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In Praise of Brian O'Rourke

Matthew Edwards 23 Jan 11 - 11:43 AM
Micca 23 Jan 11 - 02:43 PM
GUEST,George Henderson 23 Jan 11 - 05:10 PM
MARINER 24 Jan 11 - 08:24 AM
Matthew Edwards 24 Jan 11 - 08:41 AM
MartinRyan 24 Jan 11 - 10:33 AM
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Subject: In Praise of Brian O'Rourke
From: Matthew Edwards
Date: 23 Jan 11 - 11:43 AM

During the course of a very enjoyable evening at the Four Fools club on 10 January, Donal Maguire sang several brilliant songs written by Brian O'Rourke. I was so impressed by the quality of these songs that I ordered the CD from Custy's of Ennis. The CD duly arrived a couple of days ago, since when I've been playing it almost continually and I'm still laughing yet!

Some of the lyrics have already been posted here on Mudcat: Drumsnot is a classic version of the 'praise of place' type of song turned on its head, with such memorable lines as
"By the effluent pump near the rubbish dump,
I courted her right well"

but although the words are very well crafted, it is the singing by Brian which takes the parody into another league altogether, and as with all the songs on this CD, this really is a song made for a live performance.

'When I Grow Up' aka 'The Bodhrán Song' is one of the finest examples of a now well-established genre of bodhran songs. It seems that Tim Lyons, Fintan Vallely and Brian O'Rourke were touring together in Scotland in 1988 where they were all inspired by a postcard of a lamb depicted in panic stricken flight which Tim Lyons thought represented the "Escape from the Bodhrán Makers".
Subsequently Fred McCormick of this parish wrote "The Goat Replies" in answer to Brian O'Rourke's song, and there are rumours of many more such songs in circulation.

There isn't much I can say about Chantal de Champignon that hasn't already been said, but as an admirer of the mixed metaphor, I'm speechless with awe at the line
"Now an awful lot of water has been led to the slaughter"
It seems that drivers listening to the cassette recording of Chantal have been responsible for a number of near-misses on Irish roads owing to their being overcome with laughter. It might be wise for future issues of the CD to include the warning "Do not listen whilst driving or operating machinery".

Donal Óg Replies is an artful riposte to the great Gaelic love song Donal Óg, while Your Place or Mine, is a very well aimed satire at the mining fever that fuelled some of the excesses of the late Celtic Tiger.

The CD is described as a collection of "jocoserious songs", and it is clear that Brian is one of a number of contemporary singers who are using traditional styles to comment very effectively on the events they witness around them, whether with savage wit or a more tender humour. Brian O'Rourke's songs show that he is a keen and knowledgeable scholar* of the tradition, and that the tradition is flourishing well in the 21st century.

Sadly The Banks of The Rhine isn't included on the CD, but it leads me to hope that Mr O'Rourke is still composing (rather than decomposing), and that there might one day be a second CD.


Matthew Edwards

*Brian actually is a scholar who has written two books on traditional Gaelic song, as well as a novel 'An Island Place', and a more academic study of one of the themes in Chantal de Champignon, 'Conscience of the Race: Sex and Religion in French and Irish Novels, 1941-1973'.


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Subject: RE: In Praise of Brian O'Rourke
From: Micca
Date: 23 Jan 11 - 02:43 PM

Like you, Matthew I was introduced to Brians work by hearing someone else sing some of his songs (Thanks Finbar) and ordered the CD from Custys, He (Brian) is truly a skilled and very funny songwriter, but what also struck me was not only his skill with words but his ability to parody the musical styles that often appear in Irish Traditional song also, From Séan Nos to the Nasal, overdecorated, "Irish tenor" style known and hated throughout the world! Brian is Brilliant in my book, I fell off my sofa listening to Chantal du Champignon, and Drumsnot too!


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Subject: RE: In Praise of Brian O'Rourke
From: GUEST,George Henderson
Date: 23 Jan 11 - 05:10 PM

The CD is great but you really need to see and hear the man live. We had him as a guest both in Nenagh a number of years back and in Bray about 3 years ago. He has written a number of songs which are not yet recorded. But it is live performance that is important. On his initial rendering of Chantelle it took him nearly 45 minutes to get through the song because of the constant laughter which was so loud he had to stop until it subsided.

If you are reading this Brian I look forward to seeing you in Ballyvaughan on 11th 12th 13th 14th February. 29 years this year.


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Subject: RE: In Praise of Brian O'Rourke
From: MARINER
Date: 24 Jan 11 - 08:24 AM

I heard someone sings some of those songs to great effect in Feakle last summer.Could have been Brian, but whoever it was he was brilliant, funny and entertaining .Perhaps Martin Ryan could tells enlighten me. Was it him?


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Subject: RE: In Praise of Brian O'Rourke
From: Matthew Edwards
Date: 24 Jan 11 - 08:41 AM

Micca, please pass on my regards to Finbar when you next see him. He's quite a fixture at Bradfield Traditional Music Festival; indeed the first time I heard him there he sang a song written by Liz the Squeak!

George sounds right though that these songs are best heard live; the CD at least gives something of the flavour by using recordings of actual performances in pubs. Good comic singing is quite an art - Donal Maguire and Finbar Wall are both masters at it - the timing is everything, and the right gesture or expression can turn an otherwise mildly amusing phrase into something utterly hilarious which makes the audience collapse with laughter for a full three quarters of an hour!

Matthew


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Subject: RE: In Praise of Brian O'Rourke
From: MartinRyan
Date: 24 Jan 11 - 10:33 AM

Mariner

Yes - in fact Feakle is now home territory to Brian and family. His wife Paula, herself a fine singer (and radio producer) is from the area.

Regards


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