Sonntag, 3. April 2016

The Clancy Brothers - Come Fill Your Glass With Us (Tradition,1959)

The Clancy Brothers are a family of singing Irish expatriates who have been important figures in re-popularizing their native music in North America and are still among the most internationally renowned Irish folk bands. Some even credit the band as important figures in starting the folk revival of the '50s and '60s.

The second album from the Clancys and Makem is among their most notable efforts, helping launch the group to international success. As indicated by the title, "Come Fill Your Glass with Us" is a virtual soundtrack of Irish pub life, perfectly evoking the hard-drinking, late-night atmosphere; songs include such traditional classics as "Whisky You're the Devil," "Finnegan's Wake," "The Parting Glass" and "A Jug of Punch."


Side One:
Whisky You're the Devil
The Maid of the Sweet Brown Knowe
The Moonshiner
Bold Thady Quill
Rosin the Bow
Finnigan's Wake
The Real Old Mountain Dew
Side Two:
Courting in the Kitchen
Mick McGuire
A Jug of Punch
Johnny McEldoo
Cruiscin Lan
The Parting Glass
Sleeve notes:
" A group of workmen were tearing down a very old distillery in the south of Ireland. It had not been used for fifty years and was full of birds' nests. When they reached the vat where the whisky had been stored, they found a small metal pipe leading from it and going into the ground. It had been well hidden. They dug down following it one foot underground till it ended in a small hollow under a tree two hundred yards from the distillery. No one could explain it.
The facts end here, but they suggest strange stories of men long ago stealing to that hollow at night and draining off the whisky out of sight of the distillery.
There is no one to tell of the nights of drinking and song that came out of that pipe, But I'm sure some of the Irish drinking songs on this record were sung, as some of them are much older than that distillery.
Drinking and singing have been enjoyed by men everywhere and always. As islands were discovered and jungles penetrated, all new found peoples had songs of some kind and had found a way of making intoxicating drink. If you hear a lot of singing from your neighbor's home at midnight, you just know there is drinking going on.
In Ireland people would gather in the pubs on fair days and market days when their business of the day had ended, to "wet their whistle" and hear n song. A travelling piper, fiddler, singer or fluter would provide sweet music for pennies and a farmer could learn a new song or two.
My grandmother kept one of these pubs and learned quite a few of the songs, one of them being "Whisky You're the Devil," which I have not heard elsewhere.
Another one of her songs was "Portlairge," which is a local Gaelic song, and all the place names mentioned are within twenty miles of her pub. The words translate as follows:
— 1 —
I was the day in Waterford.
Fol dow, fol dee, fol the dad I lum.
There was wine and pints on the table.
Fol dow . . .
There was the full of the house of women there,
Fol dow . . .
And myself drinking their health.
— 2 —
A woman from Rath came to visit me,
And three of them from Tipperary.
Their people weren't satisfied.
They were only half satisfied.
— 3 —
I'll set out from Carrick in the rooming,
And take a nice girl with me.
Off we'll go thro' "The Gap,"
And northwards to Tipperary.
Like Tom and Liam and I, Tommy Makem learned most of his songs from his family, particularly from his mother, Mrs. Sarah Makem, who still lives in County Armagh, Ireland and sings on Tradition's THE LARK IN THE MORNING, TLP 1004. When Tommy sings "Bold Thady Quill," he is singing about a champion hurler from County Cork, whom I understand is still alive.
The song "Finnigan's Wake" gave the title to the famous novel by James Joyce, who was interested in Tim Finnigan's resurrection from the dead by having whisky (water of life) poured on him during a fight at the wake.
The Gaelic chorus of "Cruiscin Lan" (My Little Full Jug) means:
Love of my heart, my little jug, Bright health, my darling.
Most of these songs tell their own story. They are not merely curiosity pieces or antiques; they are still very much alive and are as popular as the drink that inspired them.

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When I was a young boy, I would learn Irish and Irish-American history from my grandfather who was first generation. His immigrant father had wanted him and his siblings to assimilate wholly and forbade them to speak Irish although my great-grandfather and -grandmother spoke it among themselves and with friends and relatives. Perhaps, as subterfuge, my grandfather made sure I learned the history we were not taught in school where we were inundated with Massachusetts colonial history. When he was angry in front of us children and no adults were in the room, my grandfather would swear in Irish.

His son, my father, also emphasized assimilation and whenever I asked about our history, would respond we're American now. Years later when I informed my father that my grandfather would swear in Irish when he and other adults were out of the room, he informed me that he had never known that his father spoke fluent Irish. For that matter, when I asked my grandfathers' sisters, who were elderly and lived with my grandfather in the home their father built, about the language my grandfather had spoken, they insisted it was English. Apparently my English was vocabulary deficient because I didn’t understand a word.

As a young adult, aware that my great-grandparents’ first language was Irish, I began
taking classes to learn it at a local college through the Cumann na Gaeilge. Proud that I was learning the language, my sole surviving great-aunt admitted that she and all of her siblings had been covertly taught Irish by their mother and, yes, my grandfather was speaking Irish, not English when we were young.

I mention the above because the one tie to Ireland that existed in my home when we were growing up was my father’s love of the Clancy Brothers and Tommy Makem. He had and played constantly all of their albums. He sang their songs and we knew all of the rebel songs and ballads as young children. We even the chorus to Óró, Sé Do Bheatha 'bhaile. Whenever I heard Liam Clancy sing The Patriot Game, I would feel like he was singing about my people and we knew by heart the words to the children’s medley on his, his brothers', and Makem's recording of their concert at Carnegie Hall album.

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Although I was a young boy in 1960, I am old enough to remember the campaign and election of John F. Kennedy. I especially remember the bigotry he encountered outside of New England and cities like Chicago. My grandfather’s tales of Irish and Boston Irish history seemed much more credible to me at that time than my father’s insistence that we were assimilated. The tales made me acutely aware that early American colonial history, including the Pilgrims and Cromwell, as not the history of my people. I vividly remember the older people fearing that Kennedy had no chance and would be defeated as Al Smith was defeated in 1928 and being shocked and elated when he, one of us although given his class, not really) was elected. The only other time I would witness such a jubilant reaction was among my black friends when Barack Obama was elected.

For much of my boyhood and teenage years, the Clancy brothers were the sole reminder of our heritage in my parent’s home, they were de fact bridge between the two cultures. My father would tell us that Bob Dylan was a big fan of the Clancys and I knew Dylan had adapted several of their songs, including Dominic Behan’s “The Patriot Game” and to “With God On Our Side” and tune for the ballad about Roddy McCorley as the tune for “Ramblin Gamblin’ Willie.” He would also sing their songs at home and sing “The Parting Glass.”

When he was in his fifties, my father developed a yearning to know the family history and roots and ironically would ask me questions about them because I had listened to the tales of the older people. The last concert he and my mother attended before her death from cancer was Liam Clancy and Tommy Makem playing after Silly Wizard at the Irish & Celtic Music Festival in Foxborough, Massachusetts. My wife and I attended the same concert, and Makem and Clancy were very much in their prime at the time. Years later I saw a performance of and then met Tommy Makem at an Irish Festival in Texas. I asked him to sign a compact disc of him and Liam Clancy in concert that I had purchased at the festival to replace my nearly worn out vinyl album. He graciously signed after asking gruffly why I didn’t have one of his more recent solo albums for signature. I didn’t want to offend him explain to him that I considered his best work having been performed with the Clancys and then with Liam Clancy. However, the other part of that truth was that I bought the compact disc because the harmonies, respective solo performances, and verbal interplay between him and Liam Clancy make it one of my all-time favorite recordings.

In a special about the Clancys and Makem on public television here, Dylan spoke of his love of their singing and declared that Liam Clancy was the best balladeer he had ever heard. In his autobiography Chronicles, Dylan acknowledged his debt to The Clancys and the significant influence they had on him. According to The Ireland Calling blog, “most biographies of Dylan, such as Down the Highway: The Life of Bob Dylan, also cover his relationship with The Clancys during his formative years as an artist. He became close friends with the band, particularly Liam Clancy and Tommy Makem. They introduced him to numerous Irish songs like The Ould Triangle and Brennan on the Moor which Dylan loved … (Dylan) wrote: “What I was hearing pretty regularly, though, were rebellion songs, and those really moved me. The Clancy Brothers — Tom, Paddy and Liam — and their buddy Tommy Makem sang them all the time.” He not only liked the powerful melodies and the rebel themes, he was also influenced by the structure and storytelling techniques. He later incorporated some of those techniques in his own songs.”

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I know what Dylan meant because even now when I listen to the songs of Clancys and Makems, their songs greatly moves me for reasons that are beyond English words. They represent my heritage and the people from whom I am descended, and greatly influenced my perception of the English government which countered the rhetoric about the special relationship between the United States and England and praise of Cromwell that was part of the propaganda we were taught. I would go on to buy more traditional Irish music and acquire a fairly large collection much of which was sung in Irish. But I have also bought many of the compact disc re-issues of the music of the Clancy Brothers and Tommy Makem and Makem and Clancy.

I have used so many words but it is very difficult to describe how integral the Clancys’ music was to my upbringing and even now my perception of who I am. Even in my father’s home, we always referred to ourselves as Irish-American. I remember playing their records in college and my non-Irish American friends telling me that they could not understand all of their English which surprised me because Irish English and its direct translations from the Irish in phrases such as so and so's "after going to the store" almost instinctively comprehensible to me. Among other things, I am grateful to the Clancys and Tommy Makem for providing the musical background to my grandfathers’ and the older people’ stories and contributing to the reason I still study Irish. If nothing else, I now know what the song we children often sang without understanding a word to accompany Liam Clancy's closing song on one of their two Carnegie Hall album; that is, Óró, Sé Do Bheatha 'bhaile, actually means.

Go raibh míle maith agat for this wonderful post. It is a great selection for remembering the 100tth anniversary of the Easter Rising (Éirí Amach na Cásca).

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