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Protest songs and confessional comedy (E315)

“Come Out Ye Black and Tans” is Dominic Behan’s timeless song against the auxiliaries deployed by the British in the final years of their rule in Ireland. It was fired back into the news and to the top of the download charts as far away as Australia last week due to a controversial decision by the Irish Taoiseach, Leo Varadkar, to commemorate members of the Royal Irish Constabulary who died in Ireland’s War of Independence.

The success of the re-issued song raises questions about the power of protest music decades after protest songs fell out of favor. Gerry O’Boyle has been at the center of Irish cultural life in England for a long time and knows a thing or two about music. So, we invited him into the Sputnik studio to discuss music made out of struggle.

A working-class hero is something to be, to be sure. But there’s not many of them in the entertainment industry. Something about the popular image of air-kissing and the ‘luvviness’ of it all tends to marginalize and alienate most steelworkers and the like. So, what can be said about a steelworker who writes and performs work that packs them in at the Edinburgh Festival and has Hollywood beginning to nibble at his edges? Chris McGlade’s hard-hitting show ‘Forgiveness’ is a homage to his murdered father and has been called a masterclass “confessional comedy.” So, we invited him to take a seat on the Sputnik sofa and tell us how writing the show helped him lay to rest the ghosts of his past.

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