Way back in the early part of the 21st century, a few young kids in the Norwood Park area of north Chicago wrote a song called “Mayor O’Hara.” It was a tribute to a larger-than-life gregarious fellow who seemed to know and love everyone in that corner of the city. A proud Chicagoan of Irish heritage, Mike O’Hara frequented the local watering holes and enthusiastically brought people together for the best kind of fun. When someone is that well-known, they often earn that honorary title and Mike certainly earned the right to be called Mayor O’Hara.
The song was recorded track-by-track way back then. No midi, all real instruments and voices through microphones. My recollection of the session included my first track with mandolin, Don Shea on acoustic guitar, Gary Zimmer‘s impeccable whistling, and Matt Stankiewicz‘s debut with his dad’s old accordion. If memory serves, the construction (or the current condition) of that instrument didn’t allow for every chord we needed so some of his parts so they were simplified or slightly (charmingly) out of tune. My favorite moment is the rousing chorus of multiple character voices that bring the whole song to life.
Sadly, the Mayor of Norwood Park died suddenly not long after we wrote and recorded his song. He got to hear it though and loved it. I’m told they played it on repeat at his funeral. Since then, it’s been sitting on the shelf for well over 10 years. People from the old neighborhood ask about it occasionally so I thought it deserved to be findable online. With today’s holiday, I finally have a reason to release it. So, with that said, please enjoy “Mayor O’Hara.”