Fifty Greatest Misses

50 of my songs and stories written during and about my 50+ years living, so far...

Disclaimer... The artist (me) wishes to excuse some of the following... the crackle, cackle, buzz and pop, lazy lyrics and piquant pitching, bitching, scandal and slander. Any similarity to anyone alive or dead is occasionally unintentional.

34. Suicide Song

Post 12 Bar Blues…

I have a lot to thank the 12 Bar Club for and particularly the clubs promoter Andy Lowe whose commitment to great music and talent underpinned the club and it’s community for the best part of 20 years. However it was Phil Ryan who booked me to play for the 1st time on the opening night of the newly reinvented club, formerly folk venue The Forge. The history of the club on Denmark Street ‘Tin Pan Alley’ bang in the heart of the west end of London is the stuff of legend. It’s a story I feel privileged to have been a part of with my Cushy Productions night.

It was also Phil who offered me the chance to run my own night at the club once a month as a residency for me and my band, allowing us to experiment with new material and showcase other bands we liked for more than 8 years. There was a succession of promoters after Phil moved on who stuck by us; Madge, Richard, Allan, and of course Andy.

12-bar-bandx300pxlI should also thank the various owners of the club, who on more than 1 occasion had their backs to the wall to keep the place afloat. In particular, Andy Preston and Lars Erickson who set up the club with a very well stocked vodka bar as I recall which went down very nicely with the many musicians and West End revellers who hung out there till dawn. Unfortunately the business model,  resulted in them giving away more of the vodka than they sold and was fundamentally flawed. That and the battles with Camden Council over the licence meant the club had to run as a private members club. It was a farce really. Just in case the club was spot checked, everyone entering had to ‘join’ the club, fill out an application and be given a membership card. It was a royal pain in the ass. but eventually during Carlo’s tenure, the licence was sorted and the club, as a bone fide music venue, really started to take off.

Rhatigan the band grew up and evolved on those Thursday nights. The residency gave us the chance to try new songs and ideas and since it felt like a home from home, we had a very relaxed approach to our sets. Sometimes a bit too relaxed! We probably played some of our best gigs on that tiny stage but unfortunately probably also played some of our worst!

12-bar_02x300pxlMy over riding memories of the Cushy nights were the people who came and supported us. Karen, Scott, Mark… ok I’m not going to mention every single person but there was a hard core group that kept us going, no doubt about it. And of course the many wonderful bands and solo artists who kept the Cushy nights vibrant and exciting. If you hit the link to the Cushy Productions website you can browse through the monthly blog I uploaded and emailed out at the time to promote the night. It covers the period from Christmas 2002 back to Christmas 2000 though I’m sure the blog and email outs go back a good few years prior to 2000 but they appear to have disappeared from the site. Hardly surprising since it hasn’t been maintained in 12 years and was a very DIY website to begin with,  Before I, belatedly, embraced technology the promotion for the night was all done by hand. Hours splicing and pasting flyers and posters and fortunes spent on stamps. Jesus when I think of it! Actually thinking about it makes me very happy. Those were definitely some of the best years of my life.

So now it’s gone. Along with so many Tin Pan Alley institutions. Music shops, publishers bars and clubs all gone in the name of ‘progress’. Why is heritage, particularly the legacy of the great live music venues and the music they promote and nourish so underappreciated so cheaply thrown away. Maybe it’s always been that way or maybe it’s just another symptom of the disease attacking the fundamental status of music and musicians. Are we a dying breed destined to become extinct, to be replaced by what?

No I don’t believe it. It will not happen. As long as a single human voice can express itself through music live in a room for other humans to listen to then live music will play on. Keep going to live gigs there are so many great bands and artists to see and hear. It’s time for the next generation of promoters and musicians to carry the baton, to stand up for the venues. To find new venues. It’s time to tap into that far too long undervalued resource of real music played by real people. I for one fully intend to play on regardless….

I’ve been wracking my brains trying to think of a tune to upload in honour of the 12 Bar and for some bizarre reason one song keeps popping up…

34. Suicide Song

S.Rhatigan/ J F Morrison ©1998

I can’t believe I’m uploading this. I can’t believe I wrote the song in truth and yet here it is. Suicide Song was our last song of the night on the Cushy nights at the 12 Bar. It was the last one after the last encore had been extracted from the last die hard regulars at 2 or 3 in the morning. I briefly toyed with the idea of releasing it on an EP with Stabbed and Till the Morning Comes under the Death EP title, but that one really never got off the drawing board unlike the others which you could say sort of fell off the drawing board onto the floor.

WARNING Do not try this at home.

Suzanne Rhatigan Vocals, Guitar synth…

John Morrison Bass…

Paul Murphy Drums…


PS the picture accompanying this post is one of my favourite Rhatigan photos at the 12 bar taken by Sarah Light. It is Bryn playing drums in the picture though not on the track. Unfortunately I have no photos of Paul playing with us at the 12 Bar or anywhere. If anyone has any please let me know xxxx


33. Big Stick

33. Big Stick
S.Rhatigan/ J F Morrison ©1998

When do the bullied become the bullies?  At what point do you decide to turn the tables take control and choose to hit back, not walk away.

big-stick-front-grey_300x300pxlBig stick is a meditation on power and abuse.  It’s not difficult for me to tap into the vein of hurt and anger running through my life.  I don’t think anyone lives such a charmed existence they’ve never suffered at the hands of another to one degree or another. I’m lucky to have music and song writing to escape to and exorcise my demons through, and I quite enjoy letting my imagination explore any possible outcomes.  It is possible to dwell in the dark corners of fantasy without actually acting on those fantasies.  Well it works for me!

I wrote the lyric to Big Stick at a time when it felt like control of my life was slipping away.  Rhatigan had come perilously close to breaking through with Late Developer, and we had some great tunes in the bag ready to follow up but after too many knock backs Bryn our drummer decided to call it a day.  It was a major blow and it took several months to find anyone to replace him so unique and important a player he was/is.  We had to let go of that influence and personality and embrace something new.  Derry man Paul Murphy was eventually lured in and his style and personality were so different that the whole sound of the band shifted away from the explosive tight punk energy of Late Developer to the looser rolling groove that is Big Stick

During this period between drummers John and I thought about recording other bands at Cushy.  Darren Hayman was a song writer we had shared a bill with a few times in indie clubs around London.  I loved his blend of witty poignant tales of Christian girls and Grammar school boys and their comings and goings which he was quite preoccupied with at the time.  Anyway Hefner began to come together following a few early sessions recording with us at Cushy with John playing bass and Antony Harding on drums although I think I played drums on a few tunes having taken up the habit while trying to fill the void left by Bryn. Darren soon asked John to play a few gigs which as I recall took some effort on my part to persuade John to do.  I didn’t see the harm.  I simply didn’t consider the real possibility that Hefner’s star would rise so quickly and demand so much of John’s time.

In fact Big Stick was written by John and me with me playing drums, hence the whole ‘big stick’ thing.  John’s pulsing bass line was easy for me to accompany with a loose bump splat vaguely trip hop beat.  I played the song a handful of times solo on drums which was great fun, well fun for me.

I remember a couple of occasions playing Big Stick on drums with mixed results though.  The first time was during a tribute gig for a songwriter friend called Tom Greenwood who had died suddenly, and I was approached by the actor Tim Roth who happened to be in the club.  He was buzzing about the song saying it would be perfect in a movie he was directing at the time called The War Zone.  I duly sent a CD to the address he provided me with, but alas in the great tradition of the 50 Greatest Misses I heard nothing back.

Another unfortunate Big Stick moment occurred on a Cushy night which I ran at the 12 Bar Club.  I was doing a late set solo after the other bands had played and I decided to try Big Stick using the kit belonging to one of the other bands which had been left onstage.  The band in question were a rather over hyped indie 4 piece out of Manchester called Salako whom I had booked to headline.  Anyhow there I am bump splatting away, concentrating hard, eyes shut, pouring my heart and soul into the moment when the lead singer decided he wanted to head back up north, straightaway.  Well the little prick began dismantling the kit mid song which I was oblivious to at first as I was concentrating so hard and I hadn’t noticed the floor tom and a few cymbals had been removed until shouts and jeers from the audience shook me from my reverie. Ever the pro I kept going regardless and I got to end without belting him with my big sticks, but I was pissed off big time.  In the resulting kerfuffle between the band and my loyal Cushy regulars no one but me noticed the scally slipping out to the toilet so I followed behind.  I stood outside the men’s room for a moment and without consciously realizing it I knew what I had to do. In I went firmly shutting the door behind me.  Imagine the surprise on his spotty little face when he saw me approaching him as he tried stuffing his dick midstream back into his pants.  I can assure you I gave him a good tongue lashing at very close quarters. I can still smell the little creep.  Sweet as!

I’ve wanted to upload Big Stick the album for a while but never felt the time was right don’t ask me why I do now.  It’s the whole letting go thing.  Letting go of pain and disappointment letting go of power.  Letting go, not giving in.

Suzanne Rhatigan Vocals, Guitar…

John Morrison Bass…

Paul Murphy Drums…



32. Me me me me me…..

32. Me me me me me…
S.Rhatigan/ J F Morrison ©2000

suzanne-golden-50_02So, I’m finally ensconced in my new studio and it’s bliss. My own space dedicated to music and it’s not in my living room or bedroom but an actual studio, my studio the space I’ve dreamed of having my whole music life and that’s a good long while! No excuse now not to get on with it. NO EXCUSES. Oh Shit!

Now I have the space but will I ever again have the time? Being a “Singer Songwriter” is a completely selfish past time if, as is usually the case, the songs you write are for your own ears pretty much and are more a vehicle to express your angst, stories and emotions than a career per say. Sure you hope your songs will be heard by others, will resonate will connect will allow you to describe your time spent as an “occupation” even, but let’s face it what are the odds?

A songwriter on the other hand who sits down and coolly write a tune to pitch to an artist or publisher or account manager can more reasonably describe that work as a “job” even if the returns on the writers time are even less than the singer songwriters. I don’t know which camp I fit into. I’ve had small successes in both and I’m quite comfortable with both. My aim as a song writer is to imbue a subject with genuine emotion while as a singer songwriter it is to engage the listener without being too self-indulgent. It’s a fine line.

Either way song writing, writing or art of any kind takes time and head space. Total immersion is the ideal but that’s pretty much impossible with school going kids pulling at you every which way. I guess a happy medium can be achieved though, particularly now I have my own studio… Did I mention that I have my own studio? And it has lockable doors! How lovely it would be to pin this blog to a brand new recording of one of my new songs but I think I’ll stick to my blog theme and use one of my 50 misses instead. The obvious choice is Me..

Back in the year 2000BC (before children) I was able to completely involve myself in music, song writing and recording. I didn’t have to answer to anyone boyfriends friends family anyone. I was perfectly happy with that and if anyone had a problem with it well they knew where they could go. Then along came this guy who changed all that. He wasn’t pushy, quite the opposite, he did everything to facilitate me, but the more our relationship went on the more I realised I was losing a grip on my splendid isolation not to mention my ovaries. In a panic I did everything I could to repel him including writing Me. If there was ever a clear message to back off this was it, but instead he simply consistently argued that in his opinion ridding himself of me was not a good plan and so I thought fuck you then you’re stuck with me!

This recording of Me was the 3rd track I recorded with Antony Harding and Jack Hayter during the Radio Friendly/Old Friend sessions which are tracks 1&2 of the Fifty.. In fact Ant recorded the song himself for a compilation album check it out . So I guess it sort of makes it a pretty good balance between the self-indulgent all about me singer songwriter while having a sentiment which may not be lost on everyone. I hope so. Let me know what you think. PS ‘It always has and always will be about me me me me me me me me me…’

Suzanne Vocals, Guitar, Harmonica Wurlitzer…
John Morrison Bass…
Antony Harding Drums…
Jack Hayter lap Steel


31 The Life

31. The Life
S.Rhatigan/ J F Morrison © 2014

Here and now – the only certainty. The past is tainted by selective memory, viewed through distorted lens. The future unpredictable, non-existent. Ironically when life slows to a virtual stop and all the simple actions and tasks taken for granted are void, it is then you really start living. I’ve experienced this recently, vicariously through my brother in law who is recovering in hospital after a serious injury. He is happy! Happy to be alive. Happy to gaze into my sister’s eyes. Happy to know how well loved he is. He is living just for the moment. Every small mercy a miracle, every tiny treat a luxury beyond measure. To witness his intense pleasure eating a chocolate digestive biscuit is a joy to behold and just a little obscene!

It should be easy to write about something as simple as appreciating the life we have but it isn’t. It’s so much easier to yearn for something better, for more. It is the blight of the singer songwriter; self pity, regret, pain, angst. So much easier to plunge into darker troubled water than to float on a sea of serenity.seppi-thumbs-up-2014

Aside from the difficulty I’ve had in the intervening months since the accident finding and justifying the time, I have always taken for granted, to immerse myself in writing and recording, I’ve been plagued with the urge to write something uplifting and positive which put me right off! It’s just not in my nature I can assure you. I can imagine all the good stuff alright, but somehow I am compelled to darken my brighter thoughts with shade, to cool the heat with a little icy foreboding. So I failed. But then I remembered a song I wrote a couple of years ago, which I pitched for a commercial. It had to be positive, life affirming and much to my surprise I grew to quite like it, probably because it was rejected and ended up like a little abandoned puppy along with so many of my other songs.

When I moved back to Ireland, John and I tried to keep writing sending ideas back and forth online, but we were so used to writing in a room together that this new way never quite worked out.  John began to get more into soundscapes and electronica and all I could focus on with a young family running wild around the place, was playing acoustic guitar and harmonica in between domestic chores. When I decided to try to pitch something for that commercial I turned to some of John’s electronic loops for inspiration. I really like the esoteric pads and bleeps of Johns sample on ‘The Life’ blended with the acoustic guitar, Wurlitzer and harmonica, and the lovely rolling bodhran played by the extremely talented Pauline Burke.

Pauline is one of the musicians I recently befriended at a pub session here in Dublin. Trad sessions are ubiquitous in Ireland, the culture of musicians just coming together and playing music together is alive and well and is quite unique in the world. It is not exclusively traditional music though. In any number of pubs on any night of the week there are sessions, some folk, some pop or blues, some original tunes some classic covers. It really isn’t important what the style or ‘genre’. Its just people getting together playing the music they love around a table and singing their hearts out. Living for the moment. What could be simpler?

Suzanne Rhatigan Vocals, Guitar, Harmonica, Wurlitzer…
John Morrison Loops and pads…
Pauline Burke Bodrhan…

Intro voice over Seppi Baumeister (my boy)

PS: I read somewhere recently that Barbra Streisand was doing a duets album? I can really hear her singing this and also I think it would work really well as a duet. Anyone know how to get the tune to her or whomever? Aim high eh!