Nearly 40 years later I began to write some songs that grew into the lunar voyages/1969 inspired album that has come to be known as ‘Howl On’. And all because of a book called Moon Dust, that I devoured by the light of a log fire DVD at the start of a strange lonesome year in London. The Apollo missions and the 60’s were suddenly fresh, wonderful, insane and large as life to me, a man now in his forties - slightly older than the crew of Apollo 11 when they landed on the Sea of Tranquility.
What had become of these men and what had they experienced? How could such a momentous event be reduced to an MTV logo? I was lonely and crazy for love and becoming obsessed by the whole saga. I watched every documentary I could find on the subject and inevitably there was Jimi somewhere in the soundtrack - a reminder of the far out counter culture backdrop of the space race and the Cold War.
And so it was that I immersed myself in the lives of the chosen few who went up there and didn’t care if they never came back. I was in love with America as a child and when I finally got to New York in 1989 as a professional musician I wasn’t disappointed. I’d forgotten all about cowboy suits and spacemen by then, enthralled by the 24 hour bars beside Port Authority.
Gradually America wore me down and I fell out of love with the best and worst of everything. But now maybe things are changing. As a new spirit began to filter over in early 2009 I recorded my own take on Hey Joe during the ‘Howl On’ sessions. Furthermore in a cosmic coincidence I managed to get the legendary Henry McCullough, the only Irishman who performed at Woodstock, to play guitar on my version of the Hendrix classic.
And so now I’m starting to feel that good times are ahead and inspiration is flowing again, not just in me but in the world. The feeling that anything is possible if we just put our minds to it.
We went to the moon didn’t we? All of us.
Bap Kennedy 2009
Album Track Inspiration
America On the night of July 20th 1969, I tried to stay awake for the first Moonwalk, but the comforting and reassuring cowboy voices from Mission Control lulled me into a peaceful sleep. In my seven year old mind, all good th ings came from America. I wanted to be American and live in the sunshine.
Cold War Country Blues Was there a Space Race instead of a nuclear war between Russia and America? Maybe. The frontiersmen who went to the moon took country music to new heights. The pay was terrible but the view was incredible.
The Right Stuff Dedicated to the ancient order of astronauts, the bravest of the brave - and especially to Pete Conrad who was “the best man I ever knew” (Neil Armstrong)
Michael Collins was the 3rd crew member of Apollo 11. Back in ‘69 when I heard his name I assumed he was Irish. Buzz and Neil got all the glory - but Mick got them home. He had a poem by John Gillespie Magee tucked in his pocket as he travelled to the dark side all on his own.
The Blue One They went to the moon and discovered the Earth, a beautiful jewel hanging in the void. Inspired by a photo taken by Voyager, the deep space probe. Before it left our solar system it turned around and took a picture of where it had come from. And finally there we were, our planet a tiny point of light in the vastness - the Blue One.
Hey Joe A cosmic country take on the classic rock song that finished off Woodstock and the 60’s. Featuring Henry McCullough, the only Irishman to play at Woodstock on muscular guitar.
Howl OnThe mighty universe can seem like a very small place when your heart is broken. And nothing can stand in the way of Love.
One of Those DaysWhat do you do after you’ve been to the Moon? Have one hell of a mid-life crisis.
Brave Captain To see the Earth as it truly is. To risk everything including being forgotten when the next hero comes along. Dedicated to the crew of Apollo 8 who saw an Earthrise for the first time and brought home the photographic treasure for all Mankind.
The Heart of Universal Love Milton, Paradise Lost and the contemplations of an astronaut as he considers the philosophical implications of standing on the barren Moon and looking up at the Earth, a beautiful Eden in the blackness.
Last Adventure Surely there can be no greater adventure than going to the moon. If you get back alive maybe it’s time to hang up your helmet and take it easy.
Ballad of Neil Armstrong In my imagination the commander of Apollo 11 considers an angelic presence as he voyages towards the Moon and a lifetime of unwanted celebrity. (A model of the strong silent type, Neil had suffered the tragic loss of his young daughter before the Apollo Missions became the focus of his life)