Jack O'Rourke shares the songs that bring him 'home' from heartbreaking ballads by Big Thief to emotional bangers by Talking Heads
As part of Other Voices: Home at the Guinness Storehouse we asked the acts about the songs that 'bring them home' and why. One of Ireland's more gifted songwriters Jack O'Rourke gave us a glimpse into the tracks that transport him back home whenever he needs it the most.
Jack O'Rourke :: OV Home playlist
Take it with Me, Tom Waits This is 1 of 100 Tom Waits songs that I could have chosen. Like Bowie and Prince, Tom Waits is a chameleon and I love that - but here he lays out his big, gorgeous heart and calls us home - “in a land there’s a town, and in that town there’s a house, and in that house there’s a woman, and in that woman, there’s a heart that I love, I’m gonna take it with me when I go.” He’s singing it to his wife on a rickety piano and it makes me sob.
Where Will I Be, Emmylou Harris If I was on death row, Emmylou would be my final voice to hear, if I’d a choice. It’s spooky and dreamy and rootsy yet ethereal. And her tone is so plaintive and exquisite like a human cello or french horn. I feel this song is all about yearning and trying to get back to something safe despite all the shit life throws, There’s no resolution and I like that. That home can be an ideal. I wanna sing with Emmylou.
Mary, Big Thief I imagine this song is about Adrienne’s grandmother. It’s this Appalachian stream of consciousness with beautiful piano and it’s so rooted in tradition and yet sounds so fresh. Her voice is like a child. When she sings, “What did you tell me Mary / When you were there so sweet and very / Full of field and stars / You carried all of time”, it takes me home to my Grandmother's farm as a kid.
This Must Be The Place, Talking Heads When David Byrne sings “I’ll love you till my heart stops”, I swoon - it’s just him laying it all out there and you can dance to it! Tina Weymouth’s bass is infectious (in a healthy way)
Goin’ Back, Dusty Springfield I’m transported back to the 80s, wearing my He Man pyjamas when I hear Dusty singing this Carole King song. It was used in an old Telecom Eireann Tv add. I think the voice of Dusty left such an impression on me - I found later we were related and that she was a closet gay lady. There’s a plaintiveness and loneliness in her voice that’s so moving. In this song, she’s singing about goin’ back to innocence. I still can see a lad driving home for Christmas to his Mam in the Ad.
The Parting Glass, The Voice Squad No one sings this song like The Voice Squad. I'm literally in bits when I hear their harmonies. I think of my family, and those long gone. It’s just so beautiful in its simplicity.
Wuthering Heights, Kate Bush I remember watching old Top of the Pops reruns at Christmas as a boy, probably high on coco pops, and twirling like Kate and howling the chorus - mesmerised by her - I still do her routine after a couple of jars. Her music helps me lose my inhibitions and my shirt.
Lake Charles, Lucinda Williams I love that Lucinda sings about this guy in her life, that had a reason to go home, And she never tells us why he’s returning. “He had a reason to go back to Lake Charles.”There’s always a mystery in her tunes. We all need to go home sometimes, literally or figuratively.
Talk to me of Mendocino, Kate and Anna McGarrigle This reminds me of my parents. It might be the most beautiful song I’ve ever heard. I learnt piano playing along to these sisters songs. The line “talk to me of Mendocino, closing my eyes, I hear the sea, must I wait, must I follow, won’t you say come with me” is so evocative of my childhood.
Absolute Beginners, Bowie I learnt this as a teenager during Christmas holidays at home at the piano. I love the melody which soars like opera and the sentiment. It’s so relevant for this year. “We’re absolute beginners, as long as we’re still smiling, the rest can go to hell. If our love song, could fly over mountains, laugh at the ocean, just like the films.” Let’s begin again, and go home first...
Listen to Jack's OV Home playlist
Jack O'Rourke :: Takeover
Don't miss Jack at 'Other Voices Home at the Guinness Storehouse' on 16 December
Other Voices: Home at the Guinness Storehouse | Villagers, Loah, Denise Chaila, Jack O'Rourke + more