This album is a mixture of those songs which I'm usually asked for at personal appearances, and those which I've always liked but never got around to singing until now. Still, better late than never! "Copper Kettle" is an example of one I've sung for many years, an Appalachian Hymn to the "Holy Water" we know as Poitin. However, I've never heard of an Irish manufacturer using a copper kettle. Very posh! After the old English story of a sailor's homecoming, "Blow the Candle Out" we come to "The Rare Ould Times". Nobody who was raised in Dublin city could fail to be moved by the imagery evoked in this lovely song by Pete St. John. I've a very special affection for the next song, "The Grey Sea Strand", firstly because it's a true story and secondly because in a way I was the cause of the song being written. The "Big Man" mentioned in the song still lives near Mullaghduff, Co. Donegal and some years ago I met him while on holiday and was told his story by people who know him well. Years later, Ralph McTell and his wife Nana were having a short holiday with my wife and me in Dublin, and over a late-night (early-morning) beverage, I told him this story. Lo and Behold! Five months later a tape of this song arrived, exactly as I'd told it to him! What a great gift to have to be able to tell a story in a song like this! We close Side One with Shay Healy's "The Town is not their Own", a song which highlights the problems of the travelling people in Ireland and indeed in most countries.
Side Two starts with a song which I've a shrewd suspicion was inspired by some regulars of the "Half Moon" pub in Putney, London. "From Clare to Here" will strike a chord in the hearts of any young man from rural Ireland who finds himself, for economic reasons, in a strange land. The tempo of the next song "Follow Me up to Carlow" may not find favour with the purists, but it was literally what we call a "one-off" take and the sheer joyful ferocity of the chorus seemed to indicate that we couldn't sing it any other way. The gentle nostalgia of "My Old Man" and the slightly cynical "Weather the Storm" (which any long-serving entertainer can identify) brings us to the last track "Her Father Didn't Like Me Anyway". This Gerry Rafferty opus did so well for me as a single in early 1979, we had to include it.
My thanks to Jim Doherty, Bill Whelan and Dermot O'Brien for their invaluable help in the production of these tracks, to John Sheahan of the Dubliners for lending his unique talents on whistle and fiddle to many of the songs and to Jan De Haas of Maarn, Holland for the water-colour portrait which decorates the cover.
I hope you enjoyed listening to this album. We enjoyed making it!