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Light Sleeper

Mick Fitzgerald And The Bacha Trio - Light Sleeper

This is a selection of his own songs, written over a long period. His songs have frequently been recorded by others, including June Tabor, but Mick is their best interpreter.

Damage Limitation

Damage Limitation

You can get it on the website Claddagh Records. It can also be bought in “Claddagh Records” in Cecelia Street, “Tower Records” in Wicklow Street and “Dolphin Discs” of Moore Street. There is also an interest in Germany and the CD can be bought by e-mailing This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it..

Here is a German Web review.The Cd is doing good things in Germany.

http://www.welt-musik.net/?p=2859

Irish music used to have and still has many friends in Germany. The best known Irish band over here certainly are the Dubliners, “Ireland’s Oberkrainer”, as a friend once called them. Later on there were bands like Clannad who unfortunately got lost in the esoteric scene. Some of the bands that faded with time might have taken the steps to get back into shape and used medifast to help get they're life back on track. One way they might have gotten onto the plan was by getting some medifast coupons to kick start themselves into it.

The Wild Geese were not quite as well known. But they did just as much to give Irish music such a good name over here. There name was best known in the years around 1980. Mick Fitzgerald, who previously had been active in other bands, joined the Wild Geese in 1983, as a singer, guitar player and bodhrán player. After the Wild Geese stopped being active he concentrated on acting and writing.

But now this multi-talented artist is back with a solo-album, after a break of six years: “Damage limitation”, which he worked on for almost three years. And how does it sound? Irish, of course, but in no way like Irish stereotypes. It is a typical singer/songwriter album with an Irish touch. He presents his own songs with his own melodies, and the text are full of deep thoughts, which colours the mood on this album. The slighty melancholy cover with the autumn-like atmosphere seems to have been a conscious choice.

It’s an altogether unspectacular and unobtrusive album, which leaves us with a strong impression that this is a musician who wanted to see his music and his words in the centre of attention. It’s very easy to like this way of doing things.

Mick Fitzgerald really can afford to renounce the use of technical tricks. This way his very personal compositions become really effective. The music is unrestrained and not perfect and that makes it very effective and alive. All songs were written by himself. “Damage limitation” is a serious and very honest album made by one of the stalwarts of Irish music.

Mick Fitzgerald & The Bacha Trio: Damage limitation

Mick Fitzgerald & The Bacha Trio: Damage limitation
In Deutschland hatte und hat irische Musik viele Freunde. Die bekanntesten Vertreter dürften sicher die “Dubliners” sein, die “Oberkrainer Irlands”, wie sie ein Freund einmal bezeichnete. Später kamen dann Bands wie Clannad, die leider ins allzu esoterische abglitten
 
Nicht ganz so bekannt waren “Wild Geese”. Doch waren sie nicht minder beteiligt am guten Ruf irischer Musik. Vor allem um 1980 wurden sie zu einem festen Begriff. Mick Fitzgerald, der zuvor in anderen Bands Erfahrung sammelte, gesellte sich 1983 zu den “Wild Geese”, als Sänger, Gitarrist und Bodhránspieler. Eigentlich ist er Schauspieler und Journalist. Nachdem die “Wild Geese” ihre Aktivitäten zurückfuhren, konzentrierte er sich wieder auf die Schauspielerei und aufs Schreiben.
 
Nun lässt dieser vielseitige Künstler wieder, nach 6 Jahren Pause, mit einem Soloalbum von sich hören: “Damage limitation”. Fast drei Jahre hat er daran gearbeitet. Und wie klingt’s? Irisch natürlich, doch nicht nach irischen Klischees. Es ist ein typisches Singer/Songwriter-Album mit irischem Einschlag. Er vertont hier eigene Texte, in denen er sich teils tiefgründige Gedanken macht und entsprechend ist die Stimmung des Albums gefärbt. Das ernst wirkende herbstliche Cover ist bewusst gewählt.
Insgesamt ist das Album sehr unspektakulär und unaufdringlich. Die schlichte Produktion verstärkt den Eindruck, dass hier ein Musiker vor allem seine Musik und seine Texte im Mittelpunkt sehen wollte. Sehr sympathisch.

Mick Fitzgerald kann es sich in der Tat leisten, auf die Hilfe technischer Tricks zu verzichten. Seine intimen Kompositionen wirken so am besten. Gerade die Ungezwungenheit und Unvollkommenheit lässt die Musik sehr spontan und lebendig wirken. Alle Stücke stammen aus seiner Feder. “Damage limitation” ist ein ernstes und sehr ehrliches Album eines Urgesteins der irischen Musik.

Damage Limitation - Blog Review [http://theoldblognode.blogspot.com/]

Irish Music Magazine Interview

Memory Lane was one of the longest, most traveled thoroughfares in Ireland until money shortened our attention span. One curious effect of the Tiger economy was that people once permanently mired in the past suddenly began living in the present. It wasn’t exactly a mass conversion to Buddhism, since many elements of the plastic prosperity were purchased on what used to be called the “never-never” plan.

Mick Fitzgerald has been in and around the Irish music world for over thirty years. He must have felt a few times that his shot at fame (we won’t mention fortune) was also on the never-never. But singing and song writing got into his blood and he found the Irish song-stream to be profusely inspirational. His first solo album, Light Sleeper from 2003, stitched together a set of old songs with some crafty new ones –it was a memorable, if belated, debut for a singer-songwriter. His new record, Damage Limitation, follows the same pattern and it’s a more polished but equally powerful creation (available from Claddagh Records).

The lanes of Dublin were the most mysterious, explorable parts of the city when I was growing up. They were full of life, not all of it savory. Lanes were where kids stole apples and later, kisses. They were dangerous places too. I was robbed and roughed up as a kid in the lane where Vicar Street now stands. Lanes were a favorite prowling ground for pedophiles (the defrocked kind).

On the new album, Fitzgerald opens Conquistador with these lines,
An eight-year-old Conquistador / Running barefoot down the backlane /
And the sun shone that day like it never shone before.
The little adventurer was wary of the dangers but,
..his trusty wooden sword, keeps his enemies at bay.

Fitzgerald’s songs explore the mysteries and enigmas of memory. I had spent all my childhood summers, often barefoot, in a small village near Oughterard in Co Galway. When I went back in my twenties, I realized that rain was a constant in that Connemara climate. Yet, most of my memories were of glorious, golden days.

He seems to be channeling –consciously and otherwise-- the whole history of Irish music. And not just the Irish tradition, he watches and listens intently to a broad river of musical influence –folk songs, rhythm & blues, rock & roll, reggae, jazz, country & western, the whole polyglot palette. He is doing his creative committee work over the ages with fragments and samples borrowed artfully, as I noted in my interview with him in the May issue of Irish Music magazine. This sense of being timely and timeless is strengthened by his voice that manages to be as fresh as a waterfall and old as the hills.

On the first album the song Where the Green Rushes Grow covers the familiar territory of Irish emigration:
Dragged our bodies up the gangplank /Stood on deck to wave goodbye /
Drank a health to friends and neighbours /Wiped a tear from Ireland’s eye.
It goes on to describe some irritations of exile life in Britain:
Traffic here goes on forever / Nothing finished or begun /
Dogs and cats fight for the garbage / People curse in many tongues.

Fitzgerald set this song in the mood of 1957 but when I first heard those lines, I thought they described some of the frantic parts of Irish experience under the sway of the Celtic Tiger. It's as if time overtook the setting of the song and gave it a new resonance.

His attention to the past is not nostalgic. He has no time for those fake emotions. Here’s the bridge in that same song:
Until you’ve nothing left but stupid songs and bleary eyes /
And you drink yourself back home until the day you die.
Or this from The New Roads of England,
But beauty is nothing when money is tight / Now I’m ploughing the new roads of England.

Beauty and balance took a beating in Ireland when money was flowing and plenty of new roads were ploughed. So the times caught up with that song too, or, as the Bard has it, past is prologue.

Danny Carnahan, Berkeley-based singer-songwriter, has been a long-time champion of Fitzgerald’s music. He had this to say about his writing: “He has the poet's eye for detail, lingering on small things and letting the listener globalize to enrich the meaning.” The details are often powerful and poetic. Here’s some examples.
A thin girl with a Walkman / Has turned her back on school. (It Gets You in the End)
The only time he leaves you / Is when you need someone near.
(You Don’t Have to be Famous)
The old man stood up and he gazed at the train /
And the child in his eyes came creeping again.
(October)
Old memories can creep up and catch you unawares /
Old houses can be sold but you can still dream of the stairs
(Old Comics).

Pat Egan from Chulrua has recorded a number of Fitzgerald’s songs and he also admires the poetry of the lyrics. He told me, “Part of me is in some of Mick’s songs.” Fitzgerald does recreate the cultural and emotional terrain of certain periods of life with his songs.
See her after twenty years in a shop somewhere /
Stands beside you for a moment, then she isn’t there
(When we left School).
This is a chance meeting with an old girlfriend who has no idea who you are. So they manage to be specific and yet generalizable, local but worldly. In our interview, he described the revelations that sometimes accompany song writing: "That’s what I was feeling all those years ago...or yesterday."

One of his finest songs (and it’s a challenge to pick out one) is Postscript from the first album, a tribute to Johnny Keenan, a brilliant former bandmate who departed long before his time. This epigraphic picture of youthful confidence and power would be hard to best:
We could panic still waters, we could slow down the wind
We could make or break hearts with our eyes…
Keenan, says Fitzgerald, Shone like a diamond / that never was found.

For a good while, his own songs were in danger of meeting the same fate. His songs are like diamonds, packing a lot of light and beauty into a small space.

His songs invite a kind of time travelling. Some are imaginative recreations of events that could have happened over a hundred years ago: Amidships and The Ballad of Will Johnson from the new album. Others already have a long tail. His best-known song, Rathdrum Fair, traveled to the U.S. with Carnahan in the late 1970s, entered the North American folk circuit, and came back to Ireland for a holiday in 2000 where Fitzgerald heard it sung by a Scottish busker.

Mick Fitzgerald’s music tells us why it’s important not to forget musical histories. The instrumentation is playfully nostalgic with doo-wop singing, plaintive saxophone, aching accordion and mandolin playing. It’s respectfully retro: the new album cover has him posed with one of those old boxy microphones that Elvis, Buddy Holly and their ilk used to wrestle with.

He’s probably best characterized as a reluctant romantic, a man with a generous heart, feeling the ongoing rush of time. He’s making an impression later in life when at least you are more appreciative. The boy in the song, Conquistador, grows old:
And the years just fell away / and faded into sand.
This is echoed in a recent rumination on aging and memory by another Irishman known as a wielder and welder of words:
“... As the memorable bottoms out
Into the irretrievable.”
(In The Attic, Seamus Heaney).

 

 

Mick FitzgeraldDAMAGE LIMITATION LYRICS

Download Song Lyrics here

1. When we left school
2. Said Annie – said she
3. The Ballad of Will Jonson
4. October
5. New Year’s Day
6. The Conquistator
7. Is that yourself that’s in it?
8. Old Comics
9. The Black Dodder Flowing
10. Damage Limitation
11. Amid Ships

WHEN WE LEFT SCHOOL

(1)Mick and the Bacha Trio in 2006 at the Cobblestone in Dublin.

We left school on a rainy evening
early in July.
All the years of life by numbers
had slowly drifted by
and you never forget, no you never forget.
Shook my hand all the teachers did
but our eyes they never met.

(2)

When we left school we smoked cigarettes
and went out into the world
grew our hair and stood on corners
watched the pretty girls
and you never forget, no you never forget
tried to tell her that you loved her
but your eyes they never met.

Refrain

Sometimes you dream in colour
Sometimes in black and white
Sometimes you almost touch her hand
But you never catch her eye.

Addressing the world from the Phoenix Park in Dublin(3)

You see her after twenty years
in a shop somewhere
You stand beside her for a moment
then she isn’t there
and you never forget, no you never forget
all the years just fell away
but your eyes they never met.

SAID ANNIE – SAID SHE

He’s the one that you can turn to
when your world is falling apart
but nobody really knows him
he keeps his cards close to his heart
away from all the madness
he says a prayer before he can sleep
he sees her face when his eyes are closed
he sees her constantly

Chorus

She touches his mind
She touches his heart
He holds her tightly
though they’re far apart
They walk together
through another night
She says tomorrow’s
gonna be alright.

(2)

She gathered him up in a whirlwind
He willingly went along
Suddenly she was everywhere
and suddenly she was gone
But he’s the one that you can turn to
When your world is falling apart
But nobody really knows him
He keeps his cards close to his heart.

Chorus

She touches his mind
She touches his heart
He holds her tightly
though they’re far apart
They walk together
through another night
She says tomorrow’s
gonna be alright.

THE BALLAD OF WILL JONSON

(1)

My name it is Will Jonson
I was servant to a Parson
who only gave me half of my real earnings
I could ill afford to question
for he could always get another man
another well worn ragbag short of working.

Chorus

Now I’ll spend my days a-wandering
to no man I’ll be bound
the only time he’ll walk on me
is when I’m dead below the ground
I’ll make eyes at rich ladies
hoping one will take to me
I’ll fill all her dreams if she will
put a fancy suit on me.

(2)

He had me running rings for them
doing everything for them
until one day in Capel Street
I hopped aboard a carriage
I said goodbye to the Four Courts
blessed myself going by the Brewery
had a last drink in the “Wren’s Nest”
and a last curse for the city.

Chorus

Now I’ll spend my days a-wandering
to no man I’ll be bound
the only time he’ll walk on me
is when I’m dead below the ground
I’ll make eyes at rich ladies
hoping one will take to me
I’ll fill all her dreams if she will
put a fancy suit on me.


(3)

I hear that there are villains
hiding somewhere in the mountains
and if the rich don’t give to Willie
then Willie’s going to rob them
I will join a band of robbers
vagabonds and aul odd jobbers
I’ll be one step from the hangman
and the flogger.

Chorus

Now I’ll spend my days a-wandering
to no man I’ll be bound
the only time he’ll walk on me
is when I’m dead below the ground
I’ll make eyes at rich ladies
hoping one will take to me
I’ll fill all her dreams if she will
put a fancy suit on me.


OCTOBER

(1)

The old man was brutal
but the old man was kind
he saw deep in the distance
left nothing behind
and October sent down
the first sign of snow
He stood on the platform
he was ready to go.

Chorus

He said I’m not October
and I’m not a train
and Jesus I don’t know
when I’ll be back here again.

(2)

The old man had vision
he knew deep in his heart
he’d step off the platform
and the train would depart
and October sent down
the first sign of snow
He stood on the platform
he was ready to go.

Chorus

He said I’m not October
and I’m not a train
and Jesus I don’t know
when I’ll be back here again.

(3)

The old man stood up and he gazed
at the train
and the child in his eyes came
creeping again
and October sent down the first sign
of snow
He stood on the Platform he was
ready to go.

NEW YEAR’S DAY

First Verse

An eastbound train on a New Year’s Day
Calls out as the night closes in
On the half empty stations
In sleepy old towns
And chimney smoke blowin’ in the wind

Second Verse

An old moon follows this train down the line
Another year over and down
Someone close by singing “Old Lang Syne”
Reminds me of when you were around.

Refrain

But the world turned so fast
And the years seemed to fly
And the picture just faded away
I don’t remember the laughter
I don’t remember the wine
Only you on a New Year’s Day

Chorus

I can see you you’re tired and you’re sleepy
And everyone’s going away
And you’ll sit by your window
Long after they’ve gone
It always rains on A New Year’s Day
It always rains on A New Year’s Day

Third Verse

I spend my whole life running into the night
Just like an old engine it seems
For better for worse
We loved and we lost
And buried it deep in a dream

Fourth Verse

So I drink to you now from God knows where
Reaching out on a New Years Day
Still I’m lost in the arms
Of an East Bound Train
Trying to push all the memories away

Refrain

But the world turned so fast
And the years seemed to fly
And the picture just faded away
I don’t remember the laughter
I don’t remember the wine
Only you on a New Year’s Day

Chorus

I can see you you’re tired and you’re sleepy
And everyone’s going away
And you’ll sit by your window
Long after they’ve gone
It always rains on A New Year’s Day
It always rains on A New Year’s Day

THE CONQUISTADOR

(1)

An eight year old Conquistador
running barefoot down a backlane
and the suns hone that day like it never
shone before
and who knows maybe it never shone
that way again.
and his trusty wooden sword kept
his enemies at bay
at eight years old you own the world
before you give it all away.

(2)

And he learned how to cower and he
learned how to hide
how to turn his collar to the howling
wind
he learned how to duck and he learned
how to hide
and did onto others as they did onto him.
And the years just fell away
and faded into sand
He never lived for any day
He wasn’t that kind of a man.

(3)

But the sun shone like a diamond
all so long ago
From early morning until the end
of light
A tired and weary Adventurero
was heading homewards for another
night
and his trusty wooden sword
would guide him through his
dreams
at eight years old you own the
world
for as far as you can see.

IS THAT YOURSELF THAT’S IN IT?

(1)

Mamma got the dinner on
moneyman all dead and gone
teacher taught me a new song
moneyman can’t sing along

Chorus

Is that yourself that’s in it?
Is that yourself that’s in it?

(2)

Pappa having a nightmare
Policemen running everywhere
Mamma tearing out her hair
moneyman too dead to care.

Chorus

Is that yourself that’s in it?
Is that yourself that’s in it?

(3)

Priest he say a silent prayer
for somebody who isn’t there
moneyman too dead to care
Pappa caught him in a snare.

Chorus

Is that yourself that’s in it?
Is that yourself that’s in it?

(4)

Hurry down, hurry down
hurry down, hurry down
moneyman below the ground
hurry down, hurry down.

Chorus

Is that yourself that’s in it?
Is that yourself that’s in it?


OLD COMICS NEVER DIE

(1)

Old comics never die
they just feel no more pain
Old jokes don’t fade away
the punchline stays the same
appearing here and there
in a venue close to you
Old comics never die
they just do what they do.

(2)

Old memories can creep up
and catch you unawares
old houses can be sold
but you can still dream of the stairs
though laughter can be brief
and leave without a sound
Old comics never die
they’ll always be around.

Refrain

Standing in a beam of light
another town another night
when the crowd is good the
world’s all right
but when they’re not
Oh when they’re not ---

(3)

There’s a place for everyone
no matter where they roam
your mind can wander free
but your dreams can have a home
appearing here and there
in a venue close to you
Old comics never die
they just do what they do.

THE BLACK DODDER FLOWING

(1)

Springtime had come
With the rain in the morning
And the swans changing plume
Scattered reeds blowing
And I a mere stranger
Had chanced without knowing
On the song of the
Black Dodder Flowing

Chorus

Spring rushes on and leaves you
And trees will be green while they stand
For seasons are only
A verse in your song
That you hold for a while in your hand.

(2)

She moves like a woman
That’s fancy and free
A woman with secrets
Well hidden from me
And bridges and houses
Keep growing keep growing
Soon they’ll bow to the
Black Dodder Flowing

Chorus

Spring rushes on and leaves you
And trees will be green while they stand
For seasons are only
A verse in your song
That you hold for a while in your hand.

(3)

I stood for a while
Where she turns for the sea
Saw the wind reach and touch her
Before turning to me
Then I walked along with her
Without ever knowing the song of the
Black Dodder Flowing

Chorus

Spring rushes on and leaves you
And trees will be green while they stand
For seasons are only
A verse in your song
That you hold for a while in your hand.



DAMAGE LIMITATION

(1)

I’m really gonna pay
I’ve nothing to protect me
You’re moving out today
It had to end this way
I’ve no one to defend me
and nothing left to say.

Chorus

Now all I know is from this very
moment
You won’t show your face again
time for damage limitation
spare ourselves the pain.

(2)

I really love your eyes
they were made to see right through me
to catch me when I lied
like the woman in the song
I held you for a moment
You were there and you were gone

Chorus

Now all I know is from this very
moment
You won’t show your face again
time for damage limitation
spare ourselves the pain.

Refrain

Maybe time will have its way and then
Your memories fade and life begins again.

Chorus

Now all I know is from this very
moment
You won’t show your face again
time for damage limitation
spare ourselves the pain.

AMID SHIPS

(1)

If you look out through the porthole
You can almost see the sky
black and unforgiving
you can hear the timber sigh
and sailors curse above us
and fight against the swell.
Prisoners down here praying
one step away form hell
there was no one at the quayside
to wave us a goodbye
We slipped out of the harbour
with our backs against the night
Oh Jesus in your mercy
look down upon this man
put your hand upon the waters
and steer us to dry land
and every small snatch of sleep
brings me home again.

(2)

My woman thinks I’m dead
I’m glad it worked that way
If she knew where I was bound
I know she’d fade away
and sometimes in the night
the creaking of the timber reminds me of the last time
we ever spent together.
And I curse the God damn whiskey
that put me in these chains
I’m half way to Australia
I won’t see her again
Oh Jesus in your mercy
look down upon this man
Put your hand upon the waters
and steer us to dry land
and every small snatch of sleep
brings me home again.

(3)

I’ve done so many bad things
I pray for your forgiveness
this cursed boat is screaming
I’m down here in the darkness
]and sometimes late at night
the creaking of the timber
reminds me of the times
I thought I’d live forever
down here there is no morning
no looking at the dawn
Just Prayers amid the curses
and time feels its way along
Oh Jesus in your mercy
look down upon this man
Put your hand upon the water
and steer us to dry land
and every small snatch of sleep
brings me home again.