Glen Hansard is at the mid-career place in his work, where he is looking back at an extraordinary life in music and envisaging the work ahead.
He grew up in Ballymun on Dublin's northside in a family of singers and famously left school when he was in his early teens to become a busker on Grafton Street. "I was a messer, I was beginning to do things I'm not proud of," Glen tells fellow singer Iarla Ó Lionáird in Vocal Chords, a new music special for RTÉ Lyric fm, "and then music came and music just pulled me into a whole other place. I spent two years in my bedroom, I just locked myself in, learning Bob Dylan songs. He became the thing I obsessed on."
Glen Hansard went on the star in Alan Parker's film The Commitments, the Roddy Doyle story of a soul band emerging from the towers in Ballymun, but at the same time his own band The Frames were already finding fame and an audience. In a remarkable twist, Glen describes how he literally ran into Bob Dylan in Grafton Street, and how another chance meeting the following day brought an invitation for The Frames to support Dylan in London.
He pointed his life's arrow, he says at the trinity of Dylan, Van Morrison and Leonard Cohen, and describes how another chance encounter with Cohen, when Cohen played at the National Stadium, confirmed that what he wanted was to be like them and take his place on the 'tower of song'.
In an extraordinary open exploration of his life and work Glen talks of the song he wrote for his late father, Didn't He Ramble and performs it in his kitchen for Iarla:
Glen went on to win, with his then partner Markéta Irglová, an Oscar for best song for Falling Slowly from the film Once, and describes how Bruce Springsteen sat him down after the win to talk about how success changes things. "He was the most generous of all with his time".
Glen's new album Between Two Shores is due out in January 2018, but last Christmas he took on a far more public role as an advocate for homelessness through the Home Sweet Home initiative. In this special edition of Vocal Chords, Iarla Ó Lionáird's music series on RTÉ Lyric fm, Glen talks frankly of that experience and why he felt compelled to take action on homelessness.
Vocal Chords In Conversation with Glen Hansard, lyric fm, Sunday October 29th at 6pm. Listen to previous episodes of Vocal Chords here.