The Rocky Road to Entertaining an Audience

I recently listened to Tommy Fleming speak about Christie Hennessy’s song “Roll back the Clouds” on a podcast. He talked about how important the song was to him, and also how it explained the drug of performing and how he and others like him were prepared to travel the world and be lonely lots of times just to get the hit of performing and the high that it can bring for short periods of time.

When listening to Tommy, I realise it’s not only show business people who chase the recognition and the challenges that come with wanting to perform in the belief that you can improve people’s lives. It’s anyone who stands in front of an audience.

I have loved the music and particularly the lyrics of songwriters such as Don McClean and Kris Kristofferson, some of Kristofferson’s later songs are as good as the famous ones we know, like “Sunday Morning’ Coming Down”.

The Beatles, and I’ve only come to truly appreciate the breadth of their range in my adult years.

My personal favourites are ‘In My Life’ and “Blackbird.”

But still, my favourite band is the Kinks —– ah ‘Days.’

While raising my children, they had to listen to my music during Sunday lunch; on the menu was Ralph McTell and the fourteen-minute-long songs of Harry Chapin.

A particular favourite was Andy Fairweather Low and “Wide Eyes and Legless”.

As a child, my daughter Jennifer always asked what had happened to his legs.

He is still on my playlist, and she now understands the song. If you are curious, have a listen back on Spotify.

When I’m in the kitchen cooking, my musical tastes often go back to where I started as a teenager, following the Dubliners and folk music artists like Liam Clancy and Christy Moore.

Music has been an integral part of my life, from singing “The Merry Plough Boy” at twelve years of age at parties in my family home, full of friends and relations. Who were visiting after big matches in Croke Park long before I understood the story arc of the song?

Take time today to listen to a favourite song or two and perhaps give a little thought to the life’s journey you are on and how music can accompany and support you on that journey.

I have strayed too far down memory lane but hope you have enjoyed reading about my feelings about Christie’s inspirational song. He and other great songwriters have had a major impact on how I put myself in front of large and small audiences to tell people of my personal passion, which in turn helps my clients hold an audience in the palm of their hand when speaking to a group.

By Executive Coach Andrew Keogh of