Glen Hansard: Once and always a street musician
(CBS News) The 2007 movie "Once" is now a Broadway musical . . . giving fans a whole new chance to hear its Oscar-winning song once again. It was co-written by Glen Hansard who talked to Anthony Mason . . .
Glen Hansard has been a street musician since he was 13. He started playing Dublin street corners . . . just him and his guitar.
"New York's a funny city to busk in because, you know, there so much noise," he told Mason. "It's everywhere. It's a really noisy town!"
"You've played right through it, literally," Mason said.
"But, yeah, that's busking," Hansard said. "That's the shape of your strum."
He learned how to project his voice and draw a crowd. But it was nothing like the attention he would get from "Once." The low-budget Irish film, in which Hansard starred as a busker, became an unexpected international hit in 2007.
And "Falling Slowly," the song Hansard wrote with his co-star Markita Irglova, won them an Oscar.
"It took us three weeks to make, we made it for a hundred grand," Hansard effused in his acceptance speech. "We never thought we'd come into a room like this and be in front of you people."
He told Mason, "When we won that award, it was just, like, the most amazing thing. And then my thing was like, "Okay, thanks, Now let's get on with our lives. And then when there was talk of it going to Broadway, I remember being very nervous, and honestly I was against it."
"You didn't want a Broadway musical?" Mason asked.
"No," he said. "For me, Broadway meant sort of hamming it up. 'Course, you're tempted by the idea of people saying, whispering in your ear, going, 'Do you know if this does well, like, you're gonna be seriously rich?' And going like, 'That was never why we did this.'"
Hansard relented. And the musical "Once" last year won 8 Tony Awards.
"They did treat it with grace," he said. "They did treat it with respect. They did get the right people."
Hansard lives in a rented cottage on an estate outside Dublin. He took Mason to a Dublin pub to share a pint with Frankie Byrne, Hansard's former grade school principal, who told him it was okay to quite school at 13 to pursue music.
"So for me, that was just, you know, the wings I needed," Hansard said. "So I went home, and basically announced to ma, 'Listen, it's okay. Frankie told me it's okay!'"
"Yeah, he got permission," Byrne laughed. "One of my proudest moments in my dereliction of duty, you know."
Hansard still knows most of the street musicians in the city.
"Mary's here every single day, and she's a great busker," he said of one.
The singer who used to play on Grafton Street showed Mason his spot, where he'd busk during the day, then come back after the pubs closed at night:
"Are people more generous when they're drunk?" asked Mason.
"That's the thing -- it's a tougher gig, but you make more money," said Hansard. "Everyone's drunk!"
He added, "It's a lot more dangerous."
Web Exclusive video: To watch Glen Hansard busking on Manhattan streets and in a Bleecker Street record shop, click on the video player below, as he performs "Love Don't Keep Me Waiting."
At 18 he formed a band called The Frames. One video, made on a post office security camera for less than $5, was picked by up MTV. Then one of his former band mates asked him to help with a small film he was making.
During filming Hansard fell in love with Marketa Irglova, his friend and costar who was 18 years younger.
Of the sleeper success of "Once," which put him -- and his romance with Irglova -- in the spotlight in a way he'd never been before," Hansard said, "It didn't help us all.
"I think part of what made 'Once' on the screen kind of work was that there was always this energy between us," he said. "You'd be a fool to deny it."
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