It has been a big year for old songs being revived by TV shows, and fans of Cork’s most famous musical son will be hoping he can follow the success of Kate Bush and her Netflix-inspired second coming.
A tune from the late Rory Gallagher and his seminal band Taste feature on the soundtrack to hit TV series Irma Vep, starring Alicia Vikander.
I’m Moving On, originally written and released by Canadian-American country star Hank Snow in 1950, was covered on Taste’s self-titled debut album in 1969, and it’s this version that pops up in episode four of the Paris-set show.
The track is quite an obscure choice and it hasn’t yet been revealed how it appeared on the series currently showing on Sky Atlantic/Now. Could Vikander have been introduced to the wonders of Gallagher by her Kerry husband Michael Fassbender? Or did the track come via Thurston Moore, the ex-Sonic Youth member who also composed the score for Irma Vep?
The latter seems more likely, not least as the American musician is well versed in Irish music, and even spent part of his own visit to Gallagher’s hometown in August 1991 searching through the shelves in local record stores such as Comet and Leeside (‘The Swap Shop’).
Whatever about how the song ended up in the TV show, we do know how Gallagher first heard it. Rory’s older brother Donal reveals that it was part of the repertoire of their uncle, James Roche, who had spent several years in America.
“Jim was a big inspiration for us when we were kids, and we’d have heard him singing I’m Moving On at family gatherings as his party piece. Including it on the Taste album was a bit of a nod to him,” says Donal, adding that he's delighted it has been included in Irma Vep.
Roche had emigrated to America, spending some of his time working in the car plant in Detroit set up by Henry Ford, and becoming a big fan of the music he heard during his time in the US. He went on to become a physicist, and was the first principal of Cork Regional Technical College (later renamed Cork Institute of Technology and Munster Technological University), a facility that still bears Rory Gallagher’s name on its theatre.
I’m Moving On was also covered by the likes of Ray Charles, and the Rolling Stones. The latter group played the tune on their 1965 tour, which included a famous gig at the Savoy in Cork that both the Gallagher brothers attended.
While Rory is primarily associated with blues and rock, his version of I’m Moving On is a reminder of his wider tastes, and Donal recalls how this aspect of his brother’s music was remarked on by a particularly illustrious commentator.
“When the Rolling Stones were planning to set up their own label, Keith Richards said there were two artists they particularly wanted to sign – Peter Tosh and Rory Gallagher,” says Donal. “Richards went on to praise Rory for having such a good feel for the links between blues music and country music.”
But could I’m Moving On’s inclusion in Irma Vep lead to a Rory Gallagher revival similar to Kate Bush's? Stranger Things have happened.
- Episodes of Irma Vep screen on Sky Atlantic on Tuesdays, or the entire series is available to stream on Sky Now