About Michael O'Neill

Showcasing a new collection with a previously un-released Townes Van Zandt song as the title track, this singer/songwriter with a “roots-rock” history and a soulful ease carries his listener into a time and place reminiscent of steel strings, guitar heroes, and great story-tellers like Johnny Cash and Willie Nelson. One of 13 children, he got started in music early. At the age of 24, he cut his teeth opening his first tour for a then-unknown band called U2.

By the time the tour ended in Los Angeles, O'Neill found himself signed with legendary manager Don Arden, (father of Sharon Osbourne). O'Neill put together a band that featured a young John Shanks, (now superstar producer of Sheryl Crow, Alanis Morrisette, Vertical Horizon, etc.), Kenny Gradney (Little Feat), and jazz saxophonist, Boney James.

He spent the better part of the next ten years touring with the likes of Stevie Ray Vaughn and penning songs with Bob Weir, Steve Cropper (Booker T. and The MG's), and Jason Scheff (Chicago).

Part country crooner, part haggard storyteller, O'Neill makes a noise that is refreshingly classic.

Wednesday, May 20, 2009

The Lyrics of Townes Van Zandt

Townes was, I think, a poet first and kick-ass musician second; though undoubtedly some would disagree. His guitar skills almost make me disagree. However, when I look at songs like this, I can't help but insist that it's the poet that shone through most when he was speaking his mind. Here's how he looked at a game of 5 card stud:

Mr. Mudd and Mr. Gold
(Townes Van Zandt)

Well, the wicked King of Clubs awoke; it was to his Queen he turned,
His lips were laughin' as they spoke; his eyes like bullets burned.
"The sun's upon a gamblin' day." His Queen smiled low and blissfully.
"Let's make some wretched fool to pay." Plain it was she did agree.

He sent his deuce down into diamond, his four to heart, and his trey to spade,
Three kings with their legions come and preparations soon were made.
They voted Club the day's commander. Give him an army, face, and number;
All but the outlaw Jack of Diamonds and the aces in the sky.

Well, he give his sevens first instruction: "Spirit me a game of stud
Stakes unscarred by limitation 'tween a man named Gold and a man named Mudd."
And Club filled Gold with greedy vapors 'till his long green eyes did glow.
Mudd was left with the sighs and trembles, watchin' his hard earned money go.

Flushes fell on Gold like water; tens they paired and paired again,
But the aces only flew through heaven and the diamomand friend.
The diamond Queen saw Mudd's ordeal; began to think of her long lost son,
Fell to her knees with a mother's mercy; Prayed to the angels, everyone.

The diamond queen, she prayed and prayed and the diamond angel filled Mudd's hole
Then the wicked King of Clubs himself fell face down in front of Gold.
Now three kings come to Club's command, but the angels from the sky did ride;
Three kings up on the streets of gold; three fireballs on the muddy side.

The club Queen heard her husband's call, but Lord, that Queen of Diamond's joy
When the outlaw in the heavenly hall turned out to be her wanderin' boy.
Now Mudd, he checked, and Gold bet all; Mudd he raised, and Gold did call
And his smile just melted off his face when Mudd turned over that Diamond Ace.

Now here's what this story's told: You feel like Mudd, you'll end up Gold;
Feel like lost, you'll end up found, so Amigo, lay them raises down.

Monday, May 18, 2009

A Van Zandt-ecdote

Mike got this letter from a Facebook friend this morning and we thought you all might enjoy it:

Subject: bizarre

Hi Michael,

Re your status update:

I was having a Townes Van Zandt weekend alone...lovin it...and mentioned it to my friend and told him a story of when Townes came over here with John Stewart and Guy Clark. After the show Townes sat with me in the hotel bar, just me, him, John Stewart and the barman...and sang Springsteens' "Racing In The Streets" ...TO ME!!!
At the time (early 90s) i didnt realise the hugeness of the moment but now i realise what a privelage it was and hold it dear in my memory.

Just thought I would share this with yoiu as your status update mentions that song...and its just a little spooky considering I've not even thought about that song for years then in the space of one weekend I hear it in my head and you write it on your page.

Hope youre well
Greetings from London UK