SUNDAY CLASSIC GTC: EAMONN DOWD, ‘Dig Into Nowhere’ [Album Track by Track]
Eamonn Dowd – Dig Into Nowhere is available @ Apple Music.
by Walter Price
Eamonn Dowd has been known to travel many winding roads over his career and translating those journeys into gritty realistic songs. Stories the listener may not find lined with glitter and gold, but songs of honest introspection and observations. His latest solo release, Dig Into Nowhere, is certainly one of the uniquely honest efforts from any artist so far this year.
Dowd graciously stopped by Global Texan to go track by track this stunning new album.
DIG INTO NOWHERE
Late in the Game
I became a fan of the TV drama Deadwood. This was years ago when I still lived in Ireland, but I kept missing episodes because I was either playing locals gigs or out on the road. Then last year I rediscovered it on HBO. Being a bit of an insomniac, I’d tend to watch it around 4 am, taking notes. Rewind a bit to catch what the guy said. Wonderful script. Sounded Shakespearean to me. A few of the lines in this song are from ‘Deadwood’.
‘I heard all your stories before and some of them are believable’, that’s one. I finished the song, got the melody and structure, in a small hotel in Greece where I had my notebooks and a guitar with me. I’ve used lines from ‘Deadwood’ in several songs.
The Greenwood Shade
When I did the Feudal Times EP, my friend John Fleming passed on a copy to Éamon Carr from Horslips. He started emailing me saying how great he thought it was and how I should consider what the next album should be like… not a rocker… more reflective, introspective.
I have to admit I wasn’t sure I even wanted to do another album. Thought I might do a series of EP’s or singles then maybe fade into oblivion. Maybe the game was up. John started to email with very encouraging ideas. My missus said ‘you should listen to these guys’. So I did.
I was in New York playing a few gigs. At that time I could score gigs easier in NYC than in Ireland. Eamon Carr also recommended I think about concentrating on writing and recording, so I quit touring there and then.
Didn’t play another gig for nine months. We recorded a song called ‘Revenge’. Emailed a mix to the guys and Éamon had a problem with the lyric, so he wrote a few verses. In the heel of the hunt, that song never made it onto the album, but he sent me a whole bunch of lyrics. I wrote the music for two of these straight away. ‘The Greenwood Shade’ more or less came together all at once. When you’ve got a lyric that strong and poetic, it’s not difficult to come up with a good riff and strong melody.
I used to listen to Radio Caroline and Radio Luxembourg all the time when I was a kid. Caroline was a pirate station. A real pirate, broadcasting from a ship in the North Sea. Only played album tracks, no singles. Luxembourg was on 208 MW. FM radio didn’t exist at the time. The song is very much as it was in the rural west of Ireland in the 1970s.
A song of the road, always wanting to be someplace else but still thinking.
‘If I stick it out a bit longer who knows what will happen? What’s around the next corner?’
Keep on the watch, floating through the madness.
A lot of people gone in the last few years and they’re not coming back.
‘Ice on the window, seats damp to the touch’
The cold dampness of a deserted house. Death has claimed another. The song also deals with living in exile in an oblique sort of way.
(Jenny Menso, ex-4 Flavours on vocals, Al Cowan on drums.)
The ruins of Rosslee Castle remain a formidable presence in Easky, County Sligo in Ireland. Overlooking the wild Atlantic, the Castle was built by the Dowds in 1207. It was one of several castles that marked the Dowds’ territory until all was lost during the Cromwellian Conquest, 1649-1653.
The track works well as ‘mood shifter’ for what is to come.
Death is Hanging Over Me
We started playing this one mainly because it’s got two chords and it was easy for the bass player to deal with. Then, during rehearsals, the song took on a life of its own and worked so well at gigs that we decided to record it.
Written by Nikki Sudden, it’s a stark haunting ballad. I played guitar and harmonica on Nikki’s last ever recording. That’s in his box set ‘The Boy from Nowhere who Fell out of the Sky,’
Slick Andy the drummer cracked his elbow so he was out of action, couldn’t play. So he started messing around with a keyboard, trying out string arrangements and loops. He came up with this piano part, four chords. I put the melody to it. I wrote the lyrics an hour before we recorded it…one take.
‘She said, hey babe, it’s warm outside’
Living in a damp flat in Dublin without central heating it was always warmer outside than inside. This one’s about going for a ramble but there’s no magic to the day…a trip in vain.
The River’s Frozen ‘Til April
The rivers are indeed sometimes frozen well into April. The lakes too.
‘Flags are flying / on their poles’,
Everywhere you go in Sweden you’ll see the Swedish flag. Even in remote residential areas, you’ll see a few. As if it could be anywhere else. Wake up, look out the window… is this Andalucía… the Netherlands? I don’t think that will happen. But they do like their flags.
‘Crows are circling low’
I was thinking of the Morrigan from Irish mythology, the Phantom Queen of Death who shape-shifts into a crow.
How long have we got? Our days are numbered.
Another mood shifter. I listen to a lot of dark ambient stuff, noise, drones, and I’ve recorded a few too. This was one from a while ago.
Found sounds slowed down, keyboard noises played backways, so I added some guitar, bass, fiddle, glockenspiel. Sounds good on a car stereo driving down a dark road too.
Let’s Just Pretend
Trying to hold on to optimism at all costs. Even if you have to pretend at times. Fake it until the real deal comes along.
That’s Gary Carter from Nashville, TN., on pedal steel. As well as playing at the Grand Ole Opry for the last 18 years, he’s been out on the road with Glen Campbell, Faith Hill, Randy Travis, Marty Stuart, and countless others.
It wasn’t my idea, but I ended up in the south of Turkey. Took a bus to another town, Manavgat… the wrong bus.
‘Took the wrong bus to Manavgat / Ended up lost again
Ate a big fish at two o’clock / Took a ramble through the shops’
An open-air seaside restaurant with great fish. What type of fish I can’t recall.
‘She was a Persian Princess / In a tight turquoise dress
Espresso in her hand / Riding through the Desert Land’
Foxy lady in a tight dress. Headscarf in the Muslim tradition, but everything else 21st Century. And the highest heels, bling jewelry and an espresso in her hand as she walked along a busy shopping street. A Princess if ever there was one. A sight to behold. The idea of the desert came from my adventure the previous day. Having explored some Roman ruins I rambled off and ended up in the desert – in my cowboy boots. Not a soul around, intense heat. Eventually stumbled across an old guy sitting down having a smoke, his two camels taking a rest. The video for The Stranglers’ ‘Golden Brown’ was in my mind and I soldiered on. Eventually got to a hilltop and looking down the other side of the hill, there was the ocean… and a bar!
So I had a beer. I was thirsty.
‘Pillars of blood-red …gold / Lions in a stronghold’
The Persian influence on the place is still to be seen… in the old buildings, the music… the people… I had been reading about Xerxes.
[25, April 2017]
Video filmed & directed by Bert Deyaert
Eamonn Dowd – vocals, guitars, bass, organ, tambourine
Al Cowan – drums
Jenny Menso – backing vocals
Recorded at Sonic Recording Studios, Dublin, Ireland &
Lucifer Rising , Göteborg, Sweden.
Produced by Eamonn Dowd