I Will Sing My Songs For You, page 1
Young musician, Simon, is the songwriter and front man of the very successful group, Simon and the Heartbeats. He is surrounded by all the trappings of a rock-star life style.
On a song-writing break to rural Inishowen in County Donegal, that borders the troubled province of Northern Ireland, Simon meets and becomes enchanted with the very beautiful Marie-Clare. As their lives being to entwine, can their relationship survive the tragedies and misunderstanding that will invade it? As Simon's fame and fortune climbs to a higher plane, Marie-Clare has her own demons to conquer.
Throughout the intriguing twists and turns, we encounter breaking points and endurance, tenderness and vulnerability, deep sorrow and intense love.
This is an in-depth look at the workings of the music industry machine and portrays the reality behind the popular misconceptions.
I WILL SING MY SONGS FOR YOU
HARRY MC GILLOWAY
A Smashwords Edition
Author Copyright 2014 Harry McGilloway
Cover Art: Amanda Stephanie
Editor: Christine McPherson
Proofreader: Barbara Whary
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ALL RIGHTS RESERVED
To all the musicians that I have ever shared a stage with and for the pleasure of their performance and company. For all of my family and friends who each in their own way has helped shape me into the person that I am today. To everyone who has ever entered my life and for whatever reason decided to stay or go. I thank you all for the memories. And especially to all of the curling-haired ladies out there, who without you the world would lack a magnificent beauty.
I Will Sing My Songs for You
The evening sun sank slowly on the horizon like a big orange button slipping gently between the seams of where the sky meets the sea. From the harbor, Simon watched until it was gone.
His gaze remained fixed for a few moments longer, then he turned away and reached down to pick up a notepad and pen, a stereo Walkman player and some loose cassette tapes lying strewn by his feet.
Stuffing his belongings into the old leather briefcase that he had tucked away earlier behind the wall where he sat, Simon lit another cigarette and gazed some more.
Tall and handsome with long black wavy hair, his slim build and swarthy skin gave him that Mediterranean look that was so easy on the eye. Simon–christened Steven Kelly some twenty-four years ago by a woman who had neither a husband nor, indeed, the wanting for a child–was a musician. A controversial poet who sang his expressions for a generation that raged against the system, music is Simon’s life, his friend, his salvation.
If he were not playing music, he would listen to it, sometimes maybe even debate on it, but more often than not, he was thinking about it. Tonight was one of those nights that he was thinking about it.
He took the last drag from his cigarette. He’d hoped taking some time away from his popular pop/rock band to explore something different musically would allow him the space to come up with something truly amazing.
The deafening roar of the sea and the chill from the night air made him shudder. Turning his jacket collar up and reaching for the briefcase, he hurried back to his car.
He’d intended to get there much earlier in the day, but a misunderstanding at a British Army checkpoint–one of the many guarding the disputed border dividing the North from the South of Ireland–had waylaid him. The squadron on duty had been extremely suspicious of his Dublin-registered sports car and was not at all satisfied by his explanation for the visit. An IRA mortar attack on the Derry checkpoint the night before had made the squaddies jumpy, and they were not taking any chances.
Moving Simon to an enclosed compound for interrogation, he had been left alone in a small gray room, with only a table and some empty chairs for company. Time passed so slowly.
The anxiousness of his overactive mind struggled to interpret the shouting of angry voices that seeped all the way through the separating wall of the adjoining space. In there, another interrogation was taking place, but, unlike recording studios, these rooms were not built to be soundproof.
At some point, the din from the other space suddenly stopped with the sound of a slamming door. The impact heightened Simon’s awareness of his own vulnerability, and he cringed at the thought of what was yet to come. Moments of silence passed as he sat there alone and waited. Then, just when he least expected it, the door to his space burst open.
Two plain-clothes officers from Special Branch, escorted by two in military uniform, marched in. The trepidation and terror of their training followed with them as they entered his space.
Simon noted that the two in suits showed signs of sweating when they took their places across the table from him; the two military took up their positions on either side of the doorway, armed and alert, securing any escape from the room.
Throughout their accusing and hostile questioning, Simon repeated that he was only passing through on a holiday break.
One of the suits–the tall slim one with the moustache–calmly remarked that it was odd for a stranger with neither family nor friends living in the Province to come and visit in these troubled times.
“What really is your business here, me lad?” He whispered close up into Simon’s face. The warmth from his stale breath stank, and it was as rank as the cheap suit that he wore.
His insinuation worried Simon. “I know no-one here. I’m just a musician on holiday,” he answered awkwardly.
Seeing his weakness, the interrogators went to great lengths to instill fear and exert their authority as they upped their game.
“Music, is it? Our agents say that weapons are being smuggled across the border in Show-band vans,” said the other suit.
Their behaviour became yet even more intimidating when they showed Simon photographs of known militants, who were supposedly on the run. It was like good cop, bad cop. One would ask the questions and show surveillance pictures, while the other studied Simon’s reaction.
He hazarded a guess that the smaller, more powerfully built suit, was the one to watch out for, and that his antagonizing beating on the tabletop with clenched fists was to either scare or provoke a confession.
Suddenly the man jumped to his feet and kicked over a chair with rage. Screaming and pointing to the photographs of the wanted, he roared out each of their names in anger, as if this might prompt Simon into remembering one of them.
The taller one concentrated his gaze on Simon’s expression. “Maybe just a flicker of the eyelids or a nervous twitch from the cheek, just show me the slightest sign of your guilt, you bastard, and I will have you,” the suit seemed to be thinking.
But there was none. Simon knew nothing.
Outside, other soldiers searched his car for traces of explosives, weapons, or in the hope that they may find detonators. With handheld scanning sensors, they thoroughly swept the vehicle in their pursuit of proof that he was transporting artillery.
Simon’s age grouping and profile fitted the category of the typical freedom fighter, so they regarded him as an activist.
Finding not one bit of conflicting evidence during the search did not change that opinion; everyone is a suspect.
Reluctantly, they finally gave perm
* * *
It was early evening before he reached his destination. Still shaken by his experience, he headed straight for the harbour to reflect on his thoughts. A cigarette hung loose from his lips as he jotted his resentment down onto a notepad.
Reading the words back again, most of it did not make much sense at all. He was still incensed by the behaviour of these bullies. Was it any wonder that so many young people were rebelling?
Never before had he experienced anything like that. Newspapers and radio bulletins had often reported on the troubles in the North, but he lived so far south that it had never concerned him. Today he had witnessed first-hand the terror of those who lived here, and it was petrifying.
Darkness had fallen quickly at the harbour and the beam from his car headlamps lit up the way back to his rented cottage, like a super trooper spotlight brightening up a darkened stage. ‘Up the hill and past the old waterwheel, take the first road on the left, then three miles on, take the grassy laneway that curls to the right; if you pass the old piggery then you’ve gone too far,’ a local fisherman had instructed him. He really had to concentrate on the road, as the shadows of the night confused his directions.
Simon had wanted a quiet place to work from, a place where no-one could not drop by unexpectedly. Craving total privacy and no distractions, renting a thatched cottage amidst the rural and rugged landscape of Donegal had seemed like a wise choice.
* * *
The following morning John Fleming, an experienced impresario, was at work in his city centre office. His company, Star-way Promotions, represented the top six most successful bands throughout Ireland.
As the management team, Star-way held the power to grant all live performances and guest appearances, handling press releases, personal interviews and the day-to-day tasks which grease the wheels of the celebrity world. Their partnership with Empire Records–a common union within the music industry–left Empire to deal with the more glitzy side of the business, recording the artists, liaising with radio stations, negotiating distribution, and constantly searching for new young blood to flood the veins of the ever-changing popular music industry.
Nightclub owner Rudi Marconi needed a major attraction to headline the re-launch of one of his newly refurbished venues.
“The sixteenth, huh?” John Fleming thumbed through his office diary. “That’s a Wednesday.”
“That’s right,” agreed Rudi.
“Well, I’ve recently signed a new band called the Stray Cats. They are young and exciting and, as luck would have it, they are available on that night, Rudi. Shall I mark them in?”
“I want Simon and the Heartbeats; the first night has to be big.”
“Sorry, Rudi, I can’t do that. Simon is working on some new material, so the Heartbeats are taking an unscheduled break and the band is off the road. But the Stray Cats are starting to make a big name for themselves here in the city.”
Rudi was going to take some convincing.
* * *
Simon had already returned to the harbour in search of some inspiration. The bright morning sunlight sparkled on the waters of the wide, open sea and as he looked on with squinting eyes, the last in the trail of small fishing boats faded from sight. Lost in concentration, he was unaware of an old man approaching. Clad from head-to-toe in clothing that wouldn’t have looked out of place on a scarecrow, the old man’s toothless smile expanded as he spoke.
“We don’t get too many strangers around here.” The gravelly voice was cheerful, as the man tugged at the peak of his worn tweed cap.
Surprised by the intrusion, Simon quickly turned to look. The old chap, bent with age, stood grinning, his face beaten by weather and lined from hardship and struggle. Leaning slightly on one side with his hands clasped tight behind his back, he waited patiently for a reply.
Simon reached out a hand in friendship. “Ah, sure, a stranger is only someone you haven’t met before. My name is Simon.”
“Aye, so you’re telling me you’re not a stranger, is ye?”
The old man’s questioning was a welcome break from his thinking, and Simon was happy to join in the old timer’s colourful exchange.
“I’ve rented Biddy Mulligan’s cottage for a couple of weeks,” he explained.
“Sure, I know it well.” The old man seemed to approve. “She’s one of the finest people in all of Inishowen is Biddy. I used to cut turf with her father. Aye, and many a good tune we would play after a hard day’s work in the bog.”
“Good tune? You’re a musician?” Simon was keen to know more.
“I play the fiddle and, God rest poor ole Joe, he played the accordion.” The old man released a heavy sigh as he recalled his friend.
“I’m a musician myself. Maybe we could play a session together while I’m here?”
Not to be rushed, the old timer studied his thoughts for a moment. His misty eyes calculated the younger man’s energy and excitement. “Naw, son, I don’t think so,” He shook his head in disagreement.
Unaccountably disappointed at the rejection, Simon asked why not.
“I don’t like the modern music,” came the reply.
“So we won’t play modern music,” Simon encouraged his new friend.
“Aye, but can you play traditional, boy?” The old timer laughed, slapping his hand on his knee, guessing that Simon could not.
“No, I can’t,” came back the honest reply, “but I’m sure you can teach me.”
Squirting a spit from the side of his mouth as he chewed on his tobacco, the old man seemed to think carefully about the offer. Then, with a cheeky grin, he said, “What if I don’t want to teach you?”
Enjoying the good-natured banter, Simon teased back that the older man might not be that good anyway and maybe he had no teaching in him, but his comment seemed to have the opposite effect.
“Hoy, that’s no way to speak to a pensioner; you should have a bit more respect for age. I’ll teach you how to play traditional all right, boy, but I’ll teach you a bit of manners first.”
Simon couldn’t help but laugh. “Ah, brilliant, so we are going to have a session, after all.”
“Harumph, stop you’re clowning about and tell me what your name is again.”
“Simon. I have a band called Simon and the Heartbeats.”
“Aye, well, I’m Dan. Dan the fiddler, they call me.”
Plans were made and times arranged to suit them both. As the old man said his farewells and began to hobble on his way, an enthusiastic Simon called out, “See you at eight, but how will I know which pub?”
“What do you mean which pub, ya fecking edjit?” Dan turned to reply. “Sure, Raferty’s is the only pub in the village. You can start a session in Raferty’s with two players and by closing time, there could be twenty-two playing. Sure, everyone around these parts plays something,” he grunted, unimpressed with the flamboyant youth.
* * *
Simon pulled up outside Raferty’s pub at ten minutes to eight. Unlike in the city, finding somewhere to park wasn’t a problem. From the outside, it looked more like a shebeen. If not for the name ‘Raferty’s’ painted crudely above the doorframe, then in smaller lettering ‘Ales, Beer and Stout’, it looked much like any of the other houses on the terrace. Handwritten posters advertising local events blocked daylight from the windows. Looking forward to the challenge, he took a deep breath, pushed open the door and stepped inside.
A tall, shapely girl, with long, curling, copper-coloured hair, stood behind the bar. Finding his attraction towards her intriguing, Simon stood near the door and observed for a moment as she smiled and laughed while tending to the needs of the regulars. He took in her beauty a little longer, then finally made his approach.
As she turned to look his way, he could not stop himself from staring. She had the most beautiful, big, green, sparkling eyes that he had ever seen and her radiant smile be
“What will it be?” she asked in a coarse rural accent.
Expecting a more gentle tone of voice from someone so beautiful, he was immediately taken aback and clumsily mumbled, “Oh, a glass of Cola with ice, please.”
When she had served up his drink and then given him his change, she said, “Your name is Simon, isn’t it?”
Being recognized wasn’t unusual for Simon and his fellow band members, but it felt so much better when it was by such a beautiful girl. Trying not to appear too cocky, he confidently leant his elbow on the bar countertop and put on his flirtiest smile. “Ah, so you’re a fan of the Heartbeats, are you?”
“Simon and the Heartbeats, my band. We play pop/rock.”
The barmaid burst out laughing. “I’ve never heard of ye. Anyway, I’m not into rock. It was Dan the fiddler that said you would be in, and as you are the only stranger here, it had to be you. He is sitting over there in the corner.” She giggled as she pointed the way.
Oh my God, Simon thought, as he turned from the bar and made his way to the corner. How embarrassing was that?
The old man, still dressed in the ‘scarecrow’ outfit he’d worn that morning, was in the company of several other men, all speaking in Gaelic.
As Simon pulled up a chair, Dan looked up. “Well, you got here, but where’s your instrument?”
“I left it in my car until I was sure you were here.”
“Well, am I here?”
“Go and get it,” snapped Dan.
Simon went off to fetch his guitar. When he got back to the corner, he rested the instrument on a barstool beside him and sat down to relax in the company of strangers who spoke a language he did not understand.