Andy White

Andy White Buy Now
Year: 2001
Label: ALT Recordings/Floating World


Andy’s first post-compilation solo album, recorded in Dublin with a crack Irish band including Liam O Maonlai on vocals and Kieran Kennedy on electric guitar, includes 3 extra songs & 2 video clips. Mixed by John Leckie.

Andy White is also available as part of Andy’s Studio Albums 1986–2016 twelve-album box set, available through our web store.


  1. Let Me Be Free
  2. Sunrise
  3. Come With Me
  4. I Want It Straight
  5. Little Boy
  6. Jesus in a Cadillac
  7. Deeper Water
  8. Hysteria
  9. Bodybuilder
  10. Understand
  11. What About You Babe
  12. The Very Thing
  13. Coz I’m Free
  14. Please*
  15. Me, The Moon, my Car and You*
  16. St. Patrick’s Day*

(* extra songs on this edition only)
Also includes video clips for Hysteria & Let Me Be Free

A message from Andy:

Let Me Be Free
Featuring Liam O Maonlai on vocals and Nick Seymour on bass, who with a flourish declared it a breakfast radio hit as soon as he heard the playback. The video for this song was shot on a Zürich rooftop.
Around the end of the time I spent living in Dun Laoghaire, early in 1998, I got a call from an Italian singer called Edoardo Bennato. He wanted to hang out in Dublin for a while, spend some time writing and getting to know the place. He is from Naples and had always wanted to visit ‘L’Isola Verda’. I booked him into a room in the centre of town and we watched a football match together to make him feel at home. I put together a lot of lyrics for him and although only one of these was ever finished – a song called ‘I Wouldn’t Lie For You’ – I started writing Let Me Be Free at that time. Peter Jenner, my former manager and Billy Bragg’s present manager, called and told me that Billy was recording Woody Guthrie songs with Wilco in a Dublin studio. They had finished the songs which would become ‘Mermaid Avenue’ early. The studio time was booked and did I want to record in it. I immediately called Liam Ó Maonlaí and he said he was free. Liam called Kieran Kennedy who had played a couple of great shows with my band in Dublin and Cork, and was now producing. Kieran rang me to say he would come in and produce the session. Suddenly we had a trio – my mind cast itself back to the first time ALT went into record. Same studio, same room, similar starting point – since we were going in to record songs, not an album. Going into the Factory I brought Let Me Be Free and I Wouldn’t Lie For You as well as tracks recorded in a hotel room in County Galway – She’ll Get Over Loving You, Please and Hysteria. At the end of 1997 I had taken part in a songwriting week in Clifden, where a group of Irish and American songwriters came together to collaborate, with the aim of coming up with enough songs to perform a concert in Dublin at the end of the week. The Americans were relaxed about the prospect of co-writing with people they had never met before, the Irish less so – looking shy, hiding in corners, drinking large amounts. As a result, the organisers put the names of all the writers into two hats – one Irish, one American – and drew out a name from each, Blind Date style, to decide writing partnerships. First I was paired with Angela McCluskey – originally from Scotland now living in Los Angeles. She’s got a tremendous voice and had an armful of scraps of lyrics written in lipstick and eye-liner on bar receipts. I had the flu and a suite of rooms. Angela sat in the bathroom singing and I played her all my favourite chords. In a few hours we had written She’ll Get Over Loving You and Please and recorded the basic tracks in the mobile studio. Lloyd Cole came in and said it sounded like the Mamas And The Papas, the R&B heads were a-rocking and a-rolling. You can find She’ll Get Over Loving You on rare and we mixed Please during the album mix sessions although it didn’t make the final tracklisting.

Features David Bridie from Australia on keyboards – Andy sent the tapes halfway round the world to Melbourne for his tracks. The song was the first recorded in the main album sessions, October 1999.
Aside from the songs mentioned, most of the album was written in Switzerland, in our falling-down, creaking, wooden, airy, white-roomed house. With “the mountains waiting in the distance and the ribbon of the road below”. There is a theme of escape throughout the album. Of open spaces and of feeling the push and pull of being far from home. This is the first song I wrote and the first one recorded with the album in mind.

Moving from Dublin I wondered if I would be able to write without the social whirl and familiar surroundings of home. With Sunrise I discovered a new inspiration emanating from all the distance between me and where I knew best. I had to try to bring the elegance and beauty of my new life out in these songs, and when I brought this song to Dublin to record and played it for the first time in the studio, I knew everything would work out. Maybe not happily, but definitely well. It was an October Monday morning and I was staying with Jacqui and Joe near the Phoenix Park. Getting the bus along the quays in the morning and walking back against the wind late at night. Experiencing ‘Poetry Moments’ along the way every single day. I can still smell the sea air, the Guinness factory, the silent house with the light on every evening at the end of the terrace.

Come With Me
Could be the shortest song Andy has ever recorded. Featuring his favourite 1965 Rickenbacker electric 12 string.
This one started off during a soundcheck in a Swiss gig in Bulle one Friday night in November. I had the tune and the chord changes, but not the words. It ended up with me saying sorry for any hurt that may have happened around the making of the album. With so many beautiful people involved, sometimes things got very intense. A John Lennon line started me off with the lyrics – spotted of course by John Leckie when we were mixing. The rhythm section of Robert Malone on bass and Dave Clarke on drums, who played nearly all songs on the album, nailed it superfast. The words took about a year to get right and I am still trying to learn them in order. I’m nearly certain this is the shortest song I have recorded, except for maybe some of the stranger moments on himself. A video of this song has just been filmed in Münich, though it hasn’t been cut yet.

I Want It Straight
The emotional core of the album.
In October 1999 just before going into the studio, Kieran and I played three Irish concerts with the Speechless band. Belfast, Kilkenny and Dublin HQ. Kieran and I had been talking about the album for the whole year. We knew how we were going to record it, but not where. I got a call from Ingmar Kiang who mixed Teenage and now runs the Temple Bar Music Centre studios right in the middle of Dublin. I took Davy into the recording room, he got very good vibes from it. Liam gave me positive feedback too – he had recorded there. I liked being in the centre of town, surrounded by tourists wandering about, music students learning how to smoke, and buskers playing Nirvana songs. I had been writing the album for a long time, always driven on by the thought of I Want It Straight. The heart of the new album and what I wanted to express. I remember a club in the middle of Austria, on the way back from a fraught Viennese show. We were exhausted and Kieran was lying down on a bench, eyes closed. I just kept playing the chords over and over for what seemed like hours. I stopped and Kieran opened his eyes. “I could listen to you playing that for ever, man”. I never really stopped playing this song since – in the studio or in my head. I remember Davy recording the string parts on the song, feeling tears welling up in my eyes, and looking round to see if anyone else was feeling the same way. Everyone in the control room was crying. He just hits those notes which make it happen. We left John Leckie with the song on a Friday afternoon and returned on Saturday night to hear it mixed – I never felt more proud. I want it straight, I want it now. So do we all.

Little Boy
A lullaby which started off one bedtime in Dun Laoghaire and finished around the same time of night months later in Switzerland. Features Ursula Burns’ harp.
This song will be familiar to any parents out there. One of the crucial points of the day and the time when all parental emotions come crashing in. Yes you have got to go to bed yes you have to got to brush your teeth yes I love you and yes I feel proud that your vulnerability leans itself towards me and then tries to rebel and then curls up to go to sleep in my arms.

It was recorded in Dublin and we went over and over the song, trying to make it softer and shorter each time. Ursula supported our group at the October concert in Belfast and made a big impression on all of us. She drove her harp down to Dublin in the Lada and recorded her tracks one Saturday morning. This song and Deeper Water in swift succession.

Sebastian asked me to let you know for sure that this is his song.

Jesus In A Cadillac
Andy promises he never heard the Robbie Williams song – anyway a Cadillac is cooler than a camper van. Features Josie Docherty on vocals.
There is a big wooden room on the ground floor of our house which is filled with logs and stuff. The group rehearsed there for the first time and I brought down this acoustic riff from upstairs. The first line was always in my head “Who’s gonna be there to see him coming, the Lone Rider”. In capitals, since of course it was Jesus himself. During recording in Dublin we put on a lot of electrics and the whole vibe of the lyrics was clear.

People talk about the ‘Second Coming’ assuming that Jesus will return as a peasant in Egypt or a hippy-type character hitchkiking or in a camper van. This is the counterpoint to people who think they were a queen or a prophet in a previous life – never the poor man at the gate. I think it is plain that when he returns, Jesus will enter in style, at the wheel of a large automobile. Probably wearing Bono’s ‘Fly’ shades. There are a some who will be begging for forgiveness, and some jumping for joy.

This was the first song mixed after John Leckie arrived early in April of 2000. He booked into a room just around the corner in Blooms Hotel. In the studio we lit the incense and he got out a pile of CDs to hear what the control room sounded like. The Flaming Lips, Curtis Mayfield, ‘The Four Horsemen’ by Aphrodite’s Child. Then he put up the tracks for this song and turned it up real loud. Josie Docherty came in that evening to sing on the end section.

Deeper Water
More Australian keyboards and loops on this song. This time joined by tracks from Radoslav Lorkovic in St Paul, USA and Stephen Fearing in Canada.
One night in Dublin, the producer’s wife called round. She had either just come back from making a film somewhere or she was about to leave the next day. The two of them decided to go out for a drink and have something to eat. I asked the producer to leave me with the tape ready to record and the microphones on. I recorded this song and The Very Thing on my own like this, late at night. I had all the sheets of lyrics and the poem/song book you can see on the album cover. I wrote Deeper Water at home during one of the many long empty mornings I spent in Switzerland. The original chords came to me one night in Bremen after I had played a radio show concert there. My mother asked me to ask people there “Where are the musicians of Bremen?” and at the concert this question went down a storm. Later on, all the grief of not living with, near, or even on the same island as my parents set in. This feeling mixed with thoughts of someone I know who could not live on the nightlife alone.

After recording I took the tapes and sent them to Rad Lorkovic in Iowa. Playing one night in Cantù near Como in Italy, Carlo Carlini who organised the tour had told me that there was an amazing Croatian-American accordion player in the audience. We asked him onstage and we have been playing together ever since, either if Rad is in Italy or whenever I am in America. He recorded the piano and accordion on this album in St Paul at the NPR studio where ‘Prairie Home Companion’ comes from. With an old Bechstein and an accordion this Italian dude with a Tom Waits voice gave him. Rad then posted the tapes to Stephen Fearing in Guelph, Ontario.

Stephen and I had met at Winnipeg Folk Festival in Canada during the summer of 1998. He’s a solo artist, a great guitar player and writer. We hit it off right away, sharing a longing for Tim Horton’s donuts. Stephen’s family come from Ireland and he visited the studio in Dublin during a family visit in the first period of recording. We only managed to find time to go out for drinks in Temple Bar during his visit, but I really wanted him to play on the album. He overdubbed tracks in Canada with an engineer called Lurch and sent the tapes back to me. I knew that Rad and Stephen were perfect for this song – because of family history they are, in a way, displaced . Though both obviously love where they have ended up, you can tell that they feel a strong pull to where their families started off.

Written with Kieran Kane, the original tracks were recorded in a hotel room in Clifden, County Galway.
It was appropriate to bring this song back to Dublin to finish, since Kieran Kane and I wrote it about Temple Bar in the first place. He lives in Nashville, smokes a pipe and talks REAL slow. We were chosen to write together after our names came out of the hat and I was asking him about what he thougt of Dublin. He had stayed in Blooms Hotel (yes, that Blooms Hotel – Joyce wasn’t making it up in ‘Ulysses’ – these things happen all the time in Dublin) and could not believe the levels of wild behaviour experienced in Temple Bar on a Friday and Saturday night. He had the title ‘Hysteria’. It was perfect. At the weekend, the chaotic and exciting but normal-ish city centre explodes into a Fellini film fuelled by large quantities of Guinness. Milling crowds of drinking, laughing, swearing, snoring, snogging, staggering, screaming party-goers roar around the cobbled streets of auld Dubbelin. Every disco has queues outside it, every bar is jammed. Every place where there is even the slimmest chance of getting a sniff of alcohol after waiting for hours is wedged with people. Any building with the words ‘Nightclub’ displayed anywhere on it is automatically rammed to the rafters the moment it opens its doors to the public, the public resplendent in their designer sportswear and Spice Girls tops. Believe me, even the bouncers have bouncers. This is the scene stretched out in front of the aforementioned Mr K. Kane of Nashville Tennessee, probably expecting a charming yet quaint stay at the heart of the ancient capital. Looking forward to a quiet pint in a riverside bar, looking up from his paper only to see assorted craggy-faced old men supping their solitary pints and whiskey chasers, studying the form or talking the odd bit of politics. Not to be, my friend. We wrote the song that morning in Galway and recorded it in the same room, Rick from LA brought in the gear and set up while we were finishing lyrics. Rhythm tracks were sugar-shakers, claps, Liam’s bodhran and the back of an acoustic guitar. You can hear this version on Kieran’s album ‘Six Months No Sun’.

The original tracks sounded fantastic when we got it to the Dublin studio and we soon started to add things. Inspired by the nightly raging downstairs – one evening we would go downstairs and the bar would be full of witches and hobgoblins, the next heavy metal goths and deathmetal ravers. Oldies and Spanish nights, the themed evenings kept us guessing. Only the cloakroom girl was a constant, screaming into her mobile, night after night. We never heard a word she said. It was just too loud. Around this song you can feel the mood of the album change.

A critique of the highest seriousness, concerning the increasing use and abuse of drugs in the world of sport in general and bodybuilding in particular, in combination with a romantic tale of the utmost pathos.
Sitting on the cinnamon sofa (yes, that cinnamon sofa) one late bright afternoon, a vision of female bodybuilding beauty overcame me and I was surrounded as if by a holy visitation. Her story unfolded itself to me during the passage of a couple of hours, I wrote it down and wept tears of joy at its conclusion. During the album sessions, on the night when I was left by myself, after recording Deeper Water and The Very Thing I happened upon the story of the bodybuilder in my book of words. I put down a version with chords, completely off the cuff, moved only by her spirit. Later on, the guys heard this tape and they too were enchanted by her tale and demanded to record the song as a band. It was the last song on the last night of the January sessions. Maria, my sister Cathy and Josie Docherty who also sings on Jesus In A Cadillac arrived to sing. Liam and Aoife and a load of people were also there. There was incense and beers and bodybuilding poses. There should have been another verse to the song but I forgot to turn the page of the book the first time I recorded it, and didn’t realise my mistake until designing the album cover. It tells you what happens next (though you can probably guess) – and anyway, who wants to be Stephen King.

Written by Andy in 1999, he brought it with him to Stuart Crichton and Christine Anu when they were writing songs for Christine’s album ‘Come My Way’.
I had the main line starting “When I was in trouble…” in my head for a while. I knew it was a great line since it was so true. Then the chorus arrived one evening at the dinner table after some great Italian wine. At a soundcheck in Sesto Calende, near Milan, I tried it out on the guys but it didn’t click until I got the verses in the summer of 1999 before going to London to write with Stuart Crichton (yes, Davy’s brother) and Christine Anu (a wonderful Australian singer). Stuart was producing Christine’s album and was in the process of inviting a series of friends to collaborate. I thought I would turn up with a song to start us off. I knew Christine has a wonderful singing voice and could take the melody to another place (which she did – it is on her album). I had about 4 or 5 verses and she chose 2 or 3.

In Dublin, the first afternoon Liam came to the studio I knew he would groove to the main line and thought of the song. With him and me, as old friends, I knew it was true. And truth is what excites Liam. He was on Wurlitzer and I was on 12 string. We recorded live and the whole song came to life. There are two drummers and loads of percussion. You may have noticed the album change tone around half way through. The subject matter and the mood gradually lightens. Night starts to dominate, the playing is more and more relaxed and live. This song reminds me almost of an ALT recording, though maybe it’s because of Liam’s vocals. It is a great kind of loose. I also got all the verses in.

What About You Babe
The title could be said in a Belfast accent and mean something entirely different, however it’s more tender than that. This song features Bronagh Gallagher on vocals and drums and Liam O Maonlai on keyboards and wooden flute.
This song sprang into life in Switzerland, with Sebastian playing Oasis albums on repeat and me reading the weekly English newspaper. If you only see a few newspapers every month, the swings of opinion in the English speaking news-world is even more strange than if you are able to follow things regularly. One week Tony Blair is God’s gift and the next he is the neighbour of the beast. I was writing this song about a girl sitting on the floor telling herself that she can do it all on her own. Though you may have guessed all this from the lyrics! It takes place in the late afternoon, before it is time to go out. Then walking into a snowy landscape which muffles the sound of everything making a holy sound. In the studio Bronagh played and sang this beautifully. She got the tone and the vibe of the whole thing immediately and we stood together by the microphone singing. Liam came in with a wooden flute in his top pocket and transformed the middle bit of the song for me into a kind of celtic ‘here comes the sun’. The structure of the song sounds simple but took us hours and hours to work out exactly. I got to play bass on both this and Coz I’m Free, since Robert had left it propped up against the mixing desk. A beautiful old cream Fender Precision. Davy came in to finish the song after he had recorded strings on I Want It Straight. I left him in the studio layering track after track – the strings are so romantic on this one, I love the arrangement happened that afternoon.

The Very Thing
A duet with Maria Doyle Kennedy with a twist in the subject matter.
This song came out of an art exhibition I visited in Bregenz. Where the phrase “We can go somewhere else together” came up. Perfect for that want-to-be far away feeling I have so often, and that was the song’s title until everyone kept calling it The Very Thing. Maria sings an incredible vocal part. It is an unusual duet in that both singers are singing to their own partners, saying the same thing, rather than to each other. And there lies the strength of the song. A lot of the time opposites are equally true at the exact same time. Such it is when you are a musician leaving home to go on tour and spread the word.

Coz I’m Free
Written by Andy, Stuart Crichton and Christine Anu for Christine’s newest album, it was inpired by the tattoo on Olympic 400 meter champion Cathy Freeman’s arm.
Christine Anu and Cathy Freeman are very close friends, and Stuart and Christine had come up with the idea in Summer 1999 of naming a song after Cathy’s famous tattoo. They are both high profile incredibly gifted native australians and proud of it. This would be a song for Australia’s next century with the Olympics coming up in 2000. I walked into the writing session and Stuart was nursing a Scots hangover while Christine was similarly suffering. Somehow we finished the song and demoed it in about three hours. I still have the demo and it sounds marvellous. Our band’s take on it is different – faster for a start. We were all in tears (again!) at the opening ceremony of the Olympics when Cathy lit the flame, and at the closing ceremony when Christine sang (she actually sang Coz I’m Free at the opening ceremony of the Paralympic Games in October too).

The night we recorded the song in Dublin was fairly legendary and definitely unrepeatable. Everyone was in the studio and the dream gospel team of Maria, Josie and my sister Cathy were in the house. Bronagh was already on tape and Aoife and Liam were there too. Things got out of control as well they might. I think everybody knew this song was important for us – and I hadn’t mentioned where it came from yet. I know it has its own impetus beyond the story of how it was written.

It also completes the cycle from Let Me Be Free. If you were looking for the journey of the album I think you may just have found it. For the transatlantic edition of the album we added three extra songs which take the story a little further, but the cycle is complete in itself with Coz I’m Free. Of course there are many journeys involved and if you find one which makes sense to you then that is what is important.

Written by Andy and Angela McCluskey in the same bathroom as ‘She’ll Get Over Loving You’ from ‘rare’ and during the same writers’ week as ‘Hysteria’.
I had a suite at the writer’s week in Clifden. I never quite worked out why. Could have been something to do who I was going to be replaced with on the Thursday morning… Angela was immediately impressed – she flew in from LA but is as Scottish as her name. I had a cold and she kept running out to the bar to fetch hot whiskies. I played all my favourite chords and we ended up writing Please and She’ll Get Over Loving You. We recorded them in the bathroom and I brought the tapes back to Dublin, where we overdubbed first in the Factory and then in Temple Bar during the main album sessions. We have played the song live a few times – at the end of the writers’ week in Dublin and at the Mercury Lounge show which features on the ‘Andy White Live In New York City’ tour promo CD, which you may have noticed on these pages.

Me, The Moon, My Car, And You*
Features Stephen Fearing and Rad Lorkovic on vocals and various acoustic instruments.
It is very rarely that I pull a song out from the past and re-record it for a new album or writing project. However, while I was compiling ‘rare’ I listened again to all of a series of demos I called ‘September Songs’. These were recorded at Rod McVey’s house in 1990 and 1991, and from them came the album ‘Out There’. I was tempted to edit the demos and make them into a whole new album, because there are so many songs we didn’t use. In the end I chose A Girl I Once Knew Now Invisible for ‘rare’ but the demo of Me, The Moon, My Car And You really stayed with me. I started playing it in our apartment on the stereo and knew that I should re-record it. I took out a few things, changed some words around and recorded it during the album sessions.

I knew that Stephen Fearing, a Canadian friend of mine and a fantastic singer and songwriter, was in Dublin at the time seeing his family. And I knew he would be perfect on this track. As I told you earlier, he duly called round to the studio late one night and we… ended up going out and drinking Guinness with Nick Seymour in a hotel across the Liffey.

Stephen and I had met at Winnipeg Folk Festival in 1998 with our respective Christines and had had a ball. My opening line was to ask who Tim Horton was and why did he sponsor our stage. I was taken by the hand and introduced into the world of American donut and bagel shops. A world from which I have never really emerged.

I ended up sending the tapes of this song and some others, first to Rad Lorkovic and he sent them on to Ontario. We have since played this song live, and the silences in it have knocked me out every time.

St Patrick’s Day*
Features Rad Lorkovic on accordion.
I was far from home when I wrote this one. With everyone expecting me to conform to Irish stereotype on St Patrick’s Day. I have fond memories of the day when I was young, but only because it was a half-day school holiday and we could go running by the river. This was all brought back to me – blowing away thoughts of green beer and shamrocks – in a Melbourne chip-shop one blustery March afternoon (another year I went to Australia on March 16th and landed on March 18th – a handy tip for anyone wanting to avoid the day totally).

I tried to record this with a band during the album sessions, but it works best this way. Sure I don’t like all the blarney and the leprechaun-style Irish things, but I love the place deep down and don’t want to see what is after all the “family silver” sold down a green river. I touched on another aspect of this theme in The Celtic Tiger Roars on ‘rare’.

Sounds to me like the place to end this second cycle of the album. An Irishman abroad and, to some extent, alone and somewhat dislocated as a result. A very different ending from Coz I’m Free and one which I thought suited the transatlantic release.