Kilroy Was Here

Kilroy Was Here

by Larry Kirwan
5.0 1


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Kilroy Was Here 5 out of 5 based on 0 ratings. 1 reviews.
Guest More than 1 year ago
I have long been an admirer of Kirwan¿s work, and while I knew this effort would be a good and noble one, there was no way I could have known just how much so, until I could listen alone and concentrate on the material. Telling a story is an art at which Kirwan excels, as I have learned from listening to his work with Black 47, and also from his excellent CD, ''Keltic Kids''. ''Kilroy was Here'' is quite the stylistic departure from his previous work, with a brass section, fiddles, and guitar in tight ensemble. The songs are long enough to let the listener wallow, and poignant enough to inspire tears, and the overall effect is Magickal. There are touches of humor, too, namely the Dylanesque ''History of Ireland, Part 1''. In places, I could almost swear I was listening to Bob, until Kirwan¿s light brogue and charming inflections took over. Commentary interjected throughout by Malachy MacCourt is a treat: ''¿gettin¿ Ollie Cromwell pissed off was not a good idea¿'' If I had to choose my favorite songs, I would go with ''Molly'', ''Kilroy was Here'', ''Life¿s Like That, Isn¿t It?'', ''Girl in the Rain'', ''Spanish Moon'', and ''Walkin¿ With Her God''. ''Molly'' evokes images from James Joyce¿s ''Ulysses'', of course, and appears to be told from the point of view of Molly Bloom¿s lover. The chorus is beautifully enhanced by Suzzy Roche¿s backing vocals, and I am left wondering how any woman could resist such an eloquent plea: ''Don¿t go Molly/Don¿t go darlin¿/We can make it if we try/Don¿t disappear back into him/ Don¿t say goodbye'' ''Kilroy was Here'' depicts the lonely, transient state of any World War II serviceman on leave, in search of a little companionship: the man who did not want to spend his furlough in some crowded, noisy bar. He finds what he is seeking, but must leave it behind, and is lonelier than when he started out, especially once he realizes that his companion will not wait for his return, but will forget him the moment someone more compelling comes along. The atmosphere feels like a foggy autumn night, stars and moon hidden by the vaporish cataract as a man in uniform wanders a deserted street. The bygone era I sense can only been seen in black and white, as in ''Casablanca''. ''On the quayside she waits, her face cold and ashen/Shiverin¿ with fear, we used to call it passion'' ''Life¿s Like That, Isn¿t It?'' sounds biographical, even confessional. If the story of the boy¿s acquisition of the guitar parallels how Kirwan got his first guitar, then we should all be thanking his father for being savvy enough to buy it. I can visualize every scene Kirwan sets in this song, especially the young boy with his guitar, ''turning pain to music'' as he plays for his parents and tries not to be jealous of his father. And how well he documents the boy¿s conflict over religion: ''The boy is religious, serves Mass at the Friary/He¿s got a crush on St. Anthony/Got a hot date with him when he gets to Heaven/But it¿s still hard to get up at twenty to seven/On a gale-force mornin¿, slates hittin¿ the streets/Exploding in smithereens all around him/He runs in fear past the deserted garden/Where a man hung himself, his soul ever after/Sentenced to roam in search of salvation'' ''Girl in the Rain'' makes me think of Wuthering Heights. I recall that final time when Cathy runs after Heathcliff, into the wind and the rain, after he has oveheard that dreadful speech she makes to Nelly Dean: ''It would degrade me to marry Heathcliff now.'' As in that sad story, one senses the girl in the song cannot be comforted, no matter how gentle and kind her savior. The song is all the man¿s plea to the woman, with no reply from her. ''Hey you, girl in despair/Your lips so naked/I can feel every fear that you feel'' This is a nice idea, but if I were the girl in question, I would wonder how any man, or any other woman, for that matter, could possibly feel exactly what I was in a moment like that. F