Dec 08 2010

Yes, I remember Rory

Published by under tribute songs

There have been a number of original songs dedicated to the memory of Rory Gallagher; all are heartfelt salutes to the man who put Ireland on the Rock ‘n Roll map. As a frequent visitor to Youtube and other music related sites, I’ve noticed that you don’t see many tribute songs to other artists like you do for Rory. Sure, there are countless covers of Jimi Hendrix songs, or Stevie Ray Vaughn songs on the web, but very rarely do you see songs written in tribute to these famous guitarists, no original songs honoring their fallen heroes. Not the case with Rory. From professional musicians in recording studios to amateur guitarists fiddling with Videocams, there are numerous tribute songs honoring the Irishman’s genius, his humanity, and his humility. Which only brings it home how much he has meant to his fans! For not only do musicians cover Rory Gallagher songs, start up Rory Gallagher tribute bands, and even name their pets and children after him, they also write songs about him.

So here is a “taste” of some of my favorite tributes that I’ve come across on Youtube. Some I’ve written about before, others are more recent finds. First up is Pierce Turner’s “The Ballad of Rory Gallagher”.

    The Ballad of Rory Gallagher

  • Pierce Turner grew up in the small port town of Wexford, on the southeastern coast of Ireland. It would be hard to imagine a time when music DIDN’T play an important role in Pierce Turner’s life. His Mom managed a record store and was the singer in her own band, The Mary Roche Band, and his Dad would sing at parties and lead the sing alongs. By the age of seven, he was a member of a traditional Irish tin whistle group, and at eight, he was playing in a brass and reed orchestra.

    music has always been there, it’s in my DNA. My Mother wrapped an accordion around me when I was in the womb. — Pierce Turner

    After serving a short musical apprenticeship with the Irish Showband, Mick Roche and the Arrows, Pierce moved to New York in the early 70’s with fellow Wexford native Larry Kirwan. The duo formed Turner and Kirwan of Wexford, and produced two albums: Absolutely and Completely and Bootleg. In 1978 the duo worked briefly with poet/spoken word performance artist, Copernicus, before forming new wave band, The Major Thinkers, with Peter Collins on Bass and Thomas Hamlin on drums. They had a modest hit with “Avenue B” on Epic Records. The band called it quits in 1985 and Pierce went on to become an accomplished solo artist, releasing 7 critically acclaimed albums including the Philip Glass produced, It’s Only a Long Way Across nominated for the U.S album of the year on the New York Music Awards in 1986. In 1991 he released Now is Heaven and was voted Irish Solo Performer of the Year by Hot Press Magazine. His song “Wicklow Hills” was voted among the top twenty-five Irish songs of all time by Today FM, and legendary Irish balladeer, Christy Moore covered the song in his 1984 classic album Ride On. In fact, Christy wrote a narrative piece entitled, “The Way Pierce Turner Sings” for his 2004 box set that describes Pierce’s infamous in concert antics.

    I LOVE the way Pierce Turner sings. He walks on the table tops and dances between the ashtrays and the glasses. As the women peek up the leg of his trousers he lets on not to notice. — excerpt from Christy Moore’s, “The Way Pierce Turner Sings”

    In 2002 Pierce Turner performed at the Rory Gallagher tribute show at the historic Bottom Line Cabaret in New York City along with a host of talented musicians such as Matt O’Ree, Sean Fleming, Seamus Kelleher of Blackthorn and former bandmate Larry Kirwan of Black 47. At the show, Pierce performed a beautiful homage to the Irish blues legend, titled “The Ballad of Rory Gallagher,” a song he wrote especially for the show.

    Rory was one of the top five best live artists that I have ever seen. He is also the most underrated of my top five. That amount of talent coupled with his lack of need for world domination intrigues my imagination. I could explore my idea of the missing pieces of information in Rory’s life. We don’t know everything about him. He was quiet. And brilliant. That’s rare. Plus he was from a small Irish town like myself. I could imagine being inside his head.And the complexities of being an Irish rock musician when the world thought we were leprechauns! — Pierce Turner

    The Bottom Line tribute was filmed by Home Team Productions and a one hour documentary of the New York tribute titled, Songs & Stories: New York Remembers Rory Gallagher was released in 2005. The documentary was directed by Stephanie Silber and Victor Zimet and provides a fascinating look at the life and times of Rory Gallagher through his songs and stories and by those who were inspired by them.

    Songs & Stories: New York Remembers Rory Gallagher looks at the tribute paid to Rory by a number of mainly Irish-American musicians in New York’s The Bottom Line club on Oct. 23, 2002. Organized by Blackthorn guitarist and Gallagher devotee Seamus Kelleher, the concert featured contributions from Kelleher himself, Pierce Turner, Larry Kirwan (from Black 47), Sean Fleming, Bugs Moran, Justin Jordan and many more. The DVD features footage from the concert as well as interviews with the main players and Donal Gallagher, Rory’s brother and manager. Interspersed throughout are performances from Rory himself, and it is these that add the requisite poignancy to the whole thing. — Sean Walsh

    With the kind permission of Home Team Productions, I’ve uploaded a video clip of Pierce Turner’s homage to Rory Gallagher taken from the documentary. The song can also be found on Pierce’s 2005 album release, The Boy to Be With.

  • Rory Gallagher: No Platform Shoes

  • The Complimentary Copies are an avant-garde pop group from Yorkshire, England. The band features Colin Agnew on guitar, Neil Sheard on Drums and Keyboard, and Jules Hammond on Bass. According to their myspace page they’ve been playing together on and off for 5 years, and have recently regrouped and “spending our collective efforts working on 16 track home-studio pieces in preparation for their “real” album.” Their tribute to Rory is a unique piece of Pop, that will have you tapping your feet in no time. It’s a collaboration between The Complimentary Copies and an Austrian-based Northern Ireland artist Drew Cannavan. The music and lyrics were written by Colin Agnew (also originally from Northern Ireland) and features a contribution from Drew on the guitar solo.

    ‘No Platform Shoes’ was conceived as a Northern Ireland ex-pat’s tribute to one of his hometown’s and childhood heroes

    Rory Gallagher: No Platform Shoes by Colin Agnew

    Well he was born as close for a Celt to the distant banks of the Mississippi Delta
    The blues bug must have traveled the Gulf Stream to the west coast of Ireland’s awaiting Fender Superdream

    He didn’t wear no platform shoes cos’ Rory Gallagher just played the Blues.

    No glitter n’ tinsel or Gibson Goldtops, no radio airplay or Top of The Pops
    His crest of a wave lasted 47 years he was unique amongst players and absent of peers

    If you happened to be there in ’74 I’m hoping this song just might open the door
    To those days of excitement of Gallagher fever when the love of the blues just got deeper and deeper.

    No fancy light shows he didn’t want that, just delivered his message through a ’61 Strat
    No heroin, coke or LSD, well he probably said, “Grass, well that ain’t for me.”

    He didn’t wear no platform shoes cos’ Rory Gallagher just played the Blues.

    Jagger and Richards, they wanted to hire him but those popular songs they didn’t inspire him,
    bottle neck acoustic and mandolin, with the national and the blues harp he crammed them all in,

    If you happened to be there in ’74 I’m hoping this song just might open the door
    To those days of excitement of Gallagher fever when the love of the blues just got deeper and deeper.

    He played the Ulster Hall with great disregard for the troubles of Divis and Belfast`s shipyard
    His innocent songs portrayed the blues with no angles of protest or political views

    He didn’t wear no platform shoes cos’ Rory Gallagher just played the Blues.

    And so it remains so perfectly true, and i hope you hold this same point of view
    There was no Messin’ with this Kid from Donegal who could play so clean and wow us all
    Rory`s whole life was made up from Blues with no bloated ego of which to bruise
    Crest of a wave bottleneck solo, I should cry in my Guinness and say oh no no no
    How can one man have so much talent , remain true to his roots and so utterly gallant

    If you happened to be there in ’74 I’m hoping this song just might open the door
    To those days of excitement of Gallagher fever when the love of the blues just got deeper and deeper.

  • Stagestruck 74

  • Bat Kinane was the guitarist for Glyder, the former hard rock band from Ballyknockan, County Wicklow, in southern Ireland. Glyder has recently called it quits and over the past few months Bat has been busy putting together his first solo album, A Lifetime To Kill, was released on the 1st of October, 2010 in Ireland. The album is now available in all good record stores and from itunes and other digital outlets. Guesting on the album is legendary Irish soul man, Rob Strong, ex Mama’s Boys Pat McManus, and former bass guitarist for Johnny Cash, David Roe. Of particular interest to fans of Rory Gallagher is a track called, “Stagestruck 74,” a song honoring the late, great Irish legend. The song tells the story of a Irish lad of 17 going off to see his hero, Rory Gallagher in concert. From it’s Rory inspired opening riff to heartfelt middle solo, Bat does an admirable job capturing the mood, the excitement, and most importantly, the sound of going to see a Rory Gallagher concert in the early 70?s.

    Rory was a unique talent and that’s why he went to the top and on his own terms which was very special. I feel with this solo album I’ve made it for the love of music and not money and that’s the way Rory was too. — Bat Kinane

    Stagestruck 74 by Bat Kinane

    It’s eight o’clock a crowd is gathering outside the hall
    A thousand feet shuffle, movin’ slowly ,when they get the call
    Familiar faces I haven’t seen in almost a year, smiling
    Makin’ chat , smoke cigarettes, and drinking beer
    Then the lights go down shadows begin to play, my eyes
    Zeroed in cheering for my hero

    The curtains go back Rory takes to the stage
    A tingle down my spine…..electrifying

    I’m a million miles away when I hear him play
    A tingle down my spine…..electrifying

    Two hours fly by I just cant describe what I’m feeling right now
    I’m so elated my eyes dilated, spinning on a wheel
    Rory leaves the stage after two encores, my shirt is drenched,
    Dripping wet as I face out into the cold, oh no
    Monday comes fast ill be down in the dirt again, oh when,
    When will I see him play again, l’lI have to

    Wait another year till Rory comes back my way
    A tingle down my spine…. electrifying

  • Rory is Gone

  • Christy Moore is Ireland’s premier singer-songwriter. He is the former lead-vocalist and chief song-writer of Planxty and Moving Hearts. Christy Moore started his musical career in the early 60’s after a banker’s strike ended his brief stint as a bank clerk. Unable to break into the Irish music scene he moved to London and immersed himself in the growing folk scene. In the late 60’s he returned to Ireland and started getting gigs in Dublin, producing his first album Paddy on the Wagon in 1969. In 1972 he recorded his second album Prosperous with Andy Irvine, Donal Lunny and Liam O’Flynn; their work together would lead to their formation of Planxty, a band who were at the leading edge of the revival of Irish traditional music. Christy divided his time between his solo career and Planxty as well as the innovative Irish folk-rock fusion band, Moving Hearts. In 1996, Christy released an album titled, Graffiti Tongue. The final track on the album is the Nigel Rolfe penned tribute to Rory Gallagher, “Rory is Gone”. When Christy was asked about his recording of the tribute to Rory Gallagher he talked briefly about his relationship with Rory and Ireland’s love for their fallen hero:

    we were never “contemporaries” as such…our paths crossed maybe a dozen times but never privately, always at gigs…I loved his live gig and he was aware of my work particularly with early Planxty…I collaborated with Nigel Rolfe on a number of projects, Nigel showed me the words and I sang them…at the time of Rory’s early departure Nigel pointed out that the entire nation seemed to mourn Rory, even those who were not familiar with his work had a soft spot for him, his character and persona…I remember him as a gentle man, until he hit the lamps — Christy Moore

    To Nigel Rolfe he represented the consummate artist, staying true to his art despite the obstacles in his path. The song is not only for Rory but for all Blues players and singers who have faced that uphill struggle, going Against the Grain and against all odds:

    Its really a song about loss for all sincere artists, saw him a few times and the last gig being in College Green in Dublin which I think was possibly one of the last he played in Ireland. At the time Rory died I shared a very strong creative period with Christy Moore and I wrote the words and Christy the music. It seemed to me that Rory deserved a suitable heartfelt obituary, for the blues in him and all of us and that he was from Donegal and Cork and that represented pure Green,far as I was concerned. I saw him since the days of Taste and followed the music continually, but nearer the end he felt forgotten and unrepresented. Most moving was his roadie carrying the battered fender to the graveside behind the coffin but close still close,his greatest lover, friend, tool, instrument. Christy’s very special and has a resonant frequency that picks up what lies beneath things. This song ,not only for Rory but for Blues players and singers, the wrong side of town, the underbelly, the have nots….. Nigel Rolfe

    Rory is Gone by Nigel Rolfe & Christy Moore

    And Rory’s gone,
    To play the blues in heaven.
    Above the clouds,
    With all the angels singing there.
    His records scratched,
    Like his beaten-up old Fender,
    But the songs are strong,
    And the notes hang in the air.

    Gone with Steve Ray,
    And Jessie Ed Davis.
    They died too young,
    And much too premature.
    Another rock’n’roller,
    Gone but not forgotten,
    As his old guitar still mourns and plays,
    And wails and screams the blues.

    It sings for Mississippi Fred,
    And Muddy Waters,
    Son House, Sleepy John,
    And the Nighthawk too.
    Blacks, whites, blues and greens,
    All the colours mixed together
    Now Rory’s gone to Heaven.

    Since Rory’s gone to Heaven,
    To play the blues.
    And Rory’s gone to play,
    The blues in Heaven,
    And Rory’s gone to Heaven,
    To play the blues.

  • A Song for Rory Gallagher

  • John Spillane grew up in the Bishoptown suburb of Cork, Ireland. He graduated from University College Cork in the early 80’s while also playing for several years with the local jazz vocal group The Stargazers, and then several years as a band member of Nomos, appearing on the albums I Won’t Be Afraid Anymore in 1995 and Set You Free in 1997, penning the much-covered song “All the Ways That You Wander,” before starting his solo career. In 2003 Spillane won the Meteor Ireland Music Award for Best Folk / Traditional Act. In 2005 he released his critically acclaimed third solo album, Beautiful Dreamer; one of the songs on the album was a tribute to Rory Gallagher titled, “A Song for Rory Gallagher.”
    Although now known mostly for his folk and traditional songs, in his earlier years Spillane was a rocker on the Cork music scene with a band called Sabre which included in their live act a few Rory Gallagher covers. “A Song for Rory Gallagher” was written by Cork born poet, Louis de Paor, a frequent collaborator of Spillane’s. Written half in English and half in Irish, the song was inspired by one of the songs off the posthumously released Rory Gallagher album, Wheels Within Wheels, a track called “BRATACHA DUBHA” ( Black Flags). Louis de Paor is currently the director of the Centre for Irish Studies at the National University of Ireland, Galway. Interestingly, his father was at one time Rory Gallagher’s dentist.

    The song included a couple of verses from one of two poems I wrote about Rory in Irish. I suppose what’s behind the poems and the song is the idea that maybe he never fully realized how much he and his music meant to us all and that he was gone before we had a chance to tell him. He is still the yardstick by which I measure all live music and very few have matched him over the years. — Louis de Paor

    A Song for Rory Gallagher by John Spillane & Louis de Paor

    Corcra an dath atá ar ghruaig mo ghrá
    Is is duibhe ná dubh iad bratacha a lámh
    Corcra an dath atá ar ghruaig mo ghrá
    Ag sileadh anuas ar a guailne

    If I told you what I thought of you the first time that I saw you
    With the sun in your hair and the world at your feet
    And the future far behind you
    Would you care to remember or dare to remember me?

    Rory, Rory, Rory?

    You had eyes for no one anyone could see
    And the dead ones among us said they’d seen you before
    Only the air seemed brighter and our hearts felt lighter
    When you took us out of this world

    Rory, Rory
    Can you hear me?

    Corcra an dath atá ar ghruaig mo ghrá
    Is is duibhe ná dubh iad bratacha a lámh
    Corcra an dath atá ar ghruaig mo ghrá
    Ar foluain os cionn mo chroí

    If I told you that I thought of you every now and then
    And again when the moon disappears
    Since you walked out the door on the far side of here
    With our hearts held safe in your hands
    Would you ever look after forever and ever
    I know you’ll look after me

    Rory, Rory, Rory, Rory
    Rory, Rory, Rory
    Can you hear me?

    An é nár airís an tuile
    ag líonadh ort, rabharta cos is lámh
    a dhein bord loinge den urlár
    i Halla na Cathrach
    is ná líonfaidh feasta an poll
    a d’fhágais ar ardán I do dhiaidh?

    An mbraitheann tú anois é,
    ár ngile mearluaimneach méar,
    agus solas na bhflaitheas
    ag sluaistiú ciúnais ar shúile
    an tslua ‘tá buailte le stáitse
    ag glaoch ar ais ort ón ndoircheacht

    Rory Rory Rory

    An gcloiseann tú anois ár nguí?
    An gcloiseann tú anois ár nguí?
    An gcloiseann tú anois ár nguí?
    An gcloiseann tú anois ár nguí?
    An gcloiseann tú anois ár nguí?
    An gcloiseann tú anois ár nguí?
    An gcloiseann tú anois ár nguí?


    Purple is the colour of my true love’s hair
    and blacker than black the flags of her hands
    purple is the colour of my true love’s hair
    spilling down on her shoulders

    Purple is the colour of my true love’s hair
    and blacker than black the flags of her hands
    purple is the colour of my true love’s hair
    flying bravely over my heart


    Did you really not hear
    the tide flooding in behind you
    the waves of pounding feet
    that rocked the floor of the City Hall
    until it rolled like the deck of a ship
    and will never fill the emptiness
    you left behind you on stage?

    Do you feel it now,
    our swift fingered brightness,
    as the light of heaven
    shovels silence on the eyes
    of the crowd as they press against the stage,
    calling you back from the darkness

    Rory Rory Rory?

    Now do you hear our prayer?
    Now do you hear our prayer
    Now do you hear our prayer?

  • Thank You Very Much Indeed

  • David Somers grew up in Harold’s Cross, South Dublin, Ireland. At the age of 16 he moved to Comox Valley on Vancouver Island, British Columbia, Canada. His band, The Celtic Cargo Cult
    have been playing together for the past five years and includes; Chris Manuel on lead guitar, David Hext on Bass Guitar, and “Bootless” Bob Henderson on drums. In 2004 David released the CD At the End of the Day a mixture of original songs and unique arrangements of traditional Irish songs. One of the tracks is a tribute to Rory Gallagher, titled, “Thank You Very Much Indeed” — co-written with his brother, Barry.

    I grew up in Ireland and saw Rory a couple of times. I own all CD’s Videos etc. I even have a poster from a Free Press Punchestown gig I attended (where Phil Lynott joined him on stage with Paul Brady) with a large Rory photo and a small corner that says “featuring U2”. About the song, “Thank You Very Much Indeed”: On live albums and in concerts by the late great Irish blues guitarist, Rory Gallagher, he responded to applause with “Thank you, thank you very much indeed”. During my early glam rock infatuated teens I was stunned to hear his “Live in Europe” album. It was one of those moments that utterly changes everything. I wrote this song about him in the car coming home at 10 pm several nights a week from contract work I did for nine years with men convicted of family violence. The car was my blues assisted decompression chamber. — David Somer

    Thank You Very Much Indeed by David & Barry Somer

    I was [Am]fourteen year old
    Pretty [Em] lost and confused if the truth be told
    I heard him [Am] screaming with a mandolin
    about [Em] goin’ to my home town, Let me in.

    Opened [Am] a door and it’s[G] never been the [D] same
    It swept me [Em] away when I [D] heard him play
    [Am] Don’t start me talking, I’m a [C] million miles [D] away Wild and [Em] free
    [C] Thank you, [D] Thank you very much [Em] indeed.

    I [Am] couldn’t believe it when I heard he’d gone.
    I never [Em] met him but I always thought we’d get along
    It felt like [Am] losing someone I’d always known [Em] -one of our own.
    Hear him [Am] talking on the radio,sounded [G] awkward and [D] shy

    But that dropped [Em] away when he’d [D] start to play
    I’m [Am] back in your town, I’m a [C] million miles [D] away
    Wild and [Em] free
    [C] Thank you, [D] Thank you very much [Em] indeed.
    [C] Thank you, [D] Thank you very much [Em] indeed.

    The [Am] energy was electric as we [Em] packed into the place
    A [Am] battered Strat and a plaid shirt [Em] took the centre stage
    [Am]Fingers flew across the frets with [Em] energy and pace
    And [D] every note that swooped and soared was etched upon his [E] face

    Now I’m [Am] forty years old
    Still [Em] lost at sea if the truth be told
    Some days it’s [Am] harder not to let things in
    Driving [Em] home trying to get it out from underneath my skin

    A feeling I can’t seem to [D] lose- Reach for some [E]blues
    It sweeps it all [Am] away When I [Em] hear him play
    I [Am] Wonder Who will take me a [C] million miles [D] away
    At the end of the [Em] day that’s all you need

    [C] Thank you, [D] Thank you very much [Em] indeed.
    [C] Thank you, [D] Thank you very much [Em] indeed.

  • I Remember Rory

  • Jean-Pierre Froidebise is a blues-rock guitarist from the town of Liege, Belgium. He was the guitarist and singer for Such a Noise, from 1989 until the bands demise in 1998. They produced 4 CD’s to critical acclaim including their eponymous debut album Such A Noise, as well as Raising The Roof, Be A Devil, and Time To Jive. In 2007 they briefly reformed and released a compilation CD titled Get Naked. Froidebise has also worked with Daniel Willem, Belgium’s first “electric violinist” as well as Jo Lemaire, Pierre Rapsat and Beverly Jo Scott. His latest album,The Mind Parasites with René Stock on bass and Marcus Weymaere on drums includes a track titled “I Remember Rory”, a tribute to the late Rory Gallagher.

    I saw him [Rory Gallagher] twice in my city ( Liège, Belgium ) in 1972 & 77, but I was too shy to speak. — Jean-Pierre Froidebise

    I Remember Rory by Jean-Pierre Froidebise

    Back in the early seventies
    It was around ’72
    I was a young boy ’round fifteen
    searching for something really new
    I met a real guitar-hero
    the best one I’ve ever seen in my life
    playing his worn-out kind of Strato
    He took me high & made me smile

    Yes , I remember Rory,
    Yes I remember you, man,
    Yes I remember Rory,
    Yes, I do !

    And suddenly I realized
    that I’d never go back to school
    but follow the tracks of this guy
    who kicked my ass while being cool
    And to this day I must admit
    When I take my guitar & play
    He’s in my heart & I can feel that
    his shadow is still on my way,

    Yes , I remember Rory,
    Yes I remember you, man,
    Yes I remember Rory,
    Yes, I do !

    You may be six feet underground
    somewhere over there, in Ireland,
    I spent my whole life with your sound
    & I hope you can hear my band …

    Yes , I remember Rory,
    Yes I remember you, man,
    Yes I remember Rory,
    Yes, I do !

This is just a few of the songs that pay tribute to Rory Gallagher. Many more are out there deserving mention, from instrumentals such as Dan Ar Braz’s “Qwertz Rory” to the Celtic Punk of Black47’s “Rory”. And not to be forgotten are the songs written in honor of Rory by those who regularly perform at the tribute nights, songs like Pat McManus’ “Return of the G Man”, and Jed Thomas’ “Rory”. So many songs you could fill a double CD with them. So why are there so many? It’s not just respect for the man’s incredible talent, although there’s that too. It’s not just national pride, though many of these songs are penned by Irishmen. It’s also about admiration for a man who stayed true to his ideals, who broke through the stranglehold the showbands had on Ireland’s live music scene and brought original Rock ‘n’ Blues to the Emerald Isle. It’s about affection for a man who despite all the accolades, despite being an international rock star, bigger than life to a generation of music fans, he was also something more humble, more human. There was a feeling of camaraderie, a feeling of his being “one of us,” that if you came across him in the local pub you could share a pint or two and talk about anything under the sun, and that maybe, just maybe, if you came across him again he would remember you as well.

Yes, I remember Rory. Yes I do.

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