The Rock & Roll Years

Donegal Democrat

Yer man approached me over a quiet pint in the pub last weekend. He had a look of quiet seriousness on his face that bespoke the gravity of his mission.

“I liked your piece last week,” he said, parking himself in the seat beside me.

“Oh grand, thanks. I was just so fed up with all the referendum stuff I thought I’d have some fun with it…”

“No no, not that one, the bit about the jiving at the wedding.”


“The only trouble is, you didn’t go half far enough at all.”

“I didn’t?”

“Not at all. Take Joe Dolan for instance.”

“Joe Dolan?”

“The very man. His contribution to Irish musical history is sadly neglected. Its very trendy and politically correct to mock Joe Dolan as part of the boring showband scene from before “real” musicians like Bob Geldof and U2 saved us from mediocrity.” Yer man has that kind of voice, you can hear when he puts the quotation marks around the word real. He paused to take a sup from his pint, and warmed to his theme.

“Y’see, Joe Dolan’s performances tell us more about the true heart of music than a thousand garage bands sweating over their guitars in Dortland while working on their list of “influences” for the Hot Press interview.”

“Joe Dolan is primal, raw, energizing, a blend of Cú Chullain, Tom Jones and James Brown. He had soul before Roddy Doyle ever discovered the Northside.”

“Joe Dolan is Real Sex. His music exudes more raw power than any self-conscious alternative band with sound politics could ever aspire to. Dolan is hot, sweaty, loud and passionate. He’s a pot-bellyful of the sheer joy of life. His music terrified the bishops, who recognized that even in the minerals-only barns of rural Ireland, Joe could intoxicate, and Lord only knows where that might lead. Joe sang when singing was dangerous. The so-called “serious” music scene festering in Dublin can only dream of having such a revolutionary effect.”

He paused, gathering his breath for his killer argument.

“Some fella once wrote “music doth have charms to soothe the savage breast.” In my arse it does. Music is the savage breast. Joe is Real, down to the last drop of sweat. Be honest now, you’ve sung a Joe Dolan song in the shower, haven’t you?”

He stared at me, waiting for an answer, and I had to admit I had.

“Now don’t be quoting my name!”

Contented, he finished the pint and headed off.