Thursday 22 August 2019

John Daly: 'Lyric is 20? That's music to our ears'

Notebook

'That daily moment of euphonious bliss is waking up to the dulcet tones of Marty Whelan' Photo: Kieran Harnett
'That daily moment of euphonious bliss is waking up to the dulcet tones of Marty Whelan' Photo: Kieran Harnett

John Daly

This week will see us greeting another of those "Surely it can't be 20 years!" moments, when RTÉ's Lyric fm celebrates two decades as the nation's go-to chill pill. Firmly established as the musical sanctuary where bills, begrudgery and bad vibes are forbidden, Lyric is that rare high-flying cultural bird - a bolthole from the asylum of life. Fittingly, the station will mark its longevity with a gala concert this Wednesday where works by masters like Mozart, Mahler and Mussorgsky will waft us to higher realms of consciousness and joy.

All of us have our Lyric spaces, it seems, those times of the day where a cup of coffee, a glass of wine or a bit of peace form the backdrop to allow the harmonious happiness waft us away on a magic carpet of melodic interludes.

For myself, that daily moment of euphonious bliss is waking up to the dulcet tones of Marty Whelan, that fellow wearer of upper lip foliage whose smooth delivery calmed even the howls of Storm Hannah.

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Every day in his company really is a Marty Party, a locale where misery is daily overthrown in a beguiling coup of inimitable wit and wisdom. And indeed if anyone has earned the right to occasionally dwell in the doldrums of despondency, it would be Marty - whose career dip with Century Radio in 1989 saw his prominence as one of Ireland's most recognised faces reduced to joining the dole office queue and Daz adverts to survive.

Oh yeah, Marty's paid his dues along the road alright, and that's part of why we love him. Plato, the Athenian philosopher, believed that "music gives a soul to the universe, wings to the mind, flight to the imagination and life to everything". It is a sentiment shared by that more modern of scholars, Keith Richards: "Music is a language that doesn't speak in particular words - it speaks in emotions. And if it's in the bones, it's in the bones."

It does seem, though, that the old phrase 'music soothes the savage beast' really does have genuine application, particularly in terms of its clinical benefits. Music therapy has long been employed by medical organisations like the HSE and NHS, fashioning its expressive elements as a communication bridge between patient and counsellor.

The beautiful concoction of form, harmony and expressed emotion enables it to provide a fertile environment where social skills, motivation and self-esteem are improved. Even in the front line of care, therapists across the health service use music to reduce pain perception, as evidenced by one study showing it helped diminish the awareness of pain when receiving stitches, assisted recovery in the early stages of stroke, and decreased the agitation of dementia.

Bob Marley's famous observation underlines the healing power of melodic bliss: "One good thing about music, when it hits you, you feel no pain."

Happy birthday, Lyric - here's to the next 20.

I'd follow Greta into global warming battle

I've got a new hero in my life - Greta Thunberg, the 16-year-old Swedish climate activist who's destined to have as big an impact on the world as Abba.

She's the mistress of a dying art - telling it like it is. "You lied to us, you gave us false hope," she told the British parliament in a fiery speech. "You told us that the future was something to look forward to."

And proving she's got political smarts as well, she added: "Did you hear me, is my English OK? Because I'm beginning to wonder..."

You're a Super Trouper, Greta - I'd follow you anywhere.

Irish Independent

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