A CORK singer and poet has responded to the coronavirus pandemic with a song that he recorded the night before lockdown.
Wilton-based Aidan O’Brien, 36m managed to get leading musicians from around the world to play on Humanity which is on YouTube.
The drummer on the song plays with Pharrell Williams, the piano player recently came off Taylor Swift’s Reputation tour and the cellist has played with Regina Spektor.
Aidan’s song “is about what’s happening now. People are being told to stay at home. The idea behind Humanity is that no matter what religion you are, people need to believe in each other to get through life.”
The recording was all done on the internet, using a laptop. Aidan was able to get the input of Air Gigs, which is a group of international online musicians.
“Also, my friend Tom Deam, who’s a brilliant violin player, got involved and another friend, Mark Van Dam, a Dutch sax player living in Clonakilty, is on it as well. You just record onto your computer and email the files. We sent them to America for a professional mix to get it fit for radio. Altogether, there’s 12 people on the song from seven different countries.”
Aidan says that for years, he wanted to have a song that would open doors for him to travel.
“I must have written about 300 songs and 150 poems. It’s about getting the right song out at the right time.
“I’m lucky because the last couple of years have been amazing. I’ve played support to some of my local heroes like Ger Wolfe and John Spillane. I’ve also played support with Aslan. I sang in the Royal Albert Hall with the Carrigaline Choir about ten years ago in what’s called ‘The Big Sing’. I was living in Carrigaline at the time and the choir advertised for musicians.”
The lockdown has been productive for Aidan.
“I have been very busy for the last couple of years and I was always planning what I’d do when I had time off. I travelled all oversouth-east Asia in January which was great.
“Now, I’m piecing my old songs together and figuring out what to record. I’m creative all the time but even when you’re playing music for a living, you’re busy. I might only write one song in a couple of months. Now I’m writing a lot and doing the admin as well, emailing people. Time is a great friend for an artist.”
For the last two and a half years, Aidan has been working on cruise ships, singing and playing guitar. He recently came back from Malaysia where he was doing “a dry land gig in the biggest hotel in the world on top of a mountain where a casino was carved out in the jungle.”
All part of what has been dubbed the City of Entertainment, Genting Highlands is “like Mahon Point multiplied by ten with cinemas, restaurants, a roller coaster, an amusement park and more. It’s about an hour outside Kuala Lumpur. People go there because of the casino. I’ve been singing in a hotel and a restaurant there. A lot of Malaysians go there as well as Chinese, Koreans and Singaporeans.”
If the outbreak of coronavirus hadn’t happened, Aidan would be on a cruise ship to California now.
“I love going on cruises. It’s a really good gig. Playing in America is great because I like to play American rock n roll artists. I also like to play The Beatles and Oasis. And I love to play Bob Dylan and Bob Marley.”
Prior to entertaining passengers on cruises, Aidan worked the pub and wedding circuit in Cork and Kerry. He studied music at Colaiste Stiofán Naofa.
“It’s easy to work as a musician in the summer in Ireland and there’s Christmas gigs too. But often when October and November comes and January and February, they’re hard months. I was given an email address about cruise work and ended up on a boat going from Newcastle in England to Amsterdam.
“My friend’s sister saw an ad on Facebook looking for a musician. It was very vague. I didn’t think anything of it and I was quite sceptical because I was given the job immediately after submitting just one video. I figured that the trip from Newcastle to Amsterdam was going to be pandemonium with drunk people on board. But it was fine.”
With his band, Aidan and the Astronauts, Aidan made his first album entitled Young But Growing. He came second in a couple of songwriting competitions, one of which had John Spillane as a judge.
“I sent a song to Christy Moore. He sent me a postcard saying he liked it. But it didn’t really take off. It was folk music with no drums which is not the most radio-friendly music in the world. I’m a rocker really.
“I have a load of new songs that I’ve been recording. So I work the cruise ships and come back and spend time on my own songs. I feel that singing on the boats is the second best job in the world.”
Aidan, who calls himself The Musical Poet, has just published his first collection of poems, ‘Confessions of an Idealist’ with a new audio poem called ‘The Virus.’ Its final lines are: ‘It lingers like a rotten smell, resounding a doomsday bell/As grown men cough and women splutter; in mansions, houses/shacks and gutters./Still on and on its rampage goes and where it ends; nobody knows.’