The Widdershins

Lazy Sunday Music: Playlist for the Irish High Holiday

Posted on: March 16, 2014

 “I suffer from Irish-Catholic guilt. Guilt is a good reality check. It keeps that ‘do what makes you happy’ thing in check.”
– Irish American actor and director Edward Burns

Erin Go Bragh, Widdershins.  ‘Tis the eve of St. Patrick’s Day, and time to get our playlist together.  Despite my iffy back, I will venture out to celebrate my maternal ancestry with those of the ilk, which pretty much includes everyone by 9 p.m.   So, load up on Bailey’s, Jameson’s and room temperature Guiness, and prepare to party.

Irish music is wild, sweet, and emotional – some bouncing and happy and others more than a little melancholy .  She has a troubled history,  and a terrible beauty.  26+6 =1 remains as much a political difficulty as it is a mathematical impossibility.  Truly, it is a nebulous concept at best. The ongoing upheaval is well reflected in Ireland’s traditional music.  Oddly, some of the songs sung lustily at Irish bars are word for word the same as those belted out at Highland games, with both sides vociferously claiming credit for the tune. Go figure, but since I had a parent from each line, I sang them loudly and proudly, as either way they are all mine.

Here’s my abbreviated list.  Add yours to it, please, as well as anything else that strikes your fancy in this open thread.

(1) Wild Rover – The Dubliners

(2) Whiskey in a Jar – The Dubliners

(3) Back Home in Derry –  The Young Wolfetones

(4) Wild Mountain Thyme = Don Williams and the Chieftains

(5) Molly Ban – Allison Krause and the Chieftains

(6) The Soldier’s Song – Irish National Anthem  (Try this one with a wee drap of Jameson’s and a Southern accent.)

(7) The Sick Note –  The Dubliners

Have a glorious day, and my Mother would have reminded you to pray for Ireland.


31 Responses to "Lazy Sunday Music: Playlist for the Irish High Holiday"

Here is my favorite:

My father used to sing “Molly Ban” in his concerts. It was one of my mother’s favorite songs.

Wonderful contributions. Good to see both of you.

From a 6th century Irish hymn:

I heard somewhere that he had been excommunicated by his own church.

@6 Fredster, the Celtic version of “Drunken Sailor” is “Ora Se Do”. It is the story of Grainne Mhaile, (Grace O’Malley), the archetypal Irish matriarch- a pirate, a chieftan, and the last tribal leader to surrender to the court of Elizabeth I, which she did by crossing the Irish Sea and presenting herself at Elizabeth’s court with a pledge of loyalty.

The song celebrates her homecoming, with as much freedom as she could retain for her province. It’s loosely translated as, “over the sea, comes Grainne Mhaile, escorted not by Gauls or Spaniards, but by our own Irish sailors, and though we live not a week thereafter, we will see the foreigners driven from our shores.”

There are several versions of the Ora Se Do. My personal favorite is Sinead O’Connor’s live performance, also the Clancy brothers, and it is the background chorus for the film “The Wind that Shakes the Barley.”

Well, actually, my favorite, favorite version is my voice teacher’s which I can’t post because it’s copyrighted, but her ensemble, TapestryBoston, weaves together the tales of Grace O’Malley with the “Ora Se Do” refrain. There’s a wee excerpt posted on her website for any classical music lovers who care to look.

Here you go, Mary Luke:

I like this one, too.

Mary Luke@14: Thanks for that background info. Do you have a link to your voice teacher’s website?

@15,16, Thank you Chat. I love Sinead’s Irich songs.

@Fredster, the website only has a tiny fragment of the entire song, unfortunately. She’s had a lot of copyright issues and she’s very cautious.

The album, for anyone who may be interested, is titled “Faces of a Woman” and it is sold on Amazon. It is a collection of folksongs celebrating women composers and heroines from different countries, from the 13th century to the 20th, ranging from Hildegard von Bingen to Baltic, Portuguese, French, Gaelic, and American. The American selections are “Careless Love” and a Malvina Reynolds song.

Thanks, Mary Luke. That;s worth looking into,

@20 Chat….”The Irish High Holiday!” …ooohhhh, that is goooood!!!!

Sure, and a happy St. Patrick’s Day to all our Irish Widdershins!

@Fredster, @chat,

The website for my teacher’s ensemble is tapestryboston05. There are brief selections from several of the group’s albums. They have a very unique sound…using music from classical to folk, from the middle ages to the present, all with a feminist focus.

@Beata…if you are into early liturgical music this is the site for you.
Check out “Sapphire Night”

@DYB, if you’re dropping by and see this, and have any interest in Early Music, you can also find members of this ensemble in earlier incarnations as Ensemble PAN, Sequentia, and they are some of the soloists on Boston Camerata CD’s also.

@22 Aaahhh, the real singer has arrived! Welcome, MB!

And you, MB, might enjoy listening to the clips from “Come Into My Garden”, a collection of Hebrew songs with the vocal ensemble Tapestry and Shira Kammen, viel and other stringed instruments player, edited by one Mr. Levenson….who just happened to marry the gorgeous red-haired Irish mezzo….you know, those boys just gotta chase us shiksas!

Mary Luke@23: Thank you for the info! 🙂

I started having some internet issues right after I wrote that comment. My connection slowed to just a crawl and could not even get pages to load. GRRR!!!

Thank you Mary Luke! I hope I’ll have the chance. Back to traveling like a fiend!

@25 Fredster, I think I have a modern disease called “technology stress.” My aging brain hasn’t been able to absorb anything since Windows 2003. Ever since that computer gave out, I haven’t been able to do anything. I am in a permanent state of “Mercury retrograde” with electronics messing up on me all the time. Even simple email doesn’t seem to work right anymore. Grrrrrr indeed!

@18 Beata, “Black is the Colour” is one of my favs. In fact, I like it so much it was my choice for a solo last year at my chorus’s annual cabaret night, when the theme was songs with a color.

@26, Safe travels, MB! I am working like a fiend, and not happy about it at my age. Need to make it through the next two months, and then will start withdrawing from some cases…should cut the driving in half.

@27: Mary Luke, “Black is the Colour” was a hard one for me to post. My father sang it to my mother. It was “their song”. After he died, she couldn’t listen to it without crying. I like to think he is singing it to her up in heaven now. She talked a lot about him before she died, asking where he was and why he didn’t visit her. She didn’t remember that he had passed away years ago.

Thank you for suggesting different sites. I like a wide range of music.

Mary Luke: I could kinda figure out what was going on, but just couldn’t do anything about it. 👿

I ran a trace route out from here to as a test. I got out here fine but then getting to the main connection for Charter was slow and then going out further each hop took longer and longer. I guess the little internet hamsters in their wheels were taking a break. LOL!

@ 29 Yes, Beata, it is so hard to listen to those special songs. Thank you for going the extra mile and sharing that beautiful song with us.

@30 Fredster, I think the internet hamsters are hibernating and we are the ones going around in circles!

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