US singer Tokyo Rosenthal set for Monroe's Live gigSeptember 13, 2012 - 7:00am
If you like your songs well-crafted and considered, you’ll enjoy Tokyo Rosenthal’s music. The American songwriter, whose sound is a mix of roots, blues and jazz, plays Monroe’s Live this Sunday, September 16. Tokyo has been playing for music for over 30 years, but took some time out during those three decades to concentrate on his business. Since 2006, however, he’s been putting his energy back into music.
“I feel blessed, the last six years where I’ve been back to playing music full-time and recording and putting out albums, and touring,” Tokyo says. “It’s great to be able to do this, and see places that I haven’t been before.”
Though this is his first time touring Ireland as a singer, it’s not Tokyo’s first trip to these shores.
“I’ve actually been to Ireland,” he says. “It was 30 years ago. I had an aunt and uncle, who were living in a little town in County Clare called Killaloe, which is the reason I’m opening the tour there. My wife and I wanted to re-visit what we call ‘the house on the river’.
“If you notice on my Ghosts album, which is my third record, there’s a song on it called House on the River and it’s about where my aunt and uncle lived, right on the Shannon.”
In 2008, Tokyo released an album called Love Won Out. It featured a song called St Patrick’s Day, which got a lot of airplay in the US. How did he come to write a song about Ireland’s national holiday?
“When I talk about it in concerts, I say that it came about by me being a good parent!” he laughs. “My daughter was away at school and it was March 17, and I assume Saint Patrick’s Day is a party day in Ireland like the way it’s a party day here.
“I was checking in on her,” he continues. “And I simply remember saying something along the lines of ‘it’s Saint Patrick’s Day, I know what you’re doing!’. Next thing I knew, that was the opening line of the song, and it sort of wrote itself from there. It had nothing to with her, really, after that line – it became more a retrospective piece, someone examining their life.”
The song Somebody That I Used to Be also sounds like someone looking back at their life.
“That had a couple of different themes,” says Tokyo. “I saw an article on TV about a guy working on an assembly line in Michigan, who lost his job and shortly thereafter lost his house. He was trying to find a job and he realised even the most menial kind of jobs were being outsourced. Then the guy got very desperate and tried to commit suicide; fortunately he didn’t kill himself.
“I said ‘this needs to be talked about in song’. It’s about the economic strife, not just in the States, but all around the world. What’s happening to people – there are millions of stories like this guy’s.”
For more, read this week's Connacht Tribune.