Everyone knows that Emmelie de Forest won this year’s Eurovision with “Only Teardrops”. But how many of you can honestly name the person responsible for writing the song? I know I can’t. It’s a simple fact that amidst all the excitement and celebrations the media are always drawn towards the glamorous performers, while the writers are usually forgotten. As a result it’s quite rare to hear things from their perspective.
However, in an interview with the Irish Independent which was published over the weekend, Shay Healy, spoke candidly about his experience of winning the contest as a writer. He wrote Ireland’s 1980 winning entry “What’s Another Year”, which was performed by Johnny Logan.
“I remember us standing on the stage in The Hague when we’d just won. As Shakespeare said, we forged our friendship ‘with hoops of steel’. Oddly enough, the songwriter is treated like muck. They’re the least important person on the stage. I realised that nobody was asking me any questions so I slinked off, I put my hat on, walked across this great big plaza, and I had a feeling of great contentment.”
Despite his best efforts he went unnoticed in the melee following the announcement of the winning results.
“Nobody really cares who the songwriter is. I wasn’t insulted. Though I was doing my best, I was wearing a f***ing stripy jacket and stripy trousers and a straw boater hat – very Gatsbyesque.”
While for some such an experience would sully their memories of the contest Healy has no qualms about being best known as the writer of an Eurovision winner and is still very proud of the song.
“It’s a good song no matter what anyone says. It’s about watching my dad go through the pain of losing his wife, and they were a great couple. They had a lot of similar interests, in the Gaelic language and the theatre.”
In the years following his win Shay has remained close to the competition. Most recently he mentored 2013 hopefuls Inchequin. However, they came last in the “Eurosong” selection competition which was won by Ryan Dolan.
The wide ranging interview in which Shay discusses his colourful career and his diagnosis with Parkinson’s disease can be read in full here.
Photo: The Irish Times