An Irish Life

by Tommy Keyes

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about

PROLOGUE: TRACK 1
SPRING: TRACKS 2-5
SUMMER: TRACKS 6-9
AUTUMN: TRACKS 10-12
WINTER: TRACKS 13-15

Driving past a derelict bar, and remembering the gigs he played there a very long time ago, he finds himself reflecting on the many experiences of his life.

He grows up in an era where childhood summers mean street football and re-enacting TV adventures in neighbours’ gardens. He falls under the spell of rock’n‘roll, but the ending of an economic false dawn finds him making lonely calls home from Australia. He eventually returns to a life of deadlines, targets and parenthood.

The cycle repeats as his children graduate from going to football matches with him to Skyping home from the other side of the world. Most things pass in time, like the music venues he used to play and the old school where his mother taught, but family is the enduring bond in his life.

These songs are the soundtrack to his reflections, from the exuberance of childhood, through the realism of maturity, to the sentimentality of his later years.

His story is not an autobiography, but it’s all drawn from my experiences or from my imagined version of the experiences of my compatriots. It may be an amalgam, but it is still a reflection of an Irish life. It is dedicated with love to all my family.

credits

released July 29, 2016

Tommy Keyes: keyboards, vocals
Dick Farrelly: guitars, bass
Gerard Farrelly: drums, percussion
Richie Buckley: saxes
Don Knox: violin
Dave Fleming: double bass
Maurice Mullen: flute, tin whistle
Fergal Lynch: french horn
Ellen O’Mahony, Carla Ryan, Sarah Bass, Cian O'Mahony:: backing vocals
Michael Heffernan, Michael Brady: additional percussion

All songs written by Tommy Keyes
Produced by Dick Farrelly
Engineered by Michael Heffernan at Sun Studios, Temple Lane, Dublin 2
Assistant Engineer: Michael Brady
Mastered by FergalDavisMastering.com
Sleeve design by Ken Drakeford

Released on Keyes Records 2016 - KEYES 501

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about

Tommy Keyes Ireland

After an absence of nearly 40 years, Tommy Keyes returns with a stockpile of great songs that defy categorisation. Rock? Pop? “It’s 1970s singer-songwriter music”, he says, “because that’s what I am.”

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Track Name: I Was There
Driving home a lonely road, I pass a bar I used to know
It’s empty now, it’s all shut down, it used to be the place to go
In my mind I’m pressing rewind to the Saturday and Sunday nights of Summer
Play a track to carry me back to the golden age of gigs when we were younger
I know ‘cause I was there

What happened to the girls we knew who waited outside for the band?
The beauty queens of seventeen, I doubt their kids would understand
In my mind I’m pressing rewind to the Saturday and Sunday nights of Summer
Play a track to carry me back to the golden age of gigs when we were younger
I know ‘cause I was there

I remember all those great venues – Morans, McGonagles and the Baggot,
The Mississippi Rooms in Bray, and the one I passed today –
They’re all gone now, every last one of them, and all those great bands - Stagalee,
The Bogey Boys, Rocky De Valera and the Gravediggers……
All the cheesecloth and denim and the bikers in their leather jackets
Queueing up for spring rolls in the Chinese after the gig
And you know when you see a photograph from those days all anyone notices is the hair
‘Cause it was crazy hair……….but those were crazy days
I know, ‘cause I was there
Track Name: Happy Days
In our cowboy band by the Rio Grande
We’ll saddle our horses down by the river
Tell all the ranchers to stand and deliver
Take all their money and ride to the alehouse
Drink of our fill while the ladies regale us
For these are happy…..these are happy days

In our field of dreams we’ll be football teams
We’ll take to the pitch in the green shirt of Ireland
Win every match on the way to the final
I’ll score the goal for the last minute winner
I’ll get to carry the cup home for dinner
For these are happy….these are happy days

When the night-time falls we’ll climb garden walls
And deep in the jungle we’ll hide in the bushes
We’re secret agents and no-one can touch us
Knock on the windows and we’ll do a runner
Never be caught if they’ll chase us all summer
For these are happy…these are happy days.
Track Name: Landscape Park
Summer days in Landscape Park we all played football until dark
And goals were scored between the open gates
The touchlines were the garden wall, the games were just a free for all
Till mothers called “come in you’re out too late”

Those were times of innocence and ice pops for a couple of pence
And every day was filled with sunshine then
I must go back to Landscape Park and kick a football until dark
And make believe that I’m a child again.

On Saturdays a few of us would climb on board the 14 bus
And tuppence took us all the way to town
The picturehouse on Stephen’s Green would bring us where we’d never been
And things we’d never seen, for half a crown

The radio tuned to 208 would keep us entertained till late
We picked our favourites from the singles chart
In Woolworths store on Grafton St with pocket money saved for weeks
We bought the sheets and learned them off by heart.
Track Name: Smalltown Superstars
We were children of the fifties, we grew up with rock’n’roll
Learnt our music in the sixties with the Beatles and the Stones
Formed a band in Joey’s garage, had to keep the volume down
So we lined the walls with carpet, trying to muffle all the sound
The edges might be rough but we were good enough
For gigs in all the local bars
We were smalltown superstars, we were smalltown….
We were smalltown superstars, we were smalltown…superstars.

We made all the local papers, even Hot Press magazine
Always hoped we’d make a record but we never got a deal
The closest we could get were demos on cassette
We drove around just to hear them in our cars
We were smalltown superstars, we were smalltown….
We were smalltown superstars, we were smalltown…superstars.

Now my amp is in the attic, my guitars are on the wall
Joey’s son has got his drumkit, Terry never sings at all
I sometimes still pretend I’d do it all again
When I look up at my old guitars
We were smalltown superstars, we were smalltown….
We were smalltown superstars, we were smalltown…
Tune up, smalltown superstars, tune up, smalltown….
Tune up, smalltown superstars, tune up, smalltown…superstars.
Track Name: In Dublin
We ran with bright eyes from our schools
We were no-one’s fools, we could never fall
The dawning of a new day, the greatest time of all
Once upon a time, I was a dreamer
Now I realise, they were only dreamers too
In Dublin, in Dublin, Dublin town

Our boats will rise up with the tide
Hold your head with pride, the world is in your hands
The children are the future, it’s written in our plans
Once upon a time, I was a dreamer
Now I realise, they were only dreamers too
In Dublin, in Dublin, Dublin town

We’re climbing slowly in the sky
Never look behind, leaving on our own
America, Australia, we’re never coming home
Once upon a time, I was a dreamer
Now I realise, they were only dreamers too
In Dublin, in Dublin, Dublin town
In Dublin, in Dublin, Dublin town
Track Name: Long Distance Call
How have you been, it’s quite a while, it’s been too long
How goes the world with you, what’s new since I’ve been gone?
Well I just called to say I’m fine
On Bondi Beach on Christmas Day the sky is clear
The summer sun would warm your heart if you were here
If you would only change your mind

You’re half a world away from where you ought to be
And when I dream at night it’s only you I see
Over and over I run to your call but you’re not there at all
There’s no one there at all

The work is hard, the days are long but the money’s good
I’ll probably set up on my own, I know I could
Or maybe wait another year
When darkness falls I sit alone and think of you
And search for anything that I could say or do
If it would only bring you here

Please hold the line, long distance makes your voice seem faint
The static crackles like the sound of pouring rain
I barely hear you say goodbye.
Track Name: Sleep She Said
Running around in a circle of circles
Cog in a wheel in a lifetime of service
I watch the sun go down on my long way home
Sleep she said, close your eyes
Sleep she said, close your eyes

Thousands of thoughts swirl around in the darkness
Crowding me out with their deadlines and targets
Help me I’m drowning over and over now
Sleep she said, close your eyes
Sleep she said, close your eyes

So I sleep and then
When morning comes
I do it all again
Track Name: Slowdown World
When my baby smiles at me there is nowhere else I’d rather be
Time slips by so easily beside her
It’s a slowdown world for me and my girl.

When my baby cries I say “hushabye now it’s ok”
And she knows I’ll always stay beside her
It’s a slowdown world for me and my girl.

My little girl, she can brighten up the world
For a tired and weary runaround like me
My little girl, she is all I’ve waited for
And I’m slowing down to spend my time with her.

When my baby grows she’ll be anything she wants to be
But for now she’s here with me beside her
It’s a slowdown world for me and my girl.
Track Name: Richmond Nights
Hand in hand the boy and man walk to the terraced Shed
Find some space and take their place among the sea of red
Floodlights across the park, bright as the early spark,
Of the Black Pearl of Inchicore
And many more.

The boy has grown and on his own he comes to play his part
An adult now but yet somehow he’s still a child at heart
Singing with every song, cheering them all along
The Black Pearl of Inchicore
And many more.

In years to come another one will hold tight to his hand
When she’s allowed to join the crowd and start to understand
Secrets that few will know, heroes that come and go,
The Black Pearl of Inchicore
And many more.

Oh when the Saints go marching in
Oh when the Saints go marching in
They want to be in that number
When the Saints go marching in.
Track Name: Bloom
Your big sister’s dress looks so well on you
But these days I guess there’s no telling you
Wise for your years and it shows
No schoolgirl tears anymore
Who knew the petals would open so soon
And the rose …. the rose is in bloom.

Sit by my side like you used to do
When you’d confide what was news to you
Now you have learned what to show
You’re in a world of your own
Who knew the petals would open so soon
And the rose …. the rose is in bloom.

Your big sister’s dress looks so well on you
Track Name: Souvenirs
A baby tooth, a woollen boot, a tattered teddy bear
A picture book, a plastic truck, a lock of golden hair

A card you made for Father's Day, a hat you never wore
A Valentine, a hand-made sign you hung beside your door.

Your souvenirs that we gathered through the years
They bring you near but they cannot bring you here

A school award, a mortarboard from Graduation Day
A photograph that made you laugh before you flew away

Your souvenirs that we gathered through the years
They bring you near but they cannot bring you here

They're on the shelf as when you left the room that's still your own
They wait for you just like we do until you're coming home.
Track Name: Dust In My Eye
I’m standing in Terminal Two, handing your suitcase to you
Moments to wait till you’re called to the gate
I know there’s no reason to cry
It’s only some dust in my eye

Soon I’ll be driving alone while your plane takes you far from your home
I know you’ll be here at the end of the year
And some day you’ll come back for good
You’ve always been sure that you would

It’s not like when thousands were sailing before
From a land that held nothing for them
Their families cried bitter tears on the shore
Knowing they’d never see them again

The world’s so much smaller today and though you’re two oceans away
You smile on the screen, saying how your week’s been
You’re happy, it’s easy to tell
I should be happy as well

Standing in Terminal Two, sharing these moments with you
Soon you’ll be gone but it won’t be for long
And though it’s not really goodbye
I can’t help the dust in my eye.
Track Name: Shooting Stars
Fairy lights and snowy nights, children making wishes
Near or far my shooting stars, please be here for Christmas
Once upon a time the shooting stars were mine
The innocence of childhood still unbroken
Golden sleepyheads so quiet in their beds
Waiting to pretend to be awoken

Silver bells and magic spells and happiness together
Close your eyes each happy child and make it last forever

Shooting stars so bright, when you flew into the night
And now we watch you shining from a distance
We’ll be waiting here at the same time every year
And you will bring your light to us for Christmas

Fairy lights and snowy nights, children making wishes
Near or far my shooting stars, please be here for Christmas
Track Name: An Old Irish Song
They’ve boarded the door, there’s a hole in the floor
The windows are broken, the blackboard fell down
If you walk in the garden or stand in the yard
You’ll listen all day but you won’t hear a sound
Where are the voices of children at play?
They used to be here but they’ve all gone away
But trapped in the trees, sometimes freed by the breeze
The echoes remain of an old Irish song
Báidín Fheilimí d’imigh go Gabhla, Báidín Fheilimí is Feilimí ann.
Báidín Fheilimí d’imigh go Gabhla, Báidín Fheilimí is Feilimí ann

She goes for a walk and she stops for a talk
A little boy tells her she must be a Queen
With her elegant air and her silvery hair
And crystal clear tone of the teacher she’s been
She sits at her keyboard and fingers the notes
And softly she plays like she’s raising the ghosts
Of the years that have passed since she stood in the class
Teaching the children an old Irish song.

Felim’s afloat in his beautiful boat
He’s sailing for Tory but the sea is too strong
His boat will go down and poor Felim will drown
But his name will live on in an old Irish song.
Track Name: New Year's Eve
Time seems to slip away from me
Years are shorter than they used to be
Here we are again on New Year’s Eve
Around the family tree

Dreams that we had in springtime once
Shining brightly in the summer months
Clouded over like the autumn sun
And winter blew away

When I’m far away from home
My thoughts when I’m alone still bring me here
Bring me where I know there’s still a place for me

Nights seem to be much colder now
Perhaps it’s just we’re older now
All the leaves are turning golden brown
Around the family tree