Hailing from Bangor, Mark Hegan has had a busy couple of years, releasing nine singles since taking up the solo mantle in 2019. The effusive songwriter’s most recent singles have been his best to date, but on his latest release he’s returned to his band days by reworking In An Instant’s ‘Something Right and Something Real’. A classic from a previous Chordblossom Kickstart winner, the song has lost none of its shine.
With his recent releases, we asked Mark to dish on his favourite tracks that have inspired him so far.
Bruce Springsteen – The Promised Land
I love Bruce. I feel mirrored every time I hear his albums. They teach me about me, and Darkness On The Edge of Town is no exception. In fact, my most recent single, ‘Something Right And Something Real’ almost definitely pays accidental homage to the title track. ‘Accidental’ being the key word of course…
As for ‘The Promised Land’, one lyric in particular has always stuck out to me: “I’ve done my best to live the right way, I get up every morning and go to work each day, But your eyes go blind and your blood runs cold, Sometimes I feel so weak I just wanna explode”. That gets me every time. It’s a rallying cry against mundanity, and I literally feel like I’m going to explode when I hear it.
Simon & Garfunkel – America
Everyone points to Bridge Over Troubled Water as the best Simon & Garfunkel album, but I think it’s all about Bookends. It’s their gentle masterpiece, and ‘America’ is a gift of a song. What’s beautiful about Paul Simon’s writing is that he creates scenes ever so slightly tinged with sadness, then hits you with a gut punch in the final verse: “‘Kathy I’m lost’ I said, though I knew she was sleeping, I’m empty and aching and I don’t know why, Counting the cars on the New Jersey Turnpike, They’ve all come to look for America”. Many writers have used the United States as a metaphor for human longing, but few have done it as well as Paul does here.
U2 – I Still Haven’t Found What I’m Looking For
I don’t know where to begin with this song. I think I’ve listened to it a thousand times. ‘I Still Haven’t Found What I’m Looking For’ introduced me to the world of spiritual song writing and might be my very favourite on the list. It’s an Irish Blues song with an absolutely raging spirit and, in my opinion, has one of the best lyrics ever put to paper: “I believe in a kingdom come, then all the colours will bleed into one, but yes I’m still running”. That’s the human condition right there. It’s an experience in of itself every time it’s on the radio and I know I’ll never tire of it. That’s kind of the point of the song though, isn’t it?
Snow Patrol – Make This Go On Forever
My second obsession growing up (after Jurassic Park) was Snow Patrol. Eyes Open is one of the greatest albums out there and ‘Make This Go On Forever’ is one of my favourites. I’ve listened to the track so many times it feels more like a family member than a song. That sounds a bit weird, but it’s hard to describe it in any other way. In fact, I picked up the guitar after seeing a Snow Patrol gig and remember the first time I played one of their songs properly; it was a Sunday afternoon band practice and I had a terrifying amount of homework to do for Monday. We hit a chorus and the song took me somewhere I’d never been before. I literally felt my life change in an instant. Thank God for Gary and the lads.
Elvis Presley – Can’t Help Falling In Love
This one found me later than most of the other tunes I’ve listed on here. It’s less of a song that directly inspired me but more of a track that became a life chapter. I listened to it on repeat when I was lovesick a few years back and was continually blown away by one line in particular: “Take my hand, take my whole life too”. Nothing too pretty, just straight up love and compromise. There’s something so hypnotic about it too, you could listen to it on repeat for days. Trust me.
Elbow – My Sad Captains
Elbow are an absolutely beautiful band that deserve more praise than they get. This song is all about adolescent friendship, a theme Elbow do so well. “Oh, long before you and I were born, Others beat these benches with their empty cups, To the night and its stars, To the here and now and who we are”. Perfect. Beautiful irresponsibility. I’ve tried so many times to create a song comparable to this one but just can’t.
Van Morrison – Rough God Goes Riding
Van Morrison is an author of the soul like no other. What I love about him is his ability to capture profound beauty in such a matter of fact, quintessentially Belfast way. I remember the very first time I heard ‘Rough God Goes Riding’ and this verse literally stopped me in my tracks: “And it’s a matter of survival, When you’re born with your back against the wall, Won’t somebody had me my bible? Won’t you give me that number to call, When that rough God goes riding”. What a great lyric. Van has painted his pain for generations and the result is a world beating discography.
Sufjan Stevens – Chicago
I defy your heart to not flutter when this song starts… ‘Chicago’ from the bizarre yet brilliant Illinois is an absolute banger and was the soundtrack to my 2011. I found out about it after hearing the lyric “Put Sufjan Stevens on and we’ll play your favourite song, Chicago bursts to life and your sweet smile remembers you” from ‘Hands Open’ by Snow Patrol (yes, them again) and I ‘legally’ downloaded it to find out what all the fuss was about. It’s an effortless masterpiece and, although it’s clichéd to say, will forever take me back to that one sunny afternoon we had in Bangor in 2011. Beautiful.
Paul Simon – Slip Slidin’ Away
I know I had a Simon & Garfunkel track earlier, but this is technically a Paul Simon solo song so I’m sneaking it in! I’m really glad I got to pay homage to Paul in my song ‘Another Kind Of Blood’, which is all about London and keeping your head above water. There’s a reference to ‘Sound of Silence’ in there, listen and see if you can find it…
As for ‘Slip Slidin’ Away’, my favourite part is the second to last verse, all about the father and the son. The lyric goes “I know a father who had a son, He longed to tell him all the reasons for the things he’d done, He came a long way just to explain, Kissed his boy as he lay sleeping and then he turned around and headed home again”. Each line in the song is bloody beautiful, but that one sticks out to me especially; the son will never know the hurt of the father. In the end, we only have limited control and difficulties will find us no matter who we are or what we do.
Green Day – Jesus Of Suburbia
I’ll leave you with this. Nine minutes of Green Day at their absolute best. American Idiot is one of the strongest albums of the noughties and ‘Jesus of Suburbia’ is the highlight of the album for me. “I’m the son of rage and love, The Jesus of Suburbia”. Absolutely class. It’s a great one to do for karaoke too…the DJ will hate you, but the crowd will love it.
That’s it, my ten songs. And not one from B*Witched’s debut. What’s up with that?