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 : A for Aaron Neville, 5 Blind Boys of Alabama & W H Auden

Home.

Home.

Home.

A drumbeat from the heart urging you back Home for Christmas.

For Aaron Neville Home is in Louisiana and he hymns it royally.

Wherever the Home that calls to your heart is I hope you make it there for Christmas.

Now for some mighty, mighty testifying from The Five Blind Boys of Alabama.

Tom Waits, a notable Jukebox favourite, adds his unmistakeable golden tones to add even more piquancy.

Go Tell It!

W. H. Auden was unquestionably a great Poet who combined enormous technical accomplishment with searching intelligence and wit.

When Auden speaks we do well to listen and reflect.

 

Next Post on the 21st .. S for …

 

Christmas Alphabet 2019 : T for T Bone Burnett, Tommy Dorsey & Dylan Thomas

Sooner or later we all go astray.

Everyone of us needs to be saved.

And, no one alive can survive without tidings of comfort and joy.

Comfort and Joy.

Too easy to default to dismay.

Hark! Hark! Hark!

Trust in the tidings.

Tidings of Comfort and Joy.

I have been an admirer of T Bone Burnett since his days in The Alpha band and his sojourn with Bob Dylan.

The thread connecting all his output as an Artist and Producer is an acute sense of how to establish mood spotlighting the virtues of a song through the adept balance of instrumentation and vocals.

Now for some more vintage Yuletide Jazz.

Tommy Dorsey and his Orchestra cutting quite a rug on Santa Claus Is Comin’ To Town.

Whether you’re on the naughty or the nice list this one will get your Foxtrottin’ feet gliding for the next three minutes or so.

Tommy, of course, on the Trombone.

Vocals by Cliff Weston and Edyth Wright.

Paul Weston provided the fluid arrangement.

Mac Cheikes on Guitar and Sid Stoneburn on Clarinet add the filigree.

Dylan Thomas was never going to make old bones.

When the following recording of ‘A Child’s Christmas in Wales’ was made in 1952 he had less than two years to live.

He never saw his 40th birthday yet he had already, though he spent his gifts profligately, laid down a legacy of immortal incantatory poetry which will always call out to be spoken and sung.

Whatever his excesses he was a true Poet well acquainted with close and holy darkness.

Pull up your most comfortable chair and follow Dylan’s sonorous voice as he leads you spiralling through the years to the heart of a child’s Christmas.

Always on Christmas night there was music.

An uncle played the fiddle, a cousin sang “Cherry Ripe,” and another uncle sang “Drake’s Drum.”

It was very warm in the little house.

Auntie Hannah, who had got on to the parsnip wine, sang a song about Bleeding Hearts and Death, and then another in which she said her heart was like a Bird’s Nest; and then everybody laughed again; and then I went to bed.

Looking through my bedroom window, out into the moonlight and the unending smoke-colored snow, I could see the lights in the windows of all the other houses on our hill and hear the music rising from them up the long, steady falling night. I turned the gas down, I got into bed.

I said some words to the close and holy darkness, and then I slept.           

Next Alphabet Post on the 17th. M for …. Stay tuned!

Christmas Alphabet : S for Bob Seger & Jimmy Smith

Every one of us, poor as we may be, can bring a gift.

The gift of ourselves and the gifts we been given.

Our Hearts

Our Voices.

Our Drums.

Come they told me, pa rum pum pum pum 
A new born King to see, pa rum pum pum pum 
Our finest gifts we bring, pa rum pum pum pum 
To lay before the King, pa rum pum pum pum, 
rum pum pum pum, rum pum pum pum,

So to honor Him, pa rum pum pum pum, 
When we come. 

Little Baby, pa rum pum pum pum 
I am a poor boy too, pa rum pum pum pum 
I have no gift to bring, pa rum pum pum pum 
That’s fit to give the King, pa rum pum pum pum, 
rum pum pum pum, rum pum pum pum, 

Shall I play for you, pa rum pum pum pum, 
On my drum? 

Mary nodded, pa rum pum pum pum 
The ox and lamb kept time, pa rum pum pum pum 
I played my drum for Him, pa rum pum pum pum 
I played my best for Him, pa rum pum pum pum, 
rum pum pum pum, rum pum pum pum, 

Then He smiled at me, pa rum pum pum pum 
Me and my drum

Bob Seger is a tough hombre who understands that tough hombres sometimes need to admit that they are not so tough (even if they are from Detroit!).

You can rely on road warrior Bob to always play his best.

A gift indeed.

Pa rum pum pum pum,
rum pum pum pum, rum pum pum pum.

Now let’s hit a righteous Christmas groove with Jazz Maestros Jimmy Smith and Wes Montgomery.

When it comes to Organ and Guitar workouts you just can’t beat these two!

Even if it is up to your knees out there Jimmy and Wes will keep you mighty warm.

For our Poem today I turn to Jukebox Favourite Sigerson Clifford (1913 – 1985) whose ‘The Boys of Barr na Sráide’ previously featured here in the Posts for St Patrick series.

His ‘Kerry Carol’ has the stillness of the sleeping world and the hushed anticipation that precedes a great event.

And, sometimes, great events take place in the most humble of circumstances and are witnessed and understood best by the humble of heart.

Brush the floor and clean the hearth,
And set the fire to keep,
For they might visit us tonight
When all the world’s asleep.

Don’t blow the tall white candle out
But leave it burning bright,
So that they’ll know they’re welcome here
This holy Christmas night.

Leave out the bread and meat for them,
And sweet milk for the Child,
And they will bless the fire, that baked
And, too, the hands that toiled.

For Joseph will be travel-tired,
And Mary pale and wan,
And they can sleep a little while
Before they journey on.

They will be weary of the roads,
And rest will comfort them,
For it must be many a lonely mile
From here to Bethlehem.

O long the road they have to go,
The bad mile with the good,
Till the journey ends on Calvary
Beneath a cross of wood.

Leave the door upon the latch,
And set the fire to keep,
And pray they’ll rest with us tonight
When all the world’s asleep.

This Christmas Eve leave your candle burning bright.

Burning bright.

Next Alphabet Post on the 15th. T for …. Don’t you dare miss it!

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 ….