The Mudcat Café TM
Thread #25069   Message #291011
Posted By: Naemanson
04-Sep-00 - 07:16 PM
Thread Name: Book Report: Drive Dull Care Away
Subject: Book Report: Drive Dull Care Away
Title: Drive Dull Care Away: Folksongs From Prince Edward Island as Gathered by Edward D. "Sandy" Ives.

Published in 1999 by the Institute Of Island Studies

ISBN: 0-919013-34-1

This weekend I finally sat down and read this book I bought last year. So sue me, I been busy! But I'm glad I did. I should have read it earlier. This one is a keeper!

This is the second Sandy Ives book I've read. The first was "Larry Gorman: The Man Who Made The Songs". That book was a biography of Gorman with many of the songs he wrote included and placed in the context of his life.

Drive Dull Care Away, on the other hand, is a description of the author's visits to PEI and his work in the field. But it is more than that. It includes 62 songs and fits them into the community from which they came. It introduces the people who wrote them and those who kept them alive until Dr. Ives could get there with his tape recorders.

If you are at all curious about the field work of a folklorist this book is for you. Though Dr. Ives makes the point that he wasn't doing general field work but researching specific song writers he does provide a good picture of what our favorite folklorists must have gone through to preserve the music. Here you find him as he slogs along the dirt tracks that served PEI as roads in the '50's, lugging his heavy tape recorder along only to find that the people he needed to record didn't have electricity. (Later recorders could be run from his car battery but he lived in fear that the battery would die.)

In the book you meet the men and women in whose heads the songs were preserved. These people were anxious to help, knowing the importance of the work and happy to find someone who was interested in them and their songs. They became more than "informants" to Dr. Ives and his family. These people became his lifelong friends and family.

The book also includes a number of photographs of the contributors and the area in which they live. There are pictures of some of the people who were the subject of some of those songs. And there are two photos, one of the Amberly house and one of Peter Amberly's grave, that speak volumes for the life to be found in folk music.

And above all are the songs. The book includes the words and music to 62 songs and a CD of the original field recording of 14 of those songs.

Some of the songs are familiar to us. Included are The Jam On Gerry's Rock, The Dreadnought, Wild Colonial Boy, and Brennan On The Moor. Dr. Ives explains there is good reason for recording even familiar songs. He says comparing multiple recordings of a song helps to nail down how the original may have been sung. And it shows how a community can change a song and make it their own. It is a record of the folk process.

The book also includes songs I had never heard of before, though some of you may have. These included The Miramachi Fire, My Seventy Six Geared Wheel, The Norway Bum, Guy Reid, Fogan MacAleer, Saville The Brave Man, and quite a few more. These are songs written and kept within the community. They are full of local place names and in jokes that we outsiders could not understand.

Many of these songs went out with the men who left to find work in the Maritime Provinces of Canada and the State Of Maine. Even so they are linked inexorably to the homes of these people telling as they do of neighbors and events in those homes.

All in all this is a good read and a valuable addition to your repertoire, especially if you live in the Maritimes or Maine.