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The sound of galloping horses
September 14, 2013 1:09 PM   Subscribe

The Bluffer's guide to Irish folk: 20 songs from the last 50-odd years of Irish traditional music.
posted by rollick (27 comments total) 63 users marked this as a favorite

 
Eponysterical in a gave-me-a-great-big-grin sort of way. It'll be fun to track down so much of this. My first love in the genre was Lick the Tins' cover of Can't Help Falling In Love, which is probably not the same sort of traditional but is still awfully sweet.
posted by Lou Stuells at 1:28 PM on September 14, 2013 [3 favorites]


Thank you for this.

This thread is as good a reason as any for me to share a thing I had just been looking for -- the best arrangement of "The Lass of Aughrim" that I know, which has an Appalachian ability to raise hairs on the back of the neck.
posted by Countess Elena at 1:46 PM on September 14, 2013 [2 favorites]


I'm pleasantly surprised by how many of those records I've known and/or owned.

My biggest complaint (stylistically) about Irish music since I started listening to it a quarter century ago or so has always been that it's hung up on a certain sort of authenticity that, say, Scottish music (the other strain of Celtic folk that I'm fairly familiar with) never seems to have gotten quite so hung up on. It's nice to see that the later bands on the list--particularly Solas, whom I adore--are mostly bands that have shaken off that worry. Not to say they're not trad, but they're living tradition and evolving, not stuck on reconstruction. (Cf the Battlefield Band, whose motto is "Forward with Scotland's Past".)
posted by immlass at 2:19 PM on September 14, 2013


The Dubliner's have the best beards. Not hipster beards. Man beards.
posted by Damienmce at 2:57 PM on September 14, 2013 [3 favorites]


immlass, I'm wondering if that's because there was a tighter "holding on" to Irish tradition as a defence against colonisation, oppression etc, whereas other Celtic countries had less at stake and had more freedom to evolve musically?

The pangs of nostalgia I got reading about Paddy Reilly - reminds me so much of my mum playing him in the house, and my dad playing him in the car on long monthly journeys to see my grandparents. Thanks for this.
posted by billiebee at 3:18 PM on September 14, 2013


I played a lot of Irish and Scottish folk for years, and let me just say that I have always thought "Old Hag You Have Killed Me" is a terrific name for a melody. Or anything, really.
posted by ricochet biscuit at 3:20 PM on September 14, 2013 [2 favorites]


When I die, I want a graveside reverie like Liam Clancy's.
posted by PeterMcDermott at 3:44 PM on September 14, 2013 [1 favorite]


I'm wondering if that's because there was a tighter "holding on" to Irish tradition as a defence against colonisation, oppression etc, whereas other Celtic countries had less at stake and had more freedom to evolve musically?

I think that's certainly part of how it's perceived, though I wonder how much truth there is to that compared to, say, the contortions Scots culture was put through after the Fifteen and the Forty-Five and then the reconstruction of Scottishness during the Victorian period. But that's now three generations plus out, so out of living memory, and accommodated or reconciled in a way that it doesn't seem to be for the Irish.
posted by immlass at 4:16 PM on September 14, 2013


This thread is as good a reason as any for me to share a thing I had just been looking for -- the best arrangement of "The Lass of Aughrim" that I know....

In thanks for that, please accept the best rendition of "Raglan Road" I know of - Glen Hansard's. I've heard it waaaaaaay over-sentimentalized, but this just made me sit up and think "oh, now I get this song."

My biggest complaint (stylistically) about Irish music since I started listening to it a quarter century ago or so has always been that it's hung up on a certain sort of authenticity that, say, Scottish music (the other strain of Celtic folk that I'm fairly familiar with) never seems to have gotten quite so hung up on. It's nice to see that the later bands on the list--particularly Solas, whom I adore--are mostly bands that have shaken off that worry.

---

I'm wondering if that's because there was a tighter "holding on" to Irish tradition as a defence against colonisation, oppression etc, whereas other Celtic countries had less at stake and had more freedom to evolve musically?


Hmm. I also wonder if it couldn't also be due to brighter lines between "folk" and "rock" back then as well.

Also*, Ireland had a much stronger "let's rediscover our Celtic Past" tradition back in the early 1900's, fostered by the home-grown intelligentsia (Yeats, Lady Gregory, et. al.) as opposed to having been something thrust upon it like in Scotland. And, too, the Republic of Ireland is technically a comparatively young country - the Centennial of the Easter Uprising isn't for another 3 years still - so there could still also be some echoes of "yay now we are finally an independent nation let's revive the way we used to do things and hang onto them now that we're free" that the United States went through too, in its first 100 years. And, any kind of "we are clinging to Irish cultural identity" that was happening in Northern Ireland as well probably influenced things.

* This opinion is far from a scholarly one - it is something I have pulled out of my ass based on half-remembered bits from taking a lot of Irish Studies courses in college (history, literature, and ancient history) and some talking with my friend in Cork.
posted by EmpressCallipygos at 4:29 PM on September 14, 2013 [2 favorites]


My parents raised me on Planxty and the Chieftains, sometimes against my will. I didn't like them when I was tiniest, because I always wanted to be listening to Cyndi Lauper. But I learned to appreciate them before long.

It so happens I've been researching popular songs of the late 1800s this week, for unrelated reasons. There are a lot of faux-Irish offerings, and it strikes me how unlike they are to what I grew up hearing. They're about as Irish as Spaghetti-o's are Italian. So milk-and-water, so unlike the wild strange -- you might even say, high lonesome -- sound presented by the Chieftains et al. It was popular with the middle class, though, which makes it aspirational. That makes me wonder what the Irish music played by immigrants for each other in America of the late 19th and early 20th century actually sounded like.
posted by Countess Elena at 4:39 PM on September 14, 2013 [1 favorite]


There are a lot of faux-Irish yt offerings, and it strikes me how unlike they are to what I grew up hearing. They're about as Irish as Spaghetti-o's are Italian.

Have told this story before, story is too good, will tell it again:

The "friend in Cork" had started out as my pen pal when we were twelve, so her whole family wanted in on taking me around to do things. So I ended up in a gift shop at some point with her father and 15-year-old brother Donal. And this gift shop had the tackiest faux-Irish Muzak - chirpy choral versions of "I'll Take You Home Again Kathleen" and "When Irish Eyes Are Smiling" and even "How Are Things In Glocca Morra", for fuck's sake. At some point Donal saw me rolling my eyes at the music, and told me: "I just want you to know, this is the sort of music that embarrasses us."
posted by EmpressCallipygos at 4:46 PM on September 14, 2013 [3 favorites]


out of living memory

I do think that's the difference.

any kind of "we are clinging to Irish cultural identity" that was happening in Northern Ireland as well probably influenced things.

In terms of the influence of NI I don't see it as clinging to Irish identity, as much as the fact that some of the rebel songs, for example, were contemporary rather than commemorating ancient battles. When you're trying to preserve a culture that is being attacked in the present it must influence how precious you are about that culture.
posted by billiebee at 4:53 PM on September 14, 2013 [1 favorite]


In terms of the influence of NI I don't see it as the clinging to Irish identity, as much as the fact that some of the rebel songs, for example, were contemporary rather than commemorating ancient battles. When you're trying to preserve a culture that is being attacked in the present it must influence how precious you are about that culture.

Yeah, that's kind of what I mean. I maybe wasn't clear with my own statement - what I mean is, I'd always heard that the Unionists identified as Irish - politically, nationally, socially, and culturally - while the Loyalists considered themselves British.
posted by EmpressCallipygos at 5:02 PM on September 14, 2013


Lou Stuells, I LOOOVED that song, too. Still do, come to think of it...
posted by wenestvedt at 5:14 PM on September 14, 2013 [1 favorite]


I'm not sure where today's Irish music will take future notions of tradition, but when I listen to Kíla and Flook I think it'll all be ok.
posted by we are the music makers at 5:16 PM on September 14, 2013 [1 favorite]


Mods, I'm gonna need more favorites....
posted by EmpressCallipygos at 5:25 PM on September 14, 2013 [1 favorite]


I'd always heard that the Unionists identified as Irish - politically, nationally, socially, and culturally

Sorry for the derail but absolutely not! The Unionists identify as British; Loyalism is the extreme edge of Unionism. Nationalists/Republicans aim for a United Ireland (the return of the six counties of Northern Ireland to Irish rule), while Unionists/Loyalists are faithful to the British crown. But then there are internal divisions within both sides... It's complicated to explain, and I live here :)
posted by billiebee at 5:30 PM on September 14, 2013 [1 favorite]


what I mean is, I'd always heard that the Unionists identified as Irish - politically, nationally, socially, and culturally - while the Loyalists considered themselves British.

Huh? This northern irish person is a little confused by this statement.
posted by knapah at 5:31 PM on September 14, 2013


....Wait, I thought the Unionists were "the people who wanted to reunite the 6 counties of Northern Ireland with the Republic"? Maybe I just had the wrong word?
posted by EmpressCallipygos at 5:43 PM on September 14, 2013


Yeah, I think you meant Nationalists as in A Nation Once Again. Unionists favour the union between NI and Great Britain.

Don't ask me why. Forgetting everything else, Britain gave us Piers Morgan.
posted by billiebee at 5:54 PM on September 14, 2013


Oooooh, great post! Thanks!
posted by flapjax at midnite at 8:07 PM on September 14, 2013


Yeah, it's an easy mistake to make. Those who want to unite Ireland could plausibly be called Unionists, but actually they're nationalists or republicans, and those who want to preserve the Union with Britain are Unionists (or Loyalists).
posted by knapah at 2:59 AM on September 15, 2013


This is a neat list, and I don't know a lot of it, but...no Christy Moore? He's the definition of great Irish folk in my opinion. (Better than his work with Planxty, yall). Plus he's got a very fine beard indeed.
posted by Potomac Avenue at 4:41 AM on September 15, 2013 [2 favorites]


Christy and Shane
posted by PeterMcDermott at 6:11 AM on September 15, 2013


Dervish. They're frickin' unreal.
posted by Trochanter at 7:33 AM on September 15, 2013


Fine post. We were pretty much raised on Mulligan & O'Hare.
posted by pracowity at 8:42 AM on September 15, 2013


One of my favorites is The Dubliners and the Pogues doing The Irish Rover.
posted by frecklefaerie at 11:53 AM on September 15, 2013


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