I was born and raised in the little town of Keady, County Armagh, and as far back as I can remember. there was music in our house.
I was weaned on folk music, nourished on Gregorian Chant and rushed headlong through my teens performing a potpourri of folk, "pop" and Country and Western songs with wild abandon to the strains of a local dance band. Then came the giant step of emigrating to America to pursue fame and fortune as an actor.
There was a friend I had met in Ireland, before emigrating, who was also going to New York to work in the theater. His name was Liam Clancy, and while renewing our friendship in New York, I met two of his brothers, Paddy and Tom, and shortly thereafter, the folksinging quartet of The Clancy Brothers and Tommy Makem came into being. We have traveled many miles and have sung an awful lot of songs together, and, thank God, we're still going strong, but that's another story.
Over the years, while we were singing our folk songs from one end of the world to the other, I have kept a very sympathetic ear open to what was happening in the world of popular music and was delighted with the exciting things the young musicians and songwriters were doing and the new dimensions they were exploring. Then I noticed that this new music was heading more and more toward a wedding of folk and Country and Western with a very liberal spicing of the blues, and as a result of all this mixing and reworking, the musical world has been enriched with some very beautiful songs. Anyway, all these things happening all around me stirred my imagination and made me want to experiment and try something new, and this album is the result. Besides, ever since my dance-band days, I have had a secret desire to do a recording of songs like these, with only the best musicians, like the ones you'll hear on this record, to do the backing.
As for writing the songs, James Stephens, my favorite Irish poet and writer, once stated that one doesn't decide to write poem (or song), it decides it wants you to write it, and it grabs you by the back of the neck and says write me. Most of these songs were written in the most unlikely places — a subway train, a plane over Canada, driving alone in a car, sitting at the kitchen table, waiting for my wife to get ready to go out. lying in a field — a song is not too particular where and when it decides it should be written, so I always carry a little notebook and a pen.
I hope you'll like the recording and the songs, and that, perhaps, from time to time you'll find yourself singing one of them.