A Blast from the Past

Social media really is a funny thing sometimes! Recently, photographer Marc O’ Sullivan tagged me on instagram with these old photos, I got in contact with him and sent them on. It’s me 22 years ago with my first solo album The Wells Of The World.
I was 36 years old when I released my first solo album the ‘Wells of the World’ and just taking off as a songwriter. I had written a couple of good songs when I was in my early twenties, like ‘Princes Street’ and ‘My Love Will Not Sing For Me’, but I suffered from a writer’s block for nearly ten years after that. Then, I just started writing on a constant basis, song after song. Many of the new songs had titles like ‘I Won’t Be Afraid Any More’ and ‘Will We Be Brilliant Or What?’ Breakthrough kind of songs!
I had made two albums with Nomos by that time and was trying to pull off a smooth transition into being a solo artist. Unfortunately it turned out to be a rocky road and there was a lot of drama around ‘The Wells of the World’. It was in and out of print a few times, but hey that’s rock and roll, it doesn’t always go smooth, but there’s learning in it all. ‘Everything’s Turning To Gold Cathy’ got a lot or airplay as well as ‘All The Ways You Wander’ and I took off on the road around Ireland playing solo gigs, getting to know and making friends with all those people who put gigs on around Ireland.
When I first played the melody to ‘All The Ways You Wander’ I didn’t think I had composed it, but that it was something that had been there before. I asked everyone what it was, but nobody could identify it so it seems I must have written it myself. I had already recorded ‘All The Ways You Wander’ with Nomos featuring Mícheál Ó Súilleabháin on piano, but I decided to put it on the ‘Wells of the World’ as well because it was my big song. It’s still my favourite of my own songs. I wrote it for my daughter when she was small. She was in Spain with her mother and I sent it over to her on a cassette. Over the years, it has been played at a lot of weddings and funerals. One day last summer I met two different sets of people on the same day who had gotten married to one of my songs, it was such an honour!
Although we didn’t realise it then, the music scene was good in Ireland around the turn of the century and people were buying quite a lot of CD’s. Obviously with the rise of online streaming CD’s have been in decline a long time, but you really can’t beat a live gig. I’m lucky that I have a fan base that has built over the years who enjoy coming out time and time again. I think we are all looking forward to those days again!  It seems like the music industry has always been constantly changing and will continue to do so. The way things are done disappears, and some new scene arrives in. I will be interested to know how it will turn out, but for now, I am looking forward to heading out on the road again, guitar in hand.
1997 Singer John Spillane Pic: Marc O’Sullivan

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