Helpless Heart (1989) – Maura O’Connell

Helpless Heart written by Paul Brady is the title track of Maura O’Connell’s 1989 album (see image above). I wrote about Paul Brady’s cover of the old Irish ballad Arthur McBride a little while ago. Maura like Paul is an Irish singer. It’s difficult to pin down her music since she’s a bit of a folkie, country singer, and pop artist. Overall, she is known for her contemporary interpretations of Irish folk songs, strongly influenced by American country music. Maura cherry-picks the work of such writers as aforementioned Paul Brady, Nanci Griffith (who recently passed away, but gave a wonderful contribution in Dylan’s 30th anniversary concert with her rendition of Boots of Spanish Leather), Linda Thompson, and others.

I really like what Maura O’Connell does here with Helpless Heart:

‘Cause there is a dream deep inside my head
And it may seem like it’s breakin’ the thread
That holds me to you
Still you have never wanted to change me
But darlin’, I know though we’re far apart
The signal is strong
This helpless heart will always belong to you

O’Connell was born in Ennis, in the west of Ireland. She grew up listening to her mother’s light opera, opera, and parlor song records. Despite the presence of classical music in the house, O’Connell got very involved in the local folk club scene. She began her professional musical journey during a six-week tour of the US in 1980, as vocalist for the traditionally-based Celtic group De Dannan. Her impact as a solo artist was minimal until receiving a Grammy nomination for Helpless Heart.

In addition to her solo work, O’Connell has collaborated with a number of Celtic, folk, pop and country artists, including Van Morrison and Dolly Parton. Aside from the music world, Martin Scorsese cast O’Connell, scruffed up for the role, as an Irish migrant street singer in his 19th-century epic Gangs of New York.

1. Maura O’Connell – wikipedia

“The more I live, the more I learn. The more I learn, the more I realize, the less I know.”- Michel Legrand

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Posted in Music
7 comments on “Helpless Heart (1989) – Maura O’Connell
  1. I have long been a fan of hers, but didn’t know this song. I knew only what I found on YouTube.

  2. I wasn’t familiar with her, but she has an arresting vocal style.

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