Following the release of his debut single, “Stand Right There,” folk singer-songwriter Marty O’Neill has released his newest track “Play It Again.” The new release stems from his upcoming debut EP releasing April 2022, Stand Right There. With its effortless vocals and acoustic backbone, “Play It Again” is an easy listen that describes the enjoyment of friends’ company. We got to speak with Marty about his new track and about what’s next to come for him.
1. Hello Marty, Congratulations on the release of your new track. How are you today?
Thank you so much. This is a very exciting time for me. Seeing my songs and concepts go from a notepad and a recording on my phone to a half assed Garage Band recording to these fully produced tracks is just an amazing feeling. I do feel fortunate to have such wonderful people in my life – family who encouraged me to take the risk, make myself vulnerable and share my stories and songs. So overall … doing pretty well, thanks!
2. What was the inspiration behind your new track “Play It Again”?
For the last eight or nine years, we’ve hosted what we referred to as a “starving artist” from Nashville in a house show format. It was my son Jack’s idea and we’ve sort of fallen in love with the idea of helping out a young artist. Typically the artists may have just released something or are getting ready to. We invite tons of friends – typically squeezing about 125 folks into the back yard. My band is always the opening act, and depending on the night, we will jump back up and play until we feel like the cops will be called if we don’t shut it down. We hosted Willie Morrison (at that time the Morrison Brothers Band) and they played and then our band played a bit more, and we ended up jamming in our kitchen after most people went home, shouting out country songs, pop songs, ballads, rock n roll – someone captured a pretty good version of “Angel From Montgomery” on video as I recall. But that was the inspiration for writing the song – playing music in the kitchen with a bunch of like minded, music loving, somewhat inebriated friends.
3. What was the writing process like for “Play It Again”?
I think of myself as a storyteller first, so the prose around the story, the poetry or the lyrics come first. Then I fool around with the melody. What am I going for? Up tempo, ballad, a bluesy feel? My music theory is pretty shaky so sometimes this part takes up most of the time. The party nature of “Play it Again” really took shape in the studio as we were going for a jam, sing along vibe. Buddy Speir, my producer, was instrumental in getting to that feel. At one time, I called this song “Kitchen Music,” but after we made the chorus such a central part of the song, it was obvious, we had to change the title to “Play it Again.”
4. What’s something that excites you most about music?
Music moves me. The beat can cause me to physically move of course. It can lead me to move emotionally on a topic I’ve been pondering. Music can get me to reflect on a line, cause me to admire the brilliance of a lyric or wonder what the writer was thinking about. Music moves me and I hope it does that for everyone. For example, last night I was driving home and listened to Ray LaMontagne’s “I Was Born to Love You” … I started to cry. That happens to me all the time. We should all be moved by the emotions of a song, whether in the lyrics or the melody. Music may be the perfect form of communication.
5. Who were some of your inspirations growing up?
I probably know every word of every James Taylor song growing up. I’m one of the youngest in a very large musical family so there was always music in the house. My mom would play show tunes, my dad always listened to country music and from my older brothers and sisters, everything from Miles Davis, Herbie Hancok and John Mayall to Cream, CSNY, and the Beatles. I loved listening to great singers like Marvin Gaye and early Motown artists, but also loved the Eagles, Joe Cocker and Fleetwood Mac. I took singing lessons as a kid and also sang in church and school plays growing up so I’m all over the place on what I listened to. I guess the theme running through everyone I listed is that they are good singers or had a great way to tell their story and interpret their music.
6. What could you tell us about your upcoming EP “Stand Right There”?
Well the title track speaks to that person in many of our lives that stabilizes everything around them. In my case, it was my mom. “Stand Right There” is meant to conjure an image of my mom waving to me and my family whenever we’d visit. There were always a ton of relatives around, kids, grandkids, in-laws and outlaws. Her home, my childhood home, was a mecca.for our extended family Ground Zero. The place you had to be for birthdays, holidays or special occasions. My mom was this really accepting person – all were welcome – and all felt welcome..
There are two more songs set for release in the EP … “Irene” is one of the tracks. It’s a Leonard Cohen-esq song about a woman or a storm or both. We were really going for that dark, stormy feel and I think we captured that. “Rooms” comes from a more reflective side. After reading “The Interior Caste”, a book from the 15th century mystic, Teresa of Avila, I began to fool around with her ideas of the soul organized by mansions and wondered what heaven would be like if we each had a room? It can be a heavy topic, but I ended up going for a positive, upbeat vibe. What could be better than having your own room in heaven? All the songs were produced at 38 North in Falls Church, VA under the amazing guidance of Buddy Spier.