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Random News – Red Red Rose (Song For Phoebe Prince)

Posted by: andy In: Random News

The tragic death of Fanore teenager Phoebe Prince has inspired people from every corner of the globe. Andrew Hamilton talks to Jeff Kellyfrom Seattle indie band The Green Pajamas, about their latest record“The Red, Red Rose – A Song for Phoebe Prince.”

It usually happens to me while I’m driving. Something unexpected will happen – a delivery truck cruising dangerously close both to my bumper and the speed of sound or a particularly idiotic politician on the radio – and for a moment an inexplicable anger will consume me.

It’s a dangerous anger – consuming, ugly and brutal – but it is transient, and soon it fades with each passing mass of tarmacadam.

There is something stirring about the story of Phoebe Prince. It’s not sadness or anger, but something in between, and no amount of road will make dissappear.

It’s is this feeling which has prompter ten of thousand of American’s to speak out in her name over the last five months. It’s forced he hand of lawmakers and school boards of management, shamed the media into doing it’s job and compelled Seattle indie rocker Jeff Kelly to write.

“I think there was something captivating about her picture – there was something in her face which spoke to me first off. Then came her story and as we started to hear more and more about what had happen it just became heartbreaking. It was so hard to put the two things together – her picture and her story – she looks so happy, so beautiful,” he says.

“I think as a songwriter who has written songs since I was a teenager it’s rarely been happy that’s prompts a song, it’s something that stirs you. Course you can write a song about happiness but for some reason it’s sorry and heartbreak that tends to inspire people somehow. I have listened to a lot of music from your country, from Ireland.

“There is something that compels people to write about sorrow and other people to listen to it – it’s just part of the human condition I guess.

“It was heartbreaking; first is was shocked like everyone else, then I got sad and it didn’t go away. Then I got angry. I get angry at those kids, the ones who drove her to it. They are kids and kids will do stupid things but it’s the lack of remorse that made me so angry. I felt so compelled that I had to write it down.”

Written by Jeff and recorded by his band The Green Pajamas, Red Red Rose is an old fashioned lament played out in a haze of guitar and distortion. It takes an ancient form and dresses it in the cloths of the Seattle scene – with all it’s noise and hurt – and creates a new living and breathing entity.

“I wrote that song in a 19th century ballad kind of style. I have studied a lot of nineteenth century poetry and listened to a lot of Irish traditional music and it just started coming out as I read that poem. But I tried to be less specific and more poetic, there is enough said in cold hard print about the story,” continues Jeff.

“They way I wanted to express it was in a more traditional, more poetic way – but tried to express the sadness that was there. I have always had a lot of trouble writing about things like politics lets say, I couldn’t write a song about George Bush for example, but songs about heartbreak, love and death, they are subjects which I can write.

“Even as a wrote the little poem down I never really thought that it might come out as a song. I just had to do it. That’s how it is sometimes, you just have write things down. My wife was too sad to talk about it so I guess that writing something was my way of getting this out.

“I tried to write it as a poem but there is an anger there is an anger there. It’s an anger that I think a lot of people feel.

“When I started recording it I really didn’t know how it might go. It just started forming by itself. When I got finished with the song it sounded really good and it became something that I wanted to share. I am a cult artist, I’ve never had great fame or anything like that, but the best part for me with music is when people take the time to write you a letter about something you’ve done.

“So far the response has been great. People have contacted me saying that they’ve found the song really powerful. That’s the thing – if I can share those feeling and make people feel something, something that help them think and help them understand maybe, then that’s what it was all about.

“I worried about things. I worried that I might be overstepping my bounds and that maybe her family might think I was overstepping my bounds. I was scared to go out there, into all of this feurer but I guess I’ve always done things like this, and so far the response has been very positive. I think as an artist you just have to do what you feel is right and then hold on. It was about expressing the heartbreak that people who have read the story of Phoebe feel. Of course I’d hate to offend anybody, especially her family, if they thought the words were too strong but in the end I just had to do it.”



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