Saturday, November 29, 2014


Pity the poor emigrant. No, this isn't a misprint. You can, and maybe will, blame this on my inability to fully appreciate Thanksgiving; isn't it around "my" country's failure to win the War of Independence? Anyhow, whatever Bobby Z has to say about the poor immigrant, how about the other side of the coin? So here is one of my favourites, Paul Brady, voicing the plight of the refugee. This is around the mass migration of the Irish to the UK, usually for work:

Maybe I am playing with tautology, but it gives me opportunity to write about Paul Brady and the Hibernian drift overseas more generally.

Paul Brady is still not and has probably never been a household name, but the chances are you will be familiar with his songs through either Bonnie Raitt or Tina Turner. It was actually substantially after he started his recording career that he made a transition from traditional Irish folk to writing his own wider derived material.

Between 1967 and 1974 he was a member of The Johnstons, before becoming a latter-day member of the definitive revivalists, Planxty, in time for their final first time around recording, and then as a duo with Andy Irvine, from which I give you his showstopping version of Arthur McBride, still staple of his live performance. Subsequently, in 1981, he launched his non-traditional solo career, with Hard Station, from which the featured song above derives. A string of albums appeared throughout the 80s, leading even Bob Dylan, 2nd mention, to comment: "People get too famous too fast these days and it destroys them. Some guys got it down-Leonard Cohen, Paul Brady, Lou Reed......

Perhaps of interest is the above, from a 1977 rarity, which explores what may have happened to Arthur McBride, had he accepted the Kings Shilling, again a reflection of the plight of those transplanted, for whatever reason, from their homes.

Brady continues to work and continues to tour. seek him out, if you can. As a final pointer, returning again to the intended theme, here is another version of the song that leads this piece, this time from a BBC series that became a double disc CD that I also endorse, dealing with the whole gamut of Irish emigration to the UK, USA and beyond, "Bringing it all Back Home". Here's a link to Philip King, whose brainchild it had been.

Buy Paul Brady

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