2013 WHAT A GOOD YEAR FOR THE ROSES.
Well lads just to say that i had a brilliant year in 2013 in the Hit Factory. Not boasting like, but it was a very sweet year writing songs, recording them, traveling around Ireland with nice people, having fun, working, making a few bob, keeping the wolf from the door. I don't think life gets any better really, or maybe it does. Anyway I am very grateful for the good times.
I got my own series on TG4, our Gaelic TV station, called SPILLANE AN FÁNAÍ, I signed a new recording contract with UNIVERSAL RECORDS, I released a new album called LIFE IN AN IRISH TOWN.
All this started in January with a trip to Austria with the Ian Dempsey Morning Breakfat Show on Today Fm. Every year Ian heads to the snow and this year I was brought along as the entertainer. In the past they have had The Saw Doctors, Mary Coughlan etc. I spent two days on the slopes and learned how to ski, kind of, and I wrote a song for my wife Cathy who came along on the trip; it's called CATHY IN THE SNOW.
When I came home I wrote a song called TAKEN for an association called CRY, Cardiac Risk in the Young. It is also for Tony Heffernan of Bee For Battens and other people who have lost children. A very sad song.
In late January I was invited to the great Celtic Connections Festival in Glasgow to be the Irish representative at the MICHAEL MARRA Tribute Concert. Michael was a brilliantly original songwriter from Dundee who died last year. The love in the Glasgow Concert Hall was immense, Eddie Reader was on one side of me and Dougie MacLean on the other as we all sang Michael's songs. You can see and hear some of these great songs on Youtube, e.g. HERMLESS, IF DUNDEE WAS AFRICA, FRIDA KAHLO'S VISIT TO THE TAYBRIDGE BAR etc.
I had another great gig around that time as part of Temple Bar Trad Fest, in Christchurch Cathedral, Dublin. The event was called A STÓR MO CHROÍ, it was a sold out concert with myself, Karan Casey, Lumiere, Muireann Nic Amhlaoibh, John MacSharry, Donal O' Connor and Donogh Hennessy. It was based on an album called A STÓR MO CHROÍ - Songs of Love and Loss released by CELIC NOTE Nassau Street Dublin.
In the spring I went on the road with Forefront Productions making my own TV series called SPILLANE AN FÁNAÍ for TG4. We visited 6 small towns around Ireland and spent a week in each town, in six great Irish pubs, where i worked behind the bar, meeting local characters, learning about local folklore, history, music, and then i wrote a song about each town.
It was great to work with the Forefront team; Tony and Joe MacCarthy, Barry Donnellan, Paschal Casssidy, Colm Ó Méalóid, Ciara Hyland, Jean Crowley.
The towns we visited were Graiguenamanagh County Kilkenny, Fethard County Tipperary, Castleisland County Kerry, Cootehill County Cavan, Kiltimagh County Mayo, and Castlepollard County Westmeath.
Tony, my boss, did not put me under any pressure to write these songs. 'You might write a verse about the town' he said, but lads I found myself making up a song about Graiguenamangh straight away;
'Graiguenamangh, Graiguenamanagh, on the banks of the shining Barrow, I found peace in Graiguenamanagh, at the side of that lovely stream'
I was away then! I wrote a funny song about Fethard featuring the goose on the loose, the hassle in the castle, the monk in the bunk, and a riddle I had picked up along the road; - Q. What made the Hearse Horse Hoarse?
A. The Coffin!
So then I had two songs written and to make a long story short I ended up writing six songs. It was like doing homework for the teacher at school long 'go, writing a composition for the end of the week, like.
I wrote big blogs about each town which are up on my "John's Journal" on my website.
Anyway next thing my long time genius of a manager Lorcan Ennis went into Universal Records and got a deal for me to release a 6 track e.p. of these six new songs to coincide with the TV show.
My last record company E.M.I. were sold to Universal last year and I was very sad to see them go, as I had a really good relationship with them for the past 12 years.
Universal said YES and I was back in business with a new company. I then went and turned the 6 track e.p. into a full album by writing a seventh song called 'Life In An Irish Town'. I then added in two songs from my own town of Pasage West; THE BALLAD OF PATRICK MURPHY and THE FERRY ARMS and I was away in a hack; I threw in two songs about wandering and I had a full album.
This was released in September to coincide with the series. Flying lads, flying! Album title 'LIFE IN AN IRISH TOWN' - John Spillane, Universal Records (Ireland) 2013.
The title track LIFE IN AN IRISH TOWN got quite a bit of airplay but it was in fact THE FERRY ARMS that really took off on radio, especially on the Ray Darcy and Ian Dempsey radio shows, and a number of local radio stations around Ireland.
In September I was invited to the IRISH ARTS CENTRE New York for a sold out gig.
Forefront kindly went on to produce a video of THE FERRY ARMS which came out in December, caused a bit of a sensation and gave a lot of people a lot of enjoyment! Here's the link www.youtube.com/watch?v=s5ZzfrH7KhU
They also kindly invited me to present a TV show called GEANTRAÍ NA NOLLAG, a top class Irish traditional Music show which went out on TG4 on Christmas Day.
Other highlights of the year were writing THE DE BARRAS SONG for de Barra's Bar in Clonakilty, West Cork, where I play a monthly residency on the first thursday of every month.
Writing a song called THE BALLAD OF THE STEAMSHIP SIRIUS for the Nautical Festival here in Passage West.
Writing a song for Paidí Ó Sé (still not completely finished). I have played many great nights in Paidí's in Ventry and was very sad to see him pass away this time last year.
Writing a song called THE FAIRIES at the William Allingham Arts Festival in Ballyshannon, County Donegal. ( Up the airy mountain and down the rushy glen, we daren't go a hunting for fear of little men)
I also performed two gigs with the Choir of University College Cork, in the Honan Chapel in March and in the Everyman Palace in December. Eva MacMullan conducts this excellent choir and wrote parts for them to 5 of my original songs. It was absolutely lovely to sing with them.
I wrote 14 songs in 2013, which was an awful lot of songs for me, like. I only wrote 2 the previous year like.
Here's my crop of new songs.
1. CATHY IN THE SNOW
4. FETHARD TOWN
6. NEAR COOTEHILL TOWN
9. LIFE IN AN IRISH TOWN
10. THE DE BARRAS SONG
11. THE BALLAD OF THE STEAMSHIP SIRIUS
13. THE FAIRIES (words W. Allingham )
14. PÁIDÍ Ó SÉ
As if all that wasn't enough like; as well as having my own new album LIFE IN AN IRISH TOWN released on UNIVERSAL Ireland September 2013, I also had three brilliant covers done of songs i wrote or co-wrote, and two songs appeared on two deadly Irish Compilation albums.
Song; ALL THE WAYS YOU WANDER - (written by me) Sung by Bernie Morris on her brilliant debut album also called ALL THE WAYS YOU WANDER.
Song; ÉIST DO BHÉAL - (written by John Spillane and Louis de Paor) sung by Niamh Dunne of BEOGA on her debut solo album PORTRAITS.
Song; HAITI - (written by Christy Moore and John Spillane) sung by Christy on his amazing new album WHERE I COME FROM.
Song; THE LAND YOU LOVE THE BEST- (written and performed by me) featured on this great new compilation of Irish Traditional Music called IRISH WAYS - MUSIC AND SONG OF IRELAND, Celtic Note records.
Song; BUILE MO CHROÍ - (written by John Spillane and Louis de Paor) performed by me and featured on this brilliant record called CELTIC INVASION compiled by Larry Kirwan (New York, of Black 47 fame) from his most requested Rock tracks on his Sirius XM show Celtic Crush.
Yes it was certainly a very good year for the roses! Roll on 2014! Happy New Year, Well Done Everyone, Well Done!, Johnny The Dreamer Spillane, Passage West, County Cork, January 2014!
Published on 27th March 2016