When a music freak (lover) like me finds out that one of her favourite musicians is coming to her town and that there are still some tickets available, even though they apparently had already been available on the internet for a while, it is time for a party, and of course a new article to put the artist and his work in the spotlight.
Another reason for writing about this artist is to make sure this man will not disappear after one great hit. That one song made him famous for obvious reasons; it is amazing, and certainly worth taking a closer look at, but it is most definitely not his only piece of art.
About two years ago, I started listening to the music of Andrew Hozier-Byrne, mainly known as “Hozier”. This-26-year-old modest and down-to-earth guy from Ireland became enormously famous in the last two years. In those two years he has toured around the world and in 2015 he even won the Song of the Year award for “Take Me To Church” at the BBC Music Awards. It was that song that I heard on the radio two years ago, when it had just been released. I loved it, but somehow I did not come into contact with more songs of his until September last year when I was on vacation. I was sitting on the patio at night when my lovely travel companion put on a playlist of Hozier. Then, for the first time I actually really listened to “Take Me To Church”, without any distractions. It relaxed me, put a smile on my face and made me wonder why I never listened to more of his music. Hozier’s songs were playing a lot those two weeks. Some songs made me happy and gave me energy and others made me calm, peaceful and awestruck.
The lyrics of his songs are so intriguing and beautiful. They tell a story. That is what made me curious for the story behind them and the artist. “Take Me To Church” has been and still is a very popular song and I am convinced that a lot of people have noticed it has some interesting and dark lyrics which, by the way, fit perfectly with his deep and overwhelming voice. However, I don’t believe many people know the song was written to support the LGBT (Lesbian Gay Bisexual and Transgender) Rights Movement. Hozier is not gay himself, he just wants to spread awareness. He explains in one of his interviews that it took him a long time to create a home for his ideas and write the song. In his own words he states: “If I don’t think a song is worth writing, I wait until it is”.
Essentially, it is a politically driven love song about sexual orientation and religion. Hozier wants to be clear that “it is not an attack on faith, but on an oppressive culture of the church that teaches shame about sexual orientation and preference”. It is very difficult for him, and naturally for me and numerous others as well, to see how institutions still undermine that very natural part of being a human being.
Furthermore, another thing to notice is that the music video was made to call attention to the horrific videos being put on the internet in Russia showing people with “non-traditional sexual orientation” being beat up or tortured. In Russia, although same-sex sexual activity between consenting adults in private was decriminalized in 1993 and homosexuality has been declassified as a mental illness since 1999, there is still an unofficial “Don’t ask, don’t tell” policy. Tragically, this is the same or worse in many other countries.
Personally, I find it very inspiring if a musician takes a political stand and Hozier does this beautifully by supporting the LGBT Movement through “designing” a song that focuses on the human experience of loving someone; a very tangible thing to worship. In his opinion, it is “one of the few wonderful things you can really look forward to as a person”.
“Take Me To Church”, which was actually produced on a shoestring budget and put on YouTube for free, made Hozier famous, but it most certainly is not his only extraordinary piece of music. All of his songs have beautiful poetic lyrics and they tell stories of human experiences in life. To name a couple of my favourites: “To Be Alone”, “From Eden”, “Like Real People Do”, “Someone New”, “Cherry Wine”, “Jackie and Wilson”, and basically the rest of the album as well. Some of them have lively blues tunes and others calm guitar rhythms. For some reason, the songs never get old.
If you don’t know his music yet and wonder what it is that I have been rambling on about, I suggest you take a moment to listen to his powerful, wonderful and warming repertoire. If, however, you are already in love with him, I believe that, at this moment, there are still some tickets left for his concert on the 25th of January. How? I really have no idea.
“Honey, when you kill the lights, and kiss my eyes, I feel like a person for a moment of my life” (To Be Alone)