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Feedback from Ireland’s Declan O’Rourke

This week I had the good fortune of getting assistance on some of my songs from the Irish singer-songwriter Declan O’Rourke. If you don’t know Declan’s work, visit his site.

Paul Weller said this about Declan in the April edition of the UK music magazine Mojo:

“He writes the sort of classic songs that people don’t write anymore, songs that sound like they’ve been around forever . . . Listen to Galileo, which is possibly the greatest song written in the last thirty years.”

There are no right or wrongs in songwriting, but there are clearly better choices. Declan’s made a lot of great choices over the years. What I love about his attitude is that he’s into wrestling with a song for months, agonizing over each word, prepared always to kill his darlings if necessary.

We spent several hours on a Skype call the other day. I was in Westport, CT; he was in Galway. By the time we finished, the sun was rising in Ireland.

We came up with some great ideas on how to improve my songs and for the past few days I’ve been trying to work those in.

It was a great experience … Read the rest

Richard Ford versus the Game of Thrones

Last week I finished Richard Ford’s Canada, a book well worth reading. I’ve been a fan for years and this doesn’t disappoint.

Next I bought Games of Thrones because I love the HBO series and wanted to take the experience to the next level. I also haven’t read any science fiction/fantasy for years. I thought it would be a nice change.


After a page I knew I’d made a mistake, but I trudged through the next few chapters hoping that my knowledge from the series would make up for the lazy descriptive choices, the clunky sentences and overuse of clichés. To be fair to George R.R. Martin, if I hadn’t just read Ford’s Canada, I may not have been so bothered; but Ford’s sentences flow like a Five Series BMW, Martin’s chugged along as if I was in a Chevy.

Games of Thrones is a fresh twist on familiar stories based on Tolkein, Star Wars, Shakespeare, Mythology and the Bible. That’s not a knock, aren’t most stories derivative of the last three on that list? But following Ford made me realize that I don’t want to fill my mind with just serviceable sentences. I want to raise … Read the rest

You can’t fight City Hall

A few weeks ago I got a tax bill for a car I sold back in April. Today I went into the Town of Westport to tell them that I don’t own this car anymore.

They said it was up to me to tell them and that I would need the Bill of Sale and a copy of the receipt provided by the CT DMV when I turned in my license plates.

I told them I had no idea if I had either, but that surely you guys track vehicle transactions via computer.

“We get an update once a year,” the woman in the Westport Tax Office said. “The onus is on you, so either pay this bill now, or face the interest and late fee penalties.”

“But why is it my responsibility?” I asked. “I reported the sale and turned in my plates to the DMV. You have all the information you need to tax me properly.”

“That’s the state. We’re local. When you turned in your plates you were given a receipt that tells you that you must contact your local government.”

“I don’t recall any such conversation with DMV,” I told her.

“It’s clearly stated on your … Read the rest

Festival Drug Use a Turn Off When You Bring Your Kids

Last year I took my girlfriend and her kids to the Gathering of the Vibes in Bridgeport, CT. This annual event has grown in scope and is part of a trend across the country in music festivals.

Although I’ve been impressed by the improvements each year in set-up and execution of the event, I’m not going this year because last year the open use of drugs during the day made us uncomfortable given that we had a fourteen and eight year old with us.

I’m no prude, but it is clear that the festival cut a deal with the town of Bridgeport. The cops are looking the other way and allowing the Vibes security to handle the situation. I’m not bothered by discreet puffs of pot, but kids openly smoking bongs, rolling joints, and snorting God knows what in broad day light just doesn’t cut it in my book.

I get that the infusion of cash this event brings to the area is essential given how tight budgets at the State and Local level are nowadays. An article in the CT Post over the weekend was all about the money and jobs the event brings the area.

But if you … Read the rest