Joe Hurley and Colum McCann's songwriting collaboration has resulted in a glorious 13 minute epic, sprawling across the wastelands and heartbreaks of a prostitute's life in New York City, 1974. "The House that Horse Built (Let the Great World Spin)" was inspired by McCann's breathtaking new novel, and it shivers and slides it's way through the darkness and into the light with unbreakable spirit amidst a stunning musical and lyrical landscape of grit, defiance, love, and surrender.
McCann's novel Let The Great World Spin won the 2009 National Book Award .
Click here to check out Joe Hurley's Audio Portrait! The highly-acclaimed Audio Portraits series gives listeners unique insight into the creative process, as told by the writers themselves. This feature is the story behind Joe Hurley and Colum McCann's latest CD, The House That Horse Built (Let The Great World Spin). posted 6.9.10
1) My Name Is Till (You Can Call Me Sweetcakes)
2) Let The Great World Spin (I Am Of This Earth)
3) a) Hanging From The Pipes (Leaving The House That Horse Built)
b) Let The Great World Spin Without Me
With Joe Hurley (vocals & guitar), the CD features an all-star cast of musicians including many of The Gents: Tony Shanahan - bass (Patti Smith Band), James Mastro - guitar (Ian Hunter Band), Kenny Margolis - piano (Cracker), Dennis Diken - drums (Smithereens), Matt Sweeney - guitar (Johnny Cash, Bonnie "Prince" Billy), gospel great Tami Lynn (Rolling Stones, Dr. John), soul singer/film star Antonique Smith, Joe McGinty, Faith Hahn and 6-time Grammy winner Paddy Moloney of the legendary CHIEFTAINS. The CD was produced by Don Fleming (Sonic Youth, Pete Yorn) with Joe Hurley at Think Tank, NY.
"Joe Hurley has always been a superior songwriter. He is also a singer of distinction, a great vessal of lyric poetry, a man of attitude and once upon a time a drinker of proportions epic enough to encompass visions of human grandeur in the simplest gesture of lust, punch in the face or hairline fracture of the soul. He has drawn upon all these motley talents to conjure a vision of faith in the thralls of despair on this remarkable song cycle, "The House That Horse Built," based on Colum McCann's novel "Let the Great World Spin."
Hurley's cracked, gut-spilling vocals take us through the pride and degradation of a New York street prostitute -- "My Name Is Till (You Can Call Me Sweetcakes)" -- brought to ruin at The House That Horse Built, yet still capable of understanding spiritual transcendence in the wrenching hymn "Let The Great World Spin."
Somehow a vision of Philippe Petit's gravity-defying tightrope walk between the two World Trade Center buildings becomes a prayer, a metaphor of transcendance for Till, who hangs herself from the pipes in the Tombs as her method of escape from the House That Horse Built.
"I was of this earth, and I had worth," goes the chorus. McCann and Hurley make us contemplate 9/11 as the backdrop of this morality story. The haunting music, Hurley's voice and the ethereal choir make us all root for Till as she floats away to her fate: "Let the great world spin, let me back in, let my heart swim away from the house that horse built."
– John Swenson (Rolling Stone Editor, UPI syndicated music columnist, Co-author of Rolling Stone Record Guide, author of 14 music biographies including John Lennon, Bill Haley, and The Who)
"On the surface it’s a bleak tale, but the undercurrent of hope throughout is magnificent and reflected in the music."
– Dan Aquilante, NY Post, 3 & 1/2 stars out of 4 - CDs of the Week
"A phenomena... lyrically compelling, wondrously sung and superbly produced by Don Fleming"
– Nick West, Nick West Publisher/Music Editor of UK's Bucketfull of Brains Magazine
"Incredible! Joe Hurley is a brilliant songwriter and a truly charismatic performer."
– Paddy Moloney of Ireland's legendary The Chieftains
"Joe Hurley shakes the Irish out of the Irish - and brings us all back together again. He's an old seanchai in a rock star's shoes, a poet of microcosm with a steroscopic vision, a balladeer with a whole lot of landscape in his voice. He sings out from the anonymous corners where the best stories are told. Chalk one up for the old songs, newly told... Hurley is one of the great songwriters of our time."
– Colum McCann, 2009 National Book Award Winner for Let The Great World Spin & best-selling novelist of Everything In This Country Must (made into Oscar-nominated film), Zoli, Dancer, This Side of Brightness, and others.
"The CD is great. The first line of the hook is perfect!"
– Ian Hunter, (Rock legend).
"New York Singer-Songwriter Joe Hurley is set to be one of the highlights of this year's Feile Festival, as his Bank Square Marquee appearance will be the first time he has performed in Belfast. The legendary artist will be entertaining fans old and new with his classic hits along with songs from his latest album "The House That Horse Built" (Let The Great World Spin). This latest release is a unique collaboration with Irish novelist Colum McCann, inspired by McCann's award-winning novel 'Let The Great World Spin'. The album features a guest appearance by iconic troubadour Paddy Moloney of The Chieftains, highlighting Hurley's Celtic roots, while fans can enjoy the usual eclectic mix of piano ballads and stinging rock & roll ."
– Belfast News, (Cover Story).
"Hurley's songs are edgy, harrowing and moving, much like his muse and protagonist in this most unusual project."
– Steve Rosenfeld, (NPR, ASCAP).