Hey Dreamer was an album I released on EMI Records Ireland in 2005.
It was my third solo album and the second on the EMI label following on from ‘Will We Be Brilliant Or What?’ in 2002.
Yes lads I was on a roll and had the ammunition to make another deadly album with a diverse range of songs. I was still buzzing from the fact that in my forties, long after many of the others had given up on the Rock and Roll dream, that I had been signed to EMI, the greatest record company in the world and the same label as my heroes, the greatest Irish band ever: The Beatles! Things were happening now that might not have happened at all. The dream was alive and kicking.
The previous album had been very difficult, with two different producers, one who was ‘let go’ half way through, and about 5 different recording studios over a few years of recording. That was a record that was designed by a committee. Having signed to a ‘major’, they had no problem designing all kinds of hoops for me to jump through, which I did as best I could. I watched as an expert professional man got shafted by a man who was not fit to tie his shoe-laces. I let this happen as I had relinquished control of the record. This was my first glimpse after many years into the ‘corporate world’ since I had left the Bank of Ireland at the age of twenty. With the bank you relinquish control to the point where you cannot live where you want to live but in the part of Ireland where you are placed.
On my travels around Ireland I have met a fair few musicians who have been crushed by major labels. I was lucky, maybe because I was a bit older. Overall my experience with EMI was good and I emerged 10 years later fairly intact, having sold 100,000 records in Ireland. 50,000 of those were in the Irish language. Who would have thought that would happen?
Although I was grateful to be working with EMI, when I saw the circus was beginning to start again for the next record, I quietly slipped away to London against the wishes of the company and recorded three songs with John Reynolds in London. My friend Pauline Scanlon had made a record over with John already and recorded my ‘All The Ways You Wander’ there, so that was a good introduction. We did more in five days in London than I had done in many months on the previous record and the three tracks were in fairness, pretty stunning. When EMI heard the tracks they went for it and I got to make a lovely album with John in London. It was quick, painless and great fun. I was hanging with some great musos there; Caroline Dale on Cello, Justin Adams on electric guitar, Clare Kenny on bass. Making records does not have to be long and tortuous and involve stabbing people in the back. It can be lovely! We walked the dogs in Hyde Park every morning and sometimes went to The Cow for a pint when we’d finished work.
London felt liberating and I felt new when I was there.
Some of the songs I had had in my back pocket for many years, like Ghosts and The Only One For Me and I also had some brand new songs like Hey Dreamer, Beautiful Tears and The Moon Going Home.
The Madwoman of Cork I adapted from a poem by my hero Paddy Galvin, and this and The Dunnes Stores Girl made quite a splash.
People were saying that The Wild Flowers was my finest song and “the one that will live after you”.
I’ve met people down the years who have told me that the song Hey Dreamer changed their lives. That it made them think about themselves in a way that led to them giving up their jobs and going back to college, or becoming a musician, or returning to some dream they had left behind. It’s amazing for me to hear stories about people saying they stopped the car when they heard the song, or they just cried. How lovely to be part of the healing power of music.
I’ve also written the stories behind many of these songs in my book Will We Be Brilliant Or What? The Collins Press 2016. You Can purchase that on my shop here.
Hey Dreamer Track List
- I’m Moving On
- Hey Dreamer
- Beautiful Tears
- The Dunnes Stores Girl
- The Only One For Me
- A Song For Rory Gallagher
- The Song of Lies
- The Wild Flowers
- The Madwoman of Cork
- The Moon Going Home