Martin Hurley: Songs In The Key Of Life

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Martin HurleyMartin Hurley is a well known face that has played the pubs of Tralee. He’s also a member of the Contempory Folk outfit Oracle. Here is a selection of the songs that shaped his musical outlook…

Dire Straits – Brothers in Arms

Where It Began

One of my earliest memories was of an LP cover – of which there were hundreds in our house – which simply had a shining steel guitar on a sky blue cover.

It captured my attention even though I hadn’t a clue what it was or what it did. In all probability it was a new Frisbee or a fancy plate, but the reality was so much more exciting.

It was ‘Brothers In Arms’ by Dire Straits and upon hearing it and consequently playing it to death, I wanted to be a guitarist like Mark Knopfler (still nowhere near him to date). My stand out track is Brothers In Arms which always brings my youth to mind.

Mike Oldfield – Tubular Bells

Who Is That????

My next life-changing album was by a young musical phenomenon called (snigger) Mike Oldfield. I bought this CD with my own money because I had simply heard of the title somewhere before and the artwork was interesting. The album was Tubular Bells, a twenty-five minute long work of pure joy to my young ears.

He played every instrument (over 30) by himself on the album and I thought I was the first person in the world to hear it. Turns out it was over 20 years old then and hugely popular by the time I discovered it, but that didn’t really matter.

What really mattered was the fact that now I wanted to be a musician, not just a bad guitarist, a bad musician too! It is the only album I can still listen to without the cursed musician’s ears.

Oh, and some movie called ‘The Exorcist’ used it as its soundtrack.

Counting Crows – Raining in Baltimore

Thanks Stephen.

In my teens I tried to buy two CDs every week. Nothing was off limits to add to my collection, from Metallica to Joni Mitchell. In my pursuit of Green Day’s “Dookie”, my friend and drummer in our little band, Stephen, told me that he’d heard this song called ‘Mr Jones’ and I absolutely had to find it and buy it.

I found the album and bought it, just for that one song he wanted to hear. Every song on the album was better than the last and I’m not kidding.

“August and Everything After” by the Counting Crows got me interested in music production, something I find fascinating and I rank it in my Top 5 albums of all time. My favourite track is ‘Raining In Baltimore’.

Radiohead – Street Spirit (Fade Out)

Time For Teenage Hormones

In my not so humble opinion, the single greatest album of all time, is ‘The Bends’ by Radiohead and that’s all there is to it. I needed this album so much as a teenager that I think I bought it over five times in all as my friends would borrow it and never return it. And who could blame them after all?

It roars to life with the first track ‘Planet Telex’, which elevates you to the stratosphere, kicks you about the place for a while, then apologises for it all after by laying you back down softly to earth with ‘Street Spirit (Fade Out)’.

If I could play with any band in the world it would be Radiohead. I’ve seen them three times live in the hope they ask me to play the triangle for them. And no, I don’t find that sad at all – everyone should be able to play the triangle.

Cyndi Lauper – True Colors


It would be an injustice to not include some of the female musicians in my all-time faves, as my favourite cover versions I play live around the town are always the songs that should be sang by a woman.

Ask me in the right frame of mind at a gig (DON’T!) and you’d be surprised by my sheer audacity and reckless abandon as I belt out Taylor Swift (oh yeah!), Katy Perry (nice!), Alanis (you go girl!) and this little gem which sits proudly at the top of the class as probably the best song anyone has ever written for somebody in need of a little support.

Straight As for you Cyndi Lauper for ‘True Colors’, my favourite song by a female artist.

Pearl Jam – Nothingman

Music for my Soul.

I realised just now that chronologically, my list lost its way a bit, but to be honest I believe that the music that you listened to from your early teens to young adulthood defines you as an adult. I can always go back and listen to the stuff I enjoyed as a teenager and never cringe or pass judgement on it.

Some modern music still gets me going, but I never give it much of a chance when I compare it to my own personal favourites from yesteryear. However, none can come close to the last song on my little nostalgia- based list of songs.

I never like to pick a favourite song in the world because, well, it seems impossible to really, but…..if asked to sing my favourite song in the whole wide world and also handed a six string guitar…..I will always without fail play “Nothing Man” by Pearl Jam and I don’t really have to explain that do I? Just listen to it!!

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