Dan Hegarty’s new book dips into the record collections of Cillian Murphy and other celebrities, as well as his own, writes Jonathan deBurca Butler
RECEIVED wisdom has it that there is never a right time to write a book. In the last year, 2FM DJ Dan Hegarty has juggled his radio work and life as a father of two young children with his first venture into the world of writing.
“I wrote everywhere with every spare second I had,” says the Dubliner. “On buses, on trains, in notebooks, on my phone, anywhere I could. I thought this was quite a unique way of doing it but as it turns out from talking to other people who have written a book, it’s fairly common. I have to say, I did get to the point where I was thinking I must have been mad to tackle it in the first place.”
Luckily, Dan’s conclusion was drawn after he had completed this wonderful book. Buried Treasure: Overlooked, Forgotten, and Uncrowned Classic Albums is a little gem and a must for any music fan.
The formula is simple enough. Over the course of 288 pages, Dan looks at 110 albums from both his own collection and the collections of a selection of well-known personalities from the world of music, theatre, film and sport.
“It’s derived from a slot of the same name that I’ve had on my show for about three years now,” he explains. “It was just something that I used to duck back in time but also to show listeners more recent stuff that had maybe slipped under people’s radar. So about a year after I had started the slot, I bought a notebook and I started jotting down ideas of what albums I might cover. I eventually rang a publisher to see if anyone would be interested.”
Hegarty says he expected nothing to happen but he did it just to get himself off his backside. “So I rang Liberties Press and told them what I had in mind and then submitted a few ideas. Twenty minutes after sending the email, the publisher rang me back and I felt: ‘Oh God, I’m not ready here at all and this might actually happen’.”
In truth, the 40-year-old has been ready to write a book like this for years. He is steeped in music. Having left Blackrock College in 1993, Hegarty started his DJ career at Dublin South FM. He went on to study a radio broadcasting course at Dun Laoghaire College of Art and Design before joining the now defunct Phantom FM. In 2003, he was offered a contract at 2FM where he has remained one of the few stalwarts in the stable. By his own admission his interest in music goes to “a really worrying level”, something that his loyal band of listeners very much appreciate.
“I also love hearing about other people’s music stories,” says the DJ.
“Where they were. What they were doing. I love that kind of story. So rather than just have a book with Dan Hegarty writing about albums he likes, which to be honest would probably get a bit grating after a while, I thought I’d ask other people to talk about albums that they’re into. Their buried treasure.
“So I’ll give you an example. the actor Aiden Gillen chose Sun Kil Moon’s April and he talks about listening to it while filming parts of The Wire,” explains Dan. “I was amazed by that. I was a massive fan of the series. So I just love hearing about what people were doing when they were listening to this music. I think it’s fascinating really.”
Gillen’s fellow thespian Cillian Murphy also features in the book and recalls discovering Van Morrison’s Beautiful Vision “on one of those extended drives from Cherbourg to some campsite” in the south of France while crushed against his siblings in the back of a car.
Jerry Fish, the former lead singer with An Emotional Fish, has chosen Cork-born Simple Kid’s eponymous debut as his buried treasure.
“There has always been a certain kookiness to Cork,” Fish is quoted as saying. “An air of anarchy, like in Manchester. There is a sharper tongue to it, or it is not as slick as the capital. Although it is quite Beatles-esque and flowery, Simple Kid has that anarchic quality too, that helps it not to be too sweet.”
Imelda May, Camille O’Sullivan and Glen Hansard are among the other musicians who contribute. The world of sport also pitches in.
“Robbie Henshaw is a very accomplished musician,” says Hegarty. “He’d probably play it down a bit but he has a list of things he can play. Marty Moore picked Solo in Soho by Phil Lynott and again I didn’t really expect that but he’s a real rock fan. And he also plays guitar. All these rugby players who play music, they should form a band.”
Buried Treasure is not a work of dogma. It is not a music DJ telling you what you should listen to. Rather, it is a simple reminder that there is great stuff out there and perhaps more poignantly that there are stories behind them. In an age of downloads and instant attainment the romance associated with obtaining and listening to music is becoming thinner. Keeping it alive is a worthy pursuit, and this book does it admirably. It also does what it says on the tin — recommends some great albums.
“There’s this perception about musicians and bands that if they haven’t done really well then they mustn’t be any good,” says Hegarty. “It’s not that I wanted to right any artistic wrongs or anything like that but I did want to just show people that there is plenty of stuff out there that they’ve probably never heard of that is brilliant and just hasn’t been recognised or has gone off the radar a little.”
— Dan Hegarty (@talldanhegarty) March 14, 2015
With work like this, we don’t expect this particular DJ to be off our musical radar any time soon.
Buried Treasure is published by Liberties Press
Buried Treasure: Some of Dan's favourites
GAVIN FRIDAY: Shag Tobacco
Like Radiohead’s OK Computer, Music For The Jilted Generation by The Prodigy, and U2’s Achtung Baby; Shag Tobacco made me look at music on a whole new level. I don’t think even Gavin knows how good this album is.
BUCK 65: 20 Odd Years
This is an extraordinary piece of work. It’s an album that I’ve listened to so many times, and never get tired of. It doesn’t fit with any style or genre, which is probably one if the reasons that I love it so much.
COMPULSION: The Future Is Medium
This album has all the ingredients that a classic requires. It’s a big nasty, snarling alt rock monster. Fans of Royal Blood should seek it out.
EASY STAR ALL-STARS: Radiodread
Reggae versions of Radiohead songs sounds like a disaster. If you had never heard the original songs, and listened to Radiodread, you’d find it hard to not be impressed. I guess you could say that they’ve re-imagined the songs of OK Computer, rather than just cover them.
LIR: Magico! Magico!
Here’s a band that really got away. This was their debut album, and it’s remarkable. I’ve seen them live so many times, and this album sends me into a trance-like state.
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