Three Legends and a Local Hero by Glen Hansard
28 June 2002
I regard the Holy Trinity as Leonard Cohen, Bob Dylan and Van Morrison in terms of complete inspiration and a life that would be worth living and worth leading. Bob is a romantic. He is like the Arthur Rimbaud if you like. He is a visionary. Leonard Cohen is the poet. The absolute wordsmith and the genius of words who really knows how to manipulate a word and make it really mean something. Van is just an absolute bull. He charges through life with an idea. Van has a constant question. What I love about him is that he is so mystical as well. He seems to be seeking something he doesn’t want to find.
What I really admire about these guys is that if you look at their history it’s not great. It’s not all great records. They’ve been cool and they’ve been up and they’ve been down and back up and back down. Hopefully my career will go some way towards making a bunch of records, not just three or four and having a bit of success, but moving on and having a career in music that is a long one and isn’t based on fashion or what is popular now. Tom Waits keeps on creeping in there too, purely because of the work and the consistency.
I met Leonard Cohen when I was 15. I was at a concert he played in the Stadium and my cousin had a epileptic fit in the middle of the gig and Leonard stopped in the middle of ‘Blue Raincoat’ and told us we could come backstage later if everything was alright. My brother was OK so we came back and met Leonard afterwards.
Van Morrison I met at a 50th birthday party. I had an amazing night with him because he totally dissed me and then as the night grew he accepted me and I ended up hanging out the whole night with him playing songs. I’ve toured with Bob and I suppose in a way he is the biggest because from a very, very early age Bob was my absolute hero. Meeting him was really, really staggering. I met him with Pete Short. We bumped into him outside the Westbury Hotel the first time I met him and Pete said “Bob, this is Glen.” The next day we were rehearsing in the Factory and Bob stuck his head into our rehearsal room and said “I really like that”. I got talking to him in the corridor and I told him that meeting him must be like when he met Woody. I must have said the right thing because the next day we were rehearsing again and we got a phone call asking us if we wanted to come to London to support him that night.
Every time I’ve ever met him he has been a gentleman, totally contrary to what people believe. Bob brought myself and Colm to dinner in Whites On The Green after a gig in the Point Depot. Myself and Colm were sitting at a table with Bob Dylan, Van Morrison and Elvis Costello at the dinner table. We said nothing because obviously we were freaked out of our heads, but they were really kind.
In terms of local heroes and current heroes, I’d say Jason Molina of Songs: Ohia is someone I respect an awful lot. He works such a simple small industry which is basically him and his records and his audience. He doesn’t engage in any shape or form with the so-called machine and yet he manages to live a comfortable life with his girlfriend, living off song. I was busking this week and it made me realise once more that the greatest meal you’ll ever eat is the one you earn through singing. Someone like Molina came to mind because that is how he lives his life. He makes his records, he puts them out and people buy them and he can survive and pay his rent. It’s much in the same way that the Frames are operating now.