Listening to a Friend in New York Town

I listened to Niall Connolly‘s song “Sum of Our Parts” on my headphones as I rode the F train from Prospect Park to the Lower East Side in Manhattan, on my way to his Saturday night gig Rockwood Music Hall. It had been several months since I’d seen Niall, and even longer since I’d been able to listen to him live, playing his mix of indie-rock and folk music. So I could sing the opening lyrics of the song with empathetic feeling:

“It’s good to be back in your town

I know a lot has happened since the last time I was around.”

It is good to be back in New York Town to find a friend like Niall. When I arrived, he was already setting up onstage to start his gig. Chris Foley, his band’s guitarist, was tuning up alongside him. They had a two-man formation for the night: Niall on acoustic guitar and voice, Chris on electric guitar. I had just enough time to wave “hi!” to them before they started playing.

The playlist for the night included classics like the tune of political protest, “America”, from Brother, the Fight is Fixed (2010) and the tale of two Irish fishermen, “Beef or Salmon”, from Sound (2013).

But my favorites for the night were the new ones, not yet recorded. They included one on riding the bus Q53 at night with all its characters and a hopeful, loving lullaby for his daughter, Saoirse. This lullaby made a couple of tender tears flow from the depths of my soul.

When I am with loving friends — listening to them in this case — I am a bit more at home.

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