*Guest Post - Dan Clark, Common Threads Guitar and Vocals
As Benicio del Toro says in The Usual Suspects, “Oh, was that the one about the, er…hooker with dysentery?”
No. Not that one. Let me clarify.
It’s all because of a 17th century Irish songwriter called Turlough O'Carolan. He was a blind harpist, which I suppose made him a kind of baroque era Stevie Wonder.
Where are you going with this, mutters an uncaring world.
Apparently O'Carolan would travel Ireland without any money, and each night, wherever he happened to end up, he’d head to the local inn, buttonhole the innkeeper and the regulars and say: “give me a meal and a bed for the night, and I’ll write and sing a song about you”.
I must admit my first reaction to this was “good luck with that”, but apparently people actually did.
Imagine that: people made a living as songwriters not just without the internet, TV or radio, but without the need for CDs, vinyl or wax cylinders.
When you’re trying to make a living in these days of free streaming and illegal downloads, you tend to seize upon any demonstration of the value of music and art, so this resonated with me for a bit.
You may know we’re crowd funding the release of our debut record, which we’re doing in Mark Knopfler’s studio with his co-producer Guy Fletcher….not least as we haven’t stopping banging on and on and on about it for days now.
So this got me thinking. We want to reward contributors to our campaign…how better than with arguably the only thing we’ve shown any aptitude for: songwriting.
I ring Megan.
“Megan”, I exclaim breathlessly down the phone, “I’ve had an idea for a reward for our Pledge Music campaign. We could write a song about people who contribute!”
“Good luck with that”, replies Megan reasonably, and puts the phone down.
At our next writing session, I persevere.
“Other people’s stories inspired a few of our songs, so why not ask to hear our fans’ stories?”
“How would that work?”
“People could get us to write a song about their partner…it could be quite a touching present. How many people get to say ‘darling, they’re playing our tune’ and mean a song that’s actually about them?”
“That’s what they said to Van Gogh.”
“Yes, because he was mad. And you’re not Van Gogh.”
Megan is convinced nobody will be interested but at least agrees it would be a nice thing to do, albeit something that should be appropriately valued.
We reach a compromise: to reflect that writing an original, lovingly crafted artistic work is a substantial undertaking that we don’t take on lightly, we’ll offer it as reward for a contribution roughly equal to the price of an article of quality jewellery.
In exchange we’ll present the recorded work on a personalised CD, printed with the recipient’s name. The inlay sleeve artwork can include a photograph and a message for them.
“Jewellery loses its lustre, but a melody lasts forever”, I remark dreamily.
“Well, we’ll see if people agree”, Megan replies.
So what do you reckon? Would you be interested in sharing stories you’d like immortalised in song?
If your partner, child or grandchild commissioned an original piece of art about their feelings for you, would you find it a totally unique, personal and deeply touching gift? Or would you tell them that on the whole, next time you’d just prefer a necklace?
Let us know! Comment on www.facebook.com/MeganOneillMusic or Tweet Megan on
www.twitter.com/meganoneill and let us know if you agree with Megan or me on this one…