Cork musician John Spillane says becoming a dad was the biggest ‘life-changing event’ he’s ever had
Musician, songwriter and dreamer John Spillane on The Beatles, books and childhood memories in Bantry.
What is your best childhood memory?
Riding around the farm at my uncle’s in Bantry, Co. Cork. The horse was an important part of life on the farm. Every spring my uncle Tim would catch the horse. She wasn’t too happy to be back to work and quite a bit of whispering and persuasion. The ceremonies around the horseshoes – the splints and the tows, the blinkers, the strapping between the shafts of the cart – were all wonderful for us city kids.
Is there a book or record that has changed the game for you?
Sgt Pepper’s Lonely Hearts Club Band by the Beatles. I fell in love with it and was able to sing the whole album by heart. I have fond memories of cycling trips to the countryside picking fruit at the fruit farms in the summer and singing the whole album to the end and coming home in the evening.
What would be your biggest extravaganza?
On rare and special occasions, I treat myself to a Fry’s Chocolate Cream Bar. Sometimes also on hot summer days I make a cocktail of Fanta Orange and white ice cream. It’s a pretty weird concoction, but it reminds me of childhood indulgence. Other than that, I’m not a fan of extravaganzas, I’m afraid.
What’s the thing you can’t live without?
Coffee. I went without it for about three days a few years ago and became confused and irrational. I then became a bit discouraged and it was amazing how a really good Americano with three glasses of coffee and two spoons of sugar brought me back to life.
What do you owe your parents?
All. My whole existence. All my experiences. My daughter, my brothers and all their children. I never knew my father but my mother certainly taught me a lot of life lessons. She used to say, “With patience and perseverance, you could bring a donkey from Kinsale to Jerusalem.” She was a great example of consistency, hard work and patience.
If you had to rate your satisfaction with your life so far, out of 10, what would your score be?
10 out of 10. I was blessed with a happy, healthy life doing something I love, in peacetime, between wars, and in the best place in the world. They say the distant hills are greener, but that’s not really true. If you walked up to them, you’d just look back at the fields where you are now and they’d look greener, and you’d say, “Didn’t I have a good life like I used to to seek those distant lands? away from the hills? »
Who or what is the greatest love of your life?
I have a lot of loves and I don’t think it’s fair to ask me to choose between my daughter, my wife, my friends, my whole family, and of course, my music. It all goes together and you really can’t have one without the other.
If you could change one thing about yourself, what would it be and why?
I wouldn’t keep bad vibes. I was doing yoga and getting totally loose in my body and because of that I was writing brighter songs. So the only thing I would change is that I would open instead of close. Expand instead of contract.
As a child, what did you want to be when you grew up?
A writer or a forester. I loved going to the library and I read a lot of books. I loved the magical world you enter when you read a book. I also loved climbing trees and building treehouses and camps of all kinds. I had a bunch of friends and I told them stories. My dream of being a forester was just a dream. I was too busy playing guitar to do anything about developing my career as a forest person.
Which living person do you most admire?
Joni Mitchell maybe or Bob Dylan and Steve Cooney. These are people who have immersed themselves so deeply in their craft that they are able to release deeply moving songs and music. Joni has broken down the boundaries between jazz and folk and rock and roll and poetry. Dylan wrote a thousand powerful songs, and Cooney reawakened the old music of Irish harpists and breathed new life into traditional Irish music.
What is the greatest achievement of your life so far?
Becoming a dad was the biggest event that changed my life. It anchored me and gave meaning to my life.
What advice would you give to your 16-year-old self?
Calm down, John. Keep calm and enjoy life. Everything will be alright. Hey, yes, you’ll be able to write some nice songs. But take it easy and don’t get upset. Buy the Fender Precision Electric Bass Guitar.
Do you believe in life after death?
Not really, but hey, we could have a surprise.
John Spillane’s new album 100 snow white horses is out now.