The film was an international sensation, and in its slipstream the fictional act became real, touring the UK and America to packed houses. So he grew a beard, and refocused his sights on the Frames.
Hansard's acceptance speech, made immortal on You Tube, is the very definition of incredulous disbelief."You'd imagine I'd have been full of light after winning," he says, "but in fact I went quite dark, drinking far too much.Like The Commitments before it, Once went on to have a second life as a wildly successful stage musical, with productions all over the world. True, I didn't like the idea of it becoming a musical – I feared overexposure would kill it – but I suppose it helps me stand up and be in the world.In 2012, it won eight Tony awards on Broadway, casting a shadow that fell squarely on his shoulders. And if I am remembered for that one song, well, there are worse fates…" Still, he stopped playing "Falling Slowly" altogether at concerts – not entirely sick of it, but in no hurry to revisit it. But then Pearl Jam's Eddie Vedder invited him on tour, and insisted they sing it together nightly."I've been filthy for days, and I'm happy as a pig in shit.
There's a logic and satisfaction to fixing things you could never get from songwriting." Hardly a sentiment one might anticipate from a singer-songwriter whose new solo album, Didn't He Ramble, might just be his most personal, and loveliest, yet; but Hansard is nothing if not a plain speaker. "Songs are these weird, ethereal things – like birds that land in the garden you try to coax into the room.
A while after the Oscars, Hansard was playing an outdoor auditorium near San Francisco.
In the crowd was a young man who had been spurned by his girlfriend (also in the crowd, and a huge fan of Once).
I didn't know why." It was Bruce Springsteen, sitting up with him one night drinking whiskey, who explained things to him.
"He said that everything I had ever been in my life – that guy struggling against the world – had died the night we won the Oscar.
Surveying the oil and grime that sits beneath his fingernails, Glen Hansard beams with an almost paternal pride as he tells me he has spent the past few days at home in Ireland, tinkering with his car.