The Sad Song Co. the new album.

Worth - the new album

Add your email to the list to keep up to date with everything!

The Sad Song Co: Blog

Nigel Powell: Attack the Blog!

Hey Self Defeater

Monday 4th March, 2013

We started a tour in Northampton, MA on 2nd March and, being as it was not far from his hometown of Springfield, I had the pleasure of hanging out with my friend Mark Mulcahy. His name is not familiar to many, but anyone out there who knows him or his work will probably feel that same thrill that the mention of his name and the subsequent collateral memories and emotions can conjure. He's a singer / songwriter, but such an overused and common term sullies his talent. His band Miracle Legion were contemporaries of REM and shared some of their jangly DNA; later on his work became familiar to a certain type of US youth through Polaris and their music for the TV show The Adventures of Pete and Pete.

Mark Mulcahy

Mark Mulcahy
But it was his solo albums that I got to know. I am a staunchly non-religious person, but the only thing that someone could hold up to me and say "surely there's a divine hand in this" and not have me laugh in their face is Mark's singing voice. Effortless climbing beauty, almost indescribable; possessing almost unbearable gravity but simultaneously utterly weightless. When I saw him perform for the first time in five years recently I was in tears within 20 seconds of him opening his mouth. It's that good.

Anyway, I digress slightly, although me waxing rhapsodic about his supreme talent does provide a little context. We were chatting about the tour schedule I keep, both historical and upcoming, and he said he was half jealous of me. And I knew precisely what he meant, because I am half jealous of him, not because of the situation he has found himself in but the strength of his personality.

A few years ago he lost his wife suddenly, leaving him to care for their young twins, which he now does energetically and admirably. I have children. I don't tend to discuss it with fans for the most part because I wish to firewall certain parts of my private life. But it is relevant here, because not a day goes by without my feeing torn between my life, my selfish life of performance and travelling and setting up and tearing down, and my responsibilities as a father. I wish I had the power of will, the generosity of spirit, to stop what I'm doing and be around for them, even though I know they wouldn't ask me, it wouldn't even necessarily be the best thing for them. But being separated from them for so much of every year is a constant epicentre of sadness.

Cover of the tribute album I contributed to

Cover of the tribute album I contributed to

And I love and admire and respect Mark for his utter devotion to his family. He did what he had to do. He is a real man. And yes, I'm half jealous that I can't grow up and let my ambition drift away and properly fulfil my calling as a parent.

But that's not the only powerful connotation I have with Mark's presence. Apart from just loving being around him (he is calming, funny, beautific, cheeky, and I'm informed by many female friends about the sexiest man in the world despite not having the classic good George Clooney / Brad Pitt looks), he is my touchstone for what is important about music. You can never judge it's worth by the commercial heft. Leave art to the free market and it homogenises and degrades to a lowest common denominator, with no room for the gorgeous soul of people like Mark Mulcahy, who refuse to do what they think is wrong. He sells next to nothing, criminally. You've never heard of him. But he has one of the greatest voices bestowed upon man; a sense of fingertip-light melody that causes agonised envy amongst musical contemporaries scratching round to try and craft diamants while rubys spill endlessly and effortlessly from the pockets of Mark's shabby coat; and a through line of identity, a pure vision with no apparent pretension or tainting ambition.

Mark live - angel's sing

Mark live - angel's sing

I don't have a conclusion here. His music is beautiful. Go and listen to it, and for god's sake if you ever have the chance go and see him live. And remember that there are big musical artists that suck and tiny obscure artists who are godlike. The converse is just as true, and every possible shade in between. So boring and tiring, hipsters who can't like anything when too many people have heard of it, or pop 'fans' who remain only aware of the commercially successful surface of the vast ocean of music, untroubled by knowledge of the existence of sharks and angel fish and sea horses and rays. Music is never defined by it's sales figures.

DCH, Mon 4th March 2013, 08:34:53 PM
Good words about a great man x
Laura, Mon 4th March 2013
Thanks for sharing!

More Blogs

Recording The Bigger Picture

Saturday 23rd January, 2016

It's been a long time since my last blog. Yeah, sure, I know. Sorry. Just leave it. OK? Something came up yesterday though that seemed worthy of talking about. Apparently it's 10 years since Milow's album The Bigger Picture was released, and album that I produced and played on. I thought it be...   read

Some Drumming Videos

Saturday 20th September, 2014

Been concentrating on updating the site to include contact links for hiring me as a session drummer. But over the summer I did a couple of shows with my old pals in the Genesis tribute band Los Endos. Here's a couple of drum views of songs from those with...   read

Puritan Chapter 4

Wednesday 18th June, 2014

1989 - 1992: Once Around The Park My dad, still with his eye on solid academic achievement, insisted that I at least consider university. Out of respect I applied for places on a number of courses, but the interview process was somewhat unusual, since the hardening of my ambition to be somehow with...   read

Feed The Tree

Monday 12th May, 2014

Sorry it's been so long since the last time I blogged here. I have been busy, that much is true, but it would be a lie to pretend that was entirely the reason. Many days I wonder the worth of adding to the ever-growing mountain of unsolicited writing out there, of my...   read

It's been a long long time

Friday 25th April, 2014

Hello everyone. Sorry, this blog has been long neglected. My next thing to post was the next chapter of Puritan, but I was waiting until I could get some relevant audio tracks into the computer world, which involved borrowing a DAT machine and finding time between tours to record it and blah...   read

Massively long pseudo intellectual discourse

Tuesday 29th October, 2013

I was intending my next blog to be another "Bloggin' The Shuffle", but something happened that took me elsewhere. A friend who is studying screenwriting asked me about musical structure. Most screenplays follow a three act format, roughly akin to sonata form in music, and her thought was to compare other forms...   read

Know thyself

Thursday 10th October, 2013

Been a while since the last blog. I guess I've been putting this one off because... well it's odd. For starters I'm aware that I would suggest to others not doing this - you let people take what they want from music you make, and your opinion doesn't matter so much it's...   read

You've changed, man

Friday 6th September, 2013

I said over there on the albums page that my next blog would be my own self-assessment of my solo work, but I think I'm going to postpone that. It's something I struggle with in a way - I want to talk about it, but I would encourage anyone else away that...   read

Puritan Chapter 3

Sunday 11th August, 2013

1985 - 1989: Sentimental Mercenary In A Free Fire Zone After a summer of unpacking boxes and trying to make the new house a home I started at Abingdon School in September 1985. With the determination for morbidity that only a teenager can muster, I hated it and was depressed in a I...   read

The Crew's Ship

Thursday 25th July, 2013

Just got a little while in the middle of the night before we leave for Heathrow to start another tour. Although they never stop. It's one continuous tour. But I was having some thoughts about work and working and who does what. I've been both sides of the touring fence multiple times being...   read

It's time to play the music, it's time to light the lights

Thursday 11th July, 2013

As many of you here may know apart from being a drummer I was once a lighting designer, the guy who makes the lights do their thing at a rock show (there's many other kinds of LD of course, but rock was what I did). So with that in my background have...   read

Puritan Chapter Two

Tuesday 4th June, 2013

1982 - 1985: Above The Riverbed The World's Run Dry More gigs, better gigs. After the party we started to get a bit more serious with the school band, or as serious as you can be when you're 12 years old. We called ourselves Nightshade and had a stable lineup of Adrian guitar,...   read

I've been so far from here, far from your loving arms

Sunday 26th May, 2013

Some things are curious to me. Things which appear to be a lack of analysis, opinions not properly thought through. Then again that sometimes is just me and my Spock-ness, not appreciating the random foible of desire. I read about the band that I play in on the internet. There, I've admitted In...   read

Bloggin' The Shuffle #2

Monday 29th April, 2013

Hello from Hamburg! Ich Bein Eine Hamburger. Or something. Got an hour after breakfast on the bus before we have to travel to record a German TV show called Ina's Nacht, so what better way to make GOOD USE of my time than another quick session of bloggin' the shuffle. This off...   read

Puritan Chapter One

Monday 22nd April, 2013

1971 - 1982: It's Cold Outside, But It Gets So Hot In Here Oh shit. That's mum and dad. Keep your head, don't giggle, just keep tidying up the bottles and cans into the bin bag in the garage. I think they're angry, but I'm finding it curiously hard to read these who...   read

It hardly seems to matter now

Monday 8th April, 2013

So here's another in what I anticipate to be a series. Jeez, what a lot of series we have running - Puritan (to be continues when I get access to my old photos and a scanner, so I can make it a bit more visually interesting), Blogging The Shuffle (which will when...   read

Left, right, left, right, present arms

Sunday 24th March, 2013

I'm writing this from Shanghai in China, my first visit to this country. I'm not going to give you my impressions. I'm not Michael Palin, nor indeed Bill Bryson (although I can recommend all of Mr. Bryson's travel books as some of the most amusing writing I've ever had the pleasure embarrassingly...   read

Bloggin' the Shuffle! #1

Thursday 14th March, 2013

This is the original reason that it occurred to me to start blogging. I'd find myself on the tourbus with my iPod on having memories and thoughts triggered as shuffle offered up various tidbits that I wouldn't have put on of my own accord. So I'm going to give that a at...   read

Puritan - Introduction

Sunday 10th March, 2013

Introduction October 12th 2010, Albuquerque, NM, USA I'm 39 and 11 days old, which is clearly much too old to be any kind of musician on the road with a rock band. I'm playing with English musician Frank Turner as a member of his backing band. The distinction is necessary, since things are to...   read

Literary Pretensions

Saturday 9th March, 2013

So, the thing is, when I was on tour a couple of years back I wrote a 'book'. It's definitely a 'book' and not a book though. It's an autobiography with the initial intention of a certain angle on the subject, although as it went along the focus drifted a bit. I...   read

Talking about myself

Saturday 2nd March, 2013

I don't really talk about myself much. Not just on the internet, but in life. I have an English paranoia about being seen to complain, or about troubling anyone else ("a friend troubled is a problem doubled", as someone once said to me). But I don't think that it's healthy. Don't me...   read