This week I am happy to release ‘’Return Of Pygmy Pony’’, one of the songs from my upcoming album of instrumentals, aptly titled ‘’Notes From The Boneyard, Vol 1’’ (released Sept 22nd on Deltasonic Records).
The journey of this song is a good one, and I am still on the journey to wherever it is that it’s taking me.
The song wrote itself in my head on a long drive home from Tipperary at 3am. It was an unbelievably starry night and I must have seen at least ten shooting stars on that drive. I believe the song fell from the sky that night and landed on my lap. A gift from the ether. Sometimes that happens.
As soon as I got home, I recorded the song before I forgot it. Sometimes that happens too. Right as I finished recording it, I got a call from Howe Gelb (it wasn’t 3am in Tucson). I played him the song down the phone. I didnt realise at the time that he was currently in the editing suite, adding music to a movie he was working on with its director, Geoff Marslett. I also didn’t realise that this was exactly the song they were looking for, for a particular scene involving a pygmy pony. They immediately asked could they use it for the film. ‘’Sure’’, I quipped, and thought nothing more of it.
A year later I got the call from Howe to come along to a screening of the movie. It had been on a home run, picking up a heap of awards along the festival circuit across the globe. He suggested we meet at the Munich Film Festival, where the film was being screened, and Howe had just picked up an award for best soundtrack. ‘’Sure’’, I quipped, and hopped on the plane.
I went straight to the screening and met the cast and crew for the first time on the stage during a Q&A before the film started. I hadn’t seen the film yet, so was not equipped to answer any questions about it. Then it came my turn to talk. Howe seen me squirm and came to my rescue with a guitar that he pulled from thin air, before saying into the microphone ‘’So for the authentic Mexican sounding guitar melody, we found an Irishman.’’
Now I had to play it in front of an audience.. But I hadn’t played or listened to it since I recorded it a year before. In fact, I had completely forgotten how it went.
‘’Sure’’, I quipped, and began to pretend that I knew what I was doing. I searched for the melody, improvising, reaching out at shadows. Then it found me, and I held to it tightly and rode the wave back to the shore before it eluded me again.
The rest of the night was drenched in Mezcal, and various other drinks, I don’t know what they were. The party went on until dawn, but only according to the man made clock. In many other ways, its still going on right now. In fact, just last month myself and Geoff (the director) were still at the party, when we (almost) found ourselves atop Arthur’s Seat in Edinburgh at the crack of dawn with a head full of whisky and beer, procured (stolen) from a confused teenage barman in glasgow hours prior, following a Chuck Prophet gig.
Meanwhile, me and Howe re-recorded the track while he was here on a recent Irish visit. And now I unleash it out of its bottle, complete with an accompanying music video, directed by Geoff, using unused footage from his film in which the song appears. And so the party continues. The Pygmy pony rides on. Who knows where it’ll lead to next.
By the way, the movie in question is called Quantum Cowboys, and stars Lily Gladstone, David Arquette, Alex Cox, Neko Case, and a host of others.. and it’s coming your way to theatres and streaming, this autumn.
I’ll stop blabbering now and hand the typewriter over to Howe Gelb, our man in Tucson.
Over to you Howe…
‘’Return Of Pygmy Pony”. A title with no descriptive value unless you’ve witnessed the scene in a film for which this track was used – the mighty “Quantum Cowboys”.
The track treats and entreats the listener to become one with western motif just miles above the Mexico border, steeped into the dusty desert daunting of Southern Arizona, while slowly rocking back and forth in a well worn slap of leather saddle as the rider tethers the lanyard attached to the leashed smaller horse tagging along, semi-happily behind.
Why ? Because the rider’s skull is a thermos and his brain sweats. Why ? Because the punishing sun takes no prisoners and sizzles a belt buckle enough to seriously fry an egg. Why ? Because this is a land where no man belongs at the wrong time of day during the wrong season of the year. Why ? It’s too late to ask why, but to just know for the sake of historians and lineage alike that a great abundant of Irish cowboys settled it nicely here, and begat extended families with their Mexican brides or grooms of their choosing, and flourished beside the stately saguaro 🌵… and still do to this day.’’