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She changed the words to Raglan Road

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RAGLAN ROAD


Related threads:
Favorite versions Raglan Road youtube (29)
Explore: Raglan Road 2 (235)
Help: Who wrote the tune to Raglan Road??? (80)
Raglan Road - Recorded versions (89)
Lyr Req: Raglan Road, is it 'pledge' or 'play' ? (69)
A recording of Raglan Road? (10)
(origins) Origins: Sinead O'Connor--Raglan Road (6)
(origins) Analysis of Raglan Road (129) (closed)


mg 03 Sep 07 - 02:35 AM
PMB 03 Sep 07 - 03:48 AM
mg 03 Sep 07 - 04:00 AM
Rumncoke 03 Sep 07 - 04:45 AM
joseph 03 Sep 07 - 05:03 AM
mg 03 Sep 07 - 05:44 AM
Santa 03 Sep 07 - 05:46 AM
Fidledidee 03 Sep 07 - 05:51 AM
PMB 03 Sep 07 - 05:52 AM
George Papavgeris 03 Sep 07 - 06:13 AM
George Papavgeris 03 Sep 07 - 06:14 AM
MartinRyan 03 Sep 07 - 06:17 AM
The Sandman 03 Sep 07 - 06:58 AM
Leadfingers 03 Sep 07 - 08:31 AM
joseph 03 Sep 07 - 08:50 AM
joseph 03 Sep 07 - 08:56 AM
Santa 03 Sep 07 - 09:04 AM
Grab 03 Sep 07 - 09:18 AM
Mickey191 03 Sep 07 - 09:33 AM
Anne Lister 03 Sep 07 - 11:54 AM
An Buachaill Caol Dubh 03 Sep 07 - 12:20 PM
Gulliver 03 Sep 07 - 12:24 PM
The Sandman 03 Sep 07 - 12:27 PM
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McGrath of Harlow 03 Sep 07 - 02:09 PM
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M.Ted 05 Sep 07 - 01:00 AM
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Declan 06 Sep 07 - 03:32 AM
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vectis 06 Sep 07 - 07:25 AM
GUEST,Tom 06 Sep 07 - 07:28 AM
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Subject: She changed the words to Raglan Road
From: mg
Date: 03 Sep 07 - 02:35 AM

I am really mad. It is bad enough when they do it to a so so song, but this song was perfect the way it was. I think it is what is her name?//Irena McKenna or something like that..red hair. Some PBS special. It's a good thing I wasn't going to send them money anyway as I rarely watch PBS...why oh why would someone do that...someone obviously not ignorant...mg


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Subject: RE: She changed the words to Raglan Road
From: PMB
Date: 03 Sep 07 - 03:48 AM

No song is sacred. Every artist is entitled to put their own inetrpretation on it. If you don't like it, don't listen, that's that. Personally I don't like the song much, or the poem- too mawkish. But what was it she changed, and why does it get your back up so?


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Subject: RE: She changed the words to Raglan Road
From: mg
Date: 03 Sep 07 - 04:00 AM

She changed it so the girl is now a guy. Why do people do that? It really irks me. Plus she made other changes. I can hardly think of any songs that have been altered that have been actually been improved by the process...sometimes you ahve to if the words are racist, offensive in some settings etc...mg


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Subject: RE: She changed the words to Raglan Road
From: Rumncoke
Date: 03 Sep 07 - 04:45 AM

I don't know the song - but I do know that some women feel awkward or even embarassed singing a song written from the male perspective, and feel that they ought to alter the gender to be appropriate, or not sing the song at all.

I have tried to argue that the audience is not going to take offence at any song sung by a person apparently of another sex from the original narrator, but to little effect.

To alter the words for one effect is bad enough - but to then go on to alter the song's content is worse. I don't mind a good parody or total send up, particularly when a song deserves it - but to have a not quite original is neither one thing nor the other.


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Subject: RE: She changed the words to Raglan Road
From: joseph
Date: 03 Sep 07 - 05:03 AM

There is no one has the right to change the words of any song with out prior authority from the either the writer or the copy right authority. The Wolfe Tones wrot My Heart Is In Ireland. Brendan Grace did acomedy version of this song but not witout permission from the writer. He makesreference to the before he sings itlads


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Subject: RE: She changed the words to Raglan Road
From: mg
Date: 03 Sep 07 - 05:44 AM

I don't know about legally but I would certainly think that morally you do..but it just usually is so icky what they do when they change things..it's not that I don't think they have a right to do it..it's just that they generally can't see how they made it worse..I guess there are situations where someone has improved on something..like come to your life like a warrior don't let it bore ya...that should be changed..most everyone would agree...mg


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Subject: RE: She changed the words to Raglan Road
From: Santa
Date: 03 Sep 07 - 05:46 AM

Don't all singers change the songs they sing? If only by tone, intonation, key, but to a greater or lesser extent to suit their style, their capabilities? I'm not familiar with the particular example quoted, but don't see it as a heinous crime. The original still exists.

John Connelly has changed the chorus of Punch and Judy Man, but I've yet to find anyone else singing the new version. Are those who haven't changed to be condemned?


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Subject: RE: She changed the words to Raglan Road
From: Fidledidee
Date: 03 Sep 07 - 05:51 AM

heard a parrody on Green Fields of France, sung by an Irish singer at a pub in Wadebridge, she nearly got thrown out!


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Subject: RE: She changed the words to Raglan Road
From: PMB
Date: 03 Sep 07 - 05:52 AM

This is really one of the main things that distinguishes folk as an idiom from other musical genres. The small (or large) changes introduced by individual singers or musicians are assessed, and retained or politely forgotten, by other singers/ musicians. It's a sort of peer review, and each accepted performance is the starting point for further creation.

When somebody has copyright, they can legally enforce it, but it's then taken out of the folk process, and is (merely) a performance song. A wise composer would get of their high horse and let it develop.


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Subject: RE: She changed the words to Raglan Road
From: George Papavgeris
Date: 03 Sep 07 - 06:13 AM

Enda Kenny asked me if he could change one word in "Johnny don't go walking with the fishes", to turn it into a song about pearl diving (it is originally written about sponge diving). I of course said "yes", and having heard his interpretation I am truly glad I did so.

Andy Irvine changed one word in "Emptyhanded", and it was a good change, I know sing the changed version myself.

There are many good reasons to let a performer exercise his/her creativity on a song. I cannot think of a single good reason for not allowing such freedom, especially in the folk world. I don't want my songs to be performace pieces, I want them to live. They are only templates, not prescriptions.


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Subject: RE: She changed the words to Raglan Road
From: George Papavgeris
Date: 03 Sep 07 - 06:14 AM

"Now", not "know"...


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Subject: RE: She changed the words to Raglan Road
From: MartinRyan
Date: 03 Sep 07 - 06:17 AM

The song may change - the poem doesn't.

Regards


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Subject: RE: She changed the words to Raglan Road
From: The Sandman
Date: 03 Sep 07 - 06:58 AM

I was approached by Bill Prince,he asked if he could change a word in The Battle Of Bosworth Field[a song of mine about Richard TheThird].It did not alter the meaning of the song so I agreed.Dick Miles


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Subject: RE: She changed the words to Raglan Road
From: Leadfingers
Date: 03 Sep 07 - 08:31 AM

The secret would seem to be "Ask" !! That is at least the polite thing to do .


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Subject: RE: She changed the words to Raglan Road
From: joseph
Date: 03 Sep 07 - 08:50 AM

I think you are all missing the point of this song . it was wriotten by the great poet Patrick Kavanagh about the great love in his life.
So in my opinion the whole context of the song is lost by changing the words the song loses its whole meaning


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Subject: RE: She changed the words to Raglan Road
From: joseph
Date: 03 Sep 07 - 08:56 AM

Mary Black the greatIrish woman singer ,recorded the Raglan Road,she didnt feel it necessary to change the words .If its goodenough for Mary It should be good enough for any woman to sing as written


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Subject: RE: She changed the words to Raglan Road
From: Santa
Date: 03 Sep 07 - 09:04 AM

The song has a different existence to the poem. This is also true for the original interpretation: the presence of the tune means that the perceptions of the listener will be different, will be moved or influenced in a particular direction that may or may not have occurred to a reader of the poem. The purist must then object equally to any setting.

I grant you that it seems (from this thread) that the difference between the versions is more than the usual "genetic drift", but changing the object of love from a girl praised by a boy, to a boy praised by a girl, does not seem to obviated all context or meaning.

And if it had: well, we then have a different song, from the same inspiration. I repeat: the original remains. The poem, and the song. We are all enriched - even if the latest addition falls below the standard of the earlier.


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Subject: RE: She changed the words to Raglan Road
From: Grab
Date: 03 Sep 07 - 09:18 AM

What did she actually change? If it was just "she" to "he", then the meaning is completely unchanged. And as Rumncoke says, singing a song about being in love with a member of the same sex is generally a problem for people who aren't gay. If the gender doesn't fit, either you need to simply change "she" to "he" (or vice versa); or you need to find some interpretation which twists the meaning to fit; or you don't sing it at all. I think the latter two options are more harmful to the song, either by making more significant changes to the meaning or by the song not getting a public airing.

Joseph, anyone has the right to alter any song at any time, if they think it's an improvement. If it really *is* an improvement, other people will prefer the modified version over the original and the variant will persist. If no-one else likes it, the change will die with the person who changes it. If the original author is still around and you're also a popular performing artist then sure, it'd be polite to check with them. But if they're dead, it's open season. For an example, you're surely not saying that Vaughan Williams should have held off all his work based on English folk tunes just because the original authors were dead?

Graham.


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Subject: RE: She changed the words to Raglan Road
From: Mickey191
Date: 03 Sep 07 - 09:33 AM

Sinead O'Connor sings it as written-it suits her lifestyle. Joan Osborne sings it exactly as written & it is simply stunning! Don't know or care if she is gay. I play it more then anything else I have.

Sinatra played around with a Richard Rodgers song & he was told publicly by Mr. Rodgers, "If you don't like my songs as written, DON'T sing them!


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Subject: RE: She changed the words to Raglan Road
From: Anne Lister
Date: 03 Sep 07 - 11:54 AM

My song "Icarus" was altered substantially in tone and meaning once Nic Jones changed the pronouns around. I hadn't intended it necessarily to be about a woman watching a man do something daring - just someone watching someone else. But the song has survived and travelled - possibly further than it would have done if I'd stuck to my poetic guns and told him he mustn't alter a syllable. So it's not just about love songs.

I'm sure "Raglan Road" will survive whatever anyone does to it, but if you personally don't like a version there's no law that says you have to listen to it again ... is there?

On the other hand I do get pretty hot under the collar when someone alters my songs to take away the internal rhymes and the syllable count (and yes, they have done and no, I'm not naming names). That's a whole different kind of re-writing.

Anne


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Subject: RE: She changed the words to Raglan Road
From: An Buachaill Caol Dubh
Date: 03 Sep 07 - 12:20 PM

In this particular set of verses, given that there are long-standing conventions about who does the wooing, who gives the gifts (whether of the mind or otherwise), who makes poems for whom to say (especially with "her own name there, and her own dark hair..."), who makes hay in a metaphorical sense, &c &c, then it does seem to be more suitable that the "I" of these verses is male. In any case, I've often heard Irish singers both male and female sing songs clearly intended for "the opposite gender" and do so without any changes to pronouns; personally, I couldn't feel comfortable doing so myself, but fortunately there are plenty of songs for a male singer, and many more where gender isn't relevant.

By the way, is Enda Kenny, mentioned above, also a politician?


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Subject: RE: She changed the words to Raglan Road
From: Gulliver
Date: 03 Sep 07 - 12:24 PM

This song has been sung all over the place for years by women and no-one ever felt the need to change it, as far as I know. Contrary to what PMB above says, I think some songs ARE sacred (or at least, very special). This is one of them.

Don


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Subject: RE: She changed the words to Raglan Road
From: The Sandman
Date: 03 Sep 07 - 12:27 PM

on the subject of Raglan Road,the original song to this tune is called The Dawning of the Day,Raglan Road is[IMO]a rewrite of The Dawning of the Day.
I have met people who considered Kavanagh a plagiarist.


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Subject: RE: She changed the words to Raglan Road
From: Alice
Date: 03 Sep 07 - 12:30 PM

Are you talking about Loreena McKennit?
Here it is on Youtube
Click here


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Subject: RE: She changed the words to Raglan Road
From: Alice
Date: 03 Sep 07 - 12:34 PM

By the way, that link has a place where you can post a comment about what
you think of her performance of Raglan Road.


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Subject: RE: She changed the words to Raglan Road
From: Ebbie
Date: 03 Sep 07 - 01:46 PM

I just listened to that YouTube link. I'd say McKennit did it justice even though she changed the gender; she sang it beautifully.


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Subject: RE: She changed the words to Raglan Road
From: McGrath of Harlow
Date: 03 Sep 07 - 02:09 PM

I can't see how she could have been expected to ask Patrick Kavanagh for permission.

Changing songs to suit has always been part of folk tradition. It's a mark that a song has achieved the dignity of being a folk song, and there's no higher honour than that.

Mind, having Enda Kenny say he wanted to sing your song comes pretty close to that level, George. And it's courteous asking, and that's very much the way he is.

Worrying about changing a few hims and hers about because a singer felt more comfortable singing it that way seems worrying overmuch to me, though there's never been any particular need to do that kind of thing. But how did she manage when it came to the Queen of Hearts?


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Subject: RE: She changed the words to Raglan Road
From: McGrath of Harlow
Date: 03 Sep 07 - 02:25 PM

Just clicked on the clip, and I see she left the Queen of Hearts alone. I'd have thought that making it "Knave of Hearts still stealing tarts" would have been more consistent with the other changes.

In Miss Jean Brodie's tactful formula Loreena McKennit's version was "the kind of thing that people who like that kind of thing will like."
But then people always seem to sing this song full-out emotional, and I see it as more wryly self-mocking, calling for a more understated approach.


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Subject: RE: She changed the words to Raglan Road
From: Rumncoke
Date: 03 Sep 07 - 02:43 PM

I meant to imply that songs can transcend gender - not that those who sing a song as written, or in the traditional manner, when they are not the sex it was written for, are homosexual.

I sing songs about recruiting, songs about farming, mining, working in factories - without the least inclination to go off and join the army or learn to plough etc.

They are songs - no need to get Freudian about it.


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Subject: RE: She changed the words to Raglan Road
From: Steve Shaw
Date: 03 Sep 07 - 03:16 PM

It wouldn't be so bad if one could actually pin down the true original version of the poem!


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Subject: RE: She changed the words to Raglan Road
From: The Sandman
Date: 03 Sep 07 - 03:39 PM

the Dawning of the Day,just google it,you will see Kavanaghs inspiration,someone elses work.


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Subject: RE: She changed the words to Raglan Road
From: McGrath of Harlow
Date: 03 Sep 07 - 04:25 PM

Well it's got "the Dawning of the Day" in it, and like a myriad of other songs it involves a young man and a young woman meeting and ultimately parting... But that's about the sum of it, apart from the tune itself.

For the original version of the poem, of course, you just Google Patrick Kavanagh with Raglan Road.


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Subject: RE: She changed the words to Raglan Road
From: Anne Lister
Date: 03 Sep 07 - 04:59 PM

I don't think Enda Kenny the politician is the same man as Enda Kenny the folk singer ...at any rate, the biographies don't seem to point to the same person ....

Anne


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Subject: RE: She changed the words to Raglan Road
From: McGrath of Harlow
Date: 03 Sep 07 - 05:39 PM

Too right! Here's the Enda Kenny that matters.


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Subject: RE: She changed the words to Raglan Road
From: Declan
Date: 03 Sep 07 - 07:17 PM

That Enda definitely isn't Enda the politician.


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Subject: RE: She changed the words to Raglan Road
From: Gulliver
Date: 03 Sep 07 - 09:30 PM

No way is Raglan Road a "rewrite of The Dawning of the Day". That phrase is all they have in common.

Don


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Subject: RE: She changed the words to Raglan Road
From: Cluin
Date: 03 Sep 07 - 11:03 PM

I('d rather have an artist change the lyrics of ANY song to make it more meaningful or singable to themselves than to slavishly sing it the same old way as everybody else, especially with passed-down mondegreens and meaningless phrases intact.

Songs are for singing, not studying under glass.


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Subject: RE: She changed the words to Raglan Road
From: Rowan
Date: 04 Sep 07 - 01:29 AM

I wouldn't have thought of the Enda Kenny I know as a politician, apart from the fact that we're all politicians, in a sense. But his songs have changed people. And to better effect than most "politicians".

Cheers, Rowan


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Subject: RE: She changed the words to Raglan Road
From: Liz the Squeak
Date: 04 Sep 07 - 03:26 AM

"it was wriotten by the great poet Patrick Kavanagh about the great love in his life.
So in my opinion the whole context of the song is lost by changing the words the song loses its whole meaning"

So no-one else is allowed to sing it about their great loves are they? Besides - several sources including this site indicate that it is about another couple entirely rather than himself, so if we can be pedantic, the whole damn thing is out of context and meaningless.

There is a Patrick and Katherine Kavanagh Trust which holds the copyright on his works so if Lorena McKennit has recorded this song, she must have applied to this trust for permission (he's only been dead 40years). If they gave that permission, they must have heard her version and approved it, so there really is no point in getting all het up about it.

Personally, I've never liked either the song, the poem or the sentiment, far too self centered and self righteous for my taste. Mind you, I've probably sung worse myself!

LTS


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Subject: RE: She changed the words to Raglan Road
From: joseph
Date: 04 Sep 07 - 07:22 AM

I think that what Gulliver means is that the Melody of The dawning of the day was used for the words of Kavanaghs great poem


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Subject: RE: She changed the words to Raglan Road
From: GUEST,Gulliver at the office
Date: 04 Sep 07 - 12:51 PM

Maybe it's just a personal thing with me, regarding it as a special song--I hear it a lot as it's one of the most popular (if not THE most popular) song sung at sessions around Dublin. I lived at the corner of Raglan Road myself as a kid, and my parents knew Kavanagh, who lived across the road. Even the original author of Fáinne Geal an Lae (DofD) shares my surname.

But really, what other people want to do with the songs they sing is their own business, I suppose. The main thing is that they do a good job of singing it.

Don


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Subject: RE: She changed the words to Raglan Road
From: McGrath of Harlow
Date: 04 Sep 07 - 01:02 PM

When it comes to any matter of giving or withholding permission to change a song the only person with any moral rights would be the author, not the copyright owner, who could be anyone these days.


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Subject: RE: She changed the words to Raglan Road
From: Kim C
Date: 04 Sep 07 - 01:19 PM

I sing a lot of songs where I don't change the gender, but I do on Raglan Road, because it reminds me of someone I knew once. In that instance it just makes it more personal for me to change it.

Your mileage may vary.


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Subject: RE: She changed the words to Raglan Road
From: Barbara
Date: 04 Sep 07 - 01:32 PM

Change words to songs. For me it often comes down to do I like the changes and/or the person who made them?

mg, how do you feel about Gordon changing "it" to "her" in your "Tie It[her] up and let it[her] rot?

I like the way Merritt changed the last verse of "Who will Sing for Me?" so that the people in Heaven are singing for those still here.

It annoys the daylights out of me that our mutual acquaintance has rewritten "Silver in the Stubble" to be his story because he didn't like Sydney Carter's story. Ditto "Clear Away in the Morning". He didn't like the man begging to go back on shore to Nancy -- and he didn't like the name Nancy -- so he turned it into a more upbeat song.

And Roberta Flack (and others) changed the last verse of Ewan McColl's "First Time Ever", just one word. From " I thought our love would fill the earth and last till the end of time" to " I knew our love..." That bothers me, changes it for me in ways that I don't like.

Anne, I always thought Icarus was about a woman and a man, and I like it better for knowing that it wasn't. It's a song I love and sing, and -- alas -- the time gets away from me. There is something about the way it changes that I can't get my mind around. Sorry. On the up side, we sang it as a memorial to my husband's grandfather -- George Mallory -- when they found his body on Everest. It moved my husband's mum to tears. Thank you for it.

Blessings,
Barbara


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Subject: RE: She changed the words to Raglan Road
From: McGrath of Harlow
Date: 04 Sep 07 - 01:36 PM

So how do you deal with the Queen of Hearts, Kim? I mean, in your head, assuming you keep the line as Kavanagh wrote it?


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Subject: RE: She changed the words to Raglan Road
From: M.Ted
Date: 04 Sep 07 - 01:58 PM

To change the work of a genius, you must either be a genius or a fool.


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Subject: RE: She changed the words to Raglan Road
From: Kim C
Date: 04 Sep 07 - 02:05 PM

McGrath, I've not ever interpreted that as a direct reference to the female love interest in the song. I've always thought of it as an archetypal figure instead.


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Subject: RE: She changed the words to Raglan Road
From: Liz the Squeak
Date: 04 Sep 07 - 02:14 PM

Ah, but who is to say what is genius?

To some people, putting handles on cups is a work of genius but to others it's just common sense.

LTS


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Subject: RE: She changed the words to Raglan Road
From: GUEST,mg
Date: 04 Sep 07 - 02:34 PM

TO me It is like taking Mona Lisa and improving it with photoshop. Oh, she would like prettier with blond hair. How about a tiara in her hair? I am in love with men and not women so I will give her a buzz cut and adam's apple. Oh go ahead and give her a big grin. But to each his own said the man as he kissed the pig. mg


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Subject: RE: She changed the words to Raglan Road
From: Cluin
Date: 04 Sep 07 - 02:52 PM

The first version I heard of Raglan Road was Dick Gaughan's. It was an instant favourite.

When I heard the version Van Morrison did with the Chieftains, I thought "Boy, he sure 'Van'-ed the hell out of that song". But I liked it too, because I like Van Morrison.

The original was still there to enjoy and appreciate. Appreciating another later version did not negate that. Nothing has been replaced. It is just another take. Relax and take it or leave it.


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Subject: RE: She changed the words to Raglan Road
From: McGrath of Harlow
Date: 04 Sep 07 - 03:42 PM

Precisely. A version you don't like makes you value more highly a better version. And it can even make you more likely to sing it yourself, which is the best way of appreciating a song.

Works of genius aren't damaged by being copied and changed in the copying, any more than a mountain is damaged if someone paints a less than perfect pucture of it.


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Subject: RE: She changed the words to Raglan Road
From: M.Ted
Date: 04 Sep 07 - 05:18 PM

LTS--Are you questioning the worth of Patrick Kavenaugh's poetry? Or the judgement of the Irish people, who favor him second only to W.B Yeats? And is that remark about the the handles on cups a smarmy stab at the great man?


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Subject: RE: She changed the words to Raglan Road
From: Liz the Squeak
Date: 04 Sep 07 - 05:54 PM

I am not familiar with the poetry of Patrick Kavenaugh, any more than I'd guess you'd be familiar with the works of Dorset poet William Barnes (who was a self-taught genius a hundred years before PK). I'm not saying he wasn't an intelligent and insightful man, I'm not saying he wasn't a genius - I'm just saying that genius, like taste, differs from person to person.

I'm not trying to be smarmy or stab anyone, I'm just pointing out that what some consider genius, others think unworthy of the title.

LTS


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Subject: RE: She changed the words to Raglan Road
From: Herga Kitty
Date: 04 Sep 07 - 05:57 PM

But to each his own said the man as he kissed the pig. mg

Must remember this for next year's Wareham Wail...


Kitty


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Subject: RE: She changed the words to Raglan Road
From: Liz the Squeak
Date: 04 Sep 07 - 06:49 PM

And the pig got up and slowly walked away....

LTS


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Subject: RE: She changed the words to Raglan Road
From: Tootler
Date: 04 Sep 07 - 07:17 PM

To M.Ted.

Like LTS, I am not in a position to judge whether or not Patrick Kavanagh is a genius as I am not familiar with his poetry, though I do think Raglan Road is a very fine poem.

However, there is pretty strong circumstantial evidence that Kavanagh conceived Raglan Road as song and the tune he had in mind was Dawning of the Day. As a song, I suggest it is flawed.

There are places in the song/poem where the musical phrases and the literary phrases do not match and a good song requires that this happens so that the melody enhances the words.

This is particularly evident in the third verse;

"...
That's known to the artists who have known
The true gods of sound and stone.
And her words and tint without stint
I gave her poems to say..."

Strictly speaking there needs to be a pause after "words and tint" as "without stint" really starts a new sentence and the idea it conveys belongs to the next line. However there is not a natural pause in the music at this point which makes this section difficult to sing so as to convey the meaning properly.

I notice even Luke Kelly, who many consider to be the finest interpreter of this song does not really get this bit right. Luke Kelly can be heard singing it here: http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=j5HYGhU_C_k


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Subject: RE: She changed the words to Raglan Road
From: McGrath of Harlow
Date: 04 Sep 07 - 07:55 PM

Except that wasn't what Kavanagh wrote.   The line in question as he wrote it is:

And word and tint. I did not stint for I gave her poems to say.

It can be a tricky stanza to sing, true enough. But it's perfectly singable in a way that respects the natural fall of the words and the meaning.

The assumption people often make that a tune has to be pretty well exactly the same form verse to verse can make for needless difficulties. It's a nonsense assumption, with no basis in traditional singing in Ireland or for that matter in Britain.


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Subject: RE: She changed the words to Raglan Road
From: Steve Shaw
Date: 04 Sep 07 - 08:42 PM

"Except that wasn't what Kavanagh wrote." Exactly. This happens interminably in any debate about this song/poem. It's all very well to tell us to google it. I defy anyone here to reproduce the poem exactly as Patrick Kavanagh wrote it!


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Subject: RE: She changed the words to Raglan Road
From: Cluin
Date: 04 Sep 07 - 09:02 PM

Better drag out the olde Ouija board then.


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Subject: RE: She changed the words to Raglan Road
From: M.Ted
Date: 05 Sep 07 - 01:00 AM

LTS--what moved you to make a point like that concerning a poet that you've never read? It seems flippant, at best.

At any rate, I am familiar with William Barnes, who is certainly worth reading. He and PK had a significantly different world views--antithetical is a word that pops to mind--


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Subject: RE: She changed the words to Raglan Road
From: GUEST,PMB
Date: 05 Sep 07 - 03:16 AM

Ted, the adulation of the whole Irish people is scarcely infallible. Vox populi, vox Daithi? At least one great Irishman (he was a trinity, though never of Trinity) had some scathing things to say about Kavanagh's poetry, and he was no mean writer himself.


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Subject: RE: She changed the words to Raglan Road
From: Liz the Squeak
Date: 05 Sep 07 - 03:34 AM

I didn't say I'd never read any of his works.. I'm just not familiar with them and couldn't quote you a title to save my life. Like Barnes and Hardy, he catalogues a way of life that has gone the way of the dodo. His is not a life or history that I'm interested in so haven't made a point of reading further than the few that have come my way in anthologies.

PMB just reiterates my suggestion that one mans' genius is another mans' mediocrity.

LTS


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Subject: RE: She changed the words to Raglan Road
From: McGrath of Harlow
Date: 05 Sep 07 - 04:31 AM

I can't see how the way of life catalogued in Raglan Road has "gone the way of the dodo". Some things change in the world, but not all by any means all.

The words of the poem as Kavanagh had them published are available in any number of anthologies or collections. As a song it exists in numerous variants, that being the way of songs which are transmitted through being sung widely. I think that is something to rejoice in.


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Subject: RE: She changed the words to Raglan Road
From: Liz the Squeak
Date: 05 Sep 07 - 04:51 AM

McGrath - I'm not referring to 'Raglan Road', but other works of Mr Kavanagh.

LTS


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Subject: RE: She changed the words to Raglan Road
From: Grab
Date: 05 Sep 07 - 07:29 AM

Are you questioning the worth of Patrick Kavenaugh's poetry? Or the judgement of the Irish people, who favor him second only to W.B Yeats?

Don't think anyone's questioning the worth, just the holiness.

And the judgement of any particular group of people doesn't mean shit. The Irish also happen to love the cheesiest kinds of country music. And the British have happily voted "Grandad", "Mr Blobby", "Mistletoe and wine" and other tripe to the top of the charts. Not that PK's poetry falls into the same category as them, but just that popularity does not equal quality.

Graham.


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Subject: RE: She changed the words to Raglan Road
From: M.Ted
Date: 05 Sep 07 - 12:19 PM

I think that we have a fundamental difference of opinion. I believe that the idea that "one man's genius is another man's mediocrity" relegates Shakespeare, Mozart, Charlie Parker, Rembrandt, and such, to the ash heap.


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Subject: RE: She changed the words to Raglan Road
From: Cluin
Date: 05 Sep 07 - 01:33 PM

Hyperbole, anyone?

Try some of the litotes. There very good this year.


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Subject: RE: She changed the words to Raglan Road
From: Cluin
Date: 05 Sep 07 - 01:35 PM

Spot the deliberate mistake above. I meant to do that, yeah... sure...


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Subject: RE: She changed the words to Raglan Road
From: M.Ted
Date: 05 Sep 07 - 02:11 PM

Unfortunately, I am being straight forward here. I have heard all of the above, as well as many others of note, dismissed as "crap".

Recently, I was having dinner with friends. We were close to the final resting place of one of my favorite writers, F. Scott Fitzgerald, which I mentioned--one of the friends launched into a long, loud, diatribe to the effect that his books were nothing but crap, that he was an overrated hack, and that he was much surpassed by writers like Stephen King and Danielle Steele--

By LTS reckoning, she would be right--


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Subject: RE: She changed the words to Raglan Road
From: GUEST,Tom Bliss
Date: 05 Sep 07 - 02:13 PM

It's supposed to go:

"That's known to the artists who have known,
True gods of sound and stone, and words and tint
I did not stint, for I gave her poems to say"

Which works on the page, but falls apart when sung to that tune in 4/4 times because there's a three beat gap between Stone and And - which makes the next bit a new sentence whether you want it to or not.

Some pepole do sing it in 3/4 time, and it actually works much better. For example there's only a one beat gap there now.

This song operates a bit like many pop songs. People edit what they hear, and only allow the bits that they like and can grok into their perception of what it's about.

As a poem it had some merit, but I doubt many would have picked up on it.

When sung it makes little sense if you use Kavanagh's words correctly, and even less when people try to change the words to put some sense back into it, and fail!

I gave up singing it entirely once I discovered what the words really were. I decided I liked the poem as a poem and the tune as a tune - but I do use it in my songwriting workshops, because it illustrates loads of points about how words and tunes are supposed to work together, (or in this case; don't).

In my personal opinion Loreena McKennit's version scores top marks for passion and vocal skill (which is terrific), but rather lower in terms of the interpretation of a difficult song (she unkinks the tune in a couple of places, which rather lets the air out), and a bit below that for lyric changes. Just watch her expression as she delivers the line she's decided to use for that difficult phrase above, lol!

That said, people are obviously moved by this song wherever and however they hear it.

Which I hope supports my pet theory that the secret of a good song is a good tune and some powerful images. (The secret if a really great song is both of these, but great words too)!

Tom


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Subject: RE: She changed the words to Raglan Road
From: GUEST,Tom
Date: 05 Sep 07 - 02:17 PM

PS - I'm sure everyone knows but "sound and stone and words and tint" refer to the four arts of music, sculpture, poetry and painting

or did someone say that above and I missed it. If so sorry!


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Subject: RE: She changed the words to Raglan Road
From: Tootler
Date: 05 Sep 07 - 04:15 PM

"That's known to the artists who have known,
True gods of sound and stone, and words and tint
I did not stint, for I gave her poems to say"

Which works on the page, but falls apart when sung to that tune in 4/4 times because there's a three beat gap between Stone and And - which makes the next bit a new sentence whether you want it to or not.


Which is exactly the point I was trying to make and is still valid whether you use the "correct" words or the version I posted - which is a common version, as far as I could determine and certainly is the version in the DT database.

The assumption people often make that a tune has to be pretty well exactly the same form verse to verse can make for needless difficulties. It's a nonsense assumption, with no basis in traditional singing in Ireland or for that matter in Britain.

Which is not what I was trying to say but rather that the natural pauses in the words need to fit with the natural pauses in the music. In practice, variation of the tune from verse to verse does not generally change underlying pulse, but more commonly you get notes lengthened or broken into shorter notes to accommodate different numbers of syllables in different verses plus, of course the singer's decoration of the basic melody to give some variation from verse to verse.


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Subject: RE: She changed the words to Raglan Road
From: McGrath of Harlow
Date: 05 Sep 07 - 04:49 PM

It seems to me that if the singer is following the sense of the poem, the phrasing comes out right, and the necessary adjustment follows naturally enough. More easily, perhaps, when it's sung unaccompanied.

But I grant you it's more often sung the other way, with a new sentence starting at "And words".


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Subject: RE: She changed the words to Raglan Road
From: GUEST
Date: 05 Sep 07 - 05:41 PM

Luke Kelly did not change the words on his version on You Tube but should have been shot for his crap banjo accompaniment.


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Subject: RE: She changed the words to Raglan Road
From: GUEST,mg
Date: 05 Sep 07 - 07:06 PM

Well, that verse works quite well for me and everyone I have heard sing it that I like. WHich is almost all of them. But I don't believe I recall that anyone put the "for" in there. it makes it much easier...My musical purity stops at the place where you crowd too many syllables into a poor little note. mg


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Subject: RE: She changed the words to Raglan Road
From: McGrath of Harlow
Date: 05 Sep 07 - 07:15 PM

Well, the "for" wasn't there in the original poem either.


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Subject: RE: She changed the words to Raglan Road
From: McGrath of Harlow
Date: 05 Sep 07 - 07:17 PM

Sorry - I was probably thinking of the wrong "for" there.


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Subject: RE: She changed the words to Raglan Road
From: Steve Shaw
Date: 05 Sep 07 - 07:54 PM

I think Luke Kelly's banjo accompaniment was absolutely right for his singing of the song. Ten times better than a lot of the over-clever and over-complicated self-acompaniment of a lot of the English singers. I know very few poems (mostly because most of the ones I've read seem forced and stilted), but this one of Kavanagh's strikes a chord with me. I love "true gods of sound and stone and words and tint." I like to think the emphasis is on the word "true" with its implicit dismissal of the false, religious "God" who serves only to derail our cultural understanding and freedom of thought.   And "let grief be a fallen leaf" is lovely to my ears. Carpe diem! Condemn any poem at your peril. The true poetry is in the way the reader/hearer reacts, and it can be a very personal thing. Anyway, Luke and this song are coming to the desert island with me.


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Subject: RE: She changed the words to Raglan Road
From: Declan
Date: 06 Sep 07 - 03:32 AM

Why does it have to be one or the other? The "and words or tint" works both as the completion of the sound and stone line and the beginning of a new sentence "And words and tint I did not stint". It's not possible to convey that on a written page, because you need to opt one way or the other with the punctuation. But you can sing it that way and it works.

I woul have no problem with people changing lyrics to suit the way they want to sing a song. It doesn't take away from the song/poem as written or other people's versions of the song.


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Subject: RE: She changed the words to Raglan Road
From: GUEST,Tom Bliss
Date: 06 Sep 07 - 05:01 AM

"Why does it have to be one or the other? The "and words or tint" works both as the completion of the sound and stone line and the beginning of a new sentence "And words and tint I did not stint". It's not possible to convey that on a written page, because you need to opt one way or the other with the punctuation. But you can sing it that way and it works."

You can, and it does - after a fashion, but it doesn't work as well as the original poem works as a written/spoken piece.

The original poem has its own integrity and mood (which as has been suggested above probably wasn't the mood that's engendered by the melody of The Dawning of The Day), which carries and clarifies all the imagery and 'in-jokes' when delivered well.

The crafts of writing poety and songs are very different.

The poet is free to stress his lines as he choses. Speech produces a melody of its own, and a poem (or well written script) implies its own tune - ask any good actor.

A lyricist is bound by the constrictions of an actual tune, and his skill lies in finding words that work with a real melody, not just with it's rhythm and shape, but with it's mood also. (Or to write a tune which does the same with the words - or best still both together at the same time).

For example, no (good) songwriter would ever have written the words "For I loved too much, and by such and such" to the penultimate line of The Dawning of the Day, because the rising notes at the end put a special emphasis on the 'such and such' which would have been a passive passage in the original poem. As it is now it just sounds a little silly. If I was writing a song and wanted to convey that thought with that tune I'd have put the 'I loved too much' at the end of the line - because that's where the emotional break occurs (and I'd have found something else to say in the half line before it).

You also need to match the syllable count and the ticks of the rhythm nicely.

'Is happiness thrown away" is awkward to this tune. If you're not careful you sing 'is ha penis thown away,' because there are two ticks on the 'ha' and the 'pe' goes up so the syllable is emphasied.

There are lots of other examples in Raglan Road where the words have to be bodged to fit the tune. It takes a lot of skill to sing this song well.

Perhaps it would have been better if Kelly had completely rewritten the words (with Kavanagh's permission, of course), keeping the sentiment and imagery intact, but making a new song, which worked in its own right.

But - hey, people love the song, which proves that it's not as hard to write lyrics as it is to write a tune.

Perhaps.

Tom


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Subject: RE: She changed the words to Raglan Road
From: GUEST,Tom Bliss
Date: 06 Sep 07 - 05:04 AM

Sorry I meant to say "Speech produces a melody of its own, and a poem (or well written script) implies its own tune - ask any good actor..."

But that tune is 'free' and doesn't have to repeat the way song melodies need to do.


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Subject: RE: She changed the words to Raglan Road
From: Steve Shaw
Date: 06 Sep 07 - 06:11 AM

Another example of a poem that sounds slightly odd as a song (I've mentioned it before) is "The Song of Wandering Aengus" by Yeats, sung by Christy Moore. Christy, as with Luke, makes such a fine job of it that any little cavils I may have are soon dispelled. I love 'em both, flaws included!


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Subject: RE: She changed the words to Raglan Road
From: vectis
Date: 06 Sep 07 - 07:25 AM

Bob Copper always said
"take the song and make it your own"
Sounds like this lass has done just that. This doesn't mean that you have to like it or start singing her version.
Folk and good songs can stand some minor alterations or complete parodies and still be good songs in their own right.
There is no right or wrong in this her version is just different. Accept it and don't let it upset you, you can't make her change what she's doing, so don't raise your blood pressure over it just agree to differ with her.


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Subject: RE: She changed the words to Raglan Road
From: GUEST,Tom
Date: 06 Sep 07 - 07:28 AM

Having an informed debate about these things is huge fun. No raised blood pressure lol!!!


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Subject: RE: She changed the words to Raglan Road
From: Santa
Date: 06 Sep 07 - 04:25 PM

I'd like to add what a treat this thread, and the associated ones, have been to read. I have, thanks to the tip about RTE, finally managed to hear both the Loreeta and Luke versions. For some unimaginable reason, I seem to have previously missed the song completely. I've also managed to get my wife and the computer together long enough to swap opinions.

We agree that the Luke Kelly version is far too slow. I would also add that the performance borders on self-parody: I don't know what the Irish equivalent of "finger in the ear" is, but "finger in the Guinness" doesn't seem to fit. I guess that counts as individual taste. The Loreeta McKenna version was a bit over-emotive, but better paced. Having read the words separately, I think something rather cooler and reflective would suit the poem (and the beautiful tune) better. My wife's comments on the poem was "narcissitic bugger": I shall leave to those who knew the poet better to decide on the historic accuracy of that! I found the Van Morrison version on You Tube but the version was too staccato to listen to. I shall have to look out for the Martin Simpson one.

She also said "Tom Bliss is a musician, then?" in response to your comments on fitting the words to the tune. As a decent unaccompanied club singer (I think she's better but I'm biased) she is used to changing tunes to fit words, and certainly doesn't feel that either should be regarded as inviolable. Not being a musician, singer or poet, I feel that considering the tune to be unalterable is the same attitude as regarding the poem sacrosant: if we stuck to both we wouldn't have the song at all.

I only hope that this doesn't raise blood pressures too high.


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Subject: RE: She changed the words to Raglan Road
From: PMB
Date: 07 Sep 07 - 04:33 AM

Here's another Kavanagh poem, though I'll defy you to sing it (the tune is Pddy McGinty's Goat):

        
Having To Live in the Country
        
Back once again in wild, wet Monaghan
Exiled from thought and feeling,
A mean brutality reigns:
It is really a horrible position to be in
And I equate myself with Dante
And all who have lived outside civilization.
It isn't a question of place but of people;
Wordsworth and Coleridge lived apart from the common man,
Their friends called on them regularly.
Swift is in a somewhat different category
He was a genuine exile and his heavy heart
Weighed him down in Dublin.
Yet even he had compensations for in the Deanery
He received many interesting friends
And it was the eighteenth century.

I suppose that having to live
Among men whose rages
Are for small wet hills full of stones
When one man buys a patch and pays a high price for it
That is not the end of his paying.
"Go home and have another bastard" shout the children,
Cousin of the underbidder, to the young wife of the purchaser.
The first child was born after six months of marriage,
Desperate people, desperate animals.
What must happen the poor priest
Somewhat educated who has to believe that these people have souls
As bright as a poet's - though I don't, mind, speak for myself.


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Subject: RE: She changed the words to Raglan Road
From: GUEST,Tom Bliss
Date: 07 Sep 07 - 07:05 AM

That's wonderful!! But I think it fits even better to London's Calling myself!

A musician? LOL! I think Napper would disagree (only kidding, Tom)! I write and sing unaccompanied as well as with a variety of instruments, and yes I guess it's true that RR would be much easier to do nude. In fact I've just tried it and it is. It certainly solves a lot of the timing problems, but it doesn't fix everything. 'Such and such' still seems too prominent, and I'm still not sure that such a beautiful sad tune can ever really convey the "wryly self-mocking" tone (as McGrath so astutely put it).

Peersonally, I feel the poem passes through a number of emotions, though it's hard to judge having heard the song many times before I read the words as they were laid out on the page (and that makes a big difference as any poet will tell you). The tune now informs my reading of the poem, so it's hard to grasp that Kavanagh was really driving at.

I suspect the local Dublin references are almost in-jokes, or geographical puns perhaps, so maybe there's some dry humour in poem, which is lost in the sad but quite opulent setting, leaving these references sounding merely perplexing.

I don't have any problem with people changing words or tunes (as long as it's with permission if the writer's still alive). I do it all the time myself, in fact I think RR needs more drastic revision than you commonly hear to have real integrity as a song.

I guess I say all this because I work hard to expunge any confusion from my own songs - while leaving room for the listener's imagination to flower. I require every syllable to count in the effect (even if I'm being deliberatly obscure and poetic), and, because I feel I'm talking to the audience when I sing, I also don't want to seem to be talking nonsense (well, not in a serious song anyway) to people who've kindly come out to see me.

When I sing Raglan Road there are some lines that just don't make sense to me - so how can I convey the sense of them to an audience?

If a lyric is completely free, abstract, in blank verse - as some are, that would be fine. But RR is quite specific and literal some of the time, but very non-specific and elliptical at others. It's in this disconnect that my problems lie. I just don't think many songwriters would deliberatly set out to give the listener this many hurdles to jump over. Whereas a poet would, and should.

But as say, none of this really matters if it moves you personally (as it obviously does to most), and I understand Kavanagh was delighted with the setting, so this is really just academic blather from an inveterate devils advocate like me!

Tom

PS, I'm fascinated by the craft of songwriting, and it's my job too. If anyone happens to be interested, this is a download of the booklet that was serialised in Living Tradition magazine last year. (It's free)


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Subject: RE: She changed the words to Raglan Road
From: GUEST,mg
Date: 07 Sep 07 - 10:55 AM

songs don't have to make sense. mg


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Subject: RE: She changed the words to Raglan Road
From: GUEST,Tom Bliss
Date: 07 Sep 07 - 01:08 PM

No, of course not, but usually when songs don't make sense it's either because of a deliberate decision by the songwriter/s, within the context of a cohesive package of lyrics and tune, or because of a natural process or erosion over time through the tradition - in which case it's usual for interpreters to rework the song, so that it does actually hang together.

RR is, for me, a fascinating subject for study because of its very recent and unusual genesis as a song. We are seeing the start of the evolution process. A lot of singers seem to feel the need to do something about those uncomfortable areas, and going back to the poem doesn't seem to help a lot, as we've discussed. Loreena's version is one attempt at getting it into shape, but like you I'm really not sure it's an improvement.

That's why, for now, I personally still prefer the words as a poem, and the melody as a (maybe different) song (does anyone know the 'original' words - if they ever existed, by the way?)

Tom


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Subject: RE: She changed the words to Raglan Road
From: GUEST,mg
Date: 07 Sep 07 - 01:34 PM

I guess that is what bugs me..the deliberate reworking..it does not have to hang together either. The natural erosion is fine...and I have read something that indicates he always meant it to be a poem to that tune. I don't know. And I don't have trouble singing such by such and I am one who likes accents to go in the right place so I fail to see what the problem is, other than that extra for..mg


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Subject: RE: She changed the words to Raglan Road
From: Cluin
Date: 07 Sep 07 - 08:30 PM

"the tune is Paddy McGinty's Goat"

Not a fucking chance, Buck.


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Subject: RE: She changed the words to Raglan Road
From: GUEST,Tom Bliss
Date: 08 Sep 07 - 05:05 AM

"I guess that is what bugs me..the deliberate reworking"

mg, I believe you'll find that through the ages most traditional songs have been regularly and radically reworked, and deliberately too, for many reasons - which is why we have so many very different versions of what was maybe one root song.

Not by every singer who took them up, of course, though there is always accidental change over time, (just compare one singer's own versions of the same song 5 years apart) plus the changes that take place during transmission - even if the new singer is trying to be faithful to the learned version. But it's highly likely that at least some singers have always been happy to make fairly drastic reworkings of a song it they felt it had become necessary, specially if they were taking it into a new environment, away from the community where they learned it. Just as happens today.

What's unusual about RR is that the person who made the song, Luke Kelly, did not write either the words or the tune. The person who wrote the words is not responsible for the song either - only for a poem, which is a very different animal. And the person who wrote the tune certainly did not envisage those words with it. There is a large canon of works in this category of course - probably more than we know, as this practice is a very easy way to make a new work without doing any work (!), but RR is perhaps the best known of them, and as such it's very interesting to people like me.

I suspect one key factor in its success is that there are no problems or tangles at all in the first verse, which works magnificently.

Maybe we are happy to tolerate the eccentricities that come later because we have bought into the song during that excellent first verse (plus of course we're rewarded with lots of other magnificent lines, which do work perfectly with the lovely tune, as we go along).

If so, that's a useful pointer to what makes songs work; what makes people like them. Does it tell us that, like when buying a house, you make up your mind about a song very quickly - in the first verse? If so we can contrast that with the knowledge that we can grow to love a piece of music we intitially hated, just through repeated listenings - so how does that fit with the above?!

For someone like me who is really interested in the psychology of song, of music and singing generally (why and how it works, why do we rhyme, why metre, why melody etc, RR is almost a test case. Because it's not technically a song at all - and yet it obviously is, and a hugely successful one at that!

Tom


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Subject: RE: She changed the words to Raglan Road
From: GUEST,Tom Bliss
Date: 08 Sep 07 - 05:13 AM

Ah...

One morning early I walked forth
By the margin of Lough Leane
The sunshine dressed the trees in green
And summer bloomed again
I left the town and wandered on
Through fields all green and gay
And whom should I meet but a colleen sweet
At the dawning of the day.

No cap or cloak this maiden wore
Her neck and feet were bare
Down to the grass in ringlets fell
Her glossy golden hair
A milking pail was in her hand
She was lovely, young and gay
She wore the palm from Venus bright
By the dawning of the day.

On a mossy bank I sat me down
With the maiden by my side
With gentle words I courted her
And asked her to be my bride
She said, "Young man don't bring me blame"
And swiftly turned away
And the morning light was shining bright
At the dawning of the day.

Well, maybe there are other versions too - certainly these are not as deep or as engaging as Kavanaghs poem! I wonder if it was the mention of hair that gave Kelly the idea for the link!


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Subject: RE: She changed the words to Raglan Road
From: Declan
Date: 08 Sep 07 - 08:19 AM

Tom,

THat song is a translation of the Gaelic "Fáinne Geal an Lae", which means, as you might expect the dawning of the day - literally the Bright ring of Day. There is at least one other Dawning of the Day song to the same air which I have heard sung, but I don't know where the lyrics might be (The DT maight be a good starting point).

On a more general point I find it hard to believe that PK wrote Raglan road, which actually contains the phrase "The Dawning of the Day" without this air in mind. It has been said elsewhere that Kavanagh gave Luke Kelly the lyrics and Luke matched them to the tune, but as I say this doesn't make a lot of sense to me.


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Subject: RE: She changed the words to Raglan Road
From: McGrath of Harlow
Date: 08 Sep 07 - 05:23 PM

Has anyone translated Kavanagh's poem into the Irish?


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Subject: RE: She changed the words to Raglan Road
From: Steve Shaw
Date: 08 Sep 07 - 09:14 PM

Tom Bliss a écrit: "Personally, I feel the poem passes through a number of emotions, though it's hard to judge having heard the song many times before I read the words as they were laid out on the page (and that makes a big difference as any poet will tell you). The tune now informs my reading of the poem, so it's hard to grasp that Kavanagh was really driving at.
I suspect the local Dublin references are almost in-jokes, or geographical puns perhaps, so maybe there's some dry humour in poem, which is lost in the sad but quite opulent setting, leaving these references sounding merely perplexing."

The poem's intentions are very clear.   I simply cannot understand why you find it "hard to grasp what Kavanagh was really driving at."   He wasn't "driving at" anything. He was writing a poem. The message of the poem is overwhelmingly simple and clear. I find nothing perplexing about the Dublin references and I don't understand your notion that Mr Kavanagh was perplexing us with near in-jokes. The poem's "message" is simple and clear, even to a non-aficionado like me. We need less of this wishy-washy bullshit when we are presented with poetry and more of the simple directness of the Luke Kellys of this world conveying the message to us. That way, poetry becomes that bit more accessible to us all.


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Subject: RE: She changed the words to Raglan Road
From: GUEST,Jerry O'Reilly
Date: 09 Sep 07 - 02:38 AM

If I remember correctly Des Geraghty has done a translation into Irish. I'll give him a ring and try to persuade him to post it here.


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Subject: RE: She changed the words to Raglan Road
From: GUEST,Tom Bliss
Date: 09 Sep 07 - 04:11 AM

I can't find it now, but I'd understood that there are many more references to Dublin places buried in the poem than just Raglan Road and Grafton Street. I'm sure someone said elsewhere that the The Queen of Hearts was a pub as well as a reference to both the nursery rhyme and the lady in question. I think also The Ledge was a ginnel as well as a metaphor for a dangerous path and The Ravine was a place within a park - and I believe there is a reference to a bakery somewhere - sorry not to be more specific.

I think we all understand the overall message in the poem, Steve. But Kavanagh has obviously chosen his words very carefully indeed, and there are lots of places where it's not immediately obvious what he meant. That's as it should be in a poem - the listener/reader makes up his own mind. Songs tend to be slightly more direct than poems, as a rule, but the listener still has to make up his own mind. In both cases that choice is personal and private.

But if you are a singer who is planning to re-write someone else's words, you are taking on a big responsibility - specially if your version may be widely heard. So you need to engage much more deeply which what the original writer was trying to achieve - just as you would if you were planning to take a chisel to a statue. If you don't, you could wind up making a pigs ear out of a silk purse.

That's my problem with Raglan Road. There are lines which I think sound wonderful to that tune, but others where the tune makes the words hard to understand, or even quite ugly - when they were beautiful on the page.

So that's why so many people opt to make changes - and I agree that changes are necessary if the song is really to speak properly. The trouble is that some people's changes diminish the original work, instead of supporting it, which is shame. For example, I'd prefer there to be a better way of resolving the words/hint conundrum that doesn't banish the four arts - because i think they are a core idea in the poem - IF I understand what Kavanagh was 'driving at.' But i can't resolve it, which is one of the reasons I've stopped singing the song.

I've heard many other versions where people have tried to knock off the corners because words and tunes don't sit well, but I seldom find them an improvement. And Loreena's decision to change the sexes undermines much of the power of Kavanagh's original imagery, which again I think is a pity.

Maybe it's just because I'm a writer myself that I want to respect other writers' work. I have no problem changing trad songs, because the writers are long gone. I have no problem altering the work of living writers, because I can ask them first if it's ok and then get their approval for the changes. But Kavanagh is different. I know who he was, I hope I can understand him a little from the original poem and his other works, but I'm not comfortable with Raglan Road. I want to make changes, but his presence is still too strong, too alive. But also I can't talk to him and delve further in search of a really good solution.

You see?

Tom


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Subject: RE: She changed the words to Raglan Road
From: Big Al Whittle
Date: 09 Sep 07 - 06:31 AM

'I gave her gifts of the mind,'

I always hate that line. I'm sure the woman would have preferred a large gin and tonic, and a gift voucher for Next.


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Subject: RE: She changed the words to Raglan Road
From: Big Al Whittle
Date: 09 Sep 07 - 06:33 AM

seriously though he gave her 'gifts of the mind' and he's wondering why she pissed off........!


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Subject: RE: She changed the words to Raglan Road
From: Leadfingers
Date: 09 Sep 07 - 06:35 AM

I find that over time , and regularr singing , the words tend to Morph into the way I would phrase something , rather than 'As Written' - This I think is The Folk process , and is vastly different to taking a song , and virtually re writing it !

Oh yes! And 100


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Subject: RE: She changed the words to Raglan Road
From: Leadfingers
Date: 09 Sep 07 - 06:36 AM

Bugger ! WLD Snuck in on mre ! LOL


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Subject: RE: She changed the words to Raglan Road
From: Big Al Whittle
Date: 09 Sep 07 - 06:39 AM

sorry!


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Subject: RE: She changed the words to Raglan Road
From: GUEST,Tom Bliss
Date: 09 Sep 07 - 07:14 AM

There is a big different between natural developments and deliberate rewites, of course. But the latter does happen - possibly more than people realise. I think you'll find people like Pete Coe, Brian Peters, Martin Carthy - all the great interpreters routinely rework traditional songs quite radically at times to make them hold water - because the natural erosion process tends to produce leaks, and eventually they need repairing. I certainly do.

This is because many trad songs are story songs. And in story-telling, which is of course an art form in its own right, there some basic rules about never loosing the audience, keeping every footfall bang on track however tortuous the route, from Once Upon a Time to Happily Ever After.

Most folk songs tend to have at least one foot in the story camp, and RR is no exception - except that it also has a foot in the blank verse/ dare I say it sniggersnogger camp ! Well, it's a relationship song after all! (Ducks behind sofa).

Personally, I like to sing with conviction, and with clear images in my mind which I hope to beam at the audience by telepathy, to try to help them enter the world I'm describing. This is hard with RR, because I really don't know what the heck PK is on about half the time - though in the other half I'm in total empathy.

WLD, I agree about "'I gave her gifts of the mind." It, along with the "Angel woos" line can make the singer seem like a pretty unpleasant fellow. But my point is that it is the TUNE which does this, not the words. The tune makes this line seem like a key issue in the song - which it wasn't on the page. In a spoken poem, (Kavanagh's natural territory even if he did, as some have suggested, have a tune in mind on this occasion), lines like that are not presented portentiously, and therefore do not become pretentious. The listener is in a different space, a different mind-set, so takes in the words at a different level. It's all about weight.

Specifically, tha word 'mind' is a huge problem. Why? Because the tune requires that it be held for three beats, with, moreover, a rise of one tone on the last - and with a key change beneath it. Yet it's a single sylllable word, which can work well over two beats, but sounds horrible stretched over three with a lift at the end. (There are ways of getting round this, of course, but a songwriter would never have gone there in the first place).

The tune here puts unfair emphasis on what was a supposed to be subtle and understated idea, (like the Such and Such line) so comes over all wrong.

Tom


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Subject: RE: She changed the words to Raglan Road
From: Big Al Whittle
Date: 09 Sep 07 - 08:13 AM

Oh I don't know Tom! Have you ever come across that account of a contretemps between Brendan Behan and Kavanagh. Apparently Kavanagh called someone 'a daisant feller', as in the song Hello Patsy Fagan?

Anyway to big city boy Behan this exemplified all the small town rural value judgements inherent in the Celtic Woolshop. And the two of them differed without agreement being reached, as they say.

Maybe he was this kind of guy - he really thought his 'gifts of the mind' were a superior option to spending a tenner on a Boots voucher. Personally, I've always suspected so.


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Subject: RE: She changed the words to Raglan Road
From: GUEST,TB
Date: 09 Sep 07 - 08:22 AM

I suspect you're right!


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Subject: RE: She changed the words to Raglan Road
From: Declan
Date: 09 Sep 07 - 08:31 AM

Tom,

I think most singers keep the mind to one syllable, which leaves them stammering on the I. This is certainly how Luke sang it.


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Subject: RE: She changed the words to Raglan Road
From: GUEST,Tom Bliss
Date: 09 Sep 07 - 08:39 AM

Indeed

t


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Subject: RE: She changed the words to Raglan Road
From: McGrath of Harlow
Date: 09 Sep 07 - 12:45 PM

What's wrong with calling someone "a daisant feller", assuming he was one?   And what does a phrase like "the small town rural value judgements" mean, for God's sake? Some suggestion that people in cities don't make value judgements every bit as much? And just as likely to be wrong in them. (Or right for that matter.)

We owe it to ourselves to agree with or disagree with "value judgements" because of what they contain, not because of where the holders come from. Otherwise it's not that different from doing it on the basis of skin colour or sex.


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Subject: RE: She changed the words to Raglan Road
From: McGrath of Harlow
Date: 09 Sep 07 - 01:17 PM

"seriously though he gave her 'gifts of the mind' and he's wondering why she pissed off........!"

I'd say he's fully aware that the "gifts of the mind" weren't quite what was required. No reason to think he's "wondering" at the parting, rather than merely regretting it.


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Subject: RE: She changed the words to Raglan Road
From: Big Al Whittle
Date: 09 Sep 07 - 02:03 PM

You'd have to ask Brendan Behan and he's dead, so I dunno - still that's very much what it conveyed to him. Or perhaps, he didn't like Kavanagh anyway - and was looking an excuse for an argy bargy.


"I'd say he's fully aware that the "gifts of the mind" weren't quite what was required. ..."
I always felt the complete opposite - that the writer thought the girl should have dropping her drawers in gratitude and in stunned appreciation at the sheer profundity of his 'gifts of the mind'.

However that's the nature of poetry, McGrath. As William Empson said, the lines go backwards and forwards and ambiguity lies at the very heart of the artform.


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Subject: RE: She changed the words to Raglan Road
From: GUEST,mg
Date: 09 Sep 07 - 02:49 PM

A song does not have to tell a story and certainly does not have to be rewritten to tell a story. There are all sorts of songs that we don't know what the story is..it is part of a story, in media res, or it is a fragment of a song that used to tell a story, or we can't interpret what the story is because of historical distance. Still doesn't mean we should change the words.

I have no trouble at all singing I gave her gifts of the mind I gave her the secret sign...and I hate it when notes don't line up with words so either I have a glitch in my obsession or there is no problem.

You do not have to telepath anything to anybody. If it is a decent song and you are a decent singer, no problem. mg


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Subject: RE: She changed the words to Raglan Road
From: Steve Shaw
Date: 09 Sep 07 - 08:25 PM

For goodness' sake, all this dissecting! The poem is inspired and has enigmas and deliberate ambiguities, as do all good poems. Flippin' 'eck, we're supposed to be able to appreciate good art on multiple levels, aren't we?   The tune is lovely and atmospheric though it may not exactly fit the words if you want to get all technical. You song-techs are forgetting that we listeners are absorbing an overall picture, not sitting there analysing whether the song and tune, bar for bar, are some sort of perfect match. Luke's version is a solid gold classic, technically-flawed though it may be. In fact, the flaws probably contribute to its greatness. The poem expresses the many flaws of humanity-in-love, and the poet himself lays bare and laments his own imperfections. And Luke conveys this wonderfully. Humanity, right?


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Subject: RE: She changed the words to Raglan Road
From: Charley Noble
Date: 09 Sep 07 - 08:26 PM

Maybe I missed it but I don't think anyone has bothered to post the entire poem in question:

On Raglan Road

On Raglan Road on an autumn day I met her first and knew
That her dark hair would weave a snare that I might one day rue;
I saw the danger, yet I walked along the enchanted way,
And I said, let grief be a fallen leaf at the dawning of the day.

On Grafton Street in November we tripped lightly along the ledge
Of the deep ravine where can be seen the worth of passion's pledge,
The Queen of Hearts still making tarts and I not making hay -
O I loved too much and by such and such is happiness thrown away.

I gave her gifts of the mind I gave her the secret sign that's known
To the artists who have known the true gods of sound and stone
And word and tint. I did not stint for I gave her poems to say.
With her own name there and her own dark hair like clouds over fields of May

On a quiet street where old ghosts meet I see her walking now
Away from me so hurriedly my reason must allow
That I had wooed not as I should a creature made of clay -
When the angel woos the clay he'd lose his wings at the dawn of day.

Cheerily,
Charley Noble


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Subject: RE: She changed the words to Raglan Road
From: GUEST,mgq
Date: 09 Sep 07 - 08:36 PM

Is that how he wrote it? I thought and have always heard it was I saw her first and knew. mg


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Subject: RE: She changed the words to Raglan Road
From: Steve Shaw
Date: 09 Sep 07 - 08:44 PM

I said before that tracking down the true original seems to be well-nigh impossible. Charley's version is at least sensible though I share the cavil of the post above (and would also, respectfully, question some of the punctuation). The old boy must be up there laughing.


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Subject: RE: She changed the words to Raglan Road
From: GUEST,Guest
Date: 10 Sep 07 - 12:51 AM

You can be certain that Behan did not like Kavanagh. Allegedly he referred to him as the Monaghan w****r and the f****r from Mucker.


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Subject: RE: She changed the words to Raglan Road
From: Big Al Whittle
Date: 10 Sep 07 - 02:13 AM

When you look at it in its entirety - it is of course quite lovely. And which songwriter would not like to have written something which has inspired great performances by so many wonderful singers?

And yet...it is about this woman; not really worthy of the poems wot I wrote, the love wot I pledged.......

We've all been there.......... but the feeling is usually one of being absurd, rather than tragic.


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Subject: RE: She changed the words to Raglan Road
From: GUEST,Tom Bliss
Date: 10 Sep 07 - 04:42 AM

Sorry if I've bored you Steve. I love dissecting songs and forget that others may be squeamish :-) My apologies. May I humbly suggest you just skip right over my ramblings (easy to spot, they're the long ones!)?

And sorry for not posting the whole poem earlier Charley. I was assuming that everyone here knew it from the threads above (where others have made similar points to mine in the past). An error on my part.

But now we have it to hand, may I just point out the internal rhyming scheme - which I think undermines the suggestion that PK had DotD (or indeed any other tune) in mind when he wrote it?

Some lines don't comform at all, and I'm sure if he was humming DotD along, or anything like, he'd have written the beginning of verse three very differently. But if you don't try to put it in the metre of the song, the internal rhymes work perfectly, and the lack of them in some lines is not an issue at all. Nor are the stresses of the verse.

(I do find myself wondering if he changed the street to RR from ''Something' Way' perhaps, as he's worked so hard at most of the other internal rhymes, and not many writers would break their own system in the very first line, as it sets people off down the wrong road)!

Thereafter we have this pattern most of the time, (but not always on the beats where the phrases break in DotD):
AAB
CCB
DDE
FFE

On Raglan ROAD on an autumn DAY I met her first and knew (no internal rhyme)
That her dark HAIR would weave a SNARE that I might one day rue;
I saw the DANGER, yet I WALKED Along the enchanted way, (not a proper rhyme, might he have considered 'strayed' at some point? anyway it works fine on the page)
And I said, let GRIEF be a fallen LEAF at the dawning of the day.

On Grafton STREET in November WE Tripped lightly along the ledge (I like it sung like this, but it's not commonly done)
Of the deep raVINE where can be SEEN the worth of passion's pledge,
The Queen of HEARTS still making TARTS and I not making hay - (see what I mean about the humour? You almost need to wink at this point)
O I loved too MUCH and by such and SUCH is happiness thrown away.

I gave her gifts of the MIND I gave her the secret SIGN that's known (try singing this to DotD as it's written, fitting the rhymes into the tune where the other lines have them, then stretching 'that's known' over 8 beats - eeek!)
To the artists WHO have known the TRUE gods of sound and stone (again, try singing it like this aaaaagh!)
And word and TINT. I did not STINT for I gave her poems to say.
With her own name THERE and her own dark HAIR like clouds over fields of May

On a quiet STREET where old ghosts MEET I see her walking now
Away from ME so hurriedLY my reason must allow
That I had WOOED not as I SHOULD a creature made of clay - (it's a shame so many change it to 'loved' when 'wooed' rhymes)
When the angel WOOS the clay he'd LOSE his wings at the dawn of day.

Given the syllable count between all these rhymes (and the normal ones at the end of the lines), could PK really have had any tune in mind? Or was he writing free poetry? I think he was - because it's beautiful and unfettered on the page.

I also agree entirely about a sense of absurdity, of self-depricating irony and wry humour, which doesn't come over in the DotD song because the tune imposes a tragic mood on the words. The tune, while beautiful, is ponderous, and I don't think the poem is.

Anyway I've taken up enough of your time. Thanks for having me!

Tom


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Subject: RE: She changed the words to Raglan Road
From: PMB
Date: 10 Sep 07 - 05:06 AM

Isn't it odd, I can't believe that Kavanagh ever tried to sing this, does anyone know if he did sing or play anything? He chose the words, he chose the tune, and the two barely fit. November wee? It's the cold weather. Angel wooze sounds like the result of too much fairy dust.


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Subject: RE: She changed the words to Raglan Road
From: death by whisky
Date: 10 Sep 07 - 05:58 AM

What a great thread, I m supposed to be doing someing else.Ive never done this song,as I havent the voice for the slower ballad I have changed the tempo/rythm/style of songs to suit the voice and have always had great fun doing that.it feels great when the adjusted version goes down well with an audience


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Subject: RE: She changed the words to Raglan Road
From: Steve Shaw
Date: 10 Sep 07 - 06:49 AM

I've always thought that in this poem the poet wanted us to see him as pathetic and arrogant. Like the friend who's telling you about his woeful tale of love lost in spite of all he did for her, when you find yourself having to nod in sympathy whilst all the time knowing full well that he brought his misfortune on himself. Kavanagh is standing outside himself here and observing his own romantic ineptitude (he laments it in the poem too when he says he loved too much). He does what many a spurned lover does when he insults her right at the end of the poem (and augmenting himself at the same time!) I'm sure he wants us to see that as diminishing him. I think some of Tom's rhyming scheme is stretching things a bit. Danger/walked? Street/we? (coincidence, surely!) Wooed/should? I can't make those two rhyme! Me/hurriedLY? Hmm. I think Kavanagh just rhymed where it happened to fit but just didn't bother to hunt for alternatives where it didn't, and I think the poem's all the better for that bit of freedom.


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Subject: RE: She changed the words to Raglan Road
From: Charley Noble
Date: 10 Sep 07 - 09:15 AM

I copied and pasted the poem from "Oldpoetry.com" where there was no source referenced. The website had this for biographical information about the poet:

Kavanagh was born on the 21st of October 1904, in the village of Inniskeen, Co. Monaghan, Ireland. His father was a shoemaker and had a small farm of land. At the age of thirteen Kavanagh became an apprentice shoemaker. He gave it up 15 months later, admitting that he didn't make one wearable pair of boots. For the next 20 years, Kavanagh would work on the family farm before moving to Dublin in 1939.

Kavanagh's writing resulted in the publication of some poems in a local newspaper in the early 1930's. In 1939, his brother Peter, who was a Dublin based teacher, urged him to move to the city to establish himself as a writer. The Dublin Literary Society saw Kavanagh as a country farmer and referred to him as "That Monaghan Boy".

Kavanagh spent the lean years of the war in Dublin, where his epic poem The Great Hunger was published in 1942, presenting the Irish farmer's grinding poverty and sexual inhibition. This found him in trouble with his publishers. In 1947, his first major collection A Soul for Sale , was published. These poems were the product of his Monaghan youth. After the war he published the novel Tarry Flynn (1948) which is a about a small time farmer who dreams of a different life as a writer and a poet. In the early 1950's, Kavanagh and his brother Peter, published a weekly newspaper called Kavanagh's Weekly , it failed because the editorial viewpoint was too narrow. In 1954, Kavanagh became embroiled in an infamous court case. He accused The Leader newspaper of slander. The newspaper decided to contest the case and hired John A. Costello, as their defense council. Kavanagh decided to prosecute the case himself and Costello destroyed him. The court case dragged on for over a year and Kavanagh's health began to fail. In 1955, he was diagnosed as having lung cancer and had a lung removed, Kavanagh survived and the event was a major turning point in his life and career. In 1958, he published Come Dancing with Kitty Stobling . In 1959, he was appointed to the faculty of English in UCD. His lectures were popular, but often irrelevant to the course. In the early 1960's, he visited Britain and USA. In 1965, he married Katherine Malony. He died in 1967 from an attack of bronchitis. Kavanagh's reputation as a poet is based on the lyrical quality of his work, his mastery of language and form and his ability to transform the ordinary into something of significance

Patrick Kavanagh died in Dublin on 30th November 1967, bringing to a close the life of one of Ireland's most controversial and colorful literary figures.

Bibliography and picture source: IrelandOnline.com

I found it interesting reading.

Cheerily,
Charley Noble


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Subject: RE: She changed the words to Raglan Road
From: mg
Date: 10 Sep 07 - 12:15 PM

I have never heard of people singing with some of those accents but I can't be bothered to show you how they generally are done. mg


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Subject: RE: She changed the words to Raglan Road
From: GUEST,Tom Bliss
Date: 10 Sep 07 - 12:43 PM

I'm going to regret this! mg, I DO know how it's usually sung - goodness gracious me! My capitals merely point out where Kavanagh set his rhymes (they were not all accents in his version), which do not fit the current tune, or any regular tune, because his lines and rhymes are irregular. He was careful with his words, and if he'd set himself the task or writing to a tune he'd have made them fit, that's for sure. Thus I deduce he had no tune in mind, and was writing free poetry, with a loose but important internal/external rhyming system. Changing that system was essential to make the poem into a song in the first place. But it wasn't changed within Kavanagh's terms, so it's a compromise, and at times not a good one. You object to change - but it will happen, sometimes naturally, sometimes delibrately (Kelly's changes were obviously deliberate). I don't like Lorreena's version myself much, but her changes (apard from the sx change) are a natural consequence of the flaws in that original compromise - as other people's are.

Have we met, then?


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Subject: RE: She changed the words to Raglan Road
From: An Buachaill Caol Dubh
Date: 10 Sep 07 - 12:51 PM

Further to some points made above:   first, I've seen a short clip on Television of PK singing (in a Traditional manner) his own "DofD" to the Fainne Gael an Lae air, which together with the repetition of that phrase does tend to confirm that these were "words for music perhaps". Secondly, Tom Bliss's contribution above is most useful with regard to the internal rhyming; it's worth bearing in mind that assonance and assonantal patterning is very much a feature of Irish (i.e. Irish language) song. However, I can't agree that the melody is ponderous, tho' some might perform it or regard it in that way. Another feature of traditional singing - at least, when it's unaccompanied (as it ought to be - but that's another matter...) - is the freedom which singers will allow themselves with tempo and time and rhythm, the speed of the music being guided by the sentiment being presented. Take it a little further, even; need each verse even have exactly the same melody, note for note? I'll not go into detail, but on two occasions I think it acceptable to introduce a very slight variation to the musical line; again, a feature of traditional music (especially instrumental, of course) Finally, the difficulties of the beginning of the third verse are primarily, in my view, to do with the length of the phrasing which ought ideally to be given without breaking for breath; if one takes the liberties I've suggested with regard to tempo &c., then the sense can be made come through with the melody not unduly compromised. All depends on skilful breathing, breath-control and indeed lung-capacity; 'tis a pity John McCormack was of the earlier generation, because it would take someone like him - or Jussi Bjorling - to deal confidently with this aspect.


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Subject: RE: She changed the words to Raglan Road
From: GUEST,Tom Bliss
Date: 10 Sep 07 - 01:04 PM

Thanks ABCD - a very good point. As we said above, it works a lot better sung the way you describe. I must track down PK's version - though I'd understood he 'learned' that after Kelly? Does he sing it like Kelly or like his poem? I'll bet it's a long way from Loreena's version anyways! It's the accompanied strict time versions, with words bodged to fit, that I'm least comfortable with, myself.


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Subject: RE: She changed the words to Raglan Road
From: Steve Shaw
Date: 10 Sep 07 - 04:24 PM

I agree about the strict time versions.   Some of the MIDI versions of the tune on the net are awful! Tom - I think you should tell us whether you like Luke's version! ;-)


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Subject: RE: She changed the words to Raglan Road
From: GUEST,Henryp
Date: 15 Sep 07 - 12:12 PM

Benedict Kiely relates how the song was sung for the first time when he was working for the weekly newspaper The Standard. One day he was talking to a friend in the office at the corner of Pearse Street and Tara Street in the heart of Dublin.

In stepped Patrick Kavanagh with a few sheets of paper in his hand and slapped them down on the table. Could we sing that to the tune of The Dawning of the Day he asked - the John McCormack recording of the English translation of Fainne Geal an Lae was very popular at the time.

The three began to sing, and were joined by the editor Peter O'Curry, a good friend of Kavanagh. Significantly, the lady in the song was known to Benedict Kiely and his friend - she had been with them at University College, Dublin.

See Irish Ballads published in Ireland by Gill and Macmillan Ltd, after a special edition of the Bord Failte's magazine Ireland of the Welcomes - The Place in the Song: A musical Grand Tour of Ireland.


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Subject: RE: origins - Raglan Road
From: Taconicus
Date: 26 May 11 - 12:30 PM

From the lyrics to this song I immediately thought that the author must have been not only a poet/songwriter but also (like Robert Burns) a Freemason as well, because of the allusions to it (secret signs, true gods of sound and stone, etc.) It sounds as though the author fell in love and shared with her the secrets of the craft (poetical, at least), and suffered by it when she (in his view) subsequently used them to her own advantage before leaving him.

Researching further, I see no evidence of any Masonic membership by the author, Patrick Kavanagh, but there's a very good interview by Colbert Kearney all about the song's origins, here, published in 2010.


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