Letters to Johnny
Johnny, Advent 2013 is my favourite from your album Creation. It never fails to stir something deep in me. Like a memory of a winter journey, bleak and biting and formidable that yet sustains a hope of light in the veins of the turning world.
A lady approached me after Mass last Sunday and asked me if I knew you. She had been at your gig in the NCH and loved every second of it.
Always nice to get feedback,
To my shame I only came across your beautiful singing on Peter Grogan’s programme on 103.2 as I was istening to my car radio. When I got home I immediately downloaded “Your Sure Hand” on YouTube. This Johnny is, in my opinion, the most beautiful song ever written. Not only the words, but the sentiment and feeling you give to the lyrics is something Powerful. It was just before Christmas when I heard it and was so almost overcome with emotion that I emailed immediately 25 of my friends around the world. To say I love it is an understatement. Thanks Johnny, would hope to meet you some day. When is your next gig in Dublin?
I think your new album is a work of real beauty. Sympathetic arrangements, perfect instrumentation and all topped off with a perfect, story-telling, soulful voice. The songs, as a set of classic short stories, seem as though they were written for this collection even though they span your career…I really love the album…Thank you for starting my year in the perfect way.
Like Nial Cardiff, I have been looking for your song After the Dream for 27 years now.
I even tried to find it in Ireland, I never forgot it but nearly lost my hope to find it…Now this nice surprise. Like a little Christmas present, Dolores’s voice is touching my heart again.
Many thanks from Germany to Neil Cardiff for asking you and thanks to you for listening to him and making it possible to listen to the song again on YouTube after all this time.
Last Thursday I buried my darling wife of 58 years married, and she went to your most beautiful song, The Voyage. Every word seemed to be us; even a son who mutinied but came back to us. Thank you. We the family will have lasting memories and listen when we are down.
I am reading your ‘To The Light” at present and loving how you integrated your life story with your songs. Your music is connecting with me now in a way that’s different than before…..My son John and I attended your concert in St Werburg’s Church in Jan 2014 and you signed a copy of your book for me. John loved your songs and bought a copy of your Winter album. Sadly, John passed away while running a Half Marathon on September 2015, the day before his 24th birthday. Thank God for our special evening at your concert together…
I found your website while I was looking for a song that you composed for the film Reefer and the Model. I can only say that I have been entranced by this piece of music since I was seven years old, having heard it from what became a much worn-out VHS. I remember sitting listening to it and once those few sweet moments had ended, I would diligently rewind and play the same few minutes to hear it again and again. The song crept into my memory again recently and after some searching I discovered its title to be “After the Dream”, featuring the beautiful vocals of Dolores Keane and the composition by you…..If you could tell me how I might be able to obtain it, your help would be greatly appreciated.
Please dedicate There is a Time to me when you are sending the copy I ordered. If the author of Leonard Cohen’s autobiography gave it such a recommendation, that’s good enough for me.
Kind regards and thanks a lot,
The world needs people like you to keep singing…Your songwriting and performance are vital…Please reconsider and keep playing…Much love and admiration,
I just heard your song Resurrection on the radio. Thank you for being you.
Love your music and long may you sing and compose…After a severe heart attack one of your CDs gave great comfort. Ronan Collins has always championed your superb work. If you’re ever over here, let me know. I’m 30 miles from Bristol in Taunton.
I have listened to your songs since 1990. I have purchased recently Creation via Claddagh Records.
It reminds me of how your songs are good. So I visited your website to find a bunch of albums I had missed. I have placed my order for four of your albums and your two books via PayPal. I am looking forward to listening to them.
I’m just beginning my journey with your music. I’ve not heard anything like the combination of your voice with traditional music. It’s something else; honestly lyrically captivating….”The Blight” is perfect. Your chanson style is mastered.
Johnny. I have put this up on your timeline on Facebook: Charles De Gaulle once said “Greatness needs mystery. One doesn’t admire enough what one knows too well.” The invisibleness of Johnny Duhan’s music and words to the Irish people is only equalled by the invisibleness of Skellig Michael
(I visited Ireland recently and that is sadly what I found).
I passed on a copy of your autobiography There is a Time to Sylvie Simmons (author of I’m Your Man, Leonard Cohen’s acclaimed biography) when she was in Dublin last year and I’ve just had a message from her with this response to your book: “It took me a long time to get around to reading it – you can’t imagine the pile of books and albums I have sitting in the guilt pile waiting for attention. But when I started reading it, I couldn’t put it down; he has such a way with words, simple and light to the touch on the surface but with a deal of depth and musicality. I always like books that have a sense of being composed as much as written, and I guess I tried to do that with my huge Cohen tome.”
Thank you for all of the years of your touching and inspirational poetry/music. I have seen you in the Linnenhall and the Ballina Arts Centre – simply superb in every way. I am writing to you to ask if it’s okay for me to read your poem/song The Voyage at the wedding of my eldest son, Ultan, and his bride to be, Laura. In my opinion The Voyage is the most inspirational, touching and sustaining song ever written about marriage, partnership, human contact…anywhere, in Ireland or any corner of the world…
Just received Highlights in the post. We (my wife Valerie and two great friends from Cork) were at your show in the Riverbank last weekend and really enjoyed it. As Valerie said’ “It was therapy for the soul”.
I know she will really appreciate this CD when I give it to her.
I just discovered your music. What a fascinating sound – I really, really love it.
Just sitting here enjoying your album Just Another Town and a glass of red wine. Perfect combination…Beautiful music.
When are you coming to France? Paris is still waiting for you and your lovely tunes…There were several months of silence in my life but your music is always burning in my heart and helps me in difficult moments … Thank you for it. One day, one day, the happiness will come again. No doubts about it. Believing is like to be and to live, so my faith make me still be alive.
Thank you for your musical poetry and hope to see you one day on stage or in front of me.
Have a nice day.
I need to tell you that I did not hear an album so moving as Winter in years. I listened to that whole album over and over for about, let’s say, at least 20 times in the last few weeks, and still I am moved so deeply by that sad, honest, strong yet kind of sensible and fragile songs. I did not know your music until I read Ken Bruen’s “Jack Taylor” series, so thanks needs to go to him as well…
My parents are both huge fans and they have had a rough year. I want to get them your new album but for the life of me I can’t find the album name online and I can’t ask them because I want to send it to them as a surprise. Its both of their birthdays next week, if you could get back to me and let me know I’d really appreciate it!
I have been listening to your music (through my parents) since I was young (I am 32 now.) Whereas I didn’t appreciate it when I was younger and it was on in the car when we’d be going somewhere, the older I got the more I came to understand the music and the art behind it and I would just like to say that you are a wonderful artist and a credit to us all. I see that you just played in Castlebar and I missed it, next time that you play I will bring my parents to see you.
Good luck and thank you for bringing such enjoyment to my parents through your art and, I am sure, to many many others.
After listening to your albums I need to say that there are not many authors in today’s modern and rationalized world, if at all, who would not find it too old-fashioned (not to use some other words to describe it) to sincerely and simply praise the Lord and His Creation in their songs, the way you do. Thank you for it.
Why is Just Another Town not recognized for the classic it is. Being a singer/ songwriter myself all I can say is if I could write and sing a song nearly a fraction of the lyrical quality as this I would be a very contented man. Thank you Mr Duhan.
I just want to say how much I enjoyed the concert in The Town Hall last night.
On the way out I told your son to tell you that you are getting better with age, not that I thought it was possible for you to get better.
At the end of the night you sang my favourite song of yours, In our Father’s Name. I’m not sure I have the title correct, but it was the very last one.
I hope it won’t be so long until we hear you in Galway again.
Wishing you all the best,
Great concert last night, spellbinding, thanks,
I had fallen asleep and left the radio on all night on the pillow, when at 06.15 I heard this fabulous song & jumped out of bed & down to the computer to check this out in case I forgot, no fear, this song is riveted in my memory now, a real classic, beautiful song. Absolutely hits the spot & I’m no silly kid but a 64 yr old biker…lol Thanks for making my day before I head off to a rally in Craughwell.
I hope to get to Galway to see you play on the 3rd. Your beautiful record ‘just another town’ has been a close friend to me over the years, thanks Johnny.
Johnny, I like so many of your songs, I just keep hitting replay.
Johnny, thank u so much for such a moving concert – t.g for paper tissues! The beautiful song you wrote for your lovely daughter bowled me over. I have a lovely daughter too of 17 and finding teen years so hard. I’m trying to locate the album it’s on. Thank u so much for your beautiful mind.
Good evening, Mr. Duhan. Your songs and prose really mean a lot to me. Best wishes and love from Cologne.
He weaves stories into songs, sings the story and then tells it in his wonderful unique way. Thanks Johnny, the Mermaid concert was fab, currently enjoying your book.
I am in Tennessee, just an old country boy who likes to write songs and sing beautiful songs such as yours. I sang The Voyage to my wife at our wedding and it is special to me.
Thanks and Blessings!
Without Music, Life Would Bb
Joel David McKissack
Thank you so much for the song Winter. I hope it grabs the nation’s consciousness as The Voyage did. We still have a Bard in Ireland. Well done.
Hi Johnny, thanks for tackling Our Most Pressing Problem in your song “Winter”…….As far as I know, you are our only songwriter to tackle this nightmare we are locked into. Christy and the others seem lost within snooze mode.
What a super gift, your song Winter. So true and so well crafted. Be it the huddled conversation around the fire at O’ Donohues in Fanore or the venues in Laois and elsewhere, all Irish people feel what you have put together in this wonderful song. I would love to send on the lyrics to my friends if you permit me but I understand copyrights…Together in the New Year, yes I do believe that if we all stay together as a community we will rise again. I look forward to your gig in the Dunamaise so until then may God shine his light on you and all yours..
I want to commend you for writing your latest song ” Winter ” the lyrics and the tone of your voice are sublime.
It sums up the feeling in the country at present and the economic climate we find ourselves in through no fault of our own. A generation of young and not so young people will be lost to emigration to find work. We have been betrayed by some auditors, bankers, regulators and politicians who still “scoop rewards” and to date have not paid the price we are having to pay. Singer / Songwriters and Poets like you give us a voice to be heard and listened to!!! The pen is mightier than the sword!
Long may you continue the ” Voyage ” Johnny.
Go riabh maith agat,
Tomas Mac Artuir
Your song Winter is more of what is needed. The truth needs to be out there in front of the people in words that they not only understand but in a way that is easy to listen to. Happy New Year, Johnny.
You have got your finger right on the button with your new song, Winter.
“”Mad” Magazine depicted Ireland as a land of “Rogues & Robbers” – some things never change!
Remember Johnny, what the sculptor Rodin once said… “what’s not built with time will be destroyed by time…” your work will outlast you effortlessly, be sure….”
I hope all is well with you. i’ve been listening to your music for many years. i hope you keep doing what you’re doing for a long time. i’m a guitar and cello maker, here in cork for many years and i’m making a few guitars for the u.s. at the moment and i would like to give one to you.John. no money will change hands. it’s not a promotion. maybe its a way of giving something back. i hope you will enjoy the sound.
I must be the only person in Ireland not to have known that The Voyage sung by Christy Moore was written by you. I heard it randomly three years ago in personal circumstances, and it always stuck in my head although I didn’t know anything about it except that it sounded like christy moore and the line ‘i was the sailor you’re my first mate’. i’ve constantly made mental notes to find out what it was since then. and finally found out last night through a wikipedia-train that i was right about it being christy but that you wrote it. So i just wanted to say it’s an absolutely super song, has to rank among the best irish popular songs written in the last 50 years, terrific stuff.
And the other is that I found your There Is A Time book in my folks today, and..i’m nicking it and looking forward to reading it, it looks like a great read
Best of luck with all future shows, and come and play in Dublin
I’ve been reading the Jack Taylor novels by Ken Bruen and keeps mentioning Johnny Duhan. Holy fuck do I now understand why he keeps saying his songs rip your heart out.
The song “The Voyage” you wrote has to be one of the greatest songs ever written!!!
4:57am Jan 15
You are the best songwriter I have ever come across in my life, I have you featured on Youtube with that beautiful song about your daughter, she is gorgeous. xx
I spent a few weeks taking photographs of the Tribes in the Omo Valley in Ethiopia earlier this year.
The villages were primitive and remote and the occasional shops & bars were the only sources of electricity.
One day I was astonished to hear a CD of Christy Moore playing in a shop full of half naked Mursi Tribespeople. It appears that your song ‘the Voyage’ was a favorite of one of the elders and he insisted that it was played whenever he went into the shop. So I thought you would like to know that you have fans in the most unusual places.
Johnny, Thanks for a wonderful show last Fri. I told your son Brian as I purchased CDs that the Cork Senior Ladies Football Team winners of 7 All Ireland Finals in the last 8 years, play and sing “Don’t give up till its over” from the Red Cow to Croke park each year.
Kay & Liam Sheehan
In the beginning of June my wife and visited Ireland for the first time by car. Every time I visit a country, I am very much interested in the local music. So I collect addresses from music shops all over the country. I visited the music shop from Claddagh music in the quarter of Temple Bar. I asked the man there if he knew nice acoustic/folk music. He mentioned your name and the name of Sonny Condell. He had all your Cd’s except To The Light and from Sonny Condell he had nothing. So I started listening to your music and a new world opened for me. You music sounded so familiar to me, while I had never heard it before. It is a very strange sensation that you’re feeling immediately so comfortable by hearing your music.
For me was the atmosphere your music gave, an expression from the atmosphere I experienced visiting Ireland. It seemed connected with each other. A very nice experience that our visit gave an extra impulse for me. The result was that I bought all the CD’s the man had and that I thought to look further when I was back in Holland for To The Light, which I now have.
And here I am.
With kind regards
…I am stunned at your talent, totally blown away, probably one of the most original voices ever, & yet seems like it has been around since the tree & the apple or should have been, wonderful just wonderful.
David Tenpersen, Allcante, Spain – YouTube response
I loved the CDs. They cover, I imagine,
Quite a long period of time. The songs in
“Tree” and “The Voyage” are pure gems:
Direct, concentrated and what is most
Difficult to achieve, they seem so simple,
So “out of life as it really is” of which
Nobody really sings about.
“Flame” is somewhat darker but “After the
Dream” is the lightening up that announces
The next albums.
The other albums are more mature, more
Introspective and musically more elaborate.
All your songs have a somewhat mesmerizing
Quality, you just want to keep on listening
To this music and that voice.
The only thing missing are word-sheets
Because the words are worth reading and
Thinking about. Many songs have hymn-like
Thanks again for enabling me to discover your
Songs and for being so available and welcoming.
Gil Rubinstein, France
I was wondering if there was sheet music for your song The Voyage?
It’s kind of our families theme song. My wife and I were told we would never have kids and yet the Lord has blessed us with 4. When our first was born we kind of adopted this song as our family song and it continues to be with our one girl and three boys. They are all still really young and I often sing to them before they go to bed. This is one of the songs I like to sing to them.
I don’t know if you wanted to know that little story, but there you have it.
Thanks so much.
2 minutes and 44 seconds of The Burning Word before going to work to mont saint michel…and i’m conquered !!!…. brillant…there’s something of an Anamcara in it, definitely !
Thank You Johnny for your Mystic Blue….i wish i could express how it makes me feel.
Alain Noslier, St Malo, France
Absolutely beautiful; simple, yet deep. It was Freddy White who opened us to you Johnny, and I’ve been captivated ever since.
What a truly beautiful song once again dear Johnny…
Sandra Neff, Cork
Hi Johnny, My wife bought me a copy of your album The Burning Word for Christmas. Thanks so much….nice and reflective over Christmas period (snow and all). Favorite tracks This World Is Not Conclusion, The Burning Word, and Sure Amen. Very reflective, best listened to alone so as to concentrate on lyrics.
Hi, just listened to Flame again after a long time in a western zone. It represents my life in many ways, thanks very much. Been into your music for a long time and flame always helped me.
I recently bought your new album as a Christmas present for my husband. It is a wonderful album and we have enjoyed listening to it many times over the past few weeks – thank you so much.
We live in Wiltshire and you asked me how we had heard of this album. We get regular emails from Irish Music Mail and it was on one of these that your album was highlighted. We have known your music for many years originally through Christy Moore and Mary Black. On a trip to London 15 years ago we bought your album “Just Another Town” and as a consequence quickly bought more.
We love the themes with each album and they have all given us such pleasure over the years.
The Family album in particular became very special to us when we ourselves became parents. We love all of them – the tunes and the lyrics which are so meaningful.
You are such a gifted and spiritual songwriter. It is an ambition of ours to see you Live in Ireland one day – hopefully one day we will (my mum lives in Antrim)
Thank you for the music,
Colette and Dave Williams
Hi Johnny…….I have been jumping in and out of you for many years now as far back as asking you one night at a gig in Wexford to play “Girls in my Memory”. Of course you played it but what was even better for us was that you played a full two hour set to all of four of us who turned up as your audience. Great for us the intimacy of that gig if not for your pocket. We even had a non-paying gatecrasher at the interval who swelled the audience by one but yet you played on never uttering a word of disappointment. You were a complete professional and you played with such passion and belief. Santa brought me “The Burning Word” in my stocking and all I can say is that I am amazed that you have maintained the intensity of emotion and songwriting ability that coursed your veins many years ago. The title track is absolutely the perfectly written song, precise in word and melody. It reminds me of “Benediction”, another holy song of boyhood memories. I feel it too. Thank you.
I have spent the last week listening to The Burning Word and want to say how much the songs have affected me. I haven’t been able to listen to it yet without crying (this is a good thing!!). It is a beautiful, simple, evocative collection of songs and I have rarely experienced such a personal reaction to any piece of art, poetry etc. My wife (who has also been ‘blown away’ by The Burning Word CD) finished a Masters in Spirituality recently and completed a thesis on the Mystical Journey of Leonard Cohen through his songs and lyrics commented, “maybe I need to do a PHD on Johnny Duhan”!
Thank you again for sharing your faith journey through your songs,
Just returned from my first visit to Ireland. My deceased grandparents are from there and I felt so very connected to all Irish after this visit. We stayed in Limerick. My son-in-law Padraigh Kearney from Patrick’s Well told me that it was you singing “The Burning Word” while we were sitting in a car in downtown Limerick. You touched my heart and soul with this most beautiful song. I could play it over and over. I answered the phone and a lady asked me the name of your song so that she could purchase this album.
You are a man that has been so very blessed with such beautiful tunes from our Father in Heaven. Your earthly father must look down upon you and be ever so pleased to see you helping others to our dear Father & Most Holy Mother Mary.
God Bless you and your family. A family is the greatest gift that Jesus can present to us.
Love & Prayers,
Patricia Driscoll Trapp
Erie, Pa. USA
I wanted to tell you how much your songs have blessed me and my family.
A few weeks back I got a call in Chicago to come home. My Mom had been rushed to hospital suddenly with liver failure. As it turned out it was aggressive cancer. Thank God, we made it on time and spent her last few days sitting with her in Blackrock hospice. On her last day with us we sang her favorite songs. My Dad requested that I sing ‘the voyage’, a song I had played for them once when they danced. I sang it and he wept over her. He asked me to sing it again at her funeral and there wasn’t a dry eye in the church.
Mom went to be buried in her homeplace in the country. On the night before her burial, my brother and I almost got into a fight. It was brought on by years of issues never addressed and came to a head with the pressure of Mom’s death. I went home feeling horrible. My cousin gave me your album and I read the following lines, taken from your song
In Our Father’s Name:
In the long shadow of our family tree
That darkened once the heart in me
I found good reason to believe in our frail seed
What beautiful words. They gave me such a power to forgive the hurts and recognize my own frailties that I often ignore. Thanks for sharing your gift of song writing with the world. It has been a huge blessing to me. I’m leaving for Texas tomorrow and am looking forward to listening to the full album on the long drive there. Your songs remind me of home, but I think they will also fit well with the cornfields of Illinois and the great wide open of Missouri.
God bless Johhnny. On my next trip home I hope to catch a show you may do.
Chicago (formerly Dublin)
p.s. Is the Father supposed to be God, or our Dads?
The show was fantastic it was well worth the trip. The music and your singing and also
the way you introduced each song was fantastic.Your songs touched every one that was there and my favourite was The Beacon. I met an old guy outside after the show and he was leaning against the wall, crying. I asked him was he ok and he said he was and then
he said to me “That man’s music really got to me tonight”. I had a few more words with him and then we went our separate ways. Johnny, it was for me a magic night and I hope it will not be too long before I see you again.
You have to record the duet of Flame you performed with Eleanor Shanley on the Keith Finnegan Show on Galway Bay FM for future generations to enjoy listening to it. Sublime voices and lyrics.
It is a classic
Your concert was the perfect antidote to a world gone mad. Loved the stories, the singing, the simplicity. My husband loves the melody and I love the poetry. I cried through “Your Sure Hand”. We have all had the same pain, the same joy; the same frustrations in rearing children and the same frustration with life in general. Just one man with guitar and soul made the night perfect. Thanks for that moment in time.”