Ian O’Doherty: Songs In The Key Of Life

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Ian O’Doherty

Tralee singer/songwriter, Ian O’Doherty picks the songs and albums that have soundtracked his life

1995 – Who Remembers “Curtained” Hair? Anybody?? The first cassette (google it) I ever bought was ‘Mysterious Girl’ by Peter Andre. The worst possible first purchase ever for a boy who would eventually become a musician. Like, EVER! If I could travel back in time I’d demand an apology from the younger, nine year old me (head to toe in an Umbro tracksuit that looked more like a onesie and the famous “curtained” hair) and try to talk some sense in to him. Although, I’m not so sure he’d listen.

1998 – The Teenage Angst Begins In Ernest…

‘Jagged Little Pill’ was released by Alanis Morrissette in 1995 but I wasn’t allowed get a copy until I was 12 on account of its mildly mature content. I remember sitting in the back of the father’s car with my walkman (google it) blaring all 12 tracks of this record on repeat, with the crankiest face on me, cursing the parents for forcing the obligatory Sunday drive upon my tortured soul that longed for independence. I now enjoy Sunday drives…

2001 – Do Irish people make good music too?! Oh.

Paddy Casey released his debut album ‘Amen (So Be It)’ in ’99 but, again, I got to it a couple of years late. Some of the more stripped backed tracks on this like ’Sweet Suburban Sky’ soundtracked some of those seemingly endless and formative summer evenings through my teenage years. That track was also one of the first songs I ever learned to play on guitar, a year or two later. I still listen to and enjoy this record and, as luck would have it, I now have the same agent as Paddy and have been fortunate enough to play support to him recently.

2004 – The Angst Returns!

Around the time I was finishing school and starting college, I got a hold of ‘Ten’ by Pearl Jam. I was also in my first band at the time (we went by a wildly inappropriate name) and this record massively influenced my first fumbling attempts at songwriting. For me this album is a calling card for 90’s Seattle grunge (others may disagree on account of its commercial success) and a ‘must-have’ for all teenage rockers forming their first bands.


2006 – James Taylor? Really!?

I spent my three years studying music in Colaiste Stiofan Naofa in Cork tirelessly trying to convince my peers that James Taylor had more to offer than they thought. It’s not until the last year or two that some of them (like, one or two of them) having begun to agree. While at CSN, my output as a musician gradually changed from Grunge/Hard Rock to Folk/Country. That’s a pretty extreme change in such a short period (Lynyrd Skynyrd did provide a useful segway) but, at the time for me, there was something so pure, simple and logical in creating songs of that style. I can’t pick just one record from Taylor’s prolific discography so the two I’d recommend are ’Sweet Baby James’ (1970) and ‘Hourglass’ (1997).

2007 – The College Bubble Bursts…

I finished college in 2007 and went to work for one of Tralee’s old music stores, Roxy Records, in Cork. While there, I got my hands on so many good records and got to listen to them all day, everyday. The one that stands out for me in this period of my life was ‘Tour De Floc’ by Bell X1. For me, this is still one of the finest live albums ever produced. It came with a free DVD of the show too which was recorded live at the Point (now the O2) in 2006. I’ve always been a big fan of Bell X1 and they’re as good now as they were when their debut album ‘Floc’ came out in 2005. Interestingly enough, most of the members were all in a band called Juniper (remember ‘Ask The Weatherman’?!) that featured a younger Damien Rice on lead vocals, before Bell X1 formed.

2014 – Present Day. So much has happened in the last few years. I now run my own record label called ‘Fat Of The Land Records’ with my fiancé Ali Keane and release my own music through it. We’re on the road nearly every week travelling the length and breadth of the country playing gigs and meeting heads from all over, trying to bring my music to a wider audience. If I could choose one album that would define this period of personal and professional growth it would be Bon Iver’s self titled album ‘Bon Iver’ from 2011. Soon after Ali and I met, we drove from Tralee to Barcelona. I’d just bought this record and gave it its first spin while driving through France. We reached a crest in the road near Paris from which we could see miles upon miles of sunflowers every which way we looked. ‘Holocene’ was playing in the speakers at the time and it helped form a very vivid and dear memory that I don’t think I’ll ever forget. Each time I listen to that particular track, I can still see the flat fields of sunflowers stretching out to the horizon, I can feel the warm sun beating down through the car’s windscreen and I can see us headed for Barcelona without a care in the world. We plan to go up the aisle to that same song in September of this year.

* Ian O’Doherty releases his new single ‘Woven’ on May 16th. For more visit www.ianodoherty.com
Do You Want To Share Your Musical Odyssey With Us? Email news@traleetoday.ie


  1. Ah, Ian…while it isn’t true that you can teach an old dog new tricks, it is abundantly clear that a young dog acquires new tricks on their way to being an old dog… As the owner of a 12″ vinyl version of Tarzan Boy by Baltimora (don’t google it – some sins need to remain buried!) i’ve served my time in Perdition and via Bon Iver Bon Iver, I strive toward redemption. Should be in everyone’s collection.. rage hard… and Be Well

  2. John Buggy says:

    Not too shabby a selection there Ian…you covered a lot of ground from Allanis to Pearl Jam and on to Bon Iver..some nice memories in there too. Glad to see James Taylor made the cut even if it took you a while to convince your comrades. We are not responsible for our pre-adolescent musical crimes (…but ‘Tarzan Boy’ John! C’mon…!) As for Peter Andre…he did have great abs…