When my husband travels, as he often does on business, he is kind enough to allow me to live vicariously by bringing back items he knows will interest me. Often, these are newspapers (which I regularly find inexplicable, especially almost-English-language Korean ones, but fascinating regardless), or items of designer clothing, or CDs of local musicians from wherever his journey has taken him. Three years ago after a visit to Limerick, Ireland, he returned with a CD titled "Seize the Day" by an Irish musician named Damien Dempsey.
Now, on first listen I was hooked. No one would ever call Damo (as his fans call him) cheerful. No songs of leprechauns and unicorns for him (Canadians who remember the Irish Rovers know exactly to what I refer). No, Damo sings of drug use, oppression, bar fights, child labour, loss, and the perils of the Celtic Tiger (which seems rather prophetic in light of Ireland's recent financial crisis). In fact, upon listening most people would likely call Damien a bloody depressing bastard and go off and find some pop music to load on their iPod instead. I, however, found his lyrics fascinating, his melodies charming, and his accent irresistible. When I travelled to Ireland recently I found myself understanding him even a bit more. The Irish don't feel the need to "pretty up" things - not their history, not their castles, and not their music. Damo sings of what he feels, what he knows, and what touches him, not of what people want to hear or feel. I think one has to respect that even if they don't become a fan as I have.
I wish I'd had the chance to meet Damien while I was there. I strongly suspect that he's not a depressing man at all but rather, like all Irish men I met, utterly charming and full of fascinating tales (with a touch of blarney, of course). But Damo wasn't playing any live gigs, and I didn't really think he'd appreciate being stalked down during the holiday season by a Canadian fan, so I'll have to satisfy myself with listening to his CDs and hoping to see him live on a future trip. If you want to give Damo a try I recommend the songs "Negative Vibes" and "Apple of My Eye". You never know - maybe you'll find you love this depressing Irish bastard as much as I do.