Author: Irvine Welsh
Artist: Gilbert O’Sullivan
It’s been a long time, been a long time, been a long lonely, lonely, lonely, lonely time … six months fly by, don’t they?
Anyway, I’m bound to have already mentioned the fact that Ireland in the 1970s was a miserable place on a macro level and—outside of the Eurovision Song Contest—a generally, though not always, parochial place on a musical level. When Gilbert O’Sullivan emerged from that gloom in the very early years of that decade with a few hit songs in England—”Alone Again,” “Get Down,” and this one, “Clair”—it quickly emerged that he was Irish.
Ireland’s gotten very adept in the years since at claiming a lot of non-Irish-born celebrities for herself. It may be the attempt of a small country to draw attention to itself or a reaction to the English media’s annoying habit of claiming Irish celebrities of pop culture and sport as one of their own (they do it with the Scots, too) but, in any case, we do it a lot. Every time for example, a new US president is elected, there’s an immediate scramble to locate his (his, so far) Irish ancestry. Not sure it there’ll be such a rush if the Republican nominee (presumptive) in 2016 is elected.
Back to the Gilbert, though, he was a real Irishman – didn’t matter that he left “home” when he was just seven, he was one of us. He had nice songs. he was Irish, and he was on Top of the Pops. Didn’t take much to make us happy back then.