You're not going to find actual music files here; sorry. I respect
copyright; my wife's career depends on
her making a living from her artistic endeavours.
What you will find here are mentions of my favourite music,
what has inspired me, made me think, perhaps brought me to tears from the
sheer beauty of the songs... and hopefully you'll find inspiration in this
wonderful music too. Don't expect to find too many
mainstream music recommendations here. My tastes are best described
as varied and eclectic.
In the past, I have watched World Music on LinkTV a lot
(see their store here), but sadly
they have relegated that program to extremely awkward times for those of
us on the US east coast (as of mid-2007, when I wrote this). And barring
a moment of insanity where I might consider building a MythTV box, time
shifting is not really an option for me. That said, I remember the
program being a great way of finding music that's really popular
in countries all over this planet, not what some large mega-corp wants you
to buy. (Note: thanks to Michal for her kind words; I hope her concerns
win out in the political battle behind the scenes at Link TV; while I
agree absolutely with their message [Yes, Amy, I do!] you've got
to get people's attention first before you can win them over. Music is
the way to do that.)
So, what sorts of music do I like? Let's define some categories: Irish/Celtic Music, World Music, Popular, and Classical.
At the risk of overlapping with some of the Irish Thingies, here's a short list of some of
the Irish and Celtic music that has been most influential in my life:
- Seán Ó'Riada, founder of
Ceoltóirí Chualann (whence the Chieftains originally
came), had several albums released in the 1960's that my Mother
liked; despite the use of a harpsichord (which I gather he used
because getting an authentic Cláirseach or Irish harp was
problematic), these had a strong influence on me, especially the
music written by Turlough O'Carolan.
- The Chieftains, the quintessential Traditional Irish Music
band, came directly from Ceoltóirí Chualann. It is
their music more than any other that was the engine behind the
revival of the genre in Ireland throughout the 60's and 70's. I've
seen them live twice, once at an outdoor festival near Lisdoonvarna
in 1979, and more recently in 2007 at the Paramount in
Charlottesville. They have been playing a long time!
- Planxty built further on what the Chieftains had done, and
took Irish music several steps closer to what I think of as World
Music. They used instruments that had not been associated with
Irish music before: bouzouki, mandolin, hurdy-gurdy, guitar; as well
as the usual Uilleann (elbow) pipes, tin whistle, and
- Horslips; definitely the other end of the spectrum. One
can argue that they did something none of the other groups mentioned
above could: make Irish music relevant to the young generation, who
were for the most part more interested in tuning in to BBC Radio 1
or Radio Luxembourg, or even the pirate "Radio Caroline" (yes, I
listened to all those, though my favourite was definitely the Alan
Freeman show on BBC Radio 2; that had a huge influence on
my musical tastes). But back to the Horslips: they mixed Irish
Traditional and Rock music, and were perhaps the first Celtic Rock
band ever. Isn't Dearg Doom the second Irish National
- Gaelic Storm is an interesting group with a lead singer
who's my namesake. This is one band I have not yet seen in concert,
but friends of mine have and bought me two of their CDs (autographed
too, direct from Patrick Murphy to Patrick Murphy!). The lyrics of
some of their songs are certainly memorable (the Johnny Jump Up,
Johnny Tarr, the Piña Colada in a Pint Glass). Maybe they'll
swing by Charlottesville one of these days.
It was with shock and sadness that I learned of the senseless death of
Lucky Dube recently. If
you haven't seen his "The way it is" video, try to catch it
(on Link TV or elsewhere). It's sad... the world will be a poorer
place for his loss.
This is based more or less on what I've either heard/seen on Link TV's
World Music, or bought from their online store.
- Leahy, the (very
large) family band from Ontario, Canada, came to my attention when I
first started watching Link TV, along with Hevia (see below) and a
few others. It was The Call to Dance video that made an
impression on me. Their music emphasizes the violin (fiddle by any
other name!) and a Celtic tradition, while still incorporating
elements of popular/rock music that they no doubt grew up with.
When I saw they were going to do a concert in Charlottesville (at
the Paramount Theatre) a few years ago, I jumped at the opportunity
to go. They are phenomenal in concert, and I'll go see
them again without any hesitation whenever they decide to come back
to town (alas, they're coming back but I have a conflict; ARGH!). I
have all three of their albums, and I'm looking forward to the
- You can't mention Leahy without also bringing up Natalie
McMaster (she's married to Donnell, the lead fiddle player of
Leahy). Having heard her on a Thistle & Shamrock
episode on NPR, and seen one video of hers on Link TV, I thought she
might be worth going to see. I was right. I've never seen anyone
with so much energy on stage, and she's as good a fiddler as I've
heard (definitely gives her husband a run for his money there!).
And that was when she was about 5 months pregnant too...
- Loreena McKennitt is hard to characterise. She is probably
the quintessential World Music artist, with a quite strong emphasis
on Celtic music. I was introduced to her music by a former
colleague at work (thanks, Rob!) and subsequently bought The
Mask and Mirror CD. Ethereal, hauntingly beautiful, and
- Cazador by Pistolera (an American band; song in
Spanish). They are so right...
- Nwahulwana by Wazimbo (Mozambique). This is such a
beautiful song. Leaves me speechless.
- Au diable les Avocets (To hell with Lawyers) by Les
Charbonniers de l'enfer (the little engineers from hell; I love that
name!), all the way from Quebec. Who can argue with them...
- Mann Ke Manjeere (Rhythms of the Mind) by Shubha Mudgal
(India). Based on the true story of India's first Woman Truck
Driver; try and catch the video on LinkTV; it's inspirational.
- Many songs by Alboka (Basque), including Trapatan,
Txinparta (can you hear the Celtic overtones?) and about
half a dozen more tracks from their Lorius album (I ended up buying
9 of the tracks!). Fascinating instruments and percussion from an
- Prendi L'Onda (Catch the Wave) by Fiamma Fumana (Italy).
As my colleague Michele Z. would say, they speak the one true
language ;-) I'm intrigued by their use of (bag)pipes.
- Aicha (or is it Aisha?) by Khaled and Faudel
(Algeria/France). Wonderful song. There's also a version by
Outlandish (and while I can't stand rap, I can
appreciate what they did in their version of it, also their
Guantanamo video rocks.
- Gamen and Vanner och Frander by Garmarna (Sweden).
How does she stay so still among all that rocking, moshing,
etc? Underneath the theatrics, you'll find some bittersweet and
haunting folk songs from Scandinavia.
- Urker is a group that strikes me as the "Horslips" of
Kazakhstan; they play local music with a mix of traditional and
modern instruments, and the result is amazing. Check out their
"Tugan Elim" video; you may not understand the words, but the
pictures tell an unmistakable story.
- I'm intrigued by songs such as Dinata by Eleftheria
Arvanitaki (Greece) but haven't investigated further —
- Hevia, an artist hailing from the Celtic area known as Galicia (the
northwest corner of Spain, just above Portugal) is quite the
virtuoso at the pipes (though Carlos Nuñez might be his
equal), came out with a video of his Busindre Reel some
years ago. It really caught my attention, and is probably the
single video that caused me to watch Link TV's World Music program
on a regular basis (when it was on in the early evenings).
- I have to think that Tiken Jah Fakoly has it right when he sings "Le
Pays va Mal". That could apply to quite a few countries...
- For those who like the cross-cultural side of things, three
- Ah Ya Albi by Hakim (Egypt) and Olga (Puerto Rico).
Watch Hakim vanish... a great mix (if they'd just drop the rap
- Nari Nari by Hashim Abbas (Egypt) and... who is that
superb Soprano from India? The video features the building
that my former colleague Ketan D. once called "the most
beautiful building on Earth" (the Taj Mahal).
- Amadou and Mariam, a blind couple from Senegal (I
think) have a wonderful video done in collaboration with a
French artist (whose name I can't recall) called Senegal
Fast Food. Definitely worth a watch/listen.
- On the lighter side, beware of those darts in Finnish pubs with
tractor-driving farmers performing bizarre dance rituals (oh, forget
it, you have to see the video!) The band is JPP, and the tune is
Puikkoristikk (Cross of Sticks).
- And, just for badness (as Paddy Moloney would say), how about a dose
of Start Wearing Purple by Gogol Bordello? All your sanity
and wit, they will all vanish, I promise; it's just a matter of
Much of this was inspired by the late Alan Freeman's weekend show on
BBC Radio 2 in the 1970's.
- Pink Floyd
- Tangerine Dream
- Midnight Oil (I have the "Diesel and Dust" CD)
- The Clash
- Beethoven, in particular his Piano Concertos; #4 and #5 are
- Bach, I have only scraped the surface of what he produced,
but enjoy the Brandenberg Concertos.
- Vivaldi's Four Seasons is a classic.
- Mussorgsky: Pictures at an Exhibition, a long time
- Ravel's Bolero of course; think "Torvill and Dean".