians, Reviews

Crazy Dreams by Danny Carnahan
Paul Brady reflects on his career as a Celtic trad pioneer and pop songwriter –
This Article appears as featured in Acoustic Guitar Magazine. All rights reserved by the author and posted under permission.
No musical tradition has enjoyed a bigger explosion of popularity or a wider spread of style and invention during the past 30 years than Irish music. And no musician personifies Irish music’s arc of popularity better than northern Irish guitarist and singer Paul Brady. Brady started performing in Dublin pubs in the 1960s, at a time when all Ireland seemed consumed with a rediscovered passion for its music and heritage. He dove into the music, and by 1967 he and his band the Johnstons were top draws everywhere in the British Isles.
After seven very traditional albums with the Johnstons, Brady joined Planxty, a band of astonishing innovators and eclectic musicians that included Andy Irvine, Christy Moore, and Donal Lunny. Planxty was, in every sense, the Beatles of modern Irish music. Through the 1970s, they propelled the tradition in a dozen new directions at once, infusing their sets with rock energy and Balkan exoticism while allowing all the essential Irishness to shine ever more brightly.
After a stint with Planxty, Brady went on to perform and record both solo and in harness with various combinations of Planxty members, including notable work with mandolinist Andy Irvine. Irvine and Brady’s eponymous duo album is still on nearly every Irish music fan’s Desert Island Disc shortlist. Brady’s “Arthur McBride” from that album is a riveting story so passionately sung and so tastily accompanied on guitar that it became an instant classic and remains a favorite in sessions around the world.
Brady’s career took another surprising leap in 1981. He shocked his fans by hitting the stage with a full rock band and singing original songs as powerful and catchy as anything since early Van Morrison. He followed his breakthrough album, Hard Station, with nine more and is now one of today’s most-covered Irish pop balladeers, with songs recorded by the likes of Phil Collins, David Crosby, Bonnie Raitt, Santana, Cher, and Tina Turner.
Last year, Rykodisc released Nobody Knows: The Best of Paul Brady, which focused on Brady’s long career as a genre-jumping songwriter. But two songs from Brady’s earlier Irish trad incarnation made it onto Nobody Knows–“The Lakes of Pontchartrain” and “Arthur McBride.”
I was particularly intrigued by the inclusion of “Arthur McBride” and by Brady’s decision to record a new version 25 years later, rather than simply include the familiar original. I caught him in Dublin on his way to master his next solo album, due for release this year. Brady chatted about the different hats he’s worn in his long career and about why he decided to revisit a 200-year-old Irish traditional song from his early days in the folk clubs.
For the past 20 years, every aspiring Celtic guitarist seems to have felt compelled to learn your version of “Arthur McBride.” What do you suppose it is about this particular song that speaks so strongly to people?
BRADY It’s a very interesting story, I suppose, and as a ballad goes it’s full of dra
ma. It’s full of antiquity, which attracts a lot of people. The style of language is quite archaic. I brought some of the dynamism I’d learned through playing blues and rock music into the presentation of that song, and I think that might have captured people, too. I’ve always tended to do that–even when I was working within the forms of traditional music–to attack songs in a way that wasn’t customary at the time. People tend to have this reverence toward songs and treat them as museum pieces. But I wanted to grab them by the scruff of the neck and turn them into something that had a lifeblood of their own.



CELTIC TREE LORE – ANCIENT POEMS 4 – Suibhne, The Woodland Wanderer (excerpts)
November 27, 2008, 11:58 am
Filed under: Celtic Tree Lore

Oak leafy, large bowl, you rise above the trees, Hazel, the small bouquets, cabinet hazelnut. Fern, you’re not spiteful, is your lovely scent, you’re not sharp when those in the hollow Blackthorn, a small thorny, small dark blackthorn. Berro, little green dots on the edge of the source of the blackbird. Saxifraga of the way, you are the sweeter of the herbs. Lepidio, a very green plant where strawberries are growing. Apple, small apple, all you shake violently. Alder, small or full of berries, is your lovely flowering. Yew, yew or small, are conspicuous in the cemeteries. Ivy, small ivy, you are familiar in the thick forest. Ash, a small guard, who stop portal to the wind. Fern, pernicious, you are a weapon in the hands of a warrior. Birch, soft, blessed, proud, melodic, charming each branch is intertwined at the top of your cup.Aspen, while shaking, I hear from time to time your leaves murmur, And I think it resembles a run.
Little antlered one, little belling one,melodious little bleater,sweet I think the lowing you make in the glen.Home sickness for my little dwelling has come upon my mind,the calves in the plain, the deer on the moor.Oak, bushy, leafy, you are high above trees;Hazel, little branchy one, wisdom of hazel nuts.Alder, you are not spiteful, lovely is your colour,you are not prickly where you are in the gap.Blackthorn, little thorny one, black little sloe bush,Apple tree, little apple tree, violently everyone shakes you.Bramble, little humped vine, you do not grant fair terms;tearing me till you are sated with blood.Yew, you are conspicuous among tombs;Rowan, little berried one, sacred is your lovely white blooms.Holly, little protector, door against storms;Ash tree weapon in the hand of the warrior, baneful are you.Birch, smooth, blessed, proud, melodious,how lovely is each entangled branch at the top of your crest.Aspen, as it trembles from time to time I hear its leaves rustle and think it is the foray;Ivy, you are familiar in the dark woods.

In his book, “The White Godess” R.Graves comments about the preservation of genuine interest in ancient Ireland. Irish triads in the seventh century earlier demanded the death penalty for the illegal felling of two chief trees, the hazelnut and apple Three things that do not breathe should be payed with only things they breathe, An apple, a hazelnut and a sacred wood.He also says that in the Medieval Ireland were running several classification systems of trees. He cites a poem of the seventeenth century which gives list of the seven heads trees, but with alder, the willow and birch, instead of ash, yew and pine, and the fine for his illegal logging was a cow, or three for the whole woodland. For the Brehon Law trees were divided into four categories, Seven Headed Trees, Rustic Seven Trees, Seven Shrubs, Eight Thorny bushes, with a scale of fines for illegal logging which severely diminished by category. It is noteworthy that in this case the trees prized for their noble heads or sacrosanct, were: 1. Oak, because of their size, beauty, and its acorns to pigs that fatten 2. Hazel, for their nuts and brambles 3. Holly, on his wooden lances used in car 4. Yew, for its wood, used for homemade dishes, shields, etc. 5. Fresno, for its timber, used to make the throne of the King, and horns for weapons. 6. Pine, for his wood used to make punches. 7. Appletree, for its fruit and bark suited to the tannery.



CELTIC TREE LORE – ANCIENT POEMS 4 – Suibhne, The Woodland Wanderer (excerpts)
November 27, 2008, 11:58 am
Filed under: Celtic Tree Lore

Oak leafy, large bowl, you rise above the trees, Hazel, the small bouquets, cabinet hazelnut. Fern, you’re not spiteful, is your lovely scent, you’re not sharp when those in the hollow Blackthorn, a small thorny, small dark blackthorn. Berro, little green dots on the edge of the source of the blackbird. Saxifraga of the way, you are the sweeter of the herbs. Lepidio, a very green plant where strawberries are growing. Apple, small apple, all you shake violently. Alder, small or full of berries, is your lovely flowering. Yew, yew or small, are conspicuous in the cemeteries. Ivy, small ivy, you are familiar in the thick forest. Ash, a small guard, who stop portal to the wind. Fern, pernicious, you are a weapon in the hands of a warrior. Birch, soft, blessed, proud, melodic, charming each branch is intertwined at the top of your cup.Aspen, while shaking, I hear from time to time your leaves murmur, And I think it resembles a run.
Little antlered one, little belling one,melodious little bleater,sweet I think the lowing you make in the glen.Home sickness for my little dwelling has come upon my mind,the calves in the plain, the deer on the moor.Oak, bushy, leafy, you are high above trees;Hazel, little branchy one, wisdom of hazel nuts.Alder, you are not spiteful, lovely is your colour,you are not prickly where you are in the gap.Blackthorn, little thorny one, black little sloe bush,Apple tree, little apple tree, violently everyone shakes you.Bramble, little humped vine, you do not grant fair terms;tearing me till you are sated with blood.Yew, you are conspicuous among tombs;Rowan, little berried one, sacred is your lovely white blooms.Holly, little protector, door against storms;Ash tree weapon in the hand of the warrior, baneful are you.Birch, smooth, blessed, proud, melodious,how lovely is each entangled branch at the top of your crest.Aspen, as it trembles from time to time I hear its leaves rustle and think it is the foray;Ivy, you are familiar in the dark woods.

In his book, “The White Godess” R.Graves comments about the preservation of genuine interest in ancient Ireland. Irish triads in the seventh century earlier demanded the death penalty for the illegal felling of two chief trees, the hazelnut and apple Three things that do not breathe should be payed with only things they breathe, An apple, a hazelnut and a sacred wood.He also says that in the Medieval Ireland were running several classification systems of trees. He cites a poem of the seventeenth century which gives list of the seven heads trees, but with alder, the willow and birch, instead of ash, yew and pine, and the fine for his illegal logging was a cow, or three for the whole woodland. For the Brehon Law trees were divided into four categories, Seven Headed Trees, Rustic Seven Trees, Seven Shrubs, Eight Thorny bushes, with a scale of fines for illegal logging which severely diminished by category. It is noteworthy that in this case the trees prized for their noble heads or sacrosanct, were: 1. Oak, because of their size, beauty, and its acorns to pigs that fatten 2. Hazel, for their nuts and brambles 3. Holly, on his wooden lances used in car 4. Yew, for its wood, used for homemade dishes, shields, etc. 5. Fresno, for its timber, used to make the throne of the King, and horns for weapons. 6. Pine, for his wood used to make punches. 7. Appletree, for its fruit and bark suited to the tannery.



CELTIC TREE LORE – ANCIENT POEMS 3
November 27, 2008, 11:52 am
Filed under: Celtic Tree Lore

Oak leafy, large bowl, you rise above the trees, Hazel, the small bouquets, cabinet hazelnut. Fern, you’re not spiteful, is your lovely scent, you’re not sharp when those in the hollow Blackthorn, a small thorny, small dark blackthorn. Hawthorn, little green dots on the edge of the source of the blackbird. Saxifraga of the way, you are the sweeter of the herbs. Lepidio, a very green plant where strawberries are growing. Apple, small apple, all you shake violently. Alder, small or full of berries, is your lovely flowering. Yew, yew or small, are conspicuous in the cemeteries. Ivy, small ivy, you are familiar in the thick forest. Ash, a small guard, who stop portal to the wind. Fern, pernicious, you are a weapon in the hands of a warrior. Birch, soft, blessed, proud, melodic, charming each branch is intertwined at the top of your cup.Aspen, while shaking, I hear from time to time your leaves murmur, And I think it resembles a run.
Little antlered one, little belling one,melodious little bleater,sweet I think the lowing you make in the glen.Home sickness for my little dwelling has come upon my mind,the calves in the plain, the deer on the moor.Oak, bushy, leafy, you are high above trees;Hazel, little branchy one, wisdom of hazel nuts.Alder, you are not spiteful, lovely is your colour,you are not prickly where you are in the gap.Blackthorn, little thorny one, black little sloe bush,Apple tree, little apple tree, violently everyone shakes you.Bramble, little humped vine, you do not grant fair terms;tearing me till you are sated with blood.Yew, you are conspicuous among tombs;Rowan, little berried one, sacred is your lovely white blooms.Holly, little protector, door against storms;Ash tree weapon in the hand of the warrior, baneful are you.Birch, smooth, blessed, proud, melodious,how lovely is each entangled branch at the top of your crest.Aspen, as it trembles from time to time I hear its leaves rustle and think it is the foray;Ivy, you are familiar in the dark woods.

In his book, “The White Godess” R.Graves comments about the preservation of genuine interest in ancient Ireland. Irish triads in the seventh century earlier demanded the death penalty for the illegal felling of two chief trees, the hazelnut and apple Three things that do not breathe should be payed with only things they breathe, An apple, a hazelnut and a sacred wood.He also says that in the Medieval Ireland were running several classification systems of trees. He cites a poem of the seventeenth century which gives list of the seven heads trees, but with alder, the willow and birch, instead of ash, yew and pine, and the fine for his illegal logging was a cow, or three for the whole woodland. For the Brehon Law trees were divided into four categories, Seven Headed Trees, Rustic Seven Trees, Seven Shrubs, Eight Thorny bushes, with a scale of fines for illegal logging which severely diminished by category. It is noteworthy that in this case the trees prized for their noble heads or sacrosanct, were: 1. Oak, because of their size, beauty, and its acorns to pigs that fatten 2. Hazel, for their nuts and brambles 3. Holly, on his wooden lances used in car 4. Yew, for its wood, used for homemade dishes, petos, etc. 5. Fresno, for its timber, used to make the throne of the King, and horns for weapons. 6. Pine, for his wood used to make punches. 7. Appletree, for its fruit and bark suited to the tannery.