Monday, June 30, 2008

Damien Rice Part 1:
A little bit of your song in my ear

I'm singling out Damien Rice in a two-part post that will ramble a bit and offer you some highlights as to why he's among my favorite of favorites (is that possible?). I'll admit it, my mom introduced me to Damien Rice back in college and I immediately sat down with "Cannonball" over and over and learned the picking and lyrics on guitar. Now I'm not embarrassed that my mom introduced me to a favorite artist - she surrounded me with Simon and Garfunkel and Bob Dylan while growing up. The thing is, after the access to music I constantly had in college and up until now, I should be the one introducing music to her...especially someone in the singer-songwriter vein such as Rice. Anywhoo...

Damien Rice grew up in Dublin, Ireland and founded his first band Juniper, who later regrouped as the now famous Bell XI. After splitting from the group, Rice headed to Italy and across Europe to busk on the streets while writing and acquiring band mates that, apart from ex-gal Lisa Hannigan and percussionist Tom Osander, still record and tour with him today.

Rice's first claim to fame came with his hit "Cannonball," that never reached huge success in the U.S., though it has been featured on several shows and earned significant plays on radio stations of all levels from its U.S. release in 2004 up until today. Hell, it only reached #32 on the UK charts when it was originally released in 2002 featuring a mix of drums that you'll rarely hear these days. Aside from the stats surrounding it or the numerous B-sides and rarity albums it has appeared on, "Cannonball" has a part in my life for several reasons that I won't dive in here. I will say that the arrangement and honesty in his lyrics, coupled with the passionately pleading voice Damien belts and his purposeful guitar picking, allows me to call him a troubadour and favorite among favorites. In addition, Rice produced, mixed and wrote "Cannonball," which is available off of O from Vector Recordings.

Damien Rice - Cannonball (album version)

After seeing hundreds of shows each year, there are few that truly stand out. But, seeing Damien Rice abandon the mic while I was perched 10 feet away in the front row while he offered up a naked version of "Cannonball" is a concert moment that sits at the very top. Here is the moment as captured by a great friend

I will say that my favorite song by Damien Rice is "Grey Room." Those who are fans of Rice know that most songs are honest and beautiful, but surrounded in a fog of depression. As he explained, it is "a song about writing songs that are always down...It was ironic because I was just down about the fact that I was writing songs that are down so I wrote a down song." No introduction other than the one he provided. I'll let you take from it what you will with the lyrics posted below. Should you want this song in higher quality, you can find it on his 2006 album 9 from Warner Bros. Records.

Damien Rice - Grey Room

Damien Rice
Grey Room

Well I've been here before
Sat on the floor in a grey grey room
Where I stay in all day
I don't eat, but I play with this grey grey food

Desolate, if someone is prayin' then I might break out,
Desolate, even if I scream I can't scream that loud

I'm all alone again
Crawling back home again
Stuck by the phone again

Well I've been here before
Sat on a floor in a grey grey mood
Where I stay up all night
And all that I write is a grey grey tune

So pray for me child, just for a while
That I might break out yeah
Pray for me child
Even a smile would do for now

'Cause I'm all alone again
Crawling back home again
Stuck by the phone again

Have I still got you to be my open door
Have I still got you to be my sandy shore
Have I still got you to cross my bridge in this storm
Have I still got you to keep me warm

If I squeeze my grape and I drink my wine
Coz if I squeeze my grape and I drink my wine
Oh coz nothing is lost, it's just frozen in frost,
And it's opening time, there's no-one in line

But I've still got me to be your open door,
I've still got me to be your sandy shore
I've still got me to cross your bridge in this storm
And I've still got me to keep you warm

Warmer than warm, yeah...


Jessica said...

Bodie - I love Damien Rice. Thanks for sharing some new insights on him, especially on the darkness of his music.

Bodie Johnson said...