Sunday Spotlight: Napoleon’s Nose

In the spotlight this week is a song I wrote in my student days in 1987. Napoleon’s Nose was a deliberate attempt to add a “happy” song to my repertoire. Many people complained that I always seemed to be singing sad songs. Maybe learning Dick Gaughan’s A Different Kind of Love Song would have been a more appropriate response, as the sad songs are the best, aren’t they? But secretly I longed to sing the odd happy love song and I also thought it would be nice to have a happy song that was a celebration of my home town, Belfast, in some way. And so, Napoleon’s Nose was born.

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Napoleon's Nose / McArt's Fort / Cave Hill / Ben Madigan, Belfast
Napoleon’s Nose / McArt’s Fort / Cave Hill / Ben Madigan, Belfast

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Sunday Spotlight: Smokey Stoor of Scariff

This is the first in a series of articles taking a look at songs I have written down through the years. So have a listen to the song and I’ll write a bit about the background and the inspiration for writing it.

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First up is Smokey Stoor of Scariff, a song I wrote in 2002 shortly after I arrived in East Clare, about Scariff’s chipboard factory. Like many people coming to live in and around Scariff the Finsa factory came as a bit of shock. If the wind is blowing in your direction the sight and smell of the fumes is unmissable. Like most “blow-ins” to the area, my hippy tendencies were outraged by what seemed like obvious pollution and health concerns. However when you talk to the local population, the majority see the factory as the huge employer it is in the town and one that has helped their families through grim times, past and present. Continue reading “Sunday Spotlight: Smokey Stoor of Scariff”

Video: Burning Bushel perform Talking To Yourself

In April 2009 a few of the regulars at the SAMS sessions in Scariff got together to prepare a set for the Iniscealtra Festival of the Arts in Mountshannon, Co. Clare on Sunday 31 May 2009. Thanks to Phil Brown we have a video recording of our rendition of the Brad Pitt Light Orchestra song Talking To Yourself. Continue reading “Video: Burning Bushel perform Talking To Yourself”

Things I Do Since I Took Up With You

Following a pleasant exchange of Tweets last night, @kenarmstrong1 pointed me to some lyrics he had written. Not that accustomed to such collaborations, I printed out his lyrics and took up the challenge today. Fortunately the first idea I tried seemed to fit okay….I think. What do you reckon?

It was a pleasure to try out my new Samson USB microphone – worked a treat straight out of the box. The guitar I’m playing is my son’s 3/4 size classical.

Lyrics: Ken Armstrong, Music: Gerry Mulvenna

Everybody Has Their Part To Play

Recorded at Shay’s Studio, April 2005

I was just a fourteen-year-old boy when Bobby died
Afraid to go to school that day, I was shocked and dazed inside
Fearful of the future in a sad and wounded land
The meaning of the sacrifice, I could not understand

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Roadblock

Is there a roadblock in my brain?
Secret harbour of some pain?
See the little soldier(s) standing in the way,
Red light circling just like the bad old days
Asking all the questions ’bout the things they need to know
Like: “where have you been?”, “where d’ya wanna go?”
Is there a roadblock in my brain?

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