Mary Black, Luke Kelly : A Song for Ireland (Hail St Patrick 3)

Tall Towers.

Falcon Nests.

Twisted Rocks.

Summer Sunsets.

Mary Black.

Soul Singing.

A Song for Ireland.

Drinking in the Pub all day.

Fiddler play your Reel.

Stand on the beach at Dingle.

Atlantic Bass and Galway Salmon.

Living on the Western Shore.

Luke Kelly.

The Voice of The People.

A Song for Ireland.

Ireland has been blessed with some extraordinary Singers.

Mary and Luke sing with natural authority.

Singing songs all their lives.

Silver songs of Freedom.

Songs for Ireland.

Louis MacNeice’s long autobiographical Poem, ‘Autumn Journal’ has had a prominent place on my shelves for more than 50 years now (I was a precocious Poetry devotee).

Today I feature two exquisite shorter poems which demonstrate his technical accomplishment and plangent imagination.

… I am not yet born; provide me
With water to dandle me, grass to grow for me, trees to talk

to me, sky to sing to me, birds and a white light
in the back of my mind to guide me.

And ain’t it the truth ….

It’s no go the merrygoround, it’s no go the rickshaw,
All we want is a limousine and a ticket for the peepshow.
Their knickers are made of crepe-de-chine, their shoes are made of python,
Their halls are lined with tiger rugs and their walls with head of bison.

If you are Irish or know someone who is Irish or of Irish heritage (and that’s all of you!) please share these Hail St Patrick Posts as widely as possible.

Paul Brady, Arty McGlynn, Matt Molloy : Crazy Dreams (Hail St Patrick 2)

Traditional Irish music demands far more than mere instrumental virtuosity from its practitioners.

What is demanded is cultural and spiritual engagement with the spirit of the music combined with deep listening to fellow musicians.

No better men to prove the point than Paul Brady and Arty McGlynn.

Paul Brady has featured here several times before as befits a master musician, songwriter, singer and performer.

Arty McGlynn, who sadly died recently, will be less well known to those who are not Irish music aficionados.

Arty, who I saw grace the stage many tines with Van Morrison, was by universal acclaim the premier guitarist in the traditional music world.

He seemed always able to find exactly the right parts to play both as a soloist and as a supportive accompanist.

Anyone playing with Arty was in the very best of company.

The clip below is from a 1976 TV Show and showcases Paul Brady’s great song Crazy Dreams before it had that title and before it was recorded with a rhapsodic full band electric arrangement.

Magnificent as that version remains I always wished the acoustic version below had been officially issued.

It doesn’t get any better !

Now let’s let Arty delight us with scintillating solo a Guitar.

To add to our revelries let’s now introduce master musicians Matt Molloy and John Carty

Sometimes a session opens up glorious musical vistas undreamed of before the first note was launched into the innocent air.

If you ever find yourself at such a session find yourself a good seat and settle in for the evening and let the magic do its work.

Now for some Poetry.

Bernard O’Donoghue has been a distinguished academic at Oxford University for many decades.

Yet, as his poems attest, imaginatively and emotionally he has always drawn nurture and inspiration from his Irish roots.

O’ Donahue’s poems are deeply felt and fully realised.

An architecture of the spirit.

There is an affecting spareness and reticence in tone which may owe much to his immersion in classical and medieval poetry.

The old thin ache you thought that you’d forgotten-
More smoke, admittedly than flame;
Less tears than rain. And the whole business
Neither here nor there, and therefore home.”

This Post Dedicated to the music and memory of Arty McGlynn.

Ar dheis Dé go raibh a anam (May his soul be seated on God’s right hand)

Dolores Keane, Maura O’Connell : Teddy O’Neill (Hail St Patrick 1)

Well here in the South Downs March did indeed come in like a Lion.

A very angry Lion.

Storm force 11 tree felling, roof lifting, banshee howling winds.

Field flooding, roof rattling, better build your Ark now! torrential rain.

Still, we hunkered down, turned the Hi Fi high and the lights down low and emerged blinking into the revelation of a sunny day.

And, here at The Jukebox March always ushers in another celebration of Ireland’s stupendous contribution to art and culture.

So, without further ado let’s call up the majestic voice of Dolores Keane and surrender to her Emotional Force 12 version of, ‘Teddy O’Neill’.

The pain in my heart was too deep to conceal …

You would think after hearing Dolores sing in such an imperious manner that no other singer would dare to take on Teddy O’Neill.

But, true artists, and Maura O’Connell is a true artist, know that the best compliment you can pay a giant presence in your own field is to admire, reflect and then do otherwise.

Listen to Maura’s miraculous glowing vocal, here with Folk Legends De Dannan.

There is a dying ember tenderness that deeply stirs the heart.

All dark and silent … no piper … no reel …

Ah, Teddy, Teddy, to have stirred such dreams.

Such Dreams.

Our opening tip of the hat to Ireland’s poetic treasury is from Michael Hartnett who previously featured here with his mystic, ‘Necklace of Wrens’.

When the wren landed on Michael his grandmother soberly told him that this was a sign he was going to be a Poet.

When it comes to Poetry many are called but very few are chosen.

Michael Hartnett heard and responded full heartedly to his call and the rich harvest of his works demonstrate that he was indeed chosen.

Inchicore Haiku was a return to the English Language after many years of writing solely in Irish.

He was a great Poet in both languages.

Sanctifying grace.

Sanctifying grace.

The gift of Ireland to History.

Christmas Alphabet : I for In The Bleak Midwinter (James Taylor)

Christmas opens the door to Hope.

Even in the bleakest of bleak Midwinters.

Though the earth be hard as Iron and Water stands like Stone there is yet, as Snow falls on Snow, Hope in a humble birth.

There is Hope in a Mother’s simple kiss.

Hope brings riches even to the poorest.

Give your Heart.

Give your Heart.

James Taylor recognises the genius of Christina Rossetti’s Poem and presents it faithfully with grace and winning simplicity.

One of the most moving meditations on the mystery of the Incarnation was written in the 15th Century, ‘I syng of a mayden’.

I syng of a mayden
That is makeles,
king of alle kinges
to here sone che chees.

He cam also stille
Ther his moder was
As dew in Aprylle,
That fallyt on the gras.

He cam also stille
To his modres bowr
As dew in Aprylle,
That falleth on the flowr.

He cam also stille
Ther his moder lay
As dew in Aprylle,
That falleth on the spray.

Moder & mayden
Was nevere noon but she:
Well may swich a lady
Godes moder be.

I sing of a maiden
That is matchless,
King of all kings
For her son she chose.

He came as still
Where his mother was
As dew in April
That falls on the grass.

He came as still
To his mother’s bower
As dew in April
That falls on the flower.

He came as still
Where his mother lay
As dew in April
That falls on the spray.

Mother and maiden
There was never, ever one but she;
Well may such a lady
God’s mother be.

Still, still, still as Mary’s and her babe’s Hearts.

Still, still, still.

The choristers of Ely Cathedral still time with this matchless performance.

The author of the Poem remains unknown.

The setting is by Patrick Hadley (1899-1973).

Now for a Poem from a major figure in Irish Literature, Seán Ó Ríordáin (1916 – 1977).

First in English translation and then in the original Irish.

Women’s Christmas takes place on January 6th – the feast of The Epiphany.

By tradition in Ireland it was the day when the heroic efforts of Mother’s, Wives and Daughters were rewarded by a day of rest from household chores.

Women’s Christmas

There was power in the storm that escaped last night,

last night on Women’s Christmas,

from the desolate madhouse behind the moon

and screamed through the sky at us, lunatic,

making neighbours’ gates screech like geese

and the hoarse river roar like a bull,

quenching my candle like a blow to the mouth

that sparks a quick flash of rage.

I’d like if that storm would come again,

a night I’d be feeling weak

coming home from the dance of life

and the light of sin dwindling,

that every moment be full of the screaming sky,

that the world be a storm of screams,

and I wouldn’t hear the silence coming over me,

the car’s engine come to a stop.

Oíche Nollaig na mBan

Bhí fuinneamh sa stoirm a éalaigh aréir,

Aréir oíche Nollaig na mBan,

As gealt-teach iargúlta tá laistiar den ré

Is do scréach tríd an spéir chughainn ’na gealt,

Gur ghíosc geataí comharsan mar ghogallach gé,

Gur bhúir abhainn shlaghdánach mar tharbh,

Gur múchadh mo choinneal mar bhuille ar mo bhéal

A las ’na splanc obann an fhearg.

Ba mhaith liom go dtiocfadh an stoirm sin féin

An oíche go mbeadsa go lag

Ag filleadh abhaile ó rince an tsaoil

Is solas an pheaca ag dul as,

Go líonfaí gach neomat le liúrigh ón spéir,

Go ndéanfaí den domhan scuaine scread,

Is ná cloisfinn an ciúnas ag gluaiseacht fám dhéin,

Ná inneall an ghluaisteáin ag stad.

Next Red Letter Day on your Calendar – 13 December when the next Post in The Alphabet Series will be published, S for ….

 

Van Morrison & Mark Knopfler : Last Laugh (Happy Birthday Van!)

You’ve either got it or you haven’t.

Presence.

Some things you just can’t buy.

Presence.

Coaches and Gurus and Snake Oil salesmen will portentously promise to reveal the secret to you.

Better save your money and your time and learn the things that can be taught – vocal exercises, relaxation, the whole assembly of skills that adds up to Technique.

But Presence?

No way.

You’ve either got it or you haven’t.

The gods or muses dispose as they will.

Hard to define but easy to recognise.

Greta Garbo.

Marlon Brando.

Rudolph Nureyev.

Maria Callas.

Miles Davis.

Muhammad Ali.

Van Morrison.

Intensity.

Impact.

Cultural, emotional and spiritual impact.

You’ll recognise it when you confront it.

Mark Knopfler is a gifted songwriter and as a guitar player has undoubted Presence.

He is also canny enough to know that some songs require an extra ingredient that he does not possess.

A voice with Presence.

So, for his Song, ‘The Last Laugh’ he called up Van Morrison.

There must have been a moment in the studio as they listened back when Mark exhaled and smiled deeply as the sound of Van’s voice at the beginning of the second verse lifted the work to a wholly new level.

Presence.

Emotional and Spiritual impact.

Van Morrison.

Sing it Van!

Games you thought you’d learned
You neither lost nor won
Dreams have crashed and burned
But you’re still going on
Out on the highway with the road gang working
Up on the mountain with the cold wind blowing
Out on the highway with the road gang working
But the last laugh, baby is yours
And don’t you love the sound
Of the last laugh going down

Very few singers merit the Bold and the Italics.

Van Morrison always has and always will.

Don’t you love the Sound!

Presence.

Cultural, Emotional and Spiritual Impact.

Demonstrated time after time in studios and on stages from Belfast to Buffalo.

Hey Girl! Baby Blue. Brown Eyed Girl. Sweet Thing. Moondance..

Linden Arden.

Listen to The Lion.

The Healing has begun.

No Guru. No Method. No Teacher.

Just Van and that Voice.

It ain’t why, why, why, it just IS.

A voice capable of transcendence as only the rarest voices are.

A voice that reaches up to the Moon.

Don’t you love the Sound!

Van is 74 this week.

So, Happy Birthday Van!

A heartfelt thanks for all the Songs and all the Singing.

 

May your Song always be Sung.

if this is your visit to The Immortal Jukebox you are very welcome!

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There are more Posts about Van than any other artist here on The Jukebox so, in case you missed one or would like to be reminded of an old favourite here’s the Van Compendium for your delectation and delight!

Brown Eyed Girl’.

An introduction telling the tale of my headlong plunge into obsession following my first hearing of Van’s best known song.

http://wp.me/p4pE0N-2L

Don’t Look Back’.

A meditation on Time featuring 2 astounding versions of John Lee Hooker’s tender Blues Ballad. One a reaching for the stars take of a teenager the second the work of a fully realised master musician.

http://wp.me/p4pE0N-3k

Carrickfergus‘.

A meditation on family, friendship and loss. How the shadows lengthen! Sung with infinite tenderness and bardic authority.

http://wp.me/p4pE0N-7J

In The Days Before Rock ‘n’ Roll’.

A miraculous meditation on the persistence of memory, the power of the radio and the post war world as seen by a young Irish mystic.

http://wp.me/p4pE0N-bi

Tupelo Honey’.

A rhapsodic meditation on the nurturing, redemptive power of Love. A Hallelujah!

http://wp.me/p4pE0N-fr

All in the Game‘.

A meditation on the carousel we all ride. It’s been sung by many singers but never like this!

http://wp.me/p4pE0N-jY

Domino’ .

A Founding Father joyously celebrated by a Master from the next generation.

http://wp.me/p4pE0N-pH

Sometimes We Cry‘.

Bringing it all back home to singing on the street corner Days. The sweetness of Doo-Wop seasoned with wry maturity.

http://wp.me/p4pE0N-sf

I Cover the Waterfront’.

Van and John Lee Hooker, Blues Brothers and Soul Friends, conjure up ancient tides.

http://wp.me/p4pE0N-tq

Buona Sera Signorina‘.

Van puts his party hat on and romps through the Louis Prima classic.

http://wp.me/p4pE0N-Xg

Hey Girl’.

Van takes a stroll along the strand and suspends Time.

http://wp.me/p4pE0N-1cA

Gloria! Gloria!’

Once, Now and Ever.

http://wp.me/p4pE0N-1dh

Coney Island 

A Pilgrim’s glimpses of Eternity in the everyday.

https://wp.me/p4pE0N-1OQ

Brand New Day

Born again each Day with The Dawn.

https://wp.me/p4pE0N-1kL

And It Stoned Me

A mystic dweller on the threshold shows us the wonder ever present everywhere.

Happy Birthday Van!

Declan O’Rourke, Eddi Reader : Galileo (Someone Like You)

Love can make you ask funny questions now and then.

Who puts the rainbow in the sky?

Image result for turner paintings of rainbows

Who lights the stars at night?

Image result for van gogh starry night original painting

 

Questions we, and all those who have gone before us, and all those who follow after us, will ask as long as we live.

Ptolemy and Herschel and Hipparchus looking up into the heavens observed, recorded and wondered.

Kepler and Tycho Brahe and Copernicus pursued the same quest.

Eratosthenes and Messier and Hubble were fellow seekers.

As was Galileo.

Image result for images galileo

Looking up, we can be sure all of them sighed and sometimes cried because though the stars are fixed in the sky the course of love, as we all know to our cost, is always erratic.

Ah, what is the stars? What is the stars?

Mansions built by Nature’s hand.

Dome and vault and nest.

Steadfast watchers of the moving waters and the snow upon the mountains and moors.

Light streaming.

Light Years. Light Years. Light Years.

Dropping silently, thick as stones, into the picket of trees.

Catch a falling star and teach me to hear the mermaids singing.

Look at the stars!

Look, look up at the skies!

O look at all the fire folk!

Circle citadels.

Diamond delves.

Airy abeles aflare.

Borrow a bonnet of the Lark and a Chamois’ silver boot and go.

The heart leaps beholding the rainbow in the sky.

A perfectly ordinary rainbow.

The morning stars sang together.

Signs in the Sun and in the moon and in the stars.

Seven stars in the right hand.

A crown of twelve stars.

Love can make you ask some funny questions now and then.

Who dreamt up someone so divine – someone like you and made them mine?

Lonely, unhappy, lips as cold as ice but you kissed me and good heavens!

No more a dark and distant star.

Now I’m here in Paradise.

Paradise.

Who put the rainbow in the sky?

Who lights the stars at night.

 

Galileo (Someone Like You) – a divine song written by Declan O’Rourke and Seamus Cotter.

Sung by Declan, on his debut Album, with innocent assurance.

The assurance of someone who sounds a true note.

Galileo will always be the signature song of Declan’s career though he has subsequently written and recorded many very fine songs.

When he recorded it in 2004 he thought that the song was an indulgence and that nobody outside him and his family would be interested.

Yet, when people heard this song there was an immediate sigh of recognition.

For, who has not looked up and wondered who put the rainbow in the sky?

Who has not wondered who lights the stars at night?

Who has not been lonely and unhappy with lips as cold as ice?

And, good heavens, who has not, even once, for once is all it takes, been kissed and found themselves in paradise?

Who invented such a joy?

Who has not wondered then who dreamt up someone so divine and made them mine?

So don’t be blind and don’t cry.

Look up high and gladly sigh.

Eddi Reader, as true and fair a voice as you can ever hope to find, lights up the heavens here accompanied by the RTE Concert Orchestra.

Look up and gladly sigh.

Look at the stars!

Look, look up at the skies!

O look at all the fire folk!

Don’t be blind and don’t you cry.

Look up high and gladly sigh,

And you might find you’re in Paradise.

Love can make you ask some funny questions now and then.

Who puts the rainbow in the sky?

Who lights the stars at night?

We will all have a blind and dying day.

Until then …

Look up high and sigh and be thankful.

 

Notes :

I highly recommend all of Declan’s recorded output :

‘Since Kyabram’, ‘Big Bad Beautiful World’ ‘Mag Pai Zai’, ‘Gold Bars in the Sun’, ‘In Full Colour’ and ‘Chronicles of the Great Irish Famine’.

Declan has an informative website declanorourke.com which features a fascinating documentary revisiting the making of his debut Album.

Paul Weller said about Declan :

‘He writes the sort of classic songs that people don’t write anymore, songs that sound like they’ve been around forever. Listen to Galileo, which is possibly the greatest song written in the last thirty years.’

Galileo has been recorded by Eddi Reader, Mary Byrne and Josh Groban among others.

There is a stunning version by Camille O’Sullivan which I will feature when I write a Post with her as the subject later this year.

Credit for starry inspiration properly due to :

William Wordsworth, John Keats, Gerard Manley Hopkins, Emily Dickinson, Les Murray (RIP), Sylvia Plath and The King James Bible.

Mothers Day – Bing Crosby : Did your Mother come from Ireland?

Well, the answer to Bing’s question is a resounding Yes!

Did she kiss The Blarney? Not literally, but if I have any gift for words, for telling a tale, it comes from her.

There were some stories of her youth in Kerry she must have told me a thousand times or more and yet every time they came up fresh and left me asking for more.

Did she dance to the Kerry Pipers?

She sure did – at Duffy’s in her best dress with her hair dressed up pretty.

Now she wasn’t from Killarney but Killorglin just a few miles down the road – a town she never left in her heart and her memory.

She has been dead these twenty years but not a day passes when I don’t think of her with love and profound gratitude.

On her headstone we carved, ‘All we laughed’ as that was the punchline to so many of her stories and thinking of her joyous laughter still bubbles up.

Joan O’ Sullivan (cracked Joanie) cracked because she was so alive to the humour and crazy joy of the world became Joan Hickey and day after day, year after year, transmitted that joy in living wrapped up in unconditional love to Thom and Ger and Julie.

It’s the most precious gift a Mother can give to her children and she gave it to us unstintingly.

And, as we remember her today she still does.

For Joan Hickey.