Green Suede Shoes: An Irish-American Odyssey

Overview


This rock 'n' roll Angela's Ashes begins in County Wexford, Ireland, in the late 1950s, a now unrecognizable, priest-fearing backwater suffocating in superstition and strangled by sexual fevers. After an escape to the Bronx, Larry finds himself, like a musical Zelig, side by side with the Ramones and Blondie at CBGBs; the brothers McCourt, Lester Bangs, and Nick Tosches at The Bells of Hell; the Guinness soaked regulars of Paddy Reilly's; Cyndi Lauper while she ascends and burns; Joe Strummer, Rick Ocasek, Neil ...
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Overview


This rock 'n' roll Angela's Ashes begins in County Wexford, Ireland, in the late 1950s, a now unrecognizable, priest-fearing backwater suffocating in superstition and strangled by sexual fevers. After an escape to the Bronx, Larry finds himself, like a musical Zelig, side by side with the Ramones and Blondie at CBGBs; the brothers McCourt, Lester Bangs, and Nick Tosches at The Bells of Hell; the Guinness soaked regulars of Paddy Reilly's; Cyndi Lauper while she ascends and burns; Joe Strummer, Rick Ocasek, Neil Young, and Shane McGowan. The shootings at the Academy and the tragic death of soundman Johnny Byrne punctuate the revels and excesses and presage the gloom cast by 9/11 and the loss of Father Mychal Judge and so many friends. Green Suede Shoes remembers three decades of a lost New York, and celebrates the music and song in which it now lives.
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Editorial Reviews

Kirkus Reviews
With ambivalent Irish-American panache, a politically oriented rock musician recounts his life in County Wexford and New York City. Kirwan (the novel Liverpool Fantasy, 2003) is a songwriter-singer in the band Black 47. While growing up in Catholic and predictable Wexford during the 1950s, he enjoyed the security of the familiar and was a devoted member of his family, whom he writes about here-his parents, and especially his grandfather-in phrases alternately rollicking and sentimental. Describing his youth, he relies on vivid, memorable language and frequently irreverent images, as he does throughout ("Wexford, in those days, would have left Calcutta breathless in its devotion and adherence to an ironclad caste system. The only comfort was that everyone had someone else to look down on"). Despite his contentedness, restlessness overtook Kirwan, and he moved as a young adult to New York City to seek new experience, including work as a professional musician. Like memoirists before him, he describes the brotherhood among and the conflicts between native-born Irish on the one hand and Irish-Americans on the other, who never lived in the homeland. Frank and Malachy McCourt are among such figures, and Kirwan works them and hundreds of other memorable folks-known to him personally or by reputation only-into his text. Some get their own chapters, with the late rock-music critic Lester Bangs receiving especially full treatment. Bangs didn't understand the performing part of music-"I might as well have been talking to Billy Carter about the influence of serialism on Philip Glass"-but the critic knew on a gut level what he liked and who would succeed, including Black 47. The band caught on in clubsthroughout the Bronx, and Kirwan moves past stereotype in describing the richness of that oft-maligned borough. His obligatory account of living in Manhattan during 9/11 slows the lively narrative but can't kill it. Reader-friendly memoir by an author equally at home on the page and on the stage.
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Product Details

  • ISBN-13: 9781560256441
  • Publisher: Da Capo Press
  • Publication date: 2/28/2005
  • Edition description: First Trade Paper Edition
  • Pages: 397
  • Product dimensions: 5.48 (w) x 8.26 (h) x 1.07 (d)

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Sort by: Showing all of 3 Customer Reviews
  • Anonymous

    Posted April 20, 2005

    Green Suede Shoes

    This is such a superb work of literature that one can come to it from a number of different angles and find a wealth information and emotion. Whether one is a devotee of Larry Kirwan¿s life¿s work, or a follower of Black 47 music, or simply an Irish-American - or any-American - here one will find a work of literature that is honest, bold and sensitive. Like much of Larry Kirwan and Black 47¿s work, parents can share it with their own children, and children should share it with their parents. My personal arrival at this memoir was from being a devoted follower of Black 47¿s music, and there was much in here for me to learn. I strongly suggest obtaining the companion Black 47 CD to enhance the pleasure that this book has to offer.

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  • Anonymous

    Posted June 5, 2005

    A real book

    Not just an interesting memoir but a real good book. Well written, poignant and still full of wit. This book is what a real, solid, good read is all about.

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  • Anonymous

    Posted March 7, 2005

    Kirwans Shoes Shines!!

    Larry Kirwan has been a fixture in NYC for over 20 years. He has plenty of stories to tell. He does that in his songs with his band Black '47. This book takes the songs even further along and really gets to the root of each song. This book starts off with Kirwans early days growing up in Wexford. You will see how Kirwan was drawn into music at such an early age. Playing with showbands and his familys wide range of music has helped Kirwan to where he is at today. You also get to know how early on politics played into Kirwans life and still does to this day. This book tells the story of Bridie from Black '47's most known song 'Funky Ceili'. Should Kirwan have stayed in Ireland to marry Bridie or was moving to NYC to try his hand at becoming a playwright the right move? Some of these songs that Kirwan wrote have movie written all over them. Read about Gertie, her pistol waving father, virginity and the Pope in Rome in 'Czechoslovakia' and see this playing out on the big screen. There are also many touching moments throughout this book especially Kirwans relationship with his family, particulary his parents and his grandfather. This book tells the story on how Black '47 was formed and shares a few funny moments with Black '47 co founding member Chris Byrne. Did you know that Black '47 once had the whole town of Hoboken closed down? This book also deals with pre and post 9/11. Kirwan goes in very deep talking about this tragedy. One of the most touching parts was when Black '47 was playing a few weeks after the tragedy and people would often bring pictures of loved ones that were gone and ask if they can do that persons favorite song. It hurt Kirwan when he would recognize that person and hurt him even more when he did not. He felt so guilty not to know this person who was so into the band and now gone forever. Kirwan also touches on the late Mychal Judge and his trips to see the band. Kirwan wrote a song called 'Mychal' and it's one of the saddest songs I have ever heard in my life, yet so beautiful. In this book you get the whole tragic story on how this song was created. Tears, laughs and pure enjoyment make this book a must!!

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