Gifted songwriter Jimmy McCarthy

Story by Tom Kelly

Wednesday, 1st April, 2009 12:00pm

Top songwriter Jimmy McCarthy, the man who penned that famous ballad, "Ride On" for Christy Moore, is on his way to the Dean Crowe Theatre on Saturday, April 4 next at 8pm.

Jimmy MacCarthy still vividly remembers the Christy Moore gig at Connoly Hall, Cork, when, in 1984, he all of a sudden realised that he had landed his first hit. Released on Christy"s new album just a few days before, "Ride On" had immediately caught on. So that night Jimmy, born and bred in Cork himself, unexpectedly found himself between hundreds of fellow Corkmen and Corkwomen whom he could watch moving their lips as one, knowing the words to the tune by heart.

Ever since, Jimmy MacCarthy has written over a thousand songs, many of them modern classics like 'Ride On', his best known composition still. Even so, the one-time apprentice to Ballydoyle, Ireland"s legendary racing stable, has remained Jimmy MacCarthy, a 'personal tip' to date. This, of course, is due mainly to the fact that many of his songs were made popular by Irish fellow artists such as Christy Moore (who recorded 'Missing You', 'Bright Blue Rose' and 'Mystic Lipstick', too) or Mary Black ('Katie', 'No Frontiers', 'Adam at the Window'). However, if this has earned him the honorary title of 'one-man song-writing industry', it also explains why, up to AD 2002, Jimmy MacCarthy has released no more than two albums of his own, The Song of the Singing Horseman (1991) and The Dreamer (1994).

These records have situated him firmly within the Irish singer/songwriter tradition, which has earned a place in its own right somewhere in the middle between 'international' rock and 'purist' trad music, the extreme points marked most distinctively by U2 on the one side and bands like Altan on the other.

Jimmy MacCarthy"s new album, released this summer and titled The Moment, continues in the same vein as its predecessors, thus confirming his status as one of Ireland"s most prolific composers and musicians. Nevertheless, five out of the eleven tracks on The Moment see him in the company of co-writes, among them not only Graham Lyle (who once upon a time penned 'What"s Love Got to Do with It?' for a now elderly lady known by the name of Tina Turner, and countless other pop songs) but Jimmy"sown nephew Chris Wall, who is also featured on keyboard and piano on the opening track. Most of the songs on the new album bear witness that Jimmy, irrespective of his Celtic roots, was raised chiefly on The Beatles and the radio, with the guitar rather than the fiddle or accordion the 'natural' instrument. Consequently, the line-up is a typically 'rock' music one, with only the odd cello or harmonica to be singled out of the guitar-and-keyboard-based sound. Don"t miss this chance to see this great songwriter in action. For bookings call 09064 92129.

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