- 29 Mar 01
The man behind the Mystery Train is a bit of a mystery himself but, at Peter Murphy's request, writer and broadcaster JOHN KELLY steps forward to talk about Enniskillen, friends in high places, the fall and rise of his broadcasting career, his lack of intercourse with Dave Trimble, "taking the soup", desert island music and Uaneen. Broadcast Views: Cathal Dawson
John Kelly's life could be measured out not in TS Eliot's coffee spoons but a litany of radio programmes, television shows and books; The Eclectic Ballroom, Season Ticket, The Vinyl Curtain, Later…, The View, Grace Notes And Bad Thoughts, Cool About The Ankles…
The broadcaster and writer is coasting at the moment: his Mystery Train show on RTE Radio 1 - basically a condensed version of the marathon madness of his Radio Ireland days - is as popular as ever, boasting fans as far flung as Conan O' Brien's crew in New York, who monitor it via the Internet. The latest edition of his third book The Little Hammer is about to be published by Vintage, and most recently, his arts review programme The View has begun to garner impressive viewing figures.
But all this will tell you little about the 35-year-old Enniskillen man apart from his appetite for work. A complicated enough character, Kelly - as passionate about music as he is sceptical of the music industry - has plenty to say for himself, yet prefers diplomacy over putting the boot in. A highly regarded interviewer, he favours a respectful (some might say uncritical) approach to his subjects, particularly in his Irish Times column, preferring the mantle of medium to pundit. He's obviously wary of the ligging classes, yet can count among his friends writers and artists like Elvis Costello, Pete Hamill and Gavin Friday. In fact, the moral conundrum at the centre of Cameron Crowe's film Almost Famous cropped up several times over the course of our two interview sessions; if you become friends with certain of the artists you encounter, must you then forfeit the privilege of writing about them?