Songs That Made History: Seán Laffey looks at a modern urban folk song from Dublin.
We always sing, even when were losing 'Cos Dublin's drone is hard enough especially When you're down and you're boozing We sing the Oul' Triangle and then the Tommy Ryan 'Cos all the world's a jail and we can't remember why Why we agreed to live and lie in embers of a cold old fire nobody remembers They hand the ashes back to me down the button factory, we're cattle at the stall We look for signs that Dublin's heart's still beating, That concrete and glass and peelers and mass, They haven’t stopped the people from screaming, Being trapped by all the cameras you're inclined to stay at home, And forget some songs were written to remind you You weren’t born We see the cracks under the foundation, Smouldering on the faces of the people on the drip of isolation, We hear the sounds come streaming across the crackling air, The broken words of swine who would tell us that we were
Who says folk music has lost its edge and it's all too nice and clean and educated these days? Well, now and again along comes an original voice to wake things up and draw us out of our complacency. Such is the drive behind the Dublin group Lynched's 2014 album Cold Old Fire, the recording has met with equal measures of praise and jaw dropping surprise. A bunch of Dublin ex-punks have made an urban folk album that Frank Harte would have loved.
Daragh Lynch co-wrote the song with Cian Lawless, it paints a a grim picture of life in post Celtic Tiger inner city Dublin. One can imagine the core voice is from an older resident, resigned to decay at home, anonymous to life and eventually to himself.
The author Frank O'Connor deals with loneliness as a recurring theme in his works of contemporary Irish fiction. The source of the genre is Henry David Thoreau who determined to live a solitary life when he retreated to Walden Pond in 1845. He considered cities are places where millions are lonely together. He also said that loneliness is a state of mind brought on by idleness and lack of industry. A student at his desk, a farmer in his field can both work alone all day, they never feel lonely, work is grand company.
The Lynched exlore that sentiment in this new song. Like all good folk songs it holds a mirror up to the times we live in and reflects it back: not sparring blemishes or blushes. Lynched style themselves as Dublin Folk Miscreants, to quote Thoreau again "truths and roses have thorns about them."
The Lynched honed their music on the streets of Dublin and the reference to Tommy Ryan here is a nod to their song of that name, it is about authority's attitude to illegal busking.
Daragh Lynch writes on the band's website: "Cold Old Fire was written during a particularly bad winter, when Mr. Lawless was living under Daragh's stairs. They wrote this song together. I think it's fair to say that at the time, Dublin was as stale as a two-year-old wurly burger. It was the onset of a crisis that would later send 80,000 people a year overseas, Lawless included. The Button Factory is not a reference to the venue in Dublin, but a term which Daragh heard an oul' lad use in an affectionate manner to refer to the dole office while waiting in the queue there one afternoon."
First published @ Irish Music Magazine 2014 (www.irishmusicmagazine.com).
Photo Credits: (1)-(2) Lynched (unknown/website).