Saturday, March 16, 2024

Pierce Turner, "Hail Glorious St Patrick"

Pierce Turner is an old friend from my days in the late '70s when I was a regular at a Greenwich Village club, the Bells of Hell, where Pierce and fellow Wexford native Larry Kirwan, as Turner & Kirwan of Wexford, were the house band for some time, playing songs that "mixed traditional Irish folk music with full-blown progressive rock."  Later they added a bassist and a drummer (as Turner & Kirwan, Larry banged a drum using a pedal while he played guitar and sang; Pierce played Moog and sang) and became The Major Thinkers. In 1985 Pierce returned to Ireland and began a very successful solo career as a singer and songwriter. Larry remained in New York, became frontman of Black 47, and later conceived and co-wrote the musical Paradise Square, which was nominated for ten Tony awards, including Best Musical. 

The song "Hail Glorious St. Patrick" is "[b]ased on a hymn that was first published in 1853, with words attributed to Sister Agnes, of the Convent of Charleville, County Cork." The music, according to Pierce, "is credited with being 'ancient' -- an apt description, as the melody is as familiar as your mother's scent -- it slips on like an old woollen winter coat, there is no avant-garde challenge." For his version, Pierce kept the chorus and second verse of the original, and "rewrote the rest updating the song for the 21st century, for a world where 'a new kind of evil has blinded our minds.'" 

Pierce's old partner, Larry, has this to say:
Pierce Turner is an Irish national treasure. So, what better man to reimagine Hail Glorious St. Patrick. This is a track for the ages. But don't just take it out for the big day -- it will sound great on the other 364 too. I'll be playing it.

Beannechtai na feile Padraig!