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Sharon Corr: Smalltown Boy

The first thing that is surprising about Irish singer-songwriter and multi-instrumentalist Sharon Corr is that she is 45. For someone who has been touring and recording for 25 years she is astonisingly well preserved.

The other thing however is that she is a very classy songwriter and her two solo albums since the family band the Corrs called it a day a decade ago (a hiatus, not a break-up is the official line) have been very well received by the critics and the public alike.

Back home in Ireland she has also been a mentor on the television show The Voice of Ireland.

In early May she opens for America in Auckland (see below) but beforehand took time out to answer our Famous Elsewhere Songwriter Questionnaire . . . and at the end gifts us a pretty terrific lyric made up on the spot. 

The first song which really affected you was . . .

There are two … both of them by Simon and Garfunkel. Apparently Bridge Over Troubled Water was number one on the day I was born, but Mrs Robinson had a huge affect on me. I was about four when I first heard it and I had a little tape desk and I remember pressing rewind button constantly and listening to it over and over again. Simon and Garfunkel are without doubt the soundtrack to my early childhood. Paul Simon has an amazing depth and humanity to his lyrics – they are so true and therefore we can totally identify ourselves in them because they reflect human nature in all it frailty and beauty. The music was magical - almost spiritual and soothing and Garfunkel’s voice like pure crystal waters. Their harmonies had a huge impact on me and my solo work and indeed The Corrs. 

Your first (possibly embarrassing) role models in music were . . .

apart from Simon and Garfunkel (not sooo embarrassing), there was The Police – we all loved Stewart Copeland and Sting is eternally cool; and I had a complete crush on Paul Young.

The one songwriter you will always listen to, even if they disappointed you previously, is?

Joni Mitchell – her ability to speak the truth; to reinvent music in her own style; to succeed and surpass as a woman in a man’s world; to write the deepest emotion; sometimes most painful emotions and float it out there for the world to hear and to let us know we are not alone. And she has never disappointed me – she’s an unbelievable and constant inspiration.

As songwriters: Lennon-McCartney or Jagger-Richards; kd lang or Katy Perry; Madonna or Michael Jackson; Johnny Cash or Kris Kristofferson?

Jagger – Richards: They make you feel totally alive, their songwriting makes you feel human and they give us license to be who we are, plus they’re just so damned sexy.

kd lang – she’s a stunning singer and totally herself.

Michael Jackson – hands down

Can’t choose between Johnny Cash and Kris Kristofferson – can I have both? Sometimes need a lift with Kris Kristofferson, but Johnny Cash is so raw and tortured. There’s just something beautiful about Kris Kristofferson’s songs.

The three songs (yours, or by others) you would love everyone to hear because they are well crafted are . . .

Lullabye (Goodnight My Angel) – Billy Joel

He wrote it for his daughter and it’s just beautiful and the chords are stunning. Billy Joel is such an accomplished musician and writer.

Upon An Ocean’ – Sharon Corr/Mitchell Froom

It takes you on a journey and transports you somewhere else – this to me is the magic of music.

And as an instrumental:

Andalucia’ from Riverdance by Bill Whelan

I run to this – it gives me the energy I need, otherwise I'm a disaster!

Melody first? Words or phrase first? Simultaneous?

For me it’s simultaneous – the idea or some lyrics will come to me with the initial chord progressions or I will be playing piano and just start playing new chord progressions that make me want to sing something.

The environment dictates the song for me – how I’m feeling, what the weather is doing

The best book on music or musicians you have read is . . .

Actually I loved The Dirt - Motley Crew - a world I never knew … very naughty boys indeed!

If you could co-write with anyone it would be . . .

Robert Plant. I love what he’s doing as a writer now and love how he doesn’t look back and he’s constantly exploring music.

The last CD or vinyl album you bought was . . . (And your most recent downloads include . . .)

Vinyl: Pete Molinari – Theosophy. He’s a good friend of mine; a great singer-songwriter, a true artist and great thinker 

Downloads: Tim O'Brien and Darrell Scott – great bluegrass! 

Robert Plant and the sensational space shifters - Lullaby and the ceaseless roar

Bill Whelan’s Riverdance

One song, royalties for life, never have to work again. The song by anyone, yourself included, which wouldn't embarrass you would be . . .

Fairytale of New York - awesome song; stupendous royalties!

One line (or couplet) from a song -- yours or someone else's -- which you think is just a stone cold winner is . . .

Homeward bound 

“Tonight I’ll sing my songs again

I’ll play the game and pretend

But all my words come back to me

In shades of mediocrity

Like emptiness in harmony

I need someone to comfort me

Songwriting: what's the ratio of inspiration/perspiration?

60/40 depends on the song though - "So Young" was 95/5 came out whole and in 10 minutes - others take longer

Ever had a song come to you fully-formed like it dropped into your lap?

Yes. Real World on my first solo … I got out of bed and went downstairs, sat down and wrote it.

Raindrops on my second solo album The Same Sun

And finally, finish this couplet in any way you like: “Standing at the airport with an empty suitcase at my feet . . .” (You are NOT allowed to rhyme that with “meet” however)

I've got a ticket to tomorrow

For my dreams are incomplete

Gonna pack it full of moments 

And follow where they lead

You see I've a ticket to tomorrow 

There's nothing more I need . . .


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