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Welcome to Mick Hanly’s page here on podcasts.ie. Mick Hanly has carved an international career in an often unforgiving music business; from would be teenage rock ‘n’ roller to professional folk-singer to country singer and, more significantly, country songwriter of world class stature, earning him an international reputation and the respect of both peers and ordinary listener alike. Mick Hanly was born into a music loving family in Limerick and grew up in that city where his early influences were “hurling, confession, leathers, Alan Ladd, Jack Palance and ‘The Boy’ (the film hero – Audie Murphy etc). The arrival in Limerick of rock ‘n’ roll in the mid -’50s fired Mick’s imagination as nothing ever had before. His first guitar, purchased for little over £2 in Todds of Limerick, accompanied him as he steeled his nerve to perform ‘Living Doll’ (while wearing his mother’s straw hat!) at a primary school concert in 1958. “I got my first real guitar much later”, Mick recalls. “It was a Hagstrom costing 63 guineas and paid for in ten shillings-a-week installments for four years. It was a beautiful instrument.
1970 found Mick working in Galway City for the E.S.B. (Electricity Supply Board) and performing Woody Guthrie and Paul Simon material in his spare time in the Golden Key, a well known folk music venue in that city. For Mick, meeting Michael O’ Domhnaill at the Swamp Folk club in Rathmines in Dublin in early ’72 was timely. Together they formed Monroe and landed a spot as support for the now-famous Planxty Irish Tour of 1973. Monroe recorded an album, ‘Folk Weave’, for Polydor, now considered a seminal album which signposted the arrival of a new, and confident breed of contemporary Irish folk singer. Monroe split in ’75 when Michael joined the Bothy Band and Mick headed for Brittany and the life of an itinerant Irish folk troubadour.
He returned home to Ireland in ’77 to record a brace of albums for the Mulligan label, ‘A Kiss In the Morning Early’ and ‘As I Went Over Blackwater’ with the cream of Irish traditional musicians, Donal Lunny, Andy Irvine, Matt Mooloy (now with The Chieftains), Paddy Glackin, Noel Hill, Peter Brown and Declan Sinnott (Mary Black Band). After the release of his debut solo album, Mick regularly embarked on Irish and European tours with Andy Irvine who was forging ahead following the demise of the ground breaking Planxty. Skip to 1981, Christy Moore leaves Moving Hearts. One man seemed an obvious choice to fill the role of lead singer; and so Mick Hanly found himself handling the vocal chores with Moving Hearts. While in the Hearts he had begun to perform his own material – ‘All I Remember’ and ‘Open Those Gates’ Being two of the best known and best loved.
The album, Still Not Cured revealed Mick’s emergence as a songwriter to be reckoned with. ‘Still not Cured’, ‘The Silence’ and ‘Sorry I Said What I Said’, Became radio hits and Mick was soon back on the road with his new band, Rusty Old Halo. Other Irish artists were now taking his songs seriously – Mary Black being one of the first to record a Mick Hanly original on her celebrated debut album. 1989 say the release of one of Mary Black’s best selling albums up to that period – ‘No Frontiers’ (Dara). Track two, side one say the unveiling of the song that was to eventually launch the rocket of its writer’s success story in the U.S., ‘Past the Point of Rescue’, which Mick recorded on his ‘All I Remember’ album, is a classic song of unrequited love. Riding on a memorable hook and chorus, “.and I wonder if I’m past the point of rescue/ and is no word from you at all the best that you can do”, the song is a masterpiece of finely-honed control and expression. This refined art was not lost on Nashville country-producer Jim Rooney, who passed the song to Hal Ketchum, a new artist he was working with who was about to record his debut album. The song, the title track of Hal’s album, was released in late ’91 as a single. A few short months later, ‘Past the Point of Rescue’ became one of the most played and the most-requested songs on the 2,500 country stations across the U.S., which sent both the single and the album into the top selling charts. Mick Hanly had arrived internationally. These days Mick Hanly is a happy man. He has cause to be, with a hit song under his belt, a new album on release, ‘Warts and All’ (Round Tower Records), and songs such as ‘My Love Is In America’, aired daily on Irish radio. He also possesses a strong back-catalogue of songs waiting to be explored and recorded (Fall Like A Stone, Free to Run, Birthmark etc.), as they no doubt will be following the American success of ‘Past The Point of Rescue’. In the coming weeks on Podcasts.ie you will hear some fantastic unplugged podcast recordings that Mick was generous to perform for us when we met him at The Dock in Carrick on Shannon in April 2011.
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