Majella Murphy: ‘I was told that people like me usually end up in a lock-up ward’
A new song by musician Majella Murphy is based on her emergence from alcoholism into a brighter future
Alcoholism, Majella admits, “screwed up” a lot of her relationships. “There is a selfishness attached to alcoholism and a sense of self-centredness, and we don’t always see the pain we cause to others near us, people who love us dearly.”
Six months ago, Majella did put two members of her family through such pain, an experience that led to her giving up alcohol. She lives alone, and she started drinking one day at 5am, finished at midnight, and made her way through a bottle and a half of vodka, eight beers, and a bottle of wine.
“So my sister phoned that day, I was bawling crying and I said ‘I can’t stop’. She said, ‘we’re coming for you tomorrow’, and I knew it was going to be the last day. I’ve never been suicidal, thankfully, but I would have killed myself. Not deliberately, but I would have had a heart attack or a stroke.
“But the next day, [my sister] Mary, who is so very good to me, and her husband, Paul, came and they took me off and minded me for three days, and I haven’t drunk since.”
Such revelations add authenticity to the theme of Majella’s new single, Too Small to Follow. She recites part of its lyric for me. “The rain is pouring down here and I can’t be the clown here today/ The sun won’t come out because the spring is just too far away/ But I can feel life calling me/ Stand right there and catch me in case I fall/ If not I’ll be too small to follow/ And won’t make it here at all.” Set to a glorious pop tune, and sung by her richly resonant voice, the song is truly uplifting.
Majella has another musical project next year, one that doesn’t seem to have made its full impact on her as she speaks about it. Having converted from Catholicism to Buddhism three years ago, Majella now lives as part of a Buddhist community in Cork and has been chosen by Tibetan Buddhist leader Tai Situ Rinpoche (“who has 30 million followers”) to put music to his words. She will be the first westerner, indeed the first person, to do this.
“He said he had never heard a voice like mine, so this is a great honour, I know, but it probably hasn’t hit me yet. But the truth is that what I do will be available in Taiwan, and all over India, where I will be going for the launch. So it is huge.”
It’s a long way from fly-fishing in a Kilkenny river with her father, and Buddhists might say that this time the “river” is truly cosmic. “That’s what it is like, now you mention it,” Majella responds, beaming. “And actually when I stop and think of that, I’d have to say it’s a bit of a miracle.”
Too Small to Follow is available on iTunes