Friday night, at a cocktail party celebrating the release of the “Albert Nobbs” soundtrack, Glenn Close, Sinead O’Connor and Irish composer Brian Byrne might have seemed an unlikely grouping. Close was well-coiffed in a tailored slacks and heels; O’Connor, barefoot, wore a floor-length black coat that revealed colorful chest tattoos; and Byrne, a self-described relative “newcomer” to A-list Hollywood circles, looked a bit star struck.
But, in fact, the trio was in perfect harmony.
Close elegantly hosted the 100 or so guests –- mostly music executives, film producers and personal friends -- over caviar and tuna tartare appetizers at West Hollywood’s Palihouse. Byrne entertained the crowd with a piano performance. But the highlight of the affair, held by the Irish Film Board and Varese Sarabande Records, was undoubtedly O’Connor’s live performance of the film’s theme song, a melancholic Irish “lullaby” called “Lay Your Head Down.”
As O’Connor belted out the tune, with Steve Erdodie playing cello and Jennifer Curtis the violin, Close stood nearby with tears in her eyes. Not only does she star in “Nobbs” as a cross-dressing waiter circa 1890s, she also co-produced the movie, co-wrote the script and penned the lyrics for Byrne’s theme song, which O’Connor recorded for the film. It has since received a Golden Globe nomination.
So O’Connor’s performance Friday night was particularly meaningful for Close. “She has this extraordinary quite ethereal voice,” Close said, beaming.
Byrne, for his part, is particularly proud of Close’s lyrics. He said he composed the song shortly after his father had passed away, which largely inspired the song’s moody, heartfelt tone. But, hard as he tried, he couldn’t get the lyrics right. “Glenn knew every character inside and out. I said ‘Why don’t you write the lyrics?’ and she jumped at the chance,” Byrne said. “She brought another dimension to the score with these words that I could never write, and I think they’re really, really great. In essence, it’s made Albert live beyond the movie.”
To O’Connor, the song summons a key theme of the movie: “Just the idea of having someone who you can really be yourself with," she said, "reveal yourself, and they’ll accept you for who you are.”
To hear the song, check out the video below:
-- Deborah Vankin
Top photo: Sinead O'Connor performs "Lay Your Head Down" at Palihouse. Credit: Deborah Vankin
Bottom photo: Glenn Close hosts the "Albert Nobbs" soundtrack party. Credit: Deborah Vankin