BBC Radio Ulster presented a special edition of Sunday with Brian D’Arcy this week in conversation with former IMRO Chairman and founder member, world renowned songwriter and author Brendan Graham. During the one hour special, they journeyed through the songs that impacted his life and the music and matters which inspired his song writing.
The trip down memory lane showcased many of Graham’s own hits, including Eurovision Song Contest winning songs, ‘Rock ‘n’ Roll Kids’ by Paul Harrington & Charlie Mc Gettigan (Dublin, 1994) and ‘The Voice’ by Eimear Quinn (Oslo, 1996) and his phenomenally successful hit, ‘You Raise Me Up’.
The show highlighted Brendan’s early song writing ability playing his very first song recorded 54 years ago, written in response to Lennon & McCartney’s Eleanor Rigby – one of his song picks.
‘I had thought that Father McKenzie deserved a song to himself. So, I wrote the lyrics to Father Dickens on a red serviette in a Chinese restaurant in Harlesden and sent it back to Mullingar (where we lived) to Tommy Swarbrigg who, with brother Jimmy put a melody to it. Then, when I had moved to Australia in 1968 this battered LP arrived – ‘With an Eye to your Ear’ a brilliant orchestral album from Johnny McEvoy, produced by Bill Somerville-Large & Peter Lee Stirling. There, nestled between Goffin & King’s Goin’ Back, 59th Street Bridge Song was Father Dickens. When the Spotlight review by Shay Healy picked it as one of the album’s 3 best songs alongside (I think) Here There & Everywhere and So Long Marianne. It did strike me that, after being in such company the only way up was down but it was beyond my wildest dreams for a first song.’
Graham shared with his friend Brian D’Arcy during the show that Paul McCartney was his initial ‘influencer’ in writing songs.
‘My wildest dreams were somewhat tempered by the arrival of my first ever royalty cheque from Shaftesbury Music in London..£1.1s 5d. I never cashed that cheque because I had two thoughts: 1) I might never get another one and… 2) If I couldn’t do better than that, I should throw away the song writing.’
The show concluded with an insight into how Brendan created the lyrics around his famous hit ‘You Raise Me Up’ with over two billion (and climbing) You Tube Views in 60 languages worldwide. To listen to this week’s episode click here – BBC Radio Ulster – Sunday with Brian D’Arcy, Singers and Songs – Brendan Graham
Main image photo credit: Thomas Conneally