Veteran Irish band Scullion are celebrating Bloomsday by releasing a new version of one of their best-known songs featuring the words of James Joyce.
The Fruit Smelling Shop, which appeared on the folk rock band's self-titled 1979 debut album, was an abstraction of the Ulysses author’s work and now it has been set to music by Scullion’s Sonny Condell, along with a specially commissioned film by Myles O’Reilly of Arbutus Yarns.
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Scullion are sharing a reimagined version of the song as part of The Bloomsday Festival, which is taking place online this year due to the pandemic.
This reimagining of The Fruit Smelling Shop came about after an invitation to Condell from Darina Gallagher, the Director of The James Joyce Centre in Dublin.
"In my role as director of the James Joyce Centre, I have been overwhelmed by the enthusiasm and appetite for Joyce, his literature, and his legacy, from a truly global audience," she said.
"As I began to think about another online Bloomsday Festival, in these strangest of times, I plucked up the courage to write to Sonny Condell and ask him if he might be interested in reimaging the Fruit Smelling Shop for this audience. To my joy, Sonny responded positively and immediately set to work.
"For Bloomsday 2021, I decided to celebrate Dublin, the place that inspired so much of Joyce's writing and in his mind, the city that Joyce never really left. The Fruit Smelling Shop captures so much of the extraordinary energy of Joyce's Dublin. I am so happy to have been a small part of this beautiful new recording."
The recording was captured at The Clinic studios in Dublin by David Anthony Curley and produced by Leon O' Neill. It features performances by Condell and his band mates, Robbie Overson and Philip King, with strings arranged by Gemma Doherty (Saint Sister) and performed by Crash Ensemble.
Speaking about how the song was written in late '70s, Condell said, "I think songs come out of the blue, either very quickly or after long and painful period of trial and error, its seems to depend very much on one’s mood. But it is very exciting when things go well, and you find you have given birth to something new.
Click here for RTÉ's dedicated Ulysses website.
"Sometimes when I’m trying to write a song, I get quite tired of my own lyrical ideas and this was the case when I opened at random a page in James Joyce’s Ulysses.
"Unusually for me I was playing around with a few piano cords at the time, (normally I use the guitar) I propped open my copy on the piano and started to try fit the words to a developing melody.
But having been asked by the James Joyce Centre to do a new version of the song, has in some way legitimised the creation of the song. I’m very grateful to the society for their interest and their support."
Scullion had asked for and received permission to use the segment when they first recorded the tune in the late seventies and the song will feature on the new Scullion album set for release this Autumn.
The new film is available to view from 7.00am on Bloomsday, Wednesday, June 16, online via the Other Voices/South Wind Blows YouTube Channel.