If it weren’t for a few nearsighted 7-Eleven clerks who ask for his driver’s license when he tries buying a six-pack, Kieran Kane would never know he’s not getting any younger.
The boyish-looking singer-songwriter, once one-half of the popular duo The O’Kanes, is hitting his stride in his mid-40s at a time when most veteran performers would consider throwing up their hands to the new breed.
“I don’t envy in any way the sort of rash of younger successful country artists,” Kane said from his Nashville home, “because I realize at this point how quickly that bright flame can burn out. … I wonder sometimes when I see a lot of these younger guys and women how they will be able to sustain over the years.
“Sometimes that rush of adulation can become pretty heady stuff. It’s easy to take it for granted. You develop an invincible feeling about yourself.”
There’s no chance of that happening with Kane, who knows the pitfalls all too well. With his heralded debut Atlantic album, “Find My Way Home,” he’s approaching his third time around at country fame with caution.
In the early ’80s, the New York-born -and-raised Kane took his first shot at a solo career and saw limited chart success with an album on Elektra and a few Top-10 country singles. He and Elektra soon parted amicably, disagreeing over what direction he should take.
In the mid-’80s, Kane teamed with fellow Tree Publishing Co. songwriter Jamie O’Hara to form The O’Kanes, noted primarily for their flawless Everly Brothers-like harmonies. After three records for CBS, The O’Kanes disbanded in 1989, and Kane went back to his bread and butter: songwriting.
A few years later, Kane took demos he and co-producer/drummer Harry Stinson put together to the head of Atlantic’s Nashville office, Rick Blackburn, the same man who signed The O’Kanes to CBS.
Kane’s second solo try has some critics calling it one of the year’s best country albums.
The persona of “Find My Way Home,” buoyed by the leadoff single “I’m Here To Love You,” is of a man who admits he’s made some mistakes and is trying to make amends. The track “Forgive and Forget” says it all: “To live in peace, to be free of the past/To close my eyes in sweet dreams is all that I ask/But if I die and peace has not come yet/Write on my stone I tried to forgive and forget.”
“As a writer, I think everything, in some way, is personal,” Kane said. “It’s hard to avoid it. It may be just an immediate flash of something, an emotion you’re feeling at the time.
“I’ve known a few writers who write songs and say, ‘Well, that song isn’t really about me,’ but there’s always some element of it that’s about you. Maybe it’s an element you’re trying to suppress.
“I don’t think I regret much. Everything one goes through is a learning experience. The negative things are probably more a learning experience than the positive ones. Sometimes you look back on things and say, ‘Gee, I could have done that differently,’ and in the future you may take that information along with you when the next time you’re confronted with a similar situation.”
Kane has learned from the experiences in his three-part career, the good and the bad.
“One of the things I’ve learned is that I’m not too concerned what it is the record label wants,” he said. “Quite frankly, the thing for me is, if I’m happy and pleased with the work that’s done, then that’s the ultimate satisfaction.
“And after that, it’s pretty much out of my control. There’s a great freedom with that realization.”