Cork father’s grief for his son brings new life to old songs

Cork father’s grief for his son brings new life to old songs

Michael Fitzgerald with musicians Brian Hassett and Hugh Dillon as they listen back to a recording for the album No Simple Highway

A CORK man is reimagining songs about love and loss to bring comfort to people who are grieving.

Devoted father Michael Fitzgerald was with his son, Aodhrua, when Aodhrua succumbed to cancer at just 21 years of age, during Christmas 2013.

The years that followed were intensely painful for Michael.

Nonetheless, he was determined to channel that pain in a way that helped others.

The result was SomeRiseSomeFall, an independent community of songwriters, musicians and creatives that brings music to the world in a new way. The initiative has brought together artists and vocalists such as John Blek, Rowan, Anna Mitchell, Kevin Herron and Marlene Enright, as well as producer Brian Casey, videographer Allie Glynn and artist Ríona Ní Riagáin.

Their aim is to reinterpret and reimagine songs to create unique new recordings. “None of these are straight covers,” Mr Fitzgerald said.

“If someone comes back to me with a heavy-metal version of a country-and-western song, I’m not going to veto it. The instruction to the artist is to find their own beauty in the song.”

The collective’s latest offering is the album No Simple Highway.

All proceeds from each project go to a local charity and this latest initiative will benefit the Simon Community.

Mr Fitzgerald, who founded FITZZ Records, said that he has always believed in the transformative power of music.

His hope is to help people connect on an artistic level, while also highlighting their vulnerability.

He said the projects have been cathartic and have helped him through his grief and loss.

Home videos of Aodhrua, who was a well-known comedian in Cork, now feature in a video for the song ‘When the Thought of you Catches up with Me’, performed by Kevin Herron.

“All the rest of the videos we do are professional and from scratch,” Michael said. “I had these old home videos. They didn’t fit the song, but when it was edited, you could swear that he was acting to it. That’s the skill of a good film editor.

“While many of the songs were created to reflect the experiences of those who have experienced grief, they also transcend to the loneliness and negative feelings people are coping with during lockdown.

“SomeRiseSomeFall is basically saying that things happen to people and, in a funny way, it all comes down to luck.”

Mr Fitzgerald is also well-known for his mental-health talks, which he has given in schools across Cork.

This project, however, is particularly close to his heart.

“If you show compassion to others, it helps us to have compassion for ourselves,” he said.

“That’s why projects like this are so important. Artistically, you are trying to make sure that it has integrity, while also having a social impact. If it fails the first one, then it fails the second one.

“You are helping people absorb the truth in a way that doesn’t happen when just presenting facts.

“It’s been very healing, as everyone has suffered loss in some form.”

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