In 1998 I packed a bag and hopped on a plane to Europe. I had scant plans. I was armed with a guide book, a booklet of train tickets and a heaping helping of youthful exuberance. I railed from Sweden to Denmark, Germany, Netherlands, Belgium, England, Ireland, France, and then back up through Belgium, Netherlands, Germany, Denmark and back to Sweden. Travelling by train was a frustrating, cold, uncomfortable, noisy, and amazing way of travelling. I met weird people (I love meeting weird people), saw a lot of countryside (often at night), half-slept because of upcoming stations, accidentally went to the wrong country once, and, rather intimidatingly, had an asylum seeker pulled out of my train compartment when he couldn’t produce a passport for the border guard.
I went to a lot of places. I spent many nights in many hostels. Many I remember for terrible reasons – they’re fun to recall, and make for decent stories at times. This is about a hostel I remember for good reasons. My favourite, ever. It was a small hostel in County Kerry, Ireland. It’s the Sugan in Killarney. Killarney is a quaint village. It has castles and pubs and hills to ramble in. The hostel is next to a pub. When I was there, the owner of the hostel, Pa (pronounced like the Pa in Patrick, not the Pa in Grandpa), enjoyed the pub next door. The pub enjoyed Pa and all his hosteleers. We would go to the pub, buy a couple of trays of pints, balance them back to the hostel and sip away infront of the coke-fired fire. We shared stories and songs.
Pa knew thousands. He could remember stories and lyrics like no other. He wasn’t too crash hot on remembering the tune, but it didn’t matter when most of them I was hearing for the first time. He sang a song called Rosy and Grey by a Canadian band called The Lowest of the Low. I think he liked it because it’s a little rude. It stuck with me, and I hunted for this album for years and years. I couldn’t find it in shops in Australia. I couldn’t find it online.
It would have been 10 years after the trip and this album was still haunting me. I couldn’t find it anywhere. When I ended up going on a wine-tasting tour with a random (weird) Canadian that I met at a tram stop, I decided to skip my usual get-in-the-good-books-with-the-Canadian routine (it’s a secret, can’t tell you what it is) and went straight for the big question. “Do you have Shakespeare, My Butt on your iPod?”.
I stole it.
I lined up Rosey and Grey and it was glorious. Significantly different to Pa’s version, but the words were still the same and I was instantly transported back to the little hostel in Killarney. Guinness on the table. Guitars in hand. Fucking cold outdoor showers.
Music moves me further and faster than anything else. People talk about smells bringing back memories. For me it’s music.
You can look up Rosey and Grey yourselves on Youtube. To the right I’m embedding my favourite track from the album.