It was with great sadness that I read of the passing of the Irish singer-songwriter, Christie Hennessy, just before Christmas. Christie was truly an original voice, whose songs are as instantly identifiable as his tender and delicately endearing vocals. Christie's songs are permeated with an affable warmth and humour that make the listener feel immediately at ease. It is Christie's insightful observations of every day life that makes for a compelling listen, as I remarked in my review of Christie's last album, Stories For Sale; "Christie displays a talent for making the ordinary appear extraordinary." It is this sensitive treatment of every man's everyday life that makes Christie's songs so engaging, reaching out to so many and striking that all important chord.
Christie always had the appearance of a relatively shy man, with his lyrics portraying a humbling air of humility. "Just Another Man," the opening track to his last album, Stories For Sale, is one example of this; "Oh I am just another man, doing what I can, when I can." It is however no coincidence that when this particular man did what he could, when he could, hearts were stirred and souls were soothed by the sheer poetry and poignancy that poured forth.
In one of his best loved songs, "Roll Back The Clouds," Christie intelligently dissects the shallowness of fame and the music business, portraying the superficial nature of an obsession with celebrity at the expense of talent. In today's world full of reality television and cynically manufactured music, where celebrity and talent have never been further apart, its narrative is all the more immediate. Of course, in Christie's inimitable manner, this message isn't preached or delivered forcefully, but served up with a gentle self-deprecating humour. It is also this song that holds the line "…and yet I gave my heart to every part," something of which one can be absolutely certain when listening to the formidable body of work that Christie leaves behind. There appear to be fewer artists these days who can wholeheartedly declare that they give of their heart in their work, and this is perhaps the saddest aspect of the loss of the utterly genuine article that was Christie Hennessy.
For me, the most important song of Christie's will always be "Love Belongs To Everyone," from his 1994 album, Lord Of Your Eyes. This has to be one of the most thoughtful and moving songs I've ever heard, with Christie homing in flawlessly on the insecurities of life, repeating the reassuring refrain that "love belongs to everyone," gently encouraging you to realise that this may well be all that matters in today's over-complicated, world typified by greed and disrespect.
It is with a heavy but grateful heart that I will always treasure the songs of Christie Hennessy, and they will always be held in my deepest affections.
Rest in peace Christie.
You'll wonder how you made it through it all,
Through evil minds, cheating and lying,
Each step you take is nearer to a fall,
But love belongs to everyone…"
(from "Love Belongs To Everyone")