INTERNATIONALLY acclaimed songwriter/producer Don Mescall produced Christy Dignam’s first solo album ‘The Man Who Stayed Alive’.
The Aslan front man has delivered a poignant and moving collection of songs with Don Mescall recording his voice in Christy’s kitchen and at Mescall’s studios, recently relocated to Quivvy Church in County Cavan.
Originally from Ahane, Don Mescall has worked with Rascal Flatts, Geri Halliwell,Paul McCartney, Nick Mason, Albert Lee, Backstreet Boys, Frances Black, Cliff Richard, Sharon Corr and Richie Havens to name a very few and has amassed over 16 million hits and counting on YouTube for his compositions.
Don had previously worked with Aslan as the writer of the number one song ‘Too Late for Hallelujah’ and had a top five hit with ‘Catch Your Fall’.
It was from Christy’s long established and often turbulent career that Don drew inspiration from for the creation of these songs.
“I can’t tell you how much making my solo album has lifted my spirits”, Christy reported on the recent release. The album was made when he was well enough to record in between chemotherapy sessions which he is currently receiving for a terminal illness.
Don left his studios based in Greenwich Village in London in 2020 to relocate to a church built in 1856 in County Cavan.
“I had those studios for seven years and I was sorry to go. It was one of those things, you’re a survivor and I thought to myself, perhaps it’s time to focus on converting this old building into a home.”
Don established his studio and home and had time to work on new music when Christy Dignam reached out to him in late 2020.
“He said it was on his bucket list to make a solo record.
“I ended up writing my own songs for the album, took time to read Christy’s autobiography and focus on his life.”
The title of the album comes from a concert that Don played five years ago to raise funds for Christy when the Aslan frontman was very sick at that time. At that show Don met a journalist who told him that he had already written Christy’s obituary.
“I was absolutely stunned by that.The thought stuck with me and that’s what inspired the title track, The Man That Stayed Alive.
“It’s a legacy album which is in one way sad, but I’m delighted to have been a part of it.”
Among all the new tracks, there is a powerful cover version of Leonard Cohen’s So Long Marianne. “He loves that song and he “Christy-fied” if that is a word.
“It was definitely a learning curve for me. Christy is his own man and he doesn’t suffer fools, in a good way.
“Towards the end of the recording because of his illness he couldn’t make it down to Cavan so I recorded the last four songs in his kitchen which was challenging, if you listen back you might hear sounds from his lovely back garden, the odd bark or the kettle going on. I tried to get those sounds out but some are still there.” laughs
As they recorded the album Christy was undergoing chemotherapy sessions which left him very tired and only able to work for a limited amount of time.
“I used to call it the magic window. Basically you have an hour and within that hour he has energy. Then he could go upstairs and lie down or have a coffee in his chair for a while
It was pretty incredible, if it was a film it would make a good watch.”
Don is also completing a new solo album due for release in 2022 called Seven Setting Suns and he describes it as the biggest project he has ever done.
“It is very much a world music album. It features Muhammad Al-Hussaini who’s the professor of Islamic studies in Westminster singing an Islamic lullaby at the beginning of one of the songs and last week I had a 35 piece orchestra recording strings.”
“It’s taken three years and now I am in the final stages of mixing it.”
Much to look forward to in the new year from the hard working man of music from Ahane, with a show here in Limerick also a priority for 2022.
In the meantime Christy Dignam’s album ‘The Man Who Stayed Alive’ is an inspiring listen, now available on Sony.