Like A Fire: Songs In The Key Of Life

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Gary Keane

Gary Keane

Tralee singer/songwriter, Gary Keane, aka ‘Like A Fire’, picks the soundtrack that shaped his musical outlook…

Glenn Miller Band – In The Mood

If I had to think of one of my earliest songs in memory,  it would have to be Glenn Miller’s ‘In The Mood’ when I was around nine. I remember pulling out my dad’s keyboard at home one day and setting it up.

I had learned the melody for the song already on the tin whistle in school with the Holy Family School Band and wanted to learn it on keys. My Dad showed me how to get a swing jazz backing track going in the left hand and I did the melody in the right. Needless to say, I thought I was ‘the shit’.

Gypsy Kings – Volaré/Bamboleo!

Yes, the Gypsy Kings greatest hits album came next around the same time (1995). The sound of the Spanish rhythm guitars coupled with those amazing hoarse voices had me hooked instantly, plus the tunes were ferociously catchy to sing along to.

We used to hit up Castlegregory and The Maharees in our camper van in the summertime and this was our soundtrack.

The Fugees – Fugee-La

I’ll never forget hearing Lauren Hill singing ‘Killing Me Softly’ on MTV around 1997. The emotion and honesty in her vocal resonated with me even at 10 years old.

That, coupled with the east coast hip hop drums and Praz and Wyclef rapping over it sealed the deal. I got a copy of ‘The Score’ on CD and listed to it start to finish over and over. Also check out Fugee-La, what a tune

Cypress Hill – Cypress Hill III Temples Of Boom

I’ll never forget standing in my kitchen on the night of my 12th birthday and my brother handing me a cassette tape of Cypress Hill – III: Temples Of Boom. Man, now WTF is this?!

Brash hip hop drums, dark surreal imagery all in a marijuana induced haze (which completely went over my 12 year old head), the record intrigued me! I was OBSESSED with the track ‘Make A Move’, I knew every single line of that rap and if you read the lyrics, they were pretty out there.

Rage Against The Machine – Rage Against The Machine

I’m with my mother in Roxy Records. She has been sent by my brother to pick up a CD with a ‘burning man’ on the front of it. I get home and have a listen. What I experienced will stay with me for the rest of my life.

How can you put the intensity of this record into words. The rage in Zach De La Rocha’s vocal, the funk, the metal, the anger, the sheer energy of it all! If you haven’t hear this record, you’ve probably been stranded on a desert island.

Metallica – Master Of Puppets

Wow, what can I say about the influence that Metallica had on me as a teenager. I was a super-fan. They made me want to play guitar. I had my own Metallica fan website at 13 years old (who remembers Geocities page-builder??).

I also had an array of t-shirt, hoodies, you name it! It’s impossible to pick just one defining song although my introduction to Metallica was an unlikely one. My friend Adam Springshowed me ‘Fuel’ from the album ReLoad and I was sold. I think the album that most stands out to me is Master Of Puppets. It’s nothing short of a masterpiece.


I couldn’t do a music piece without mentioning my first band – Aphid (circa 2001). We were four young lads from Kerry, based firstly in ‘The Loft’ in Ballyard and soon after in a house in Curraheen.

I was heavily into Sepultura, Pantera and Slayer at this stage and some of the other lads were into Tool and At The Drive In so we had an eclectic pool of influences to draw from. It was, however, the songs we wrote ourselves that influenced and impacted us the most because we got to come together, create them ourselves and play them live!

We played all over Ireland in Kerry, Cork, Dublin and Waterford, recorded two EP’s in Dublin, supported Raging Speedhorn and INME and were famously banned from the Guinness Gig Rig at Puck Fair after Billy smashed his guitar on stage and invited a travelling nomad, heavily under the influence of a plethora of substances, onto stage. Good times. We wrote songs like ‘Proud Of Rejection’, ‘Hate And Compassion’ and ‘Burden’. These were some of the best years of my life.

(Sadly, no video evidence)

James Brown – In The Jungle Groove

Having binged on so much metal in my teenage years, it was time for a shakeup (circa 2005). The first album that steered the ship towards Funk Island was Stevie Wonder’s Definitive Collection Disk 2. The first four tracks on that record are: ‘Superstition’, ‘Sir Duke’, ‘I Wish’ and ‘Masterblaster’. Holy shit!

They had this infectious groove that made you feel amazing plus Stevie’s vocal and arrangement of the tunes was sheer perfection. From there I discovered bands like Parliament Funkadelic and Earth Wind & Fire (who I had the pleasure of meeting last year). Funk/Soul was now my jam and to this day, I still can’t get enough of it! Listen to the drum/bass/percussion break in ‘Give It Up Or Turn It Loose’ from the record ‘In The Jungle Groove’ by James Brown. This is pure happiness to me.

Béla Fleck & The Flecktones – Live At The Quick

By 2005 I was in college doing Music, Management & Sound Engineering in Stiofán Naofa, Cork and was being exposed to lots of different music and people.

It was amazing! Having gone through the largely mundane and creatively oppressive leaving cert, I finally felt like I was at home! It was around this time that I was at a friends house and he was playing a DVD of Béla Fleck and The Flecktones called Live At The Quick. My jaw nearly hit the floor.

A must watch for musicians. My favorite song of there’s would have to be ‘Stomping Grounds’ followed by ‘Big Country’ – it still hits me right in my chest when I hear the melody. Simply beautiful.

Dr Dre/Snoop – The Chronic/Doggystyle

Around the age of 20, I was fully immersed in all types of music. I listened to lots of world music, namely Buena Vista Social Club and The Afro-Cuban All Stars, Tinariwen etc. However, I was still really interested in Hip-Hop from my younger years and decided to pick up copies of Dre’s ‘The Chronic’ and Snoop Dogg’s ‘Doggystyle’. These two albums are masterpieces in my opinion!

The West Coast sound has a definite place in my heart and traveling to LA earlier this year and getting to work with some of the people who worked on these records was unforgettable!

Like A Fire – Black Dog

The rest of the years leading up to this point have been far too varied to categorise. I have been fortunate enough to be still fully immersed in music and continue to play live shows on a regular basis and write and produce on a daily basis.

I have been performing under the name ‘Like A Fire’ for the past three years and am now at the beginning stages of releasing new material with a full band based on what I learned on my recent trip to LA, working with producers and engineers over there.

Music has and always will be the driving force in my life, it can evoke an emotion in a number of seconds. The melody of ‘Nearer My God To Thee’ will always make me feel my mother’s presence.

Nothing else has that power. Music was there long before I was born and will help soothe the pain of all the loved ones I leave behind when I die, and for that, I am truly grateful. 

• Gary Keane continues to write, produce and record music and will be launching a new live band in the coming weeks.

One Comment

  1. David Lyons says:

    Nice piece Gary and I’d agree regarding Bela Fleck. A must watch for any musician.