On foot of the success of Old Dog Long Road – volume 1, we now bring you
- Erin Go Bragh (Trad. Arr. Irvine) Andy Irvine: bouzouki, harmonica & vocal
I learned this song from Ian ‘Jock’ Manuel who was resident at the Folk Club at the Bluebell in Hull and a tremendous singer. That must be back in the sixties. It came into my head around year of 2003 and I found I remembered most of the words. Couldn’t remember the tune though, so I put it to this one. Every time I sing it, I nearly remember where I got this tune. It’s really familiar but I just can’t put a name to it!
Recorded at Studio E, Sebastopol, CA, USA on 22nd June 2010.
- Carrowclare (Trad. Arr. Irvine) Andy Irvine: mandola & vocal
Learned from Eddie Butcher, that great singer from Magilligan in Co. Derry. It was written by a local blind fiddle player called Jimmy McCurry who lived near Carrowclare. Sam Henry also printed it in his wonderful collection – “Songs of the People”. In the original, the lovers part and the boy goes off to make his fortune in Amerikay but Eddie never liked a song
with a sad ending and he wrote an extra eight lines to tell how they get married and go across the Atlantic together. I’ve stuck to the original but left it likely that he would return!
Recorded by Gunnar Tønnesen at “Full Moon Eve” concert, Klepp, Norway in 2005.
- Facing The Chair (Andy Irvine) Andy Irvine: mandola & vocal
Being a massive fan of Woody Guthrie’s from an early age, I bought his records as they came out. “Ballads of Sacco & Vanzetti” came out on Folkways in 1960. Woody had recorded it in 1946/47 but was not really satisfied with the result. I had not heard of these two Italian anarchists whose trial for murder in Boston had led to them being found guilty and
executed in the Electric Chair in 1927. His lyrics made a great impression on me and I studied the books which had been written about these events. As the trial unfolded, the bias of Judge Thayer became more and more evident and I came to the conclusion, along with Woody and most other socially minded people that a terrible injustice had been perpetrated. I wrote this song after visiting the courthouse in Dedham MA where so much of this trial had been held.
Recorded in Dreieichenhain, Germany on 3rd December 1982.
- A Blacksmith Courted Me (Trad. Arr. Irvine) Andy Irvine: mandolin & vocal
This is an oddity as I had already been singing the quite different version I recorded with Planxty for a couple of years. As I remember it, I woke one morning, climbed from my bed and recorded this as another way of singing the song. It sounds to me as if I had been listening to A.L. Lloyd!! It must have been rush hour in Donnybrook as you can hear the traffic in
Recorded in Donnybrook, Dublin in 1970.
- Hornpipe: The Drunken Sailor (Trad. Arr. Irvine) Andy Irvine: mandola
Noel Hill, great concertina player, kindly recorded this on a tape for me to learn many years ago. I heard him play it in Slattery’s of Capel Street in Dublin one evening and thought it a great tune which he played brilliantly!
Recorded at White Horse Pub, Beverley, Yorkshire on 2nd July 1984.
- Douglas Mawson (Andy Irvine) Andy Irvine: bouzouki & vocal
A song of mine about the great Australian Geologist and Antarctic explorer who, after travelling with Shackleton in 1907-09, led his own expedition to Adélie Land, a previously unexplored part of the Antarctic continent. His extraordinary courage in getting back to base after the death of his two companions made a big impression on me.
Recorded at Brunswick Town Hall, Brunswick, VIC, Australia during Brunswick Festival on 1st April 1989.
- The Snows – Οι χιονιές – (Lyrics: Eirini Chalkou / Music: George Konitopoulos) Mozaik – Andy Irvine, Dónal Lunny, Bruce Molsky, Rens van der Zalm, Nikola Parov – with Chrysoula Kechagioglou: vocal
In 2015 the band Mozaik recorded its third album “The Long and The Short of It” in Nikola Parov’s studio in Budapest. We had invited Chrysoula Kechagioglou to fly from Greece to guest with us and one of the songs we wanted her to sing was this one. Dónal Lunny had come back from Greece many years ago with this song, from the island of Naxos, on a cassette
and I had wanted, ever since, to record it. Apparently, in the dialect of Naxos, this song refers to snowball throwing but that doesn’t seem to be reflected in the translation I have seen. The song is more a sad memory of times gone by and the snows of yesteryear. Mozaik recorded too much material for the album and this recording didn’t make the cut.
Recorded in the Livingroom Studio, Budapest, Hungary in September 2015.
- Banks Of Newfoundland (Trad. Arr. Irvine) Andy Irvine: octave stringed bouzouki, harmonica & vocal
Another song I learned from Eddie Butcher. The coast of Newfoundland was well known for its tempestuous seas, its ice and its fog and the ship in this song is hit by a hurricane and stranded. With nothing left to eat the crew decide to hold a lottery as to who should be killed and eaten. Fortunately, they are saved from cannibalism, in the nick of time, by the
arrival of another ship. Hugh Shields, who collected Eddie’s songs, says that Eddie also had a couple of lines that went: –
“Some jumped in earnest in the seas and said they’d swim to land but alas we were one hundred leagues from the Banks of Newfoundland”. As Hugh Shields humorously reports, “these lines occur at the moment of rescue, so that their folly gives way to exhibitionism”!
Recorded by Steve Cooney at his studio in West Kerry 1995.
- Hornpipes: Cooley’s / O’Dwyer’s (Trad. Arr. Irvine/Casey/Moore) Andy Irvine: mandolin / Nollaig Casey: fiddle / Des Moore: guitar
In 1983 I organised a long tour with Nollaig Casey on fiddle and Des Moore on guitar. We started in Vienna on 15th January and continued through Hungary, Italy, Switzerland, France and Holland and ended on 22nd February. I remember it with fondness as my band mates were good company and the 28 concerts were generally successful. Here are two Hornpipes that we played in Holland on a bitterly cold and windy Sunday.
Recorded in Scheveningen, Holland on 13th February 1983.
- Jack Mulroe (Trad. Arr. Irvine) Andy Irvine: mandola & vocal
Learned from another great singer, Tom Moran from Mohill in Co. Leitrim. He was recorded by Séamus Ennis for the BBC back in the 50s. He had an extraordinary and unusual repertoire of songs and Séamus told me his opinion was that an English soldier, who had come over with Cromwell in the 17th century, had settled in that part of Leitrim and that’s where a lot of Tom’s songs had come from.
Recorded in Ballysooragh, Co. Fermanagh in 2008.
- Sweet Bann Water (Trad. Arr. Irvine) Andy Irvine: bouzouki & vocal / Rens van der Zalm: guitar
Learned from Joe Holmes and Len Graham. This song is often called “The Cocks are Crowing”. Sam Henry collected a version quite close to Joe and Len’s in 1937 from a man called Valentine Crawford in the Commercial Hotel in Bushmills, Co. Antrim.
Recorded at Old School House, Parachilna, South Australia in July 2012.
ODLR2 is available now from www.andyirvine.com, stay tuned for part 2 of this feature.