There’s plenty to look forward to at the end of this month. On November 24th, all five Champions novellas for the of 1943 will be released at once, so readers waiting after last year’s cliffhanger in Progeny will finally be able to stop sending me angry messages. I’ll write more about what to expect in future notes, but for now I really must focus on a return that I’ve been waiting for since grad school.
On November 27th, the Corrs are releasing White Light –– their first new album since 2005. At last, our long decade of darkness is over.
I’ve written notes about music before –– I’ve always found it’s an essential part of writing. Whether from recently-discovered bands like Scotland’s Dead Man Fall, or instrumental innovators like Bond, or Canadian indies (that need to do more) like HUDDLE, excellent tunes can turn a bad drafting session good, and a good drafting session great. As such, finding new music is constant pursuit, and it’s not always easy.
Which is why it really, really helps when your FAVORITE BAND OF ALL TIME comes back on the scene with new music.
I use the ALL CAPS advisedly: I’ve been a Corrs fan since 1999, when I happened across one of their award show performances on television. I was 15 at the time, but I didn’t really have my band. The Irish Rovers had been the soundtrack of my earliest years, but I’d left them behind. My parents had good taste, so thanks to them I listened to the greats like Lionel Richie and Celine Dion, as well as lesser-known giants like Chris DeBurgh and Dionne Warwick… but aside from discovering for myself that Frank Sinatra could sing, everything was a hand-me-down.
Then, the Corrs.
I distinctly remember channel surfing past MuchMusic with the television muted, and stopping because there was some band on screen. Three women, one man, and my thought was: Oh, these must be the latest pop stars who can’t sing. Like all good teenagers, I was a smug elitist about music, so I unmuted to confirm my suspicions.
That afternoon, I went out and bought Talk on Corners (the special edition) on CD.
After that, I caught up with, Forgiven Not Forgotten, and later it was Unplugged, In Blue, Borrowed Heaven, and Home. Plus all the DVDs of their concerts. When the iTunes music store became a thing, I found some additional tracks that weren’t on the CDs released in Canada. When YouTube became a thing, I found recordings of their live gigs around the world.
The Corrs became — and still are — my band. There are many reasons for this.
Most importantly, they sound great. Growing up immersed in Irish culture in Newfoundland, and listening to the ever-wonderful Irish Rovers, my ears were perfectly calibrated for their Irish-pop sound. The frequent inclusion of Sharon Corr’s violin, Caroline Corr’s bodhrán (the Irish drum), and Andrea Corr’s tin whistle suited me perfectly. When they went ‘full Irish’, it was a real joy:
Their songs were also constructed in a way that’s very consistent with my worldview; the happiest ones would often hint at undertones of sadness, while the saddest ones usually projected a ray of hope. Nothing too sugary, nothing too bleak. I attribute this to them being Irish — a culture (like Newfoundland’s) that is steeped in the knowledge that there’s always both a cloud, and a silver lining. To this day, if I’m asked to choose an all-around ‘best song’, ‘Radio’ wins on the strength of elegant construction, pure sound, and brilliant emotional duality:
Beyond the music, there was plenty to connect with. They’re a family band — three sisters along with brother Jim — who attribute much of their passion to a strong relationship with their parents. Since I’ve been running Iceberg with my parents for more than a decade now, it’s probably no surprise that I feel a special affinity for families who are able to stick together, particularly while being creative.
It also must be said: I was fifteen, and Andrea, Caroline, and Sharon were all worthy of a teenage crush. And let’s not be coy, they still totally are –– perhaps now more than ever.
So when the Corrs went on hiatus in 2006, it was a loss deeply felt. I’ve been able to broaden my musical tastes in the years since — find some excellent bands, in a huge array of genres — but when the iPhone became a thing, and I was able to carry music around with me everywhere, every Corrs album automatically had to be included. And now, at last, there will be more albums. I might need a bigger phone.
Now, I realize that my adoration of the Corrs might not be universal (though it should be mentioned that they were the first band after The Beatles to simultaneously hold the number 1 and 2 spots on the UK charts), but given the quality of their writing and playing, I really think you should give White Light a listen on November 27th. Certainly, the lead single — ‘Bring on the Night’ — is as brilliant as ever:
Welcome back, Corrs. Now: never, ever, go again.
Alright, how about some disjointed stories:
When we moved from Alberta to Ontario in 1999, Talk on Corners was in my Discman while I sat in the back of our car for the five-day drive. While on the road, I drafted the first chapters of The Human Equation, meaning the Corrs were the soundtrack for the first book of mine that ever saw print.
In 2005, when event and venue dates got mixed up (leading to the creation of ‘Your 25 Questions’), I found myself panicking a little about having to do a book event in front of hundreds of people, with no preparation. On the drive between venues, ‘Baby Be Brave’ helped me focus — because what’s the point of it all, if you’re not terrified to fail?
Then there was 2006, when everything was bleak. The Corrs did not pen ‘Lagan Love’, but their version of it was always able to reduce me to tears — which was desperately necessary when dealing with death.
And I’m probably the only guy anywhere who has a strong contender for ‘song to be used for first wedding dance’. Yes, in fact, this is why I’m single.