Celtic Heart LP Behind The Scenes
The genesis of Celtic Heart ,the album begins last century, as the album title track tells in “ a place called Knocknageehe, County mayo”. This was the birth place of my Grandfather Pa Murphy who grew up with his seven siblings and endured the famine with his family. His Mum died early and the Catholic tradition deemed it inappropriate to marry again so his Father brought up all the children on his own. My Dad took me over with my two brothers and visited the farm on a family bonding trip. We were travelling down these very narrow lanes, using our smart phone to chart a course to the old homestead. Remarkably we found it and as we stood outside the place, a local farmer with gumboots above his knees, and a thick midlands accent, asked us if we were lost and then proceeded to invite us all in for a cup of tea and a look around. This is the opening scene and context for my home-made travel video for the song:
This profound meeting inspired a song-writing session in the coastal town of Clifden, at Abbyglen Castle. I had visited this Castle with Dad and brothers and shared a beer. Thought it might be good to come back to on my own as I had a few days before flying out. Some old Irish ladies gave me a lift from the bus. They had been staying at the Castle for 50 years. I had an incredible time. They messed up the booking true Irish style and I ended up having all my meals covered (silver closh and all) and champagne in the evenings. Later on I would debut Celtic Heart, after I had written it by the piano with all the guests for the obligatory nightime singalong. Here is the work in progress just after suffering the worst flu of my life!! Hence Mr Croak. Lyrics on the final version were tweaked.
The next stage of this was dropping in on the way to Lismore for work at Guy Andertons home studio. I played him the song Through the Hills of Inishmore and an hour later drums were done. I was originally going to get a traditional Irish drum sound but Guy did a pretty good Irish feel on his toms for the track .Thought it matched the energy of the track. Has a Fleetwood Mac Tusk feel solo'd. Guys drums solo (starts 26 secs):
Here is the original version which was much slower and doesn't feature the skipping 12 8 groove:
Next a quick acknowledgement to Chris Aronsten a very authentic local North Coast Australia performer. He came in and played a great fiddle. When I asked him about his inspiration he said he wanted to give it that “West Coast” irish feel. Additionally he also played some mandolin on his 1930’s Gibson Mandolin! Here is clip introducing Chris:
Matt Connolly who played the Irish (UIlian) pipes (on Celtic Heart, Sailing, Through The Hills of Inishmore), shared to me that he made them himself. He has a great affinity with Irish music and plays special music with an Australian Irish feel. This is a short clip of him in the zone on the pipes but he also played the Bodhran on Lovers Breathe :
Introducing the folk aficionado Chris Sullivan. I first met Chris in Uki playing at the Sphinx Rock Cafe. He told me he was doing a doctorate in the origins of traditional Australian Fold Music. In my work at Southern Cross University (SCU ) in Lismore I met Chris a few years later as he smoked a rolly (handmade cigarette). I was on my way out and after a quick chat found out that he played the concertina. As I walked off I was hearing the track in my head and could hear the concertina sound. I walked straight back and asked Chris if he would play. When we got together the recording studio was down so I ended up borrowing a zoom field recorded and recording via Garaband.
Also I wanted to tag in this man Adrian Brett. Such a beautiful flute player. He puts his heart and soul into his expression. We recorded in my home studio and this was one of his takes recording Lovers Breathe.
Bel McKenzie added extra lament to Track 6 She'll stand by Your side. The song is prayer to a friend when his wife was on life support and eventually passed with his unborn baby. Alone with their daughter this song was written as a balm. Bel played beautiful strings. One of my favs on the album.
Longtime collaborator and live guitarist and backing vocalist Mark Heazlett provided some beautiful acoustic guitar on tracks 1 and 6 adding to his co-production support for these tracks.
Finally introducing the incredible mixing and engineering and my brothers in arms co—producers for Celtic Heart Mark Heazlett, and Paul Pilsneniks “The Farm” up in the hills of Byron Bay.
The final video is my artist rant on the whole process and recording and its inspiration. I did this as a completion of my headspace behind the whole project. Honestly blessed to live here and work with the people I do. Much love and many blessings.