could become old friends again with the hits of Philomena
Begley by simply listening to some of the songs on her
current album titled "The Way Old Friends Do" which is a
double compilation of some of her earlier recordings.
British label Prism
Leisure have released the album at a time when the son of
Ireland's Country Queen, Aidan Quinn, (her marriage name is
Quinn) has also released a new album as he follows in the
footsteps of his famous mother into the Country music scene.
The songs of
Philomena have touched the lives of former Pogues lead
singer Shane McGowan, fans of ABBA have been interested too
in the way she made their "The Way Old Friends Do" song into
a Country classic and Daniel O'Donnell has stated that she
is his favourite Irish artist.
She has shared the
limelight on the live scene with stars as diverse as Don
Williams, Charley Pride, Charlie Daniels or even 70s boy
band, the Bay City Rollers. Indeed the list goes on and on
and one could say with sincerity that if you are simply a
connoisseur of classic 'Countrified' cuts, which cut
straight to the heart, Philomena Begley's songs on this
double album are ones you are sure to enjoy.
Songs on disc one
such as "Gold and Silver Days", "Have I told you Lately that
I Love You" and "Look at us" express sentiments of joy about
the emotional stability one can feel from having a partner
and lover for life.
On the other side of
the coin some of the songs on disc two express opposite
emotions of having marital problems in songs such as "One of
these Days", "Never Again" or "Blue House painted white".
Irrespective of the
type of emotion that has to be expressed, Philomena wrings
every ounce of feeling out of the lyrics
She sings from the
heart, mixing melody with emotions and one can use the word
'Countrified' because that is what she did with the ABBA
song "The Way Old Friends Do". Her version of this song from
the stable of those top selling Scandinavian songsmiths
almost had her competing with them on the British hit parade
"I would finish off
the show with that song and get all the audiences to join
hands and the reaction just went from strength to strength.
It even bubbled under the British Pop Charts and that was
probably the only time ever that I went near the UK hit
parade," said Philomena with a laugh.
But what event or
series of events led to the Irish Country Queen taking a
song by ABBA and making it very much into a Country crowd
pleaser at all her performances? "My brother Kieran bought
an ABBA album with "The Way Old Friends Do" and I just kept
playing it and playing it. I got the idea to put a wee
Country feel to it and we tried it out with amazing success.
It went down really well especially with audiences all over
the UK at the theatre shows and as the old saying goes, the
rest is history".
Even before she had
the aid of the ABBA song many musically selective Europeans
were already embracing Philomena's songs which some had
heard first when she won the European Gold Star Award
leading to tours in ABBA's back garden of Scandinavia. In
Northern Europe, Denmark was, and still is, a favourite
stomping ground for Philomena Begley.
In the home of
Country music too, Nashville, Tennessee, Philomena has been
recognised as an international star by many of her peers for
many years. Her association with the Grand Ole Opry goes
back to her early days and she is accepted as a true
purveyor of Country music ever since she first graced the
stage there to work with veterans of the Grand Ole Opry such
as the late Roy Acuff, Minnie Pearl or Ernest Tubb in the
1970s. So when she sings "Texas in my Heart" you know this
lady has a 'lived-in' feel for that and similar songs on
Strange as it may
seem some world famous Pop stars too, and their fans, have
been touched by the sincerity of Philomena Begley's singing
style. The lead singer of The Pogues even referred to one of
her hits in one of his own songs.
about Shane McGowan having mentioned her name on one of his
songs while she was on her first ever skiing holiday in
"A crowd of us who
were involved with the Dungannon Rugby Club went out
together. One of the lads from the group came running into
where we were staying and he asked if I had heard the song
by The Pogues on the sound system in the hotel. He said that
they mentioned Ray Lynam and myself."
"The Pogues were
flying high at that time in the charts and I asked the
receptionist to play the tape again. Lo and behold I heard
these words from Shane McGowan saying that he had waltzed to
Ray and Phil in his "Elusive Dreams." says Phil with laugh.
The song was "A Pair
of Brown Eyes" and she says it was a great honour to be
mentioned in a song by The Pogues. "I have never seen Shane
perform live but I do like some of his songs, especially
"Fairytale of New York", she added.
There is a duet with
Ray on this album too and it is one that was hugely popular
for the duo when they toured together titled "You and Me,
Him and Her".
It was back about
the time that Phil was at the peak of her popularity for
songs such as "Ramblin' Man" or "Truck Driving Sweetheart"
that she was also voted by readers of Irish Pop magazine
"New Spotlight" as the Top Female Country singer and booked
to appear on the same stage with Teenybopper stars The Bay
When the Scottish
stars were late in arriving at the Pop awards concert in
Dublin Philomena was given the onerous task of taming the
teenyboppers who were surging towards the stage screaming
for their Pop idols. Other singers might have flinched from
this task, but not so Philomena. She went out centre stage
and belted out some of her biggest Country hits and won the
hearts of the teens too.
Staying with a
Scottish theme Philomena, sings Paul McCartney's hit "Mull
of Kintyre" plus the more traditional sounding "Scotland
Again" on this CD.
Philomena toured the
UK with Country legends such as Charley Pride and Don
Williams and on occasions she has shared the same stage as
current international star Daniel O'Donnell. Indeed Daniel
has often cited her as one of the stars who inspired him
into choosing a career in showbusiness. In the book "The A
to Z of Irish Country Stars" published by RTE & Gill and
Macmillian in 1991 he names Philomena as his favourite Irish
From Tyrone to
Tennessee or from Scotland to Scandinavia, Philomena Begley
seems destined to continue to attract more fans and friends
with songs that are on this double album such as "The Way
Old Friends Do", "Cottage on the old Dungannon Road" or
"Mull of Kintyre" which she has made into her own
'Countrified' classics. ó T.G.