I first found Christy Moore in 1996, when a friend sent me a mix tape…
Remember mix tapes? I grew up with them. Okay, actually I grew up taping songs off the radio, but sometime in college, I was introduced to the mix tape phenomenon when I worked at a summer camp. A British friend of mine made me my very first mix tape with some excellent songs on it by artists I had never heard of prior to listening. A few years later, I was in Armenia as a Peace Corps Volunteer and another friend from Belfast, Northern Ireland, sent me a mix tape. The tape he made had all British or Irish artists on it, some of whom with which I was already familiar. But there was one song on that tape that ended up turning me into a Christy Moore fan.
Who is Christy Moore?
Christopher Andrew “Christy” Moore was born on May 7, 1945 in Newbridge, County Kildare, Ireland. He is an Irish folk singer, song writer, and guitarist who has been playing music for a living since the mid 1960s. Originally, Moore worked at a bank and played music for fun, but when there was a strike in 1966, he went to England and had a great time. He realized he liked playing music better than working in a bank with a manager standing over him all the time. Trading in his bank job for a job as a laborer, Moore began frequenting pubs and clubs in Ireland, where he met and began playing music with other musicians. In 1972, Moore released his first major album, Prosperous, which he named after the village Prosperous in County Kildare. He formed a band which was originally known as CLAD, but was eventually renamed Planxty. Moore played with the band until 1975, then embarked on a solo career.
The first Christy Moore song I ever heard…
In 1996, I was hungry for good music. In Armenia, there were a lot of vendors selling bootleg albums on cassette. I had a good time blowing some of my monthly allowance on music, though I was somewhat limited in what I could find. I mean, there was no shortage of mainstream American pop– especially Michael Jackson, because the Armenians were nuts about him– and it was easy to find Russian and Armenian pop, as well as “rabiz” music. But I would have never in a million years found Christy Moore in Armenia had my Irish friend not sent me a tape.
I remember listening to that tape on my Walkman as I walked the long way back to my apartment after picking up my mail at the Peace Corps office. Christy Moore’s gentle baritone sang a cover of a song originally recorded by The Pogues, “Fairytale of New York”…
I enjoyed the way Christy Moore sang this song, introducing it with his lilting Irish accent. Every time I hear his version of “Fairytale of New York”, I’m reminded of that day in Armenia and how hopeful and exciting it was to be in my mid 20s and living abroad. Of course, I had many tough years ahead of me, but I didn’t know that at the time. This song still makes me smile.
Years after I returned to the United States, I sought out Christy Moore’s music. I specifically wanted the album that had his live version of “Fairytale of New York” on it. I found an imported album on Amazon.com, Live At The Point. It was expensive when I bought it, but I see now that it’s dropped in price to less than half of what I paid for it. I loved the disc and later purchased another live album by Moore, Live At Vicar Street. That album had a fun Moore original, “Lisdoonvarna”.
I liked it so much that I started wishing I could see this man play live. Maybe someday we’ll make it to Ireland. For now, I have to settle for the other albums I’ve purchased by him, to include 2009′s Listen and 2011′s Folk Tale. I recently reviewed both of those albums and realized what a great storyteller Moore is with his songs, some of which he covers and some of which he writes himself. Listening to Moore’s music forces me to learn some Irish, too… or at least some Irish slang, since his lyrics sometimes include words I’ve not been exposed to here in America. His songs are also often about Irish affairs, which again I have to familiarize myself with since, not being from Ireland, I wouldn’t necessarily know about them.
My husband, Bill, is of Irish ancestry and is very interested in world events. One time I was listening to Christy Moore and he sang a song written by Bobby Sands, an Irish volunteer of the Provisional Irish Republican Army and member of British Parliament. Sands was just 27 years old when he died of a hunger strike in 1981 while incarcerated in an Irish prison hospital. I was nine years old in 1981 and had never been exposed to Sands’ story, so I didn’t know anything about him. Bill gave me the scoop as we listened to Sands’ song, “McIlhatton” as interpreted by Christy Moore…
I love it when I learn new things through music, especially when I can share it with people I love. Other songs by Christy Moore led to more learning about Ireland and Irish people and further fueled my desire to make it to Ireland someday. I want to see the origin of my husband’s people.
And to think my devotion to Christy Moore’s music started with a humble mix tape. Maybe it’s time we revisited that particular fad… with updated technology, of course!