Last March, Stephanie and I decided to take the day off to celebrate St. Patrick’s Day. Our children were allowed to stay home from school and as a family; we headed into Boston to celebrate.
While we were having lunch in Faneuil Hall, a band from Ireland took the stage. The Arbour Men played traditional Irish classics while the people in the Pub sang along. Chloe even went up to the group and made a formal request for “The Rattlin’ Bog.” In between sets, we hung out with the band, took some pictures and they signed their CD cover for the kids.
We had a blast and a week later, I posted an article about the day on Irishman For Hire. I emailed a copy of the article to the band and Stephen Walsh commented at the end of the post. A few days later, I joined the The Arbour Men’s Facebook page and swapped a few more messages with Des Tobin.
In June, our family moved away from Boston and swapped some messages about the Arbour Men playing North Carolina for St. Patrick’s Day this year.
In August, Des sent me a Facebook message. He was in the process of writing some new material for The Arbour Men’s future CD and like most writers, writer’s block had descended upon him. Everything was sounding the same. So he asked me if I wouldn’t mind sending him a lyric or a poem that he might be able to use.
I was honored. It had been a while since I had penned a lyric but I was mired in my own writer’s block at the time. A lyric might be what I needed to unlock my own creativity. So I asked Des, “What topics are you looking at? And which direction are you going; serious, fun, nothing but beer, or a ballad?”
Des said he “was thinking of a nice ballad about sea fisherman and their boats. I live in a fishing town and it would be a good place to test it.”
I was slightly dumfounded. Hmmm, I thought; sea fisherman and their boats?! So I asked Des, “Sea fisherman and boats, huh? Not my forte but creativity doesn’t know any bounds.”
Des told me not to worry about the boat lyric. He told me to send him whatever I wrote and he would see if the lyric would work. But I was committed to the fisherman idea, so I told him that I’ll “work on a boat one. Challenges help expand the realm of creativity. Plus, I would love to help you guys out.”
And with my directives in hand, I set about my business of trying to craft a lyric about fisherman and their boats. My first few attempts were horrendous. Instead of forcing myself to write inside the box, I decided to create a character in my mind to see if it would make it easier to write the song. As I sat on my couch late at night, I created a character to base the lyric upon but it didn’t help. A couple of hours later, I still hadn’t created anything I liked. Frustrated with my attempts, I gave up and went to bed.
The following morning while sitting in the jump zone waiting room while Chloe jumped around in one of the bounce houses, inspiration struck. I borrowed some paper and a pen from the front desk and free wrote. When I had time later in the day, I penned a final copy and sent it off to Des with the following message:
So, I thought about your request for a ballad about an old fisherman. In order to do that, I had to create a character in my mind to write the lyric about. This is what I created.
I saw an old Irishman, sitting on the deck of a row house (rented of course), too old to sail the seas anymore and staring gloriously out over the water which was the love of his life and I realized that this was really a love song. An old fisherman who no longer can have the adventures he longed for on the high seas; either fishing or chasing skirts. A lonely old man who had nothing but the sea; no wife, no kids, no family, but he had an arsenal of tales that would mesmerize those who would listen to him as he spun his yarns into the wee hours of the morning at the Pub. And now, as his days draw dim, his passion to sail burning inside a body that no longer can physically handle the rigors of the water or his boat, he must say goodbye to his one true love; the sea.
This is his ballad.
Des liked the lyric and told me he would get back to me when he had penned the music for the song. This past week, Des sent me a You Tube video of the song. An acoustic version that will become the basis for the full band to build around as they fill out the song with additional instruments and it was amazing. I loved his interpretation of the lyric:
Great job, Des! I can’t wait for the finished version!
And as I add the final paragraph to this article, I am awestruck. This song was written by two people who are thousands of miles apart. We live in separate countries. An ocean lies between us and yet, through the advances of technology over the past ten years, we were able to write a song together.
It’s like I said above, the internet still amazes me!