Wednesday, March 9, 2016

Michael Drummond writes

A mid-summer’s night dream

there’s a place I go at night
to ease my burdened mind
and the women working there
are really very kind

they rub my legs
and scratch my back
as if I were their king

and how I pay them
you’d never guess
it’s with the song I sing

the words in truth
reflect the time
when young danny boy
went off to die

he left his love
when the bag pipes blew
but she understood
his love was true

but true love is not a talisman
it can’t protect in war
and so she saw her pretty danny boy
never, ever more

when my evening friends
hear me hold this tune
all work stops
in the room

although this is
in a foreign tongue
--that they do not know

tears come to those
when I sing that
‘I love you so’ 


  1. Most people assume that "Danny Boy" is a traditional Irish folk song, often sung at funerals, though only Irish North Americans are likely to be familiar with it. Jane Ross of Limavady, County Derry, got the melody from an itinerant piper, and she gave it to George Petrie, who published it without a title in 1855 in "Ancient Music of Ireland." But no other old versions of the melody have been discovered, the tune's structure is unlike any other traditional Irish tune, and it is not suited for words in any known Irish song meter (though Brian Audley, in 2000, showed that the distinctive high section of the tune was derived from a refrain in the piper's song, "The Young Man's Dream" -- "Aislean an Oigfear [in modern Irish "Aisling an Ógfhir"]. In an aisling,, the poet sees or dreams a beautiful woman who turns out to be Ireland lamenting her woes; it was the Irish version of the French reverdie, in which the poet was approached by a beautiful, otherworldly woman who symbolized spring and Love. The once-popular Irish poet Thomas Moore added English lyrics, "As a Beam O'er the Face of the Waters."
    However, an 18th-century Scottish manuscript of the song already had English lyrics, "She lay all naked in her bed"). The actual "Londonderry Air" tune was first applied to Edward Fitzsimmons' 1814 lyrics ("The Confession of Devorgilla") and has been the basis for over 100 other songs since. Francis O'Neill included it in his collections of Irish-American songs in Chicago around the end of the 19th century. But none of them have approached the popularity of "Danny Boy." Fred E. (Frederick Edward) Weatherly, of Bath, Somerset, may have been 39 before he became a lawyer, but he was better known as a radio entertainer, a translator of opera librettos, a prolific author of poetry and children's books at least 1500 song lyrics. (The most commercially successful one, in his time, was "Roses of Picardy," which became one of the great hits of World War I and made Weatherly rich.) In 1910 he wrote the words and music for a song he called "Danny Boy." Two years later his Irish-born sister-in-law in America sent him an unfamiliar tune, the "Londonderry Air," and immediately he noticed that it perfectly fit his earlier lyric. (Another name for this tune is the "Air from County Derry." The name "Londonderry" refers to the English colonization of Northern Ireland in the 17th century; Irish nationalists prefer "Derry", the original name of the city and county.) The publisher Boosey brought it out in 1913, but Weatherly's erstwhile friend and collaborator Alfred Perceval Graves (author of "Trottin' to the Fair") claimed that he had written some of the lyrics. Ernestine Schumann-Heink produced the first recording of "Danny Boy" 1n 1915, and in the US it was recorded by Bing Crosby, Mario Lanza, and many others. Thin Lizzy, the Irish rock band, played a radical rearrangement on their 1979 album, "Black Rose."

    Oh Danny boy, the pipes, the pipes are calling
    From glen to glen, and down the mountain side
    The summer's gone, and all the flowers are dying
    'Tis you, 'tis you must go and I must bide.

    But come ye back when summer's in the meadow
    Or when the valley's hushed and white with snow
    'Tis I'll be here in sunshine or in shadow
    Oh Danny boy, oh Danny boy, I love you so.

    And if you come, when all the flowers are dying
    And I am dead, as dead I well may be
    You'll come and find the place where I am lying
    And kneel and say an "Ave" there for me.

    And I shall hear, tho' soft you tread above me
    And all my dreams will warm and sweeter be
    If you'll not fail to tell me that you love me
    I'll simply sleep in peace until you come to me.

    I'll simply sleep in peace until you come to me.

  2. Hi Duane,

    just wrote a long blog letter to you and then hit the wrong was a long letter...I wonder if you got a copy of it...If not Ill re-wright the piece. by the way do you still live in Korea?

    Michael Drummond

  3. Hi Duane, Thanks to meet you. Please excuse my silence, since my first submission, ‘Magic Hair Shop’ … I have scarce experience with blogs and only recently discovered its internal chatting mechanism.

    Your examination of the Danny Boy song and lyric material were really well stated, thank you; gave me a lot of info on the Danny Boy trilogies/materials.
    As for me I grew up in an Irish neighborhood and my father was fond of singing it in the house, at parties and also in his favorite pub in the area around the University of Detroit (there were many…I likewise began reciting it in public places around Detroit and that gave way to reciting it in different places in Asia, where I moved to in 1980.

    The lyrics actually happened when I was residing in Shanghai…I was there for teaching English conversation and every Saturday I went to a massage parlor to relax and so got in the habit of singing for all those women who were in the parlor; it was the least I could do as I could not get by speaking Chinese and I wanted to repay them for such good massage experiences.

  4. I was a bit puzzled by the setting. It seemed like such an "old" Korean experience, related to the old time coffee shops before the world went Starbucky. Thanks for sharing it with us!

  5. I left Korea at the end of 08 and spent the next few years in Iwakuni, Japan. Since the summer of 14 I've retired to Thailand.


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