John Kelly

Happy Birthday Philip Glass. Here’s something he said to me some years ago in an Irish Times interview. We were talking about that cursed gulf people always like to dig between popular music and “serious”concert music.

“Popular music always had a certain appeal to me but I also felt the challenge of concert music. And I had more of an aptitude for it. In a funny way, in my mature... years I was able to meet up with people in the world of popular music and find that it has not been a very hard bridge to cross. Over the past ten years I have written with people like Suzanne Vega, Natalie Merchant, Michael Stipe and Paul Simon and I wouldn’t be doing it if I wasn’t interested in it. I’m especially interested in certain composers like Brian Eno, David Bowie and Zappa. And this is something I’m fond of saying about talent. It’s the most democratic aspect of humanity. It turns up anywhere – without benefit of university degrees, regardless of skin colour, gender or age. Talent is just talent. Whether it’s John Lennon or Paul Simon you can put them up against someone of any genre, whether it’s Strauss or Mahler, and you can’t say who is the better songwriter. And I would be very reluctant to say that the guy with the conservatory degree is the better songwriter. It might not be true.” 

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