I can’t get enough of this song lately. I’m not sure why. I think it could be Phil’s moustache. Check out the great piano solo halfway through, and the mournful bridge section in the pub.
I remember watching a Behind the Music special about Thin Lizzy years ago. They played about five seconds of this video, and it’s kind of haunted the back of my brain ever since. Sure, it was a little manipulative to have Phil singing about breaking down and looking soulful just as they were talking about his drug problems and death, but it was still a far cry from what I was used to hearing from the Liz. For years I had no idea what the song was or where it was from. Then I thought to try digging into Phil Lynott’s solo work, and there it was.
From what I’d read and heard on the radio, I sort of assumed Thin Lizzy were “The Boys Are Back in Town” multiplied by a hundred.
I was wrong about that. Phil was a lot more adventurous than classic rock radio would have you believe — particularly when it came to his solo work. Some of the demos he recorded with Junior Giscombe shortly before his death are so far removed from anything else he did, it’s kind of shocking. And Thin Lizzy didn’t really get the recognition they deserved. Though the band eventually hit on a commercial formula and didn’t often deviate much from the tried and true once they became successful, they made a few albums before they hit it big that aren’t really anything like that stuff, and for my money that music might even be better than the work they’re best known for.
Shades from a Blue Orphanage is a criminally neglected album. Some of it makes me think a bit of early Springsteen, which is the last thing you’d expect from Thin Lizzy. It’s funky, and complex, and jazzy, and folky, and “Sarah” is just a gorgeous song any way you slice it.
There are some great unsung songs buried on the later albums too, and from the interviews I’ve seen Phil was a much more down to earth and humble Irish rock star than Bono, which just makes me like him even more. Where Bono usually seems painfully full of himself whenever there’s a camera anywhere nearby, Phil seemed genuine and even kind of shy when he wasn’t onstage.
The most important thing of all is the lesson the video at the top of this post has taught me: the best way to make a woman in a business suit smile is to gesture to her that you’re preparing to play an invisible flugelhorn solo from somewhere across town, and then produce an actual flugelhorn and make the invisible visible.
If you’re into great ’70s rock power ballads and lengthy melodic guitar solos, you might dig this awesomeness too:
Video that didn’t originate from YouTube and has something to do with me coming soon…maybe some more recording footage or something.