Everyone loves a good mix CD. Just as their tape-based ancestors did, mix CDs let you discover new artists, revisit old favorites and revel in anticipation as you wait to find out what the next track will bring (my wife grew up in a household where you weren’t even allowed to glance at the hand-written track listing until you’d heard the CD all the way through once). Plus, there’s no better window into the soul than what the mix maker chooses to include [Rob Gordon nods in agreement]. So what if you had to make a mix CD to give to… wait for it… the Queen of England AND President Barack Obama? What would you put on that bad boy? Well, if you’re the Irish Association of Songwriters, Composers & Authors working in association with First Music Contact and Culture Ireland, you’d put a little Fionn Regan on there! I first learned about Regan when TwentyFourBit, one of my favorite music blogs in the whole world, posted a link to an outdoorsy solo performance of the title track of his new album, 100 Acres of Sycamore. I was struck right away by how he made difficult things — intricate finger-picking, lyrics rich in metaphor, sitting against a tree in what appear to be some pretty tight pants — seem so effortless. Moments afterward, Wikipedia told me about how the aforementioned Irish cultural organizations included Regan’s song “Put A Penny In The Slot” on a compilation album that was designed to give “the gift of Irish music” to Her Royal Highness and the Barackstar when they each visited Ireland earlier this year. A single listen was enough for me to hear why this song and its writer were placed in such a venerated position. His lyrics are remarkable not just for their insight but because they take small pictures with big meaning, zooming in on detail in a most beautiful and arresting way. Listen to “Put A Penny In The Slot” below to see what I mean, and buy his album The End of History here. And if you’d like to hear what else was rocking the Air Force One sound system on the way back from Ireland, you can check out the rest of the IASCA mix here.
Fionn Regan — “Put A Penny In The Slot“