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Paul Mescal: The New Patron Saint Of ‘Sound Lads’

And sounds ... he's a fan of the amazing Phoebe Bridgers


Paul Mescal is the new patron saint of sound lads.

Of normal people, guffaw, guffaw!

Ah, here we go … brain at it again, fetching up these wacky little messages bobbling in from my deepest shallows …

Really, brain!

But this one, I had to follow up on.

First off … no, brain, we haven’t found religion, but that’s not to say we haven’t been shaped by our good little Catholic background.

There’s a story I recall — or more typically, have probably mis-remembered — about writer Graham Greene responding to someone telling him he was an atheist … ‘Ah yes, but what kind of atheist are you, Catholic or Protestant?’

Anyway, ‘patron saint’?

“The heavenly advocate of a nation, place, craft, activity, class, clan, family, or person”, says yer man Google, first up.

Kind of an unpaid intermediary or heavenly lobbyist …

And ‘sound lads’?

Now this, for you non-natives, is a quintessentially Irish construction, both the ‘sound’ and the ‘lads’.

Every dialect, tongue, or slanguage, as my great French friend Joel put it one time, has a way of saying something that is simultaneously understood but open to interpretation, depending who says it, who they say it to, and how they say it — and coloured in turn by how the person hears it, depending on tone and context.

Still with me?

So my idea of ‘sound’, goes along the lines of someone who is … let me see, cool, but not needily, obviously so … independent-minded but open to other people’s opinions … never flashy, never pretentious.

A sound person is … genuine, reliable, kind, caring, funny, interesting without being a know-it-all … approachable without being obsequious …  would do you a good turn without looking for one back … always has your back … is someone you’d love to go for a pint with, the ultimate measure of ‘soundness’ in these parts.

Which of course would make you ‘sound’ too, but you’d be too sound to admit that …

You’re getting the idea? … Ultimately, a sound lad, as John Martyn put it in his great song May You Never, would “never talk dirty behind my back, although there are some who do”.

‘Lad’ here is nothing to do with Jack the Lad, or smutty Lad Mag associations.

In Ireland, again, we refer to blokes up to … around 30 … as ‘lads’, subdivided into ‘good lads’, and … well, not good lads.

A sound lad is also a good lad!

So a sound  lad is usually friendly and never — ever! — above himself. Even if he has every reason to be.

… Like Paul Mescal.

Look, I watched Normal People like a few trillion of us Global Covid Castaways, and it was the first I ever heard of him.

I’ve looked him up since, of course, to find that as well as his acting chops, he was/is a genuinely talented footballer, who represented, even captained his county team at underage level …

I’ve read the odd twitter and online thing …  snippets of interviews, him reading poetry, singing and playing a keyboard, and so on … all very impressive, and despite the pratfalls awaiting sudden social media celebs, he seems to be staying well this side of wankery, or even self-promoting.

A hard thing to do when you are, in fact, promoting yourself.

Which actors have to.

He seems to be still sound.

Happy in his football shorts hitting the supermarket, holding a scuzzy plastic shopping bag, chomping on an ice-cream, or strolling/running around some London park, social distancing properly … all very sound.

A seriously talented, but sound lad.

Like a properly confident Connell.

A sense of humour, too …

There they were, himself and ‘Marianne’, Daisy Edgar-Jones, with Andrew Scott, reprising his Hot Priest role from Fleabag, in a wonderful sketch for RTE television’s Comic Relief fundraiser.

Set in a confessional, and all three breaking into Tracy Chapman’s gorgeous Baby Can I Hold You… hilarious, touching and just stunning.

So, the Mescal boy can sing, which he further proves my sharing a duet online with the seriously talented Dermot Kennedy.

But there is another thing about “sound” lads, up to now, they have never caught the zeitgeist, or even the girl …  at least not in the movies or in the best songs …

Like, you couldn’t imagine pitching a sound lad hero story in Hollywood before … “I’ve got this killer idea for our new blockbuster … there’s this sound lad, see? … sensitive, has a brilliant relationship with his single mom mother … loves women,  but can’t talk to them, and there’s this beautiful doe-eyed girl he’s mad about, but he can’t tell her …  no, listen, please, listen! …

Sure now, it will be: “You got that Paul Mescal guy lined up… call his agent, now! …”

Young Mr Mescal, or maybe his character Connell in Normal People, might just have at least cracked the mould on this one … okay he’s obviously a bit of physical all-right, but there’s lots of those around, that’s not what knocked this one out of the ball park.

What resonated with men and women, with anyone who ever had a heart …

For me, it was the obvious decency, integrity and, yes, soundness of the character, all wrapped up in confusion and hard to articulate love yearnings.

Connell/Paul has made ‘sound’ cool.

By really, why I am nailed-on convinced of Mescal’s soundness is his taste in music, or sounds in the tunes sense, as revealed by the fact he is a serious fan of American “Sad Girl” singer-songwriter Phoebe Bridgers.

Forget about the online stuff about whether the pair have hooked up, or not, following a reported meeting up in the seaside town of Kinsale in Ireland.

I couldn’t care less .…

But listening now to Bridgers’ stuff … two albums to date, Stranger In The Alps (2017) and recently, Punisher, she is just marvellous.

Phoebe-Bridgers-Punisher-Vinyl (2)
Phoebe Bridgers’ latest album, Punisher

Don’t believe me? … Check them out, and my favourite, Funeral, on her first album.

This song actually shocked me with its beauty, emotion and perspective.

Her’s is the kind of talent only a sound lad — or person —  would appreciate.

Okay, I’m in danger of outing myself here as wannabe sound lad, but feck it, I admit it, I’m a musical snob.

Someone tweeted recently enough that should never trust someone who is not a musical snob, and I kind of get what they meant.

If a song or artist means something to you, you take a dim view of those who don’t agree.

Doesn’t sound very sound, but I think it is, ultimately.

Maybe this is where another connotation of ‘sound’ comes into play.

As in, stands up to examination, or  is “based on valid reason or good judgement,” as the Oxford English dictionary puts it.

So, there you, Paul Mescal is the new patron saint of sound lads.

And sounds.

Sound?

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32 comments on “Paul Mescal: The New Patron Saint Of ‘Sound Lads’

  1. Nice post and I’m sure he’s a sound lad But Phoebe Bridgers sounds extremely depressing to me. Just not my cup of tea

    Stay well and Laugh when you can

    Liked by 1 person

  2. I didn’t watch Normal People but from what I’ve read about it and him he seems like a good bloke.

    Thanks for the confirmation that I was right to add Phoebe Bridgers to my Apple Music library – now I need to listen to her!

    Liked by 1 person

  3. Hi there. I’ve become aware of Bridgers only recently. I’ve liked the songs I heard. Someone with a surname similar to hers is Leon Bridges. Do you know him? I really like his song called Texas Sun.

    Liked by 1 person

  4. Looks like two young and talented artists. I haven’t watched or listened to them but will check them out. #MLSTL

    Liked by 1 person

  5. Katrina | ChatterFoxBlog

    I haven’t yet seen the tv adaptation but I have the book ready and waiting. I’ve heard such good things, I hope it lives up to my expectations.

    Katrina x
    #KCACOLS

    Liked by 1 person

  6. Hope you enjoy.both, Katrina

    Like

  7. I have a confession to make – I HATED Normal People (the book) and it turned me off even trying the series. I found them to be a miserable, self-destructive mob of sad pretend-adults. I’m not sure if it’s my Australian sunny nature that was offended by their grey, dismal, self-indulgent lives…..or whether I’m just too old to understand? I do like the idea of a “sound lad” though. #MLSTL

    Liked by 1 person

    • Haha, good, straight-talking Aussie. I can see why people have criticised the book … I didn’t love, love it, but I cared about the central pair. A lot. Yes, some of the Trinity student types were abhorrent, and some of the school mates not exactly endearing. Sally Rooney really is a minimalist type of writer, and this can work really well when it does work. Whether her intention, it’s kind of clever the way this approach can hook you in as a reader and let your imagination do a lot of work. “Grey, dismal, self-indulgent lives’ … well put!

      Like

  8. I had to Google who Paul Mescal was. I am still none the wiser but the TV show Normal People sounds like something I would like. x

    Liked by 1 person

  9. I’ve lived in Liverpool for three and a half years now and “sound” is one of the most used phrases locally. It means the same as it does in Ireland, probably brought over in one direction of the other given the connections! The other big word here is boss. Being a Glaswegian with a very different accent I still can’t bring myself to say either, but I do appreciate their heart felt meaning when used! #WotW

    Liked by 1 person

    • THat’s funny, but then Liverpool and Ireland do have such an obvious connection and history. Boss … would you say ‘Sound, Boss!’

      Like

  10. Confession time. I loved the book, but really didn’t enjoy the series. I don’t think it was down to Paul Mescal though, Connell was just fine. I guess he is a ‘sound lad.’ I agree that there are music snobs too, I’ve met a few. Phoebe Bridges sounds depressed, but I’d be willing to listen to more, she has a sweet voice.

    Liked by 1 person

    • She is definitely downbeat, but as you say, a lovely voice. And a few absolutely gorgeous songs. It’s funny, I can see how both book and series might not appeal to all, but I loved the series . Well more than the book, actually

      Like

  11. I have to admit I’ve never heard of Paul Mescal or Normal People, but to be honest, the only TV I ever seem to see is what the children watch on CBeebies and the occasional episode of The Crown on Netflix if I get a free moment. He does sound like a ‘sound lad’ though and it’s always good to hear of someone who still manages to not have their head turned too much by fame. #WotW

    Liked by 1 person

  12. Thank you for teaching me some “Irish”, enda. Now I can speak the lingo whan I visit. I will be sure to throw around the phrase “sound lad”. 🙂

    Liked by 1 person

  13. I have not watched Normal People – I don’t get chance to watch anything much these days! LOL! I do know the word sound though 😀 Mainly spoken in a Black Country accent – not mine – and used in the phrase “sound as a pound” which pretty much means the same as your definition 🙂

    Like

  14. I had to google who you meant. I got up to chapter 6 of that book and had to chuck it in,. I couldn’t get into it. So can’t say the series is high on my list but I have a lot of friends talking about it…#KCACOLS

    Like

  15. I have not seem this, I guess the only thing I get to watch is kids TV, so this will be added to my list of must see. Thanks so much for linking up at #KCACOLS. Hope you come back again next time

    Liked by 1 person

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