Philip, after 25 years

It is twenty past eleven on the night of 4th January 2011. I am sitting in my cold living room, curled up in a duvet and I am watching a DVD called Thin Lizzy – Greatest Hits. At the O2 Arena (the Point last time I was there) in Dublin, a band calling themselves Thin Lizzy are on stage. At Vicar Street in Dublin, my favourite live music venue ever, the 25th Vibe for Philo is in full-swing. According to the line-up on the website, the Hoodoo Rhythm Devils & Glen Hansard are playing as I type.

Although his name isn’t splashed all over the place, Philip Lynott has not been forgotten today.

I’ve made various ramblings at this time of year for a long time. I recall the 19th being a bit of an epic, and I know exactly where I was for the 20th anniversary: at the front of Vicar Street, at the Vibe. I was either feeling sick, about to be sick or had just been sick (oddly enough, the exact time of emptying my stomach over the barrier has been forgotten) thanks to an Italian restaurant in Temple Bar which forever lost my custom that night.

As is usual for the 4th January, I’ve spent the day pissed off. First it was trying to get up for my first workday since Christmas. Then it was morons on the tube, idiots in the street and the VAT increase on frappucinos. Then it was the imminent threat of root canal this evening. Then it was only having part of the root canal done and having to wait until next week for the long-winded bit. Then it was the cold. Then it was CSI: NY. All day, I’ve been cheesed off like a mouse who has just been told by a doctor to lay off the cheese due to a serious cheese allergy.

The fact is, the 4th January cannot be a happy day for me, and probably many people who ever gave a flying one about Lynott would agree. It is the day we lost him forever. It is the day that his work took on new, deeper, more tragic meanings.

It is the day that hole in the middle of the stage opened up.

Tonight, a band calling themselves Thin Lizzy are up at the Point. Brian Downey and Scott Gorham are there, the two people I would class as ‘Thin Lizzy’ after Philip. Darren Wharton is there. Some other musicians are there, plugging the holes. I don’t doubt that musically they’ll be fine. There are no bad musicians in the line-up, but there is a big fucking hole in the middle of the stage, and ignoring it is like a broken pencil: pointless.

I’ve seen Thin Lizzy in recent years, before John Sykes left and Downey rejoined. The music wasn’t bad, and I consider those evenings well spent, but there is no escaping the massive hole in the middle of the stage

Philip is gone. I’ve seen and touched the chunk of damp Irish sod covering the hole they put him in.

Yet, here I sit, and looking at the television, it’s almost as if I could reach out and touch the shiny red jacket he’s wearing in the With Love video, and jaysus, doesn’t the smile on him warm my cold, broken heart?

So much has already been said that there seems little more to say… except that seeing the lustrously-barnetted Scott Gorham on lead guitar reminds me of the one sorrow that can never be soothed.

I met Scott Gorham in Starbucks on 26th Feb 2009, Hicks’ anniversary. I got to look him in the eye and say thank you. Maybe I’ll meet him again in this lifetime, but the important bit is done. I got to say ‘you’re one of my favourite musicians. Thank you.’

It seems incredibly important to say it. To look into someone’s eyes and thank them. It seems the least I can do (actually, the least I can do is buy their music…) and at the same time, it’s everything.

Thin Lizzy’s music pulled me out of more holes than it put me in. All the sadness, grief, tears and other woe I’ve felt because Philip is dead are nothing compared to the absolute, pure jubilation his music has given me.

As I’ve said many times, it was Philip that gave me back Ireland, and I didn’t even fully realise how much I needed it. He is my hero, an inspiration, a rock (natch) upon which to lean when I need, and the better part of happiness in my world. I can tell you truthfully that I believe him to be one of the great Irish writers of the late 20th century. I can tell you truthfully that I believe Thin Lizzy to be continually under-rated (partly through their own doing), and that as long as Thin Lizzy’s music exists, U2 aren’t even the best band from Dublin, never mind in the whole world

Nothing compares to all that, and I’ll shed a million more tears before I’ll live in a world without him.

I hope the two separate Philo nights are having a grand aul’ time. Me, I was feeling like shit, and then I started watching Philip and funnily enough, I started to feel better, a little. And now I’ve been watching for awhile, I feel a good deal better. The end of the Sarah video still cracks me up, and I will always smile back at that cocky, smug grin plastered on his face throughout Dear Miss Lonely Hearts. I still want sparkly purple trousers like Robbo in the Wild One video. Sure, Still In Love With You makes me want to cry, but that’s because it’s a sad, sad song. I’m happier now than I was before the DVD started, and that’s because of Philo’s music.

I will never stop wishing I could look him in the eye and say thank you. I will always wish I could make some kind of difference to how it played out. I will always wish to have been there to see him. I will always believe that a world with Philip Lynott in it is better than one without it, but as long as the music plays, it’ll be OK, and OK is all we get.


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