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The Sad Song Co: Blog

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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!
 
 

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