I started listening to Glen Hansard‘s Didn’t He Ramble last October, shortly after the album was released. And I haven’t been able to stop.
If you’ve ever listened to The Frames or The Swell Season, or watched the film Once (later adapted into a musical for the stage – which my friend Leigh Anne and I were lucky enough to enjoy during my last visit to London!) then you’re probably already somewhat familiar with this gorgeously talented Irishman. He’s also performed with one of my all-time favorite female musicians, Lisa Hannigan, so bonus points.
Didn’t He Ramble has hit me hard, especially lyrically, over the past few months, and has left me feeling all kinds of nostalgic.
While 2015 was an amazing year overall, and 2016 has started off quite well, there have also been some real lows peppered in. The kind of hard stuff that life naturally begins throwing at you the further you get into adulthood. The kind of stuff you’re not sure you’re strong enough or wise enough to handle. The kind of stuff that leaves you bruised, yet praising the heavens when you made it out alive and (mostly) sane.
And, in that mystical, powerful way musicians are sometimes capable of, I feel like Hansard wrote so many of the words on this album just for me. For those moments. Cheering me on, in a way. Giving me the nudge I need to keep moving forward because beautiful things are waiting.
From “Grace Beneath The Pines” – There’ll be no more running round for me/ No more backing down, you’ll see / Whatever lies in store for me / I’ll get through it…”
From “Winning Streak” – “Through summers long and winters cold / May you always have someone good to hold / And may good fortune wait on every bend / And may your winning streak / May it never end…”
From “Paying My Way” – “And there’s not much joy in the work / Unless your born to do it, they say / And we gotta get down in the dirt now / If we wanna see some change…”
And from the track that leaves me sobbing almost every time, “My Little Ruin” – “You can stand among the best of them / If you could hold your own / But no one’s gonna do it for you now / But you, and you alone…”
I’ve also had “McCormack’s Wall” on repeat so ridiculously frequently, because it’s the the track that not only transported me back to my short time in Ireland with its traditional Irish jig at the end – we heard them everywhere we went – but the lyrics gave me the spark I’ve needed to try to start writing creatively again.
As if I wasn’t already head over heels for Glen Hansard as it were, he also helped, in a small way, carry me through the severe upset I experienced (and am still down and out about) over the passing of David Bowie.
He released the video for “Wedding Ring” the day after the news of Bowie’s death, which pays a “gentle nod” to the rock legend in the most haunting way:
A few days later, then also reeling from the loss of another childhood hero, Alan Rickman, I came across this video of him covering “Ashes to Ashes” in front of a tribute to Bowie in New York and had quite a relieving cry session:
I couldn’t have rediscovered this gem at a better time. If you’re a fan of Irish accents, folk music, and inspiring lyrics, then you can’t live without giving his work a listen. And I think Doesn’t He Ramble is a great place to start.
What albums or artists have you had on repeat lately?