Dave Alvin : Border Radio

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Well, what do you get when you fall in Love?

Some will tell you that you’re opening the door to a whole world of trouble.

Oh, oh, you are wrapping chains that will bind you tight until you just can’t breathe anymore.

Look out! Danger ahead!

Pain and sorrow goes with the territory.

No doubt about it the hurting will be certain.

But, but, but … take a tip.

Take a tip.

Whatever you think and feel about it ; no matter how many times Love has let you down, you just won’t be able to live without it.

Won’t be able to live without it.

Oh, oh, and when Love is in bloom and your heart is singing aria after aria of Joy you’ll cradle mountains in the palm of your hand.

Rivers running slow and lazy.

Crickets talking back and forth in rhyme.

You won’t wonder why the world spins around.

You’ll know.

You’ll believe in magic.

You’ll know that no matter how deep the ocean is it’s not as deep as this feeling.

Love makes the world go around.

It always has.

It always will.

And, if you lose that love you’ll ache for it to return.

Ache for the heat of that touch.

The healing power of that touch.

And, in the midnight watches when the Moon looms in the dark sky you’ll hope and pray that somehow, somehow, that lost Love will be found again.

Found again.

Turning the late night radio dial you’ll search for a song you used to sing in whispers to each other and maybe, just maybe, far, far away, the lost one is listening too.

And, that song will be your midnight prayer.

Your midnight prayer.

Who knows what the power of prayer is?

Except those who really pray.

Pray with all their heart.

And, as the lost one, far, far away, sings to themselves maybe, just maybe, they’ll remember who they used to sing it with and realise how much they miss that singing, the heat of that touch.

And, maybe, just maybe, they’ll drive all the way home – tuned in again, listening to the border radio.

Maybe, just maybe, the boy asleep in the next room, who looks just like his Dad, will wake up and hear his voice – not metallically on the phone but in his very room.

Call up to hear that song one more time again.

One more time.

Border Radio

One more midnight, her man is still gone
The nights move too slow
She tries to remember the heat of his touch
While listening to the Border Radio

She calls toll-free and requests an old song
Something they used to know
She prays to herself that wherever he is
He’s listening to the Border Radio

This song comes from nineteen sixty-two
Dedicated to a man who’s gone
Fifty thousand watts out of Mexico
This is the Border Radio
This is the Border Radio

She thinks of her son, asleep in his room
And how her man won’t see him grow
She thinks of her life and she hopes for a change
While listening to the Border Radio

This song comes from nineteen sixty-two
Dedicated to a man who’s gone
Fifty thousand watts out of Mexico
This is the Border Radio
This is the Border Radio

They play her tune but she can’t concentrate
She wonders why he had to go
One more midnight and her man is still gone
She’s listening to the Border Radio

This song comes from nineteen sixty-two
Dedicated to a man who’s gone
Fifty thousand watts out of Mexico
This is the Border Radio
This is the Border Radio

Border Radio first appeared on a 1982 CD from The Blasters which included Dave and brother Phil among its members.

That version is modern day Rockabilly and has the punch of the old Sun studio sound. I think Dave knew that the emotional core of the song – it’s sense of longing and loss and desperate hope had got somewhat lost in that production.

By the time of his solo record from 1987, ‘Romeo’s Escape’ he had figured out that the song needed to be performed slower and with more emotional intensity for it to fully bloom in the listeners imagination.

So, this version drips with emotional humidity.

There’s a palatable ache in Dave’s vocal and a tender tremor to Greg Leisz’s guitar and Katy Moffatt’s backup singing.

The song is now a country ballad – but a country ballad infused with southern soul stylings.

Like that song from 1962 Border Radio lingers in the mind echoing on and on as it encounters and colours the particular incidents and memories it evokes in each listeners own life.

Which is to say that Border Radio is a Keeper!

Dave Alvin is well aware of its merits and that its one of those songs whose power only grows over the years.

That’s why you can’t imagine a Dave Alvin concert without Border Radio.

And, it’s one of those songs that other songwriters, hard schooled in the craft, instantly recognise as a classic.

Here’s a live take on the song featuring David Hidalgo from Los Lobos and accordion maestro Flaco Jimenez that crosses back and forth across that borderline and rocks out too!

 

Why do we let time stand still and live in memory of the lonesome times?

Why not, by an act of will, stop this troublesome loving?

Useless to say.

Because, while you’re alive you’re in search of love.

Might as well ask the waves to cease surging to the shore.

Such folly!

Yes, but divine folly.

If you won’t risk being a Fool you’ll never find Love.

Oh, you’re crazy for crying and crazy for trying but it’s all worth it for Love, Love, Love, Crazy Love.

It often doesn’t travel on the broad highway.

No, true love often travels on a gravel road.

You can’t start it like a car – you can’t stop it with a gun.

And, in the end the love you take is equal to the love you make.

One more midnight, one more prayer, one more turn around the floor with the Border Radio playing that song from 1962.

One step for aching and two steps for breaking.

I can’t stop loving you.

Those happy hours that we once knew.

Those happy hours.

She calls toll free and requests an old song.

She prays to herself that wherever he is he’s listening to the Border Radio.

The Border Radio.

 

Tex Ritter, Frankie Laine, Duane Eddy : High Noon

The Way Out West Series 4

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‘High Noon is a magical formula of elements. In two or three bars, the feeling of the song is telling you exactly what went on before, what’s happening now and what’s going to happen later’ (Ry Cooder)

The Ballad of High Noon (Dimitri Tiomkin/Ned Washington)

Do not, forsake me, oh my darlin’
On this, our weddin’ day
Do not forsake me, oh my darlin’
Wait, wait along

The noon train will bring Frank Miller
If I’m a man I must be brave
And I must face that deadly killer
Or lie a coward, a craven coward
Or lie a coward in my grave

Oh, to be torn twixt love and duty
S’posin’, I lose my fair-haired beauty
Look at that big hand move along
Nearin’ high noon

He made a vow while in state prison
Vowed it would be my life or his’n
I’m not afraid of death but, oh
What will I do if you leave me?

Do not forsake me, oh my darlin’
You made that promise when we wed
Do not forsake me, oh my darlin’
Although you’re grievin’, I can’t be leavin’
Until I shoot Frank Miller dead

Wait along, wait along
(Wait along)
Wait along, wait along
(Wait along, wait along, wait along, wait along)

Ry Cooder knows a thing or two about composing music for Film and about music for Westerns in particular.

So when he says the theme song for High Noon is magical I listen closely.

I advise you to do the same!

 

Now isn’t that a masterclass in how to ensnare an audience and prepare them for the tension and drama ahead!

As High Noon’s sweeping opening sequence proceeds we know that this will be an elemental drama played out in frontier country.

The frontier – where upholding the law is no simple matter of enforcing statutes in dusty volumes but a constant battle between order and peace and bloody chaos.

Our hero will need to stand tall with all his courage if civilisation is to prevail.

Such immense impact with so little instrumentation.

Musically everything is invitation and subdued suggestion.

Lyrically in a few short verses with the title only mentioned once the entire arc of the narrative is elegantly and tantalisingly laid out for us.

Tex Ritter sings like an oracle of the gods who knows the resolution of all stories.

Mere men and women have to attend, wait and falteringly live them out.

There is a wedding. But a wedding marred by dread that one party may be forsaken on what should be such a day of Joy.

A bad man with a gun, a deadly killer, bent on revenge, has left prison.

He will arrive on the Noon train.

So little time.

So little time.

A man, a western man, has to, must, face down his enemy and his fears.

Oh, oh, Love would say what does this matter today of all days?

But though the call of Love is loud the call of Duty is louder.

Louder.

Death is nothing but life as a craven coward always looking over your shoulder?

No. No. No.

Though you may lose your fair haired beauty you can’t, won’t, leave before that train arrives.

No man wants to die a coward.

No man wants to live forsaken.

The big Hand moves along.

Towards High Noon.

High Noon it is.

His life or mine.

High Noon.

Look at that big hand move along.

High Noon.

Settle down in your cinema seat, exchange smiles with your companion, this High Noon is sure to be one hell of a ride!

Who wrote the Music?

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Dimitri Tiomkin who was born 1894 in Kremenchuk Russia – far, far, away from The American Frontier.

He had training with distinguished teachers in St Petersburg, Berlin and Paris and before he badly broke his arm he harboured dreams of stardom as a concert pianist.

After moving to America in 1925 he followed the golden trail West to Hollywood hoping to make a career as a Film Composer.

HIs big break came through writing and performing the score for Frank Capra’s ‘Lost Horizon’ in 1937.

He would go on to work on a series of Films with Capra including ‘It’s A Wonderful Life’.

He had already produced two wonderful Western scores for ‘Duel in the Sun’ in 1946 and ‘Red River’ in 1949 before the commission came for High Noon.

Tiomkin had a genius for embedding stirring, highly memorable, folk like melodies into his scores and for weaving them as charged motifs throughout the course of a film.

Melodies that aroused the emotions and subtly augmented the voices of the actors and the drama playing out on the screen.

As for composing music for Westerns when he had to evoke the majesty of the landscape and the iconic role of the Cowboy Tiomkin only had to recollect the endless steppe of Ukraine and the folkloric Cossack of Russian myth to find the melodies pouring out.

Who wrote the Lyric – Ned Washington 

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Now I’ll wager there’s more than a few of you who’ll be exclaiming Ned Who?

Yet, Ned has written a glorious gallery of Songs that pretty near everybody has heard and loved.

How about, ‘My Foolish Heart’, ‘Stella by Starlight’ and, ‘The Nearness of You’ for Golden Age classics.

And, as for Film Songs few can match him – ‘When You Wish upon a Star’ and, ‘Baby Mine’ for Disney.

Any good at Western Ballads?

Not bad at all if, ‘Gunfight at the O.K. Corral’, ‘3.10 to Yuma’ and the theme for ‘Rawhide’ are anything to go by!

Combining their immense talents and understanding of the role of music and song in Film Tiomkin and  Washington composed a Song which is endlessly alluring.

Like a great Western it feels familiar and mysterious simultaneously.

It feels like a song, a melody and a a lyric, that has emerged into the daylight from the hazy depths of your dreams.

You can’t help singing along in whatever register of voice you have (I like to affect a basso profundo in my own version).

Amazingly, in view of its eventual immense success, initial previews of High Noon did not have those audiences cheering.

United Artists got cold feet and held off releasing the Movie.

Dimitri Tiomkin was certain however that the theme song was something special.

So while United Artists hesitated he bought the rights to the Song and arranged for it to be recorded by Frankie Laine who gave it his full throated turbo drama best – and the rest as they say is history!

 

 

There have been countless versions of tne song since (four other versions came at tne time of the Film’s release).

I’m going to leave you with a version that’s sure to please Jukebox aficionados as it’s by the twangtastic Duane Eddy (maybe my basso profundo version is my own tribute to Duane!)

 

Notes:

At the 1953 Oscars High Noon won for Best Song and Tiomkin won for Best Music.

Tex Ritter performed the Song at the Ceremony.

There’s a CD from Bear Family (who else!) with 27 versions of the song – I fully intend to hear them all.

Now, The Immortal Jukebox isn’t a Film Blog but while I don’t propose to go all Pauline Kael on you I couldn’t close without tipping my hat to some of those involved in the Film whose work has brought me immense delight.

Gary Cooper & Grace Kelly

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Gary Cooper managed to carry off the trick of being both diffident and heroic and a regular guy who just happened to be fabulously handsome.

I’ve lost count of the times I’ve seen, ‘Wings’, ‘The Virginian’, ‘A Farewell to Arms’, ‘The Lives of a Bengal Lancer’, ‘Mr Deeds Goes to Town’, ‘Beau Geste’, ‘Sergeant York’, ‘The Pride of the Yankees’ and, ‘Ball of Fire’.

Of course he won the Best Actor Oscar for High Noon.

When they say they don’t make Film Stars like they used to it is always Coop I think of first.

Grace Kelly was only 21 in High Noon.

Her glowing youth made a marked and poignant contrast to Coop’s leathered maturity.

She really was ‘breathtakingly beautiful’ and her career as a whole demonstrated she was a fine actress who could be archly comic as well as the thriller heroine who would make any film hero (and every regular Joe in the cinema aisles) blithely risk life and limb to win her.

Fred Zinnemann – Director

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Fred Zinnemann was a consummate professional who understood every aspect of Film Making.

His work is distinguished by an intense humanity and acute insight into the revelation of character under pressure.

He was able to coax extraordinary performances from Actors as demonstrated by Montgomery Clift in, ‘The Search’, Robert Ryan and Janet Leigh in, ‘Act of Violence’ and Marlon Brando in, ‘The Men’.

Beyond, ‘High Noon’ I often reach for, ‘From Here to Eternity’, ‘The Nun’s Story’ (with Audrey Hepburn even more luminous than ever), ‘The Sundowners’ and, ‘Day of the Jackal’ when I want meaty entertainment.

The’ High Noon’ theme of the man alone – abandoned by all who might be expected to come to his aid – is often taken to be an allegory for America in the grip of McCarthyism. I am more inclined to think Zinnemann (if not screenwriter Carl Foreman) was thinking of the situation of his parents who perished in The Holocaust.

Jack Elam

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Regular readers will Know from the Post on ‘Jack Gets Up’ by Leo Kottke that Jack Elam is high in my pantheon of Jacks.

He doesn’t actually get a screen credit in High Noon but all of us who cherish Western Character Actors will have no trouble in spotting his distinctive visage.

Katy Jurado

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The magnificent Katy was a Star in Mexican Cinema before Budd Boetticher cast her in, ‘The Bullfighter and the Lady’ .

That role won her the part of Helen Ramirez in High Noon.

As Helen she displays smouldering sexuality, intelligence and stoic dignity.

Lee Van Cleef

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In High Noon Lee doesn’t speak a word but Boy Howdy doesn’t he make his presence felt!

The Camera just loves some faces and it fell in love straight off the bat with Lee who became the ‘go to’ villain for decades thereafter.

Sheb Wooley

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You didn’t expect not to lionise the man who made ‘The Purple People Eater’ as well as appearing in ‘High Noon’, ‘The Outlaw Josey Wales’ and, ‘Rawhide’ now did you!

Thomas Mitchell

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Very near to the top of my Pantheon of Toms is the great Character Actor Thomas Mitchell.

His role as Doc in john Ford’s epic , ‘Stagecoach’ alone makes him one of Hollywood’s Immortals.

And, of course, he had important roles in, ‘Lost Horizon’, ‘The Hunchback of Notre Dame’, ‘Mr Smith Goes to Washington’ and, ‘Gone with the Wind’ in addition to his part in High Noon.

Thomas Mitchell made very part he ever took an important part.

Special Bonus!!

Still adrenaline surfing after my celebrations of St Patrick’s Day, Ireland’s Grand Slam triumph in 6 Nations Rugby and some long price winners at Cheltenham Horse Racing I’m signing off with a gift to you all of a joyous celebration of Western themes from Arthur Fiedler and The Boston Pops.

Enjoy!

 

Mary Black : She Moves Through The Fair

A Parade of Posts for St Patrick 4

A Song by Mary Black

A Poem by Eavan Boland

A Painting by Peter Dee

Today one of the definitive Irish Traditional Songs sung by the regal Mary Black and an extraordinarily powerful Poem by an Irish Poet of world stature, Eavan Boland.

The Painting today is by a contemporary Irish Artist, Peter Dee, whose arresting and highly covetable Still Life works are the fruit of deep contemplation and confident technical accomplishment.

More examples of his work can be seen at http://www.peterdee.ie

She Moves Through The Fair is a Song that we will never get to the bottom of.

It contains details of everyday life and a mysterious, swirling, intermingling of the known and supernatural Worlds we all move within.

There are some sorrows, some griefs, that can only be borne through Song being too deep for common speech.

The common speech of hand clapping dealers striking bargains at the fair.

While we move, half-blind, through our lives the stars look down and the swans fly over the lake.

All the while the soft fluttering of moths fill the night and dew will glisten on the meadow.

While we bear our burden of loss and longing the wide world turns and turns oblivious.

All as we move through the fair.

Through the fair.

Mary Black’s singing embodies the humanity and the other worldliness of the song with glowing assurance.

Mary Black can flat out sing!

 

She Moves Through The Fair

I once had a sweetheart, I loved her right well
I loved her far better than my tongue can tell
Her parents did slight me for the want of guile
Adieu to all pleasure since I lost my dear

She went away from me and moved through the fair
Where hand-clapping dealers’ loud shouts rent the air
The sunlight around her did sparkle and play
Saying, “It will not be long, love, ’til our wedding day”

When dew falls on meadows and moths fill the night
When glow from the greesach on half-froze, half-light
I’ll slip from my casement and I’ll run away
Then it will not be long, love, ’til our wedding day

I dreamed last night that my love came in
She came in so easy, her feet made no din
She came stepping up to me and this she did say
“It will not be long, love, ’til our wedding day”

Eavan Boland’s Poetry is characterised by fierce intelligence and a determination to fearlessly examine the toxins of Ireland’s history as understood and experienced by a modern Irish Woman.

So, it is a Poetry which utters outrage, anger and bewildered frustration as well as ease and joy.

I sometimes feel as if her work has served to redraw the map of Irish Poetry – significantly expanding the imaginative territory and cutting a path for others to follow.

The Poem I have selected today is the work of a Major Poet.

Eavan Boland : Quarantine

In the worst hour of the worst season
of the worst year of a whole people
a man set out from the workhouse with his wife.
He was walking — they were both walking — north
.

She was sick with famine fever and could not keep up.
He lifted her and put her on his back.
He walked like that west and west and north.
Until at nightfall under freezing stars they arrived.

In the morning they were both found dead.
Of cold. Of hunger. Of the toxins of a whole history.
But her feet were held against his breastbone.
The last heat of his flesh was his last gift to her.

Let no love poem ever come to this threshold.
There is no place here for the inexact
praise of the easy graces and sensuality of the body.
There is only time for this merciless inventory:

Their death together in the winter of 1847.
Also what they suffered. How they lived.
And what there is between a man and woman.
And in which darkness it can best be proved.

 

Vintage Enamelware with Fruit Still Life

 

 

Recommended Websites :

Poetry And Environment (https://helkc4.wordpress.com)

Helen Harrison is an Irish Poet whose work I admire for its lovely evocations of the dignity and Wonder present in, ‘Everyday Life’.

I recommend her  collection, ‘The Last Fire’  published by Lapwing.

I chanced upon a copy of Ron Carey’s debut Poetry Collection, ‘Distance’ when it was published by Revival Press in 2015.

I must have nearly read the whole marvellous collection in one gulp!

These are Poems that will stay with you.

Ron’s site can be found at roncareypoetry.com.

Twitter : @RonCarey49

Ger Wolfe : The Curra Road

A Parade of Posts for St Patrick 3

A Song by Ger Wolfe

A Poem written and read by Richard Murphy (1927 – 2018)

A Painting by Paul Kelly

Today a farewell homage to one of Ireland’s most treasured Poets – Richard Murphy and what I am sure for many of you will be an introduction to a singer/songwriter particularly close to my own heart, Ger Wolfe, whose stature as an artist has not yet been properly reflected in popular awareness.

The painting today is by a contemporary Irish Artist, Paul Kelly, whose landscapes of County Dublin cast a spell.

You can explore his work further at http://www.paulkellyart.ie

 

Ger Wolfe in ‘The Curra Road’ has written a song that beautifully captures the sense of being at home and at peace in the physical, emotional and spiritual landscape of Home.

The hallowed Home we always want to carry within us as we walk down other roads on our pilgrimage through Life..

The Curra Road is undoubtedly a classic Irish Song and its luminous lyricism is entirely characteristic of Ger Wolfe’s catalogue.

I heard a story the other day that Bob Dylan would test out the compatibility of prospective musicians by asking, sotto voce, do you know, ‘Pretty Peggy-O’?

If the answer was Yes and they could follow and augment Bob’s version they were hired!

I have the same sort of test for anyone who considers themselves well informed on Irish Music – Do you know, ‘The Curra Road’?

If the answer is Yes I’m up to the Bar to buy them a pint – content there will lots to talk about that evening!

 

The Curra Road

In the summer we’ll go walking
Way down to the river down the Curra road
There’s a blue sky we’ll walk under
Listen to the humming bees and on we’ll go
We won’t worry about the Winter
Worry ‘bout it raining , 
worry about the snow
In the summer we’ll go walking
Way down to the river down the Curra road

Past the cattle at their grazing
Through the woods of hazel, holly, birch and oak
Past the robin on the gatepost
Singing to the bluebells, sunlight is their host
We won’t worry about the radio
Worry about the traffic, worry about the phone
In the summer we’ll go laughing
Way down to the river down the dusty road

There is music in the river
Listen to it dancing underneath the bridge
And the wind is hardly breathing
Words onto the willow branches overhead
We won’t worry about the government
Worry about the video, worry about the day
In the summer we’ll go waltzing
Hand in hand together down the dusty way

Ger Wolfe has an informative website : https://gerwolfe.com

You can’t go wrong with any of his CDs – my favourites are, ‘I Have Been Loved’, ‘No Bird Sang’ and, ‘The Ragged Ground’.

I’m eagerly anticipating a forthcoming compilation, ‘The Lark Of Mayfield’.

 

Richard Murphy, who died at the end of January this year, had tremendous poetic gifts and a capacity for disciplined hard work at his craft over many decades.

His collection, ‘The Pleasure Ground: Poems 1952-2012’ (Lilliput Press) is a must-have for anyone interested in modern Irish Poetry.

Murphy had deep feeling for the Irish landscape and the Seas around The Island (and its offshore Islands).

There is a profound physicality present in his verse which makes responding to his work an uplifting whole-body experience..

I have always been particularly impressed by his ability to make history come alive in verse especially through long narratives allowing for exposition, diversions and deliberation.

Reading Richard Murphy will open up new imaginative territory and offer revelatory perspectives on the worlds we imagined we knew well.

Listen to him below reading one of his early triumphs – ‘Sailing To An Island’

Such sinewy, living language!

 

 

SAILING TO AN ISLAND

The boom above my knees lifts, and the boat
Drops, and the surge departs, departs, my cheek
Kissed and rejected, kissed, as the gaff sways
A tangent, cuts the infinite sky to red
Maps, and the mast draws eight and eight across
Measureless blue, the boatmen sing or sleep
.

We point all day for our chosen island,
Clare, with its crags purpled by legend:
There under castles the hot O’Malleys,
Daughters of Granuaile, the pirate queen
Who boarded a Turk with a blunderbuss,
Comb red hair and assemble cattle.
Across the shelved Atlantic groundswell
Plumbed by the sun’s kingfisher rod,
We sail to locate in sea, earth and stone
The myth of a shrewd and brutal swordswoman
Who piously endowed an abbey.
Seven hours we try against wind and tide,
Tack and return, making no headway.
The north wind sticks like a gag in our teeth.

Encased in a mirage, steam on the water,
Loosely we coast where hideous rocks jag,
An acropolis of cormorants, an extinct
Volcano where spiders spin, a purgatory
Guarded by hags and bristled with breakers.

The breeze as we plunge slowly stiffens:
There are hills of sea between us and land,
Between our hopes and the island harbour.
A child vomits. The boat veers and bucks.
There is no refuge on the gannet’s cliff.
We are far, far out: the hull is rotten,
The spars are splitting, the rigging is frayed,
And our helmsman laughs uncautiously.

What of those who must earn their living
On the ribald face of a mad mistress?
We in holiday fashion know
This is the boat that belched its crew
Dead on the shingle in the Cleggan disaster.

Now she dips, and the sail hits the water.
She luffs to a squall; is struck; and shudders.
Someone is shouting. The boom, weak as scissors,
Has snapped. The boatman is praying.
Orders thunder and canvas cannodades.
She smothers in spray. We still have a mast;
The oar makes a boom. I am told to cut
Cords out of fishing-lines, fasten the jib.
Ropes lash my cheeks. Ease! Ease at last:
She wings to leeward, we can safely run.
Washed over rails our Clare Island dreams,
With storm behind us we straddle the wakeful
Waters that draw us headfast to Inishbofin
.

The bows rock as she overtakes the surge.
We neither sleep nor sing nor talk,
But look to the land where the men are mowing.
What will the islanders think of our folly?

The whispering spontaneous reception committee
Nods and smokes by the calm jetty.
Am I jealous of these courteous fishermen
Who hand us ashore, for knowing the sea
Intimately, for respecting the storm
That took nine of their men on one bad night
And five from Rossadillisk in this very boat?
Their harbour is sheltered. They are slow to tell
The story again. There is local pride
In their home-built ships.
We are advised to return next day by the
mail.

But tonight we stay, drinking with people
Happy in the monotony of boats,
Bringing the catch to the Cleggan market,
Cultivating fields, or retiring from America
With enough to soak till morning or old age.

The bench below my knees lifts, and the floor
Drops, and words depart, depart, with faces
Blurred by the smoke. An old man grips my arm,
His shot eyes twitch, quietly dissatisfied.
Ha has lost his watch, an American gold
From Boston gas-works. He treats the company
To the secretive surge, the sea of his sadness.
I slip outside, fall among stones and nettles,
Crackling dry twigs on an elder tree,
While an accordion drones above the hill.

Later, I reach a room, where the moon stares
Through a cobwebbed window. The tide has ebbed,
Boats are careened in the harbour. Here is a bed.

© 1963, Richard Murphy

Image result for paul kelly irish artist images

 

Recommended Websites :

The Blackpool Sentinel  (https://theblackpoolsentinel.wordpress.com)

Produced by Colm O’Callaghan (@aslinndubh) and Martin O’Connor (@martinoconnor3)

Concerned mostly with alternative music from the 1980s and 1990s, much of it Irish and much of it long lost. Somewhat addictive!

Reviews, Rants And Rambles (https://vinhanley.com) (@Cnocandoire)

The site of Vincent Hanley whose love and understanding of Irish Literature makes his Blog  a delight to read.

Visiting these sites will be well worth your while and do mention The Immortal Jukebox when you do.

N.B.  Look out for the final Post in the series on the 17th – St Patrick’s Day!

 

Sinead O’ Connor : The Butcher Boy

A Parade of Posts for St Patrick 2

Today for your delight:

A Song by Sinead O’Connor

A Poem by Geraldine Plunkett Dillon

A Painting by William Orpen

The song today is featured in Neil Jordan’s wonderful Film from 1997, ‘The Butcher Boy’ adapted from Patrick McCabe’s astonishing novel.

In my view Sinead O’Connor has shamanistic gifts as a singer and performer (with all the blessings and trials imposed by such gifts).

A performer like Sinead comes along about as often as apples grow on an ivy tree.

If you want to imagine what it might be to die for Love and have a strong heart surrender to Sinead’s incandescent performance here.

In Dublin Town where I did dwell ….

 

 

 

The Butcher Boy

In Dublin town where I did dwell
A butcher boy I loved so well
He courted me, my life away
And now with me he will not stay

I wish I wish but I wish in vain
I wish I was a maid again
But a maid again I ne’er can be
Till apples grow on an ivy tree

She went upstairs to go to bed
And calling to her mother said
Bring me a chair till I sit down
And a pen and ink till I write down

I wish I wish but I wish in vain
I wish I was a maid again
But a maid again I ne’er can be
Till apples grow on an ivy tree

He went upstairs and the door he broke
And found her hanging from her rope
He took his knife
And cut her down and in her pocket
These words he found

“Oh, make my grave large, white, and deep
Put a marble stone at my head and feet
And in the middle a turtle dove
So the world may know I died of love

Geraldine Plunkett Dillon (1891 – 1986) had a fascinating life and after many decades of neglect at last her contribution to Irish culture and letters is being recognised.

’Magnificat’ her only collection of Poems was published by Candle Press of Rathgar in 1917.

It is a work of considerable luminous power.

She also wrote a fascinating memoir, ‘All In The Blood’ which was edited by her grand niece Honor O’ Brolchain.

Geraldine Plunkett Dillon : June

I fill my heart with stores of memories,
Lest I should ever leave these loved shores;
Of lime trees humming with slow drones of bees,
And honey dripping sweet from sycamores.

Of how a fir tree set upon a hill,
Lifts up its seven branches to the stars;
Of the grey summer heats when all is still,
And even grasshoppers cease their little wars.

Of how a chestnut drops its great green sleeve,
Down to the grass that nestles in the sod;
Of how a blackbird in a bush at eve,
Sings to me suddenly the praise of God.

 

William Orpen (1878 – 1931) was a highly gifted and highly successful Portrait Painter.

Image result for william orpen images

 

Recommended Websites :

Poethead ( https://poethead.wordpress.com) by Christine Murray is a revelatory Blog about Irish Women Poets.

Elliptical Movements (https://ellipticalmovements.wordpress.com) by Billy Mills is also an invaluable poetic resource for those interested in Irish Poetry.

Do visit these sites and tell them The Immortal Jukebox sent you over!

N.B. Next Post will be on March 15th. Don’t miss it!

Luke Kelly : Raglan Road

A Parade of Posts for St Patrick 1

For the week that’s in it The Immortal Jukebox series A Parade of Posts for St Patrick celebrates Ireland’s glorious heritage in Song, Poetry and Painting.

It seems to me that the, ‘Secret Sign’ has been revealed to generations of Irishmen and Irishwomen and that in response they have blessed us with inspiring voices and visions that will always echo through stone and time.

Today:

A Song from Luke Kelly

A Poem by Flann O’ Brien performed by Eamon Morrissey

A Painting by Jack B Yeats

Staff in hand let’s set off with Luke Kelly’s magisterial performance of Poet Patrick Kavanagh’s great, ‘Raglan Road’.

 

 

Luke Kelly was born to Sing.

Born to Sing.

In his singing there is passion pledged.

In his singing there is grief and rue.

In his singing there is enchantment.

In his singing there is Love and the whisper of old ghosts.

In his singing there is the creature made of clay and the angel.

In his singing there is life in abundance.

Life in abundance.

Patrick Kavanagh : Raglan Road

On Raglan Road on an Autumn Day,
I saw her first and knew
That her dark hair would weave a snare
That I may one day rue.
I saw the danger, yet I walked
Along the enchanted way
And I said let grief be a falling leaf
At the dawning of the day.

On Grafton Street in November,
We tripped lightly along the ledge
Of a deep ravine where can be seen
The worst of passions pledged.
The Queen of Hearts still baking tarts
And I not making hay,
Well I loved too much; by such and such
Is happiness thrown away.

I gave her the gifts of the mind.
I gave her the secret sign
That’s known to all the artists who have
Known true Gods of Sound and Time.
With word and tint I did not stint.
I gave her reams of poems to say
With her own dark hair and her own name there
Like the clouds over fields of May.

On a quiet street where old ghosts meet,
I see her walking now away from me,
So hurriedly. My reason must allow,
For I have wooed, not as I should
A creature made of clay.
When the angel woos the clay, he’ll lose
His wings at the dawn of the day.

 

After such an intense experience I think it’s time to perch on a high stool and imbibe the wit and wisdom of Flann O’ Brien a writer of genius as attested by, ‘At Swim Two Birds’ and by the blazing brilliance of his, ‘Cruiskeen Lawn’ column for The Irish Times under the name of Myles na gCopaleen.

Image result for flann o brien images

 

Eamon Morrissey gives a virtuoso performance of, ‘A Pint of Plain’ from his show celebrating the work of Flann O’Brien, ‘The Brother’.

I must confess I’ve been known to perform this, though with more enthusiasm than skill, myself on licensed premises when the humour is on me!

 

 

Flann O’ Brien : The Workmen’s Friend (A Pint Of Plain)

When things go wrong and will not come right
Though you do the best you can
When life looks black as the hour of night
A pint of plain is your only man

When money’s tight and hard to get
And your horse has also ran
When all you have is a heap of debt
A pint of plain is your only man

When health is bad and your heart feels strange
And your face is pale and wan
When doctors say you need a change
A pint of plain is your only man

When food is scarce and your larder bare
And no rashers grease your pan
When hunger grows as your meals are rare
A pint of plain is your only man

In time of trouble and lousey strife
You have still got a darling plan
You still can turn to a brighter life
A pint of plain is your only man

Jack B Yeats paintings are deeply imagined encounters with the life force present in ourselves and the world around us.

 

Image result for jack b yeats images

When I stand before them I am always shocked by the level of silence and attention they demand of me and by the magnitude of the reward such silence and attention produces.

Replete with Irish generosity and fortified by several Pints of Plain as a parting gift today I leave you with a glorious live version of Raglan Road.

 

Recommended Websites:

746 Book  (https://746books.com)

is an outstanding Blog which has an annual Reading Ireland series.

Cathy (@cathy746books) is in addition Arts programmer for the Seamus Heaney HomePlace

Raging Fluff   (https://ragingfluff.wordpress.com)

is another excellent Blog featuring original writing from Niall McArdle (@ragingfluff) .

Niall has hosted the highly entertaining ‘Begorrathon’ for several years and has generously featured Posts from The Immortal Jukebox.

Do visit these sites and tell them The Immortal Jukebox sent you over!

N.B.   Look out for Post 2 in the series in two days on March 13th.

Bobby Charles, Doug Sahm and Mark Knopfler : Tennessee Blues

A true message always gets through.

Songs that speak truthfully to the ebbing and flowing tides of our lives take on a life of their own cutting distinctive channels in our hearts.

Such songs as Bob Dylan says ‘get up and walk’ away from their composers and become community treasures.

Treasures cherished by what I still think of as the ‘record buying public’ and perhaps even more so by fellow songwriters who recognise a classic song with such lyrical and melodic grace that it seems to demand new interpretations.

The song taking pride of place on The Immmortal Jukebox today is an absolute Peach – ‘Tennessee Blues’ written and first performed by the late, great, Bobby Charles.

I can imagine brows being furrowed at the name – Bobby Charles?

Now, you may not be a fully paid up, got the T Shirt and the Box Set, fan like me but believe me you know and can croon along to several Bobby Charles songs.

How about, ‘See You Later Alligator’ or ‘Walking To New Orleans’ not to mention ‘Before I Grow Too Old’ or ‘I Don’t Know Why I Love You, But I Do’ for starters.

Bill Haley, Fats Domino and Frogman Henry had the Chart hits but they all came from the pen and piano of Abbeville La native Robert Charles Guidry – Bobby Charles.

Bobby’s own versions of his songs are uniformally lovely with, ‘Tennessee Blues’ from his glowing 1972 album produced by The Band’s Rick Danko winning the garland for the most lovely of all.

 

From the ‘Trust us, we’ll take our own sweet time with this one’ opening bars you just know Tennessee Blues is gonna be a Keeper!

There’s a free flowing lazy certainty to the way the song proceeds.

Everything feels natural, unhurried, ripe and right.

Listening you feel like you’re gently rocking to and fro, deliciously half asleep, in a summer hammock.

By now, having lived with this song for decades, as soon as the song starts I can feel the tears welling up and my Boot Heels get ready to go wandering once again round the dance floor with my Darling.

And as we twirl, lost in the Music, we find a place where we don’t have to worry.

A place where we feel loose.

A place alive with the sound of running water and the trills of birds in the trees.

A place to forget all those regrets.

A place where we can settle and stay.

A place to be at peace.

To be at peace.

Oh, a place where you lose all those blues.

All those Blues.

Those Tennessee Blues.

Here, Bobby Charles has written and sung a Song that enchants.

A Song that’s balm for the bruised heart, the weary mind and the thirsty soul.

I’m not 100% certain of the musician credits but that’s surely Amos Garrett (of Midnight At The Oasis fame) playing the tender guitar licks and The Band’s instrumental maestro Garth Hudson playing the heartbreaking Accordion.

N. D. Smart on Drums and Jim Colegrove on Bass.

Violin courtesy of Harry Lookofsky (the Father of ‘Walk Away Renee’ writer Michael Brown.

The sense of ancient sway they create together is truly magical.

A magic that was recognised by one of the most good hearted of all musicians San Antonio’s own favourite Son – Doug Sahm.

Doug cuts deep, imbuing Tennessee Blues with tender Texas Soul.

 

 

Doug’s vocal takes us up to the Mountain Tops and down to the lapping lake side waters where we might bathe and be born again.

Born again.

Across the wide Atlantic Ocean Mark Knopfler, taking time out from his leadership responsibilities with Dire Straits, found peace and nourishment returning to the Americana sounds that had first inspired him to take up the Guitar and search out the chords for the songs he would write himself.

His companions, collectively The Notting Hillbillies, were Steve Phillips and Brendan Crocker.

In their hands Tennessee Blues takes on the character of aching night prayer – a compline service for lost saloon souls.

We are all searching for that place.

That place of shaded valleys and cool reviving streams.

That place where our regrets and worries dissolve in the warm breeze.

That place of peace.

Bobby Charles’ Tennessee Blues takes us there and gives us the strength to carry that peace within us as we travel on.

 

Notes :

Tennessee Blues can be found on the Rhino Encore CD ‘Bobby Charles’ – unreservedly recommended!

I also love:

The Bear Family compilation, ‘See You Later Alligator’

‘Last Train To Memphis’ from Rice and Gravy

‘Home Made Songs’ and ‘Wish You Were Here’

Bobby Charles died in 2010

His songs will endure.