Wednesday, March 18, 2015

Mother Machree & Co.

Didn't get much of a chance to post about St. Patrick on the 17th proper, and I did promise to post some of my Scotch-Irish sounds from antiquity, so I'll launch this better-late-than-never post with, of course, Mother Machree, followed by Kathleen Mavourneen.  Will also try to find Scot representation by way of the Ames Brothers' version of My Bonnie Lassie, which is invariably played these days by both of Scots and Irish heritage here in the U.S.. And thus launched, advise that you check back periodically for additions.

You won't find "Danny Boy" here, though--I'm really really REALLY weary of hearing that around here and not just on Paddy's Day...which is why I prefer to call it "London Derrier" (Londonderry Air). Similar story with James Joyce--I would have been dancing for joy at Finnegan's Wake. I'll take Finian's Rainbow instead, thank you very much.

Next is a record minted in 1921 with an unusual plastic substrate, via Vocalion--"Bells of Shandon" and "In The Wee Little House I Love":

Famous whistler Margaret McKee recorded on this label as well as others, and multi-label recording was common practice in those early days of recording. Sure, Billy Murray recorded on Edison, but he's also to be found on Columbia and others as well, and the same could be said of Henry Burr, etc.

Now, "The Harp That Once Through Tara’s Halls"...

"When Irish Eyes Are Smiling"...

{........and I can personally attest to the truth of that......}

The power of the smiling eyes of Irish extraction weren't lost on Dolly Parton early in her career, and you'll notice it right away in the first stanza of the song she launched her career on.  Here she is with a reprise in Glastonbury (southern U.K.) just last year...

Sure, America may very well be a melting pot of different nationalities, but it's the Scot-Irish Americans who have had a major cultural impact, particularly in what our nation calls "country", and hillbillies all over the nation, not just confined to the South.  Sure, we have a lot of different nationalities, but it's the Irish element that has made an incursion on American folklore, in the form of the tales about Mike Fink from which originates the derogatory term "red-headed stepchild" (and Mike's esteemed cousin, rat fink).  And take a wild, wild guess as to where the country dance form, clogging, comes from...and from that, how urbanfolk acquired the derogatory term for countryfolk known as "shitkickers".  It just seems to me that hiphop adopted the shitkicker form of dance and we can consider cultural revenge has been had thereby.

Mini-UPDATE: when I checked the blog stats just now, I saw the usual automatic hits via G+ and then I saw something else: there's a smart, regular reader out there who knows that I've previously posted related recordings in my 2013 entry about the Great War, The Great War's Armistice Remembered (post now removed--sorry 'bout that), tying in the Prohibition aspect of that era to Irish immigration in the tune "Molly and the Baby, Don't You Know". When one confines one's self to material written by other scholars, the life of those times too frequently is the content that's missing, and in this case, it's the bearing that the Irish immigration had on the fact that the Prohibition amendment actually passed and got ratified.

It's often claimed that the alcoholic beverage industry only went underground instead of out of business, but that leaves another question unanswered: if there was that much demand for the products of that industry, wouldn't there have been a lack of votes to pass the amendment in the first place?  Ask a question like that of a scholar and you're all but guaranteed to get rudely blown off.  And yet the answer to that question is clear when one considers the essence of the life and societies of that era: voters were more anti-Irish than they were pro-liquor.

It's not like the Irish immigrants didn't give people a reason to be anti-Irish, especially in New York where they formed rather notorious gangs (and it's after one of those Irish gangs that the now-defunct Hypercrites West got its theme: The Dead Rabbits Society).  Backlash to that was the recruitment of Irish constabulary for the purpose of patroling areas like, say, the Bowry, and thus was born the stereotypical Irish cop image.

Dead Rabbits Riot

Organized crime didn't begin with Prohibition even though there are scholars who will leave that impression on an audience.  Organized crime is as old as trade business and capitalism.  There were always Ali Babas, pirates, skimmers, trade gatekeepers whose palms required greasing, speculators, market manipulators, racketeers, as long as there's been business. For you Enid locals, I'd think that the situation with Lodgewell is a perfect case in point, but not the only case in point.  The excuse is that they, a holder of a high-dollar hotel franchise as a high-dollar developer, are unable to raise the scratch to start building even after they bought the land for $10, stinks like a long dead rabbit..and the money demanded by the City is looking more and more like palm grease.

Here's Nelson Eddy with an Irish medley...

I did mention Lydia Pinkham in the aforementioned post about the Great War (the song about her that was popular then, that is), and there's an Irish connection here.  Although the following gents are better known for singing about green alligators and long necked geese (and unicorns), here they are bending an elbow to honor Ms. Pinkham.

The Irish Rovers have another connection to the Great War by song, and that is via one of their tunes on the topic of the shipyard where the Titanic was built.  The song about Lydia Pinkham is but one link between the Irish and the Great War--there was also an eerie Eire themed stage play in 1919 which was eventually produced into film thrice: 1922, 1932, and, with Jeannette Macdonald, in 1941: "Smilin' Through".

Besides the theme song, another related tune became popular, too: "Kerry Dance".

John McCormack was quite popular in his day and quite proud of his Irish bent in music, too.  Here's a film of him performing two other Irish classics...

...and here's a lovely choral version of "The Kerry Dance"...

I've said it before and I'll say it again: I am officially honorarily Irish every March 17 because I was properly baptized such by a Dublin priest who gets a case of Guinness direct from the Emerald Isle annually, by which I've proven that I can hold me stout.  With that, I salute erstwhile photographer who is likely to still be in Mexico, Padre Dave (It's-Not-A-Sin-If-Ye-Take-No-Pleasure-In-It) Rice!

...and a nod to Tommy Steele...

Just can't leave these two out...with a tip o' me tam to the dearly departed Jimmy Ferguson...

The above are the 1960s vintage.  Next is The Unicorn sung by the doddering old codgers that once recorded the previous version in their youth...

Just located this tribute to Jimmy Ferguson on YouTube, and can't be left out either...The Orange and the Green.

A joyous man who clearly died a sinner--looks like he had a life that he took pleasure in, and good on 'im for that.


Sunday April 5 UPDATE: We interrupt this whimsical take on the Orange and Green to mention just how serious the difference remains, thanks to a CBS report on 60 Minutes about the Belfast Project of Boston College. It was no laughing matter to Sinead O'Connor and I'm sure none of the dead are laughing. With the possible exception of Jimmy here. He's earned the right to.


Here's a CBC clip where it looks like more of Jimmy fit into a pound, in the 1970s. In the clip, they're later joined by Anne Murray....

None but an Irishman can properly tell the tale of how something came about, and, in particular, how Ireland came about.  As in, "A Little Bit of Heaven"...

(More old recordings can be found, in due time, in the bottom addenda to this post--just scroll down a wee bit and Bob's your uncle.)

Blarney--not just for the County of Limerick anymore. Quite the Corker, that one.
And speaking of Limerick...

                    As a beauty, I am no star;
                    There are others more fair by far.
                              But my face, I don't mind it
                              Because I'm behind it--
                    It's the people in front that I jar.

The latter day Irish Rovers...

(this was in Belfast)

They're finally settling into old age, saying "Farewell to Roving" this year and part of the next.             Difficult to imagine.

The online Irish Gaelic Translator

Friday UPDATE, sorta: Just got back from a poetry reading at the Enid Symphony Hall and it was presented by 4 poets who met in Ireland, only one of them was a local--a lady mailman, to boot.  You betcha I've got more vids to post, so by all means, stay tuned.

This is posted to prep you on the low-light conditions of the video, as well as to mention that Gene Barry here was the only poet of the lot who actually sounded Irish.

Heh. I just visited Gene's Facebook page and notice he, a skinny guy, is heavy into rugby. :)  He also posted one of the poems he read tonight, and in print it reads like a Catholic Litany; but to listen to him read it is something quite different when he arrives at a line which ends in the word "bastard".  I think he just acquired a new fan here.

Ah, here we go...the beginning of the readings.  And who knew that emerald came in such a dark shade...

Now we arrive at Stones in Their Shoes, prefaced by preamble and dedication:

This just in via G+:



I'll preface this section with the observation of generational differences in childhood doggerels learned at one's earliest age, and the noticed absence of a tune that used to be as popular among kids as were "Twinkle Twinkle Little Star" aka The Alphabet Song and Baa Baa Black Sheep, among others.  That tune would be "My Bonnie Lies Over the Ocean", a tune quite pertinent to this post entry.  To review:

                    My Bonnie lies over the ocean;
                    My Bonnie lies over the sea
                    My Bonnie lies over the ocean,
                    Oh bring back my Bonnie to me.
                              Bring back, bring back, oh bring back my Bonnie to me, to me--
                              Bring back, bring back, oh bring back my Bonnie to me!

When a generation of young children first learn nursery rhymes and such doggerels, they are,of course, of nursery age, so the first thing they try to do, when they get older and prefer to exhibit the fact that they're old enough to be distinguished from the younger set of children, is lampoon those earlier-learned nursery rhymes and doggerels.  Case in point, how "On Top of Old Smoky" morphed into "On Top of Spaghetti", both versions of which were, in their day, published by commercial recording labels to great advantage. Same can be said of "Clementine", lampooned by no less a figure than Bing Crosby, again to great advantage.  The lampooning of "My Bonnie" was not so fortunate, alas, but still became more of a widely spread joke rather than a recorded tune lampoon, as follows:

ENGLISH TEACHER: Now that we've added the words "analyze" and "anatomy" to our vocabulary, can a student volunteer to use those two words in sentences?

CLASS CLOWN: (raises his hand first eagerly, is called on, and says the following)
My analyze over the ocean
My analyze over the sea
My analyze over the ocean
Oh bring back my anatomy!

With that, I now present the rest of the addenda.

Coleen Aroon

Killarney and You

Come Back to Erin

Molly (An Irish Love Song)

Only An Irishman's Dream

Everybody Loves an Irish Song

You should have recognized a number of what's been regarded as American standards in the last piece, and I'll wager that there's not been a lot of Americans who realize that the tune "Home Sweet Home" was of Irish extraction...except that it's actually of English extraction.  Or that a good number of what's now regarded as bluegrass standards are of Scot extraction, like the following--"Sally Johnson", which abruptly begins, and almost as abruptly ends:

There was no such music category called "bluegrass" back then. Or country/western, either. Only one term was used: hillbilly. AKA American highlanders. The next selection, "Irish Lament", is performed by a gent whose name strongly suggests Jewish extraction.

Sandy MacFarlane now takes us back to Scotland with "MacNab's A Jolly Sailor".  The one thing that the English, the Welsh, the Cornish, the Irish, and the Scottish all have in common: the sea.

Two more from Sandy, on the same record--When Heather Bells Are Blooming and The Wedding of Sandy MacKae...

My Wild Irish Rose

I did mention before that Henry Burr (not his real name) recorded for multiple labels (there was no such thing as an exclusivity contract back then) and I did present the Brunswick label version (different singer) of "When You and I Were Young, Maggie" in the post about the Great War.  But it's still a great Scot-extracted tune and here is Henry Burr's version on the Pathe label.

I say "Scot-extracted" because of the long list of Scot-extractions attempting to claim first credit for writing the thing on the North American continent, and there's no country that expresses stronger Scot extraction than Canada, eh?

There are Scottish standards that remain in American discography, such as Annie Laurie, but such are to be added at a much later date. Now, back to the Irish...

As a label, Grey Gull is most interesting to me because of its track record of recording activist tunes, all the way from train wreck commemoration to temperance and suffrage tunes.  And speaking of interesting labels, albeit later in time, would be the MacGregor label, and, dare I say, for obvious reasons.

...and here are the Irish Rovers celebrating 30 years in circulation...

So--How are things in Glocca Morra?

Oh, enough of the immigrants to America, hm?  How about immigrants to England?
Alright, stay in Rathcullen, then.
The following is copyrighted, folks, and I've granted myself permission to post it:

                    A lad of wee stature in town
                    Failed somewhat to be the class clown
                              But folks he'd astonish
                              With pranks leprechaunish
                    So the class made him wear a green gown.

 ...and a bit of a postscript about Miss Fogerty.  I first encountered her in the form of an old poem, but when I went looking for the verses, I found out it was also a song about her and her infamous cake.  So guess what--I found the Irish Rovers singing it.

What's scarier is that someone in the kitchen posted this same Irish Rovers ditty, and posted it there, too. The Kitchen Witch .  Figures.
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