The Mudcat Café TM
Thread #2554 Message #1460468
Posted By: GUEST,Alf MacLochlainn
13-Apr-05 - 07:04 PM
Thread Name: Lyr Req: My Son in Americay
Subject: RE: Lyr Req: a mother's letter to her son in the usa
I wrote this song, based on a Pat-and-Mike joke told to me by a young jesuit from a jesuit college in NY, who had been introduced to me by a mutual friend, Dr. Maurice O'Connell I sang it at a party in the home of Hugh Shields, a well-known authority on folksong and a diligent collector, particularly well-known for his work on the repertoire of his principal informant, Eddie Butcher. Eddie was present at that party and when, later, a bibliographical friend of mine and Hugh's, MPPollard, was producing broadsides on an antigue printing press, she included a printing of my song in the broadside manner. Hugh gave Eddie a copy of this printed broadside and I was very flattered that Eddie chose to add it to his repertoire, even though he did not use the same air as I did. On the original broadside the song is described as 'To the air of The Rocks of Knockanure.' That is to say, half of the lines are to the air of lines in the well-known The rocks of bawn, and the other half are to lines from another well-known Irish ballad, The Valley of Knockanure.
Other singers copied the song from Eddie's published recording notably Andy Irvine and his group, using it in recording and at concerts, making a dog's dinner of some of the lines and copying Eddie's air. The song quickly grew legs and we have had the embarassing yet flattering experience of having it sung by visitors to private song-fests in our own home by people who did not know that their host for the night had composed it. Of course I never got a cent in royalties but their anren't many people can boast that they have written a song which has passed into the purest folk-tradition of anonymity and change. (Come to think of it, I did get a small fee from Beacon Press, Boston, when My Son ... was included in Christopher Cahill's Gather round me: the best of Irish popular poetry (2004).)