I’ve always wanted to go to Ireland. So when Katie and I moved to Germany for a year, it was a foregone conclusion that we would make it to the Emerald Isle at some point during our year abroad. As it turns out, my brother, Ben, who visited us for a couple of weeks, really wanted to go to Ireland, too. So the three of us made a weekend visit to the island country.
There are many memories of the trip that will stay with me forever — playing golf along the ocean in Kilkee, staring out at the ocean while standing atop the Cliffs of Moher, a fantastic night of pub hopping in Galway — but our visit to the tiny town of Doolin ranks number one.
Having already written about the entire trip, I won’t go into too much detail in this post. Rather, I’ll just lazily point you to the Milwaukee to Munich blog entry entitled “The Emerald Isle.” I’m pretty sure it will make you want to visit Ireland at some point in your life.
As it turns out, Ireland is as inspiring as it is amazing. In the months that followed our visit to Ireland, I found myself wanting to write an Irish song about the town of Doolin. The chords came simple enough — as I’m sure they do for many Irish songs — and the melody soon followed. At some point I decided that I wanted the song to be broken into three verses with a solo section in between verses two and three (not an uncommon outline for a song). I also wanted the first verse to be a simple octave (doubled) piano that set the tone of the song. That part was easy.
I knew verse two needed a percussion presence to take the song up a notch and make it the fun, knee-slapping, pub-singing song I wanted it to be. The initial concepts that I tried out were more traditional Irish drums that more or less kept time and didn’t do much to move the song along. After sitting on it for a while, I decided that what I really wanted was something similar to the phenomenal drums that make the song “Some Nights” by “Fun.” such a hit. So with that in mind I asked Ryan — the guy from Minnesota who also played drums on “Place of Mine,” “Wherever You Go” and “If We Walk” — to lay down a drum part that would drive the song and give it a non-traditional, but still clearly Irish, beat. He succeeded 100%. The drums are what I love most about this song.
The other part I love are the harmonies. Once the drums were recorded, I was able to really start to hear the three-part harmonies that would define verses two and three. The idea with the harmonies was to make the listener think he or she had been transported to a tiny pub in Doolin where they were listening to a local band make some pretty fun Irish music.
The song’s final additions were the more Irish-sounding instruments including bagpipe, accordion and fiddle. The first two sounded decent enough on my keyboard that I was able to use synthetic sounds. But for the fiddle, which stands out more and needed to be performed by an actual human being, I turned to my friend Mike — who produced and recorded many of the tracks on the album — for some help. I told him what I was looking for and, within 24 hours, he emailed me a track of his friend Teresa playing fiddle over the solo section and final verse. (Once again, I love technology. For more on this, read this post.) The fiddle part fit the song perfectly, especially when set against the accordion. The song was complete and had the perfect balance of rhythm, fun, lyrics and “Irish.”
Read the lyrics below and compare them against the paragraphs about Doolin from my Milwaukee to Munich blog mentioned above. I think you’ll see the parallels. And if you’re ever able to make it to Ireland, I strongly encourage you to visit Doolin. If you do, be sure to stay at the Lane Lodge (“Where the pudding’s black, the coffee’s hot, The upstairs room gives visions of the sea…”) and have some Guinness stew at O’Connor’s Pub (“Where the music plays in hallowed halls And the cider flows like waterfalls…”).
I mean, it was a town I loved so much I wrote a song about it. That says something!
Audio Sample of “Doolin”
(Visit the album’s CD Baby page for an audio sample of this song.)
Lyrics to “Doolin”
Well I’m coming down to Ireland
To a world that I have never been.
A town from days of yore and days of gold.
Where the rolling hills are the greenest kind
And the cliffs align the waterside.
The path within an old and humble road.
I’m coming down to Ireland
To a world that I have never been
To sing a song remembering days gone by.
And I’ll settle in the Irish way
On a cold and misty windy day
To the greatest land these eyes have ever known.
There’s a narrow lane with a tiny lodge
Where the pudding’s black, the coffee’s hot,
The upstairs room gives visions of the sea.
It’s an Irish home in an Irish land
And I’ll pass the time with cards in hand
Hearing stories of this town I’ve come to see.
In this simple town in Ireland
There’s a feeling all is good again
A common thought where less is always more.
As I walk along the stony side
Of an ancient field, I realize
There’s something here I never want to leave.
As the final light begins retreat
And darkness crawls to Fisher street
The town withdraws to warmth and fire within.
Where the music plays in hallowed halls
And the cider flows like waterfalls
Where the sands of time may never fall again.
In this corner town of Ireland
There’s a phrase for years that’s always said.
With words of hope for brighter days to come.
As I leave this land, I proudly pray
That the sun shines warm upon your face
And may your days be blessed until we meet again.
May your days be blessed until we meet again.