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Last Time: Stephen at Galway, and Reflection on Hit Songs and Big Bux

January 24, 2012

Last night was Stephen Danger Prescott’s last time presenting the open mic at the Galway Pub in Paris after three or four years on that job. He will be hugely missed, but he has decided to go as far away as Berlin in order to avoid being lured into the job again.

It was a good night there, and also at the Tennessee Bar open mic a few minutes walk away, under the aegis of James Iansiti. I only stayed a short time at the Tennessee, though, and did not sing there since I arrived too late to do that AND the Galway, and I had to attend Stephen’s last time.

And speaking of “Last Time,” that is the second theme of this post. Readers will have noticed that I have buddied around over the last week in Paris at the open mics with an Irish singer named Conn Bux. Last night as the two of us attended both open mics there was one singer who went up and I told Conn how much I liked the singer’s voice but that I felt all the songs sounded the same.

“All you need is one,” he said. He meant, of course, that all any group or singer really needs to break out of the lowest levels of the music business is one hit song. Of course, a load more of them than that would also be welcome.

But his words reminded me that over the two previous days I had been saying to myself that this was precisely Conn Bux’s own situation. I did not tell him that last night, but he had given me his three CDs last Friday – made over the last decade – and I had been listening to them in the mornings during my morning exercise.

One of things I thought as I heard Conn sing in the various open mics over the last week, and as I listened to his superb CDs, was that this Irishman is so good he just needs one hit song and he’ll break out. He’s got his own voice, a strong voice, musical talent and skill, and he plays well in cool bands.

This morning as I listened to Conn’s third – most recent CD-, called The Old Reliable, as I did my morning exercise, suddenly, it seemed to me that Conn’s hit song had just popped out of the laser and into my head. It was a song that I had listened to several times over the last week, and he sang it again last night at both the Tennessee Bar and the Highlander. It is called Last Time, and it has been ringing in my head all day. The version with the band brings yet another level to it, but this song is for me clearly a hit. It has memorable words, theme, melody – it rocks, it rolls, it souls….

So why is it NOT a hit? That then got me to thinking that NOTHING in the music business actually makes sense and that there are probably a lot of hit songs in existence that are NOT hits because of totally obscure reasons, and things like simple luck. Things like being in the right place at the right time, etc. Cliches.

Having said that, Conn is only around 35 years old, and I can see through his three CDs that he is developing as a musician too, and that no music careers follow any precise plans or routes. Some careers have exploded several decades in and suddenly the singer gets noticed, has a hit and starts earning the big bux.

So check out the Last Time performance at the Galway by Conn Bux, so appropriate on the last time Stephen acted as MC.

One Comment

  1. Great post, Brad! Wish I’d been at Le Galway on Monday, but your video was the next-best thing (especially since it included Davy on his uke). Thanks for a great réportage.

    As for your meditation about why some musicians “break out” while others never quite make it … add it to life’s big mysteries, eh? For me, the truly great ones are the musicians who get out there night after night and play and sing and write just for the sheer joy of it. *Those* are the musicians who have enriched my life.

    Anyway, best wishes to Conn as he continues his journey. I’m off to buy “The Old Reliable” on iTunes …

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