- 17 Dec 20
After the Christmas Eve busk was cancelled this year, producer and sound engineer Damian Chennells looked for (and found!) this stunning alternative...
The Dublin charity Christmas Eve busk has become an essential part of the city’s festive celebrations, raising funds for Dublin Simon Community, while bringing the public and local music community together to celebrate the season. This year’s event was cancelled due to the pandemic, so Damian Chennells found a different way for the music community to benefit the charity.
The result is a new version of the 1982 Phil Lynott classic ‘Old Town’. Lynott’s unforgettable original vocal tops a brand new recording from the Glen Corr Collective, a congregation of some of Ireland’s most vital contemporary talents. The iconic frontman’s poetic examination of being broken-hearted in Dublin features vocal harmonies and instrumentation from an eclectic array of musicians.
“'Old Town' has a special place in everybody's heart, and it's so iconically Dublin," says Chennells of the song. "This song for me is about wanting to be at home with the people we love. We all have a deep longing for home, which is further amplified at Christmas. When I learned 8,702 people will be homeless in Ireland this Christmas, I just had to help, and music is the only way I knew how to do that.
"Some amazing artists have come on a journey with me and helped to create this single, the profits of which will be donated to Dublin Simon Community. The thread that connects everyone involved in this song is that we are huge fans of Phil and wanted to work with him to try to help others," he continued.
"When I hear the song’s famous lyrics [“This boy is crack'in up / This boy has broken down / This boy is crack'in up / This boy has broke down”] I think that is how homeless men, women, and children must feel everyday - fighting for the most basic need, a home. We have to help them.”
Chennells produced and mixed the track, with each musician recording their contribution remotely. The Glen Corr Collective are named after Lynott’s home in Howth, and features some Christmas busk regulars as well as some new faaces.
The vocalists include: Grian Chatten (Fontaines D.C.), Gemma Dunleavy, Glen Hansard, Jesse John Heffernan, Lisa O'Neill, Liam Ó'Maonlaí (Hothouse Flowers), Shane MacGowan and Zeenie Summers.
The group of instrumentalists on the track are: Liam Bradley (Van Morrison, drums), Richie Egan (Jape, bass and synths), Cormac Curran (Villagers and Hozier, piano and orchestral arrangement), Damien McGeehan (solo fiddle) and the RTÉ Concert Orchestra, conducted by David Brophy.
An accompanying documentary will also be broadcast on RTÉ One next week. ‘The Busk - A Decade of Christmas on Grafton Street’ will be shown at 22:10 on Tuesday, December 22nd. The hour-long special looks back at memorable moments from Dublin's annual open-air charity concert, and celebrates the work done to raise awareness about homelessness. Made by Collective Films, the documentary also explores the story behind the making of this single.
Each year, Dublin Simon Community provides services to almost 7,500 people and families who are homeless or at risk of homelessness, covering Dublin, Kildare, Wicklow, Meath, Louth, Cavan and Monaghan. The organisation’s mission is to empower people to access and retain a home by providing housing, prevention, addiction treatment, emergency response and other targeted interventions, through advocacy and partnership.
“We’re so excited about this single from Damian Chennells and the Glen Corr Collective," said Emma Kilkenny, Head of Fundraising & Communications at Dublin Simon Community. "Dubliners are made up of so many different people from many different countries and backgrounds. What we share is the spirit and love of our wonderful city. Dublin is a warm and welcoming place with a strong community identity, which throws the idea that some of its people have nowhere safe and warm to go into stark relief.
"Phil Lynott embodies the quintessential Dubliner, and hearing him joined on his track ‘Old Town’ by some of the biggest and best names in Irish music today makes our hearts swell with pride and love for our hometown. No one should be homeless when Dublin is their home."