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Tag: ballad

The old made modern

Saturday, 29 October, 2016 0 Comments

In his 2012 award-winning album, Ground Of Its Own, the English singer Sam Lee created something unique by giving traditional song the theatrical treatment. A typical example is his interpretation of the transported convict’s lament, Goodbye My Darling. The vocal and the video are pure drama as an 18th-century ballad is turned into 21st-century storytelling. Lee’s native London, with its immigrants and its elites, plays a leading role in the production.


Here’s a health to Bunclody

Sunday, 23 October, 2016 0 Comments

Before he became a wandering minstrel, Sam Lee was a wilderness survival expert. Now, he spends time among marginal communities and uses his iPhone to save the remnants of their ballad culture, with its rich trove of stories about love, hate, wealth, poverty, parting, exile and sorrow. He collected the The Moss House in Wexford from an Irish singer called Sally Connors and it concludes his album The Fade In Time. My mother sang a version titled The Streams of Bunclody that included this verse:

“That’s why my love slights me, as you may understand
For she has a freehold and I have no land
She has a great store of riches and a fine sum of gold
And everything fitting a house to uphold.”


Come all ye Bob

Tuesday, 10 February, 2015 0 Comments

“Come all ye loyal heroes and listen unto me / Don’t hire with any farmer till you know what your work will be.” So begins The Rocks of Bawn, a 19th-century Irish ballad about the exploitation of rural labour. Migrants from the British Isles took this song form, with its appeal to attention, across the Atlantic and it found an audience in the New World. When Bob Dylan was honoured as the 2015 MusiCares Person of the Year last Friday night in Los Angeles, he recalled in his acceptance speech the role these songs played in his own musical development. Snippet:

“I sang a lot of ‘come all you’ songs. There’s plenty of them. There’s way too many to be counted. ‘Come along boys and listen to my tale / Tell you of my trouble on the old Chisholm Trail.’ Or, ‘Come all ye good people, listen while I tell / the fate of Floyd Collins a lad we all know well / The fate of Floyd Collins, a lad we all know well.'”

If you sung all these ‘come all ye’ songs all the time, you’d be writing, ‘Come gather ’round people where ever you roam, admit that the waters around you have grown / Accept that soon you’ll be drenched to the bone / If your time to you is worth saving / And you better start swimming or you’ll sink like a stone / The times they are a-changing.'”


The Ballad of Lidl and Aldi

Monday, 13 January, 2014 1 Comment

Lidl and Aldi are German discount supermarket chains that, between them, operate more than 20,000 stores across Europe. They are (in)famous for their fearsome competitiveness, their ruthless pricing and their wholesale destruction of traditional shopping outlets that once were the hub of small communities. Oh, and they offer consumers lots of stuff. This latter aspect is the focus of The Ballad of Lidl and Aldi, which is sung here by Mick MacConnell in John B. Keane’s Pub in Listowel, County Kerry.

“Now there’s welding rods and prime organic beef to make a hearty stew
A hiking staff and spiky boots for climbing Kathmandu
Big heads of curly cabbage to make you eat your fill
Sledgehammers and bananas and a lovely cordless drill
And there’s hatchets and hamburgers and there’s tins of beans and peas
And a petrol driven chainsaw for cutting bits off trees
Strimmers, sabres, saws and sausages, computers and TVs
At LidldiAldi, LidldiAldi LidldiAldi Lidldidee.”

Tip of the Tam o’Shanter to Mary and Niamh for the link.


I Believe in You

Saturday, 18 February, 2012

“I believe in you when winter turn to summer / I believe in you when white turn to black,” wrote Bob Dylan back in 1979 when he was putting his Slow Train Coming album together. With I Believe in You he pulled off a double combo: an impressive ballad and a beautiful pop song. Here’s […]

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