Glen Hansard has been one of my favorite artists for a very long time. From his time as founder of The Frames to The Swell Season, his lyrics connect with me in a way that most others just don't. Most people in America know him as the "guy" in the movie Once, which was an amazing film that featured some really great songs. His first solo album, Rhythm and Repose was one of my favorite albums of 2012 and his latest solo effort, Didn't He Ramble is quickly becoming one of my all-time top albums. In the video below, Myles O'Reilly followed Glen as he made Ramble and you get a unique insight into his views on creativity and voice. I love this quote from his producer on the record; "we all know you're great and all, we just don't know if you're any good." It's at that point that you know he's surrounded himself with the right people to make music, people who aren't afraid to push back and make you second guess yourself.
Art as a Career
The career of an artist is a funny thing. In the documentary below, Glen talks about music sometimes being so personal that it has no actual value to other people. "Why am I asking the public to take part in it, if it's just about exercising my own demons," says Hansard. "Surely you can do that at home."
I think that's something that every artist, no matter what medium, struggles with. Is this just a passion or is there an avenue to invite the greater world into that same feeling? Am I connecting or just dragging the audience along?
Grace Beneath the Pines
My favorite song on the record is the opening track, "Grace Beneath The Pines." There's something haunting and real about the whole song, it just seems to sit with you long after the headphones come off. The way that he sings "I'll get through this," voice quivering and full of anguish, just drags you into this song of redemption and hope.
Every time I hear it, I picture myself walking along the Thames in 2009, a chill March wind blowing swiftly. The pines turn into buildings and street lamps as I try to find an open Tube station. It was a pivotal moment in my life, on a short holiday from my time in Paris. I was struggling to find my own way in life, an identity that I'm still not sure stuck well. There was lots of late nights and walking, but those lights brought some kind of grace to my life, even if just temporary. Sometimes that's all you need.
The documentary below is definitely worth a watch, but if you want to skip ahead to where Glen Hansard talks about creativity just go to the 9:00 minute mark and the 14:30 minute mark. It's definitely a great look into the mind of a wonderful artist and the creative process behind making a record. The video above is my wife's favorite track from the record, "McCormack's Wall," which is based on a true story from Glen's past. I'm pretty sure it's because of the beautiful Irish ballad undertones and violins at the end. I really need to take her to Ireland soon. A small cottage by the water, that sounds about right. Soon.