Some Christmas post arrived through the letterbox yesterday. It was a pleasant surprise as I'd forgotten that I'd ordered it. I was watching the TV late one evening a couple of weeks ago and I'm pretty sure I must have been intoxicated whilst doing so. I saw an ad for something that featured the song 'Popcorn'. For many years I had led myself to believe that the song was a Jean Michel Jarre penned ditty. As it turns out I was completely wrong. On foot of watching the ad I decided that I had to have the song on vinyl. Don't ask me why I thought this but that's how my mind was working at the time. I did a quick Google on 'Popcorn Jean MichelJarre' and imagine my surprise when one of the links told me that the song was not written by Monsieur Jarre but by a gent called Gershon Kingsley. Quelle surprise. As it turns out Jean Michel also released a version under the Popcorn Makers moniker three years after the original release. In all its been recorded by artists too numerous to mention but you can find a list of them here. Anyhow I decided to buy the Gershon Kingsley album that it originally featured on. It's called 'Music to Moog By' and on first listen its a welcome addition to the ever increasing amount of vinyl in my house. It's a bit of a rawer and funkier version than the one that was re-recorded by Kingsley and released under the artist name, Hot Butter. Here's Mr Kingsley playing it on piano earlier this year:
Besides buying stuff online when I'm in bits I also take a look at the papers. Today I was reading an interview with Glen Hansard in The Irish Times. I don't know Glen too well but I have met him a few times over the years. I like the chap and have always been impressed how he's kept plugging away doing his music thing over the years. I'm not a fan of The Frames music but they always seemed to work their nuts off. Their sell out Irish gigs over the last few years are also a testament to a very loyal fanbase. As mentioned I like Glen, but I like him even more after reading the interview. He told a few truths about the current state of the Irish psyche, truths that I'd been thinking about over the last couple of years. I think that Glen earned a bit of a reputation as being too earnest following his stint on the 'Other Voices' TV show on RTE a few years back. Alongside his earnest tag you can now put honest. Fucks sake I wish people levelled the charge of being earnest and honest against me. I can fully understand most of the stuff he has to say about Ireland but in case you missed today's paper here's an extract from it:
Later he suggests this in-between stage, this confused point, is probably not a good time to be doing interviews. But at the same time he has a lot to get off his chest. For starters these days Dublin makes him feel claustrophobic and Ireland is not, certainly in the near future, the place he wants to call home. "I am so proud to be Irish but there are so many problems with the Irish at the moment. Our nation is in a state of not knowing who it is right now. There's a painful change going on. It feels to me there is this caustic atmosphere. If I ever go to Whelan's now, which is rarely, I have to say I feel a dead energy," he says.
He won't refer, in this context, to an economic boom or a success story, and prefers the term "economic upheaval".
"I think it has been damaging," he says. "Everybody has just suddenly realised they can have what they want and they are all acting more like Americans. There is a different atmosphere than there was when I was growing up in the 1970s and 1980s. The Irish are not cool people, Italians are cool people, and people from London and New York are cool. We aren't, we are a heady kind of people, so an Irish person wearing an FCUK top with Deisel jeans and Dolce and Gabbana sunglasses - we just look like idiots. I don't think we wear that stuff well."
You get the sense he can't get over how it happened, how Ireland went from being "not that far away from being a third-world country to being like pigs at the trough". He doesn't understand how having made "a bit of money" from the film he still can't afford a house in Dublin.
"I find it depressing the way we treat ourselves . . . the country is being divided into small lots of expensive apartments, new roads, new cars . . . the Government is almost forcing us to pull up to standards that we can't afford, that are beyond us, so there will be a collapse. We could do with some humility here."
I hear you brother, tell it like it is. If you want to watch the archived 'Other Voices' you can access them here.