I Don't Write Songs For My Fans...I Do It To Make Myself Happy

Source: Sunday Mirror

Writer: Maeve Quigley

Date: 18 March 2001


LEGENDARY singer Gilbert O'Sullivan says he'll continue writing songs... just as long

as he thinks they are good enough

And one of big reasons the 54-year-old Waterford-born singer keeps touring is the loyal following he enjoys in his native Ireland.

"I don't go out on the road much because I devote so much of my time to writing songs," he said.

"So when I am touring I always get back to Ireland and sneak a few shows in and I'm really looking forward to the next one."

Born Raymond O'Sullivan, Gilbert moved to Swindon with his parents when he was just seven. But he says he's always felt part of both countries, a combination which created the title of his new album "Irlish."

"It comes from being born in Ireland and raised in England - it's a combination of being Irish and English.

"There was a new generation of people who came over to England in the 50s in search of a better quality of life.

"Of course it's in reverse now - people are going back to Ireland - but in those days the grass seemed greener over here and we were part of that influx."

"So I think it's interesting that there's a huge batch of people like us.

"To me, Ireland is home. I go back very often and I'm proud of my Irish roots.

"But I was raised in Swindon and probably most of my earliest memories are from there. Even so, I have no problem feeling very much at home in Ireland and I always have."

The star was at art college in Swindon when his musical talents were discovered. He first shot to fame in 1970 with "Nothing Rhymed" which made the UK Top Ten.

This was followed with a string of hits including "Clair" and "Get Down."

"I think the reason I started writing songs was because of the success of people like The Beatles and Bob Dylan.

"Initially I just did it for a bit of fun but eventually through your love of music you end up writing your own little tunes and your own lyrics and it grows from there.

"It's the thing I really enjoy most and it's a nice profession - I've been doing it now for nearly 40 years.

"And I do it because I enjoy it - my philosophy is: 'If you don't enjoy it then don't do it'.


"I love writing songs but I don't do it for you - I do it for me.

"And I don't worry about the opinions of the people who don't want me to write songs because first and foremost it makes me happy.

"As long as I wake up and want to do and as long as I get a kick out of it, then I'll continue.

"I work at songwriting every day - almost like a nine to five job - for about eight months a year - that's the key to everything I do as a singer and performer."

Gilbert still has a keen interest in Irish music and cites singer Sinead Lohan (above) as an exceptional talent.

And he says Westlife should stick with their singing and ignore their critics.

"They get a lot of criticism and while they may not be very distinctive image-wise, they have extremely good voices.

"They're very talented - they could wipe the floor with very many singers and they have a tremendous vocal range."

"You don't have to necessarily like or dislike boy bands to realise they are very talented."

Gilbert confesses that his 16-year-old daughter Tara is a Westlife fan while university student Helen-Marie, 20, prefers Oasis.

But when he's not at home in Jersey with his wife Aase and the girls, he loves coming back to visit his favourite parts of Ireland.

"Waterford always holds a special place in my heart and I love Bunclody after spending four years there in the early 80s. And of course Dublin's always great.

"So I'm looking forward to seeing my Irish fans again in a couple of weeks."

Gilbert O'Sullivan will play Corrib Great Southern, Galway on March 26, UCH, Limerick on March 27, The Olympia Theatre, Dublin on March 29 and April 1 and Cork Opera House on March 30.