Here’s to you, Ronnie Drew (2008-01-17)

U2, The Dubliners and Kila have joined a host of Ireland’s finest singers for a special tribute to Ronnie Drew, one of the founding fathers of modern Irish music. Artists collaborating on ‘The Ballad of Ronnie Drew’ include Christy Moore, Shane MacGowan, Damien Dempsey, Andrea Corr, Sinead O’Connor and Moya Brennan.

On Monday night this week everyone descended on Windmill Lane Rings End Road studios and producer John Reynolds says the vibe was pretty special: ‘The song is magnificent and the players are incredible.’ The four minute track will go public in the next few days.

‘Bono really dreamed it up,’ says Simon Carmody, former Golden Horde singer/songwriter who recalled that the idea of a tribute to Drew, who is fighting cancer, was hatched over dinner last year. ‘We’d been talking about lyrics and poetry and we started thinking about writing something for Ronnie, someone that so many of us grew up with, that so many of us admire, someone who has made such a huge contribution to Irish music.’

Carmody recalled that Robert Hunter, Grateful Dead lyricist, was a fan of Drew, and they were delighted that when they approached him with the idea he was up for being involved. They anticipated Hunter would come up with lyrics for Ronnie to sing – in fact he came back with a lyrical tribute to him. ‘The Ballad of Ronnie Drew’ became a collaborative composition between Hunter, Edge, Carmody and Bono. And when they approached other singers about getting together to record the track the response was uniformly positive. ‘Every musician we asked has said ‘Yes’,’ said Bono. ‘Kila agreed to be involved as a band, so it’ll be Kila and U2.’

‘It’s been a real gathering of the Irish musical tribe,’ added Carmody. ‘It was like we were paying tribute to our elder, our leader Ronnie Drew.

‘He was one of the groundbreakers in this country and we hope he enjoys it when he hears a bunch of lunatics singing this heartfelt song of respect to him.’

Hot Press Editor Niall Stokes says the song is a fitting tribute to the performer who first became famous with The Dubliners, and was the singer on their 60s chart hit ‘Seven Drunken Nights’ among other classic recordings.

‘The song is powerful and poetic, with a number of brilliantly crafted standout lines. But with Bono, Shane MacGowan, Christy Moore and Damien Dempsey all taking verses, the performances are amazing. And Sinead, Andrea and Moya are wonderful on the chorus. It’s a certain Number 1.”

Here’s the run down of artists who’ve also participated in the recording: Brian Kennedy, Billy McGuinness (Aslan), Bronagh Gallagher, Chris de Burgh, Christy Dignam (Aslan), Duke Special, Eleanor McEvoy, Eleanor Shanley, Gavin Friday, Glen Hansard, Iona Green, Jack L, Jerry Fish, Joe Elliott, Mary Black, Mary Coughlan, Mick Pyro (Republic of Loose), Mundy, Paddy Casey, Paul Brady, Ronan Keating

We’ll bring you details on the release of ‘The Ballad of Ronnie Drew’ as soon as we have them.

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