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L. Neil Smith's
Number 699, December 2, 2012

"Can America's slide into the totalitarian
abyss be halted and reversed?"w3

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The Corrs—Unplugged
by L. Neil Smith

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Attribute to L. Neil Smith's The Libertarian Enterprise

I'm fairly well known as an enthusiastic fan of many pop-cultural phenomena, partly because I'm an entertainer myself—as a musician I once performed with my partner live before an audience of 3000—and appreciate the talent and effort involved, partly because I believe (unlike a great many of my fellow libertarians who disdain popular culture and won't admit, for example, to owning a TV set) that you can't change the culture you live in while avoiding the experience of it.

How will you know what needs changing?

How will you know of you've succeeded?

Some of my readers already knew that I'm a musician. I worked solo and had bands through high school and college, specializing in folk music, which was all the rage at the time, jug band music, and early ragtime. My very first love, however, was the heavily Irish music native to the Canadian province of Newfoundland, where I spent my boyhood.

Consequently, whenever I discover that something pretty wonderful and impressive has been going on for rather a long while without my being aware of it, especially within an area of cultural endeavor in which I've always been extremely interested, I feel understandably chagrined.

Such is the case with the Corrs, a clutch of Irish siblings—one brother, three sisters—my discovery of which, in the last couple of weeks, has had me slapping my forehead and saying "D'oh!" I've always been very interested in Irish music, beginning in my boyhood sometime during the Pleistocene, with Tommy Makem and the Clancy Brothers. My favorite Irish band at the moment is Great Big Sea, a gaggle of young guys from Newfoundland, where I spent the very best of my growing-up years.

How in the sainted name of Omar Blondahl I could never have heard of (or almost as importantly, seen) the Corrs is completely beyond me. They've cut five studio albums, released four compilation albums, and made three live albums since 1995, with plenty of platinum spread all around and chart positions rivaling sales records set by the Beatles. It now appears that they've pretty much run their course as a group (I sincerely hope that's wrong) at the moment I'm learning to appreciate them.

The group consists of brother Jim Corr, who plays guitar, piano, and does backup vocals, and his three sisters. Andrea Corr is the lead vocalist and plays the tin whistle, not an inconsequential thing in Irish music. Sharon Corr does vocals and plays the violin. Caroline Corr plays drums, the piano, the bodhran (a sort of Irish hand-drum), and does vocals. Their music is not necessarily traditional; I don't know the jargon for it. Let's say it's Irish in spirit and shows it roots. The sisters have the haunting, angelic voices we're accustomed to thanks to Clannad and Celtic Woman, but with a style entirely their own.

Now I promised myself that I wouldn't belabor what I'm about to say, but it does bear mentioning. I like music. I like Irish music. I like Irish music sung by angelic-voiced young women. But these young ladies, the Corr sisters, in addition to sounding very good, are three of the most beautiful creatures that I've ever seen together on one screen. They look quite a bit alike, but are far from identical, and each conveys, with her looks, a contrasting temperament to the other two.

Sharon, the violinist, projects pacific confidence. Caroline, the drummer, is energetic and smiles enough for all three of them—she reminds me of Jennifer Garner in _Elektra_. Andrea not only sings with her voice, but with her eyes. All in all, it's an easy performance to watch.

It's always been extremely interesting to me the way television has changed music. When I was born—1946, same year as commercial TV—the hottest singer in America was Kate Smith, who ... let's just say it wasn't over until she sang. But as video—and album covers— became more and more important, so did the looks of the vocalist. Girls liked Elvis or Pat Boone (yeah, really). I always liked Linda Ronstadt, Maria Muldaur, and Joan Baez was no eyesore; nor was Judy Collins.

I'm sure that there are individuals waiting in lines by now to scold me, saying that appearance and voice are two separate things, and that it's sexist, and probably "lookist" (an awkward neologism minted right here in Colorado at Moscow-on-the-South-Platte) to care how a singer looks. But they needn't bother. To me, entertainment is just that, a rare moment in which to relax and abandon any pretense to social significance, a pleasant interlude during which political correctness is cast aside. Just as what's called "presentation" is an important part of cooking, so a lovely voice wrapped in beautiful girl is better—and certainly more entertaining—than just a lovely voice.

But as usual, I have digressed.

Thanks to exchanges of e-mail with a couple of friends, I found the Corrs on YouTube, where I was immediately taken with "Runaway", "Only When I Sleep" and particularly with their cover of Stevie Nicks' "Dreams", a rendering appropriately respectful of the original classic that nevertheless uses every note and interval and lilt of traditional Irish music—tin whistle and bodhran—against an Asian background, applied perfectly to what is undoubtedly Fleetwood Mac's best known song.

But the real surprise on YouTube was (and still is) a full, hour and twelve minute concert that you can hear and see for yourself at YouTube It was splendid, and too short.

I hope you thoroughly enjoy it.

I did.

L. Neil Smith is the Publisher and Senior Columnist of L. Neil Smith's THE LIBERTARIAN ENTERPRISE, as well as the author of 33 freedom-oriented books, the most recent of which is DOWN WITH POWER: Libertarian Policy in a Time of Crisis:
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[ dead tree and Nook]
DOWN WITH POWER was selected as the Freedom Book Club Book-of-the-Month for August 2012

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