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relocating songs

Emma B 05 Feb 10 - 08:20 AM
Richard Bridge 05 Feb 10 - 08:25 AM
Bob the Postman 05 Feb 10 - 08:37 AM
Dave Hanson 05 Feb 10 - 08:45 AM
Emma B 05 Feb 10 - 08:47 AM
meself 05 Feb 10 - 08:47 AM
GUEST,matt milton 05 Feb 10 - 08:49 AM
MGM·Lion 05 Feb 10 - 09:04 AM
RTim 05 Feb 10 - 09:04 AM
Mr Happy 05 Feb 10 - 09:50 AM
Dave MacKenzie 05 Feb 10 - 10:13 AM
Ernest 05 Feb 10 - 12:01 PM
MGM·Lion 05 Feb 10 - 12:06 PM
Steve Gardham 05 Feb 10 - 02:36 PM
Joe Offer 05 Feb 10 - 03:10 PM
Emma B 05 Feb 10 - 03:14 PM
olddude 05 Feb 10 - 03:20 PM
mg 05 Feb 10 - 03:24 PM
Emma B 05 Feb 10 - 03:32 PM
Cuilionn 05 Feb 10 - 09:49 PM
Young Buchan 06 Feb 10 - 09:08 AM
Bob the Postman 06 Feb 10 - 09:16 AM
Geoff the Duck 06 Feb 10 - 02:24 PM
Steve Gardham 06 Feb 10 - 02:34 PM
GUEST,matt milton 06 Feb 10 - 02:52 PM
meself 06 Feb 10 - 03:12 PM
meself 06 Feb 10 - 03:20 PM
meself 06 Feb 10 - 03:20 PM
GUEST,mg 06 Feb 10 - 03:25 PM
Bert 06 Feb 10 - 03:48 PM
Bob the Postman 06 Feb 10 - 07:01 PM
Bob the Postman 06 Feb 10 - 07:12 PM
meself 06 Feb 10 - 08:00 PM
Bob the Postman 09 Feb 10 - 08:11 AM
Tootler 11 Feb 11 - 04:58 PM
GUEST,Tinker in Chicago 11 Feb 11 - 05:12 PM
GUEST,Grishka 12 Feb 11 - 09:59 AM
MGM·Lion 12 Feb 11 - 10:05 AM
Richard Mellish 12 Feb 11 - 10:32 AM
Darowyn 12 Feb 11 - 01:02 PM
GUEST,Donjo 12 Feb 11 - 01:12 PM
EBarnacle 12 Feb 11 - 01:30 PM
MGM·Lion 12 Feb 11 - 02:38 PM
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Subject: relocating songs
From: Emma B
Date: 05 Feb 10 - 08:20 AM

I'm sure someone else MUST have posted/whinged about this some time so my apologies for being reminded of a personal gripe by a recent post by David el Gnomo in the Irish Pub songs thread.

From a random hit on Google

….the most popular of Irish traditional, drinking and folk songs! ... Dirty Old Town Sung by The Pogues and others.

Now 'Dirty Old Town' is about Salford, the place where Ewan MacColl was brought up.
It's possible that the words "smelled a Spring on the Salford wind" were changed to "smelled a spring on the smoky wind" because Salford council were a tad upset at the portrayal of their city but it doesn't make it an Irish song 'cos The Dubliners recorded it.

Similarly, the lyrics of Seth Davy (even including the title!) written by Liverpudlian Glyn Hughes were radically altered on recordings to remove any reference to local landmarks and the song's origin in Liverpool and described as "An Irish folk song recorded by Danny Doyle and by The Dubliners" on one Irish music site.

And not to mention …….

"Irish Folksongs Lyrics - AND THE BAND PLAYED WALTZING MATILDA Lyrics"
From a lyrics download webpage

Or even from….
"Traditional Irish Music
Irish Songs With Chords & Lyrics"

"The Pub with no Beer" with its lyrics so evocative of the Irish countryside

"It's lonesome away from your kindred and all
By the camp fire at night where the wild dingos call"

There are many wonderful traditional (and modern) Irish folk songs without this surely?

Don't get me started on that ubiquitous prefix 'Celtic' either :)


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Subject: RE: relocating songs
From: Richard Bridge
Date: 05 Feb 10 - 08:25 AM

Agreed


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Subject: RE: relocating songs
From: Bob the Postman
Date: 05 Feb 10 - 08:37 AM

I blame the Irish. They have more than enough songs of their own, but still they WILL sing other people's, and when they do, the songs become theirs. A case in point, Christy Moore's version of the traditonal Irish Ron Hynes song "Sonny's Dream", complete with a new final verse which changes the direction of the story by 180 degrees.


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Subject: RE: relocating songs
From: Dave Hanson
Date: 05 Feb 10 - 08:45 AM

People always have and always will change songs to suit themselves or the circumstances of the time.

Incidently on the two versions I have of Ewan MacColl singing ' Dirty Old Town ' he sings, " smelled the spring on the SMOKY wind " and this is how it is written in The Essential Ewan MacColl Songbook.

Dave H


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Subject: RE: relocating songs
From: Emma B
Date: 05 Feb 10 - 08:47 AM

According to the Digital Tradition Mirror it's a Scot to blame for changing Sonny's Dream
And in the Digital Tradition, too... -Joe Offer-


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Subject: RE: relocating songs
From: meself
Date: 05 Feb 10 - 08:47 AM

I don't blame the Irish one bit - they take songs they like and make them their own. That's what happens when you have a rich and living song-culture.


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Subject: RE: relocating songs
From: GUEST,matt milton
Date: 05 Feb 10 - 08:49 AM

I dunno, a song doesn't belong to anyone. Songs relocate. It's not the relocator's fault, or the song's fault, if subsequently a bunch of commentators who don't know the history assume it's an Irish (or whatever) song.

Black Velvet Band is a good example. Sung by the Dubliners, among others, and embraced with open arms into Irish repertoire. But only because Luke Kelly learned it from Ewan MacColl in London, MacColl having learned it from Sam Larner (or was it Harry Cox?) Memory's a bit hazy, but I think that's the story, no?

Thing is, it seems entirely appropriate in one sense - the tune really lends itself to vocal ornamentation. Plus I don't believe the coincidence between the song's title and the colour and texture of that totemic beverage - Guinness - is entirely irrelevant to the song's popularity.


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Subject: RE: relocating songs
From: MGM·Lion
Date: 05 Feb 10 - 09:04 AM

It's certainly true that Ewan MacColl recorded Black Velvet Band from Harry Cox - it is #15 on record 1 of Topic's Bonny Labouring Boy double CD of Harry. But, if you check, you will find that the first line of his song is "In a neat little town called Belfast": a frequent opening according to Steve Roud's note, which goes on to state however that early broadside versions tend to place the song in Barking. He says also that there are about only 6 traditional English & Irish versions in total, but more found in Oz. The possibility of a theatrical origin about 1840 is also raised. So, despite the popularity of Belfast as a locale, the national origins of this particular song seem to be, to say the least, questionable.


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Subject: RE: relocating songs
From: RTim
Date: 05 Feb 10 - 09:04 AM

I sing a lot of songs that were collected in the region where I was born, ie. Hampshire and Dorset in England, and I constantly have to remind everyone of what Vaughan-Williams once said, ie:
" These are NOT Hampshire or Dorset songs, but songs collected in those places."

Very few of them were actually made in those places, a few were, but not many.
However, singing them and knowing where, and from whom, they were collected, does connect you to the place and the people.

Tim Radford


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Subject: RE: relocating songs
From: Mr Happy
Date: 05 Feb 10 - 09:50 AM

'I'll tell me ma' Dublin/ Belfast


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Subject: RE: relocating songs
From: Dave MacKenzie
Date: 05 Feb 10 - 10:13 AM

"I'll tell my ma" is an Edinburgh song and the chorus states "the golden city", at least when it's sung in Edinburgh. All songs migrate, and another case is "The Curragh of Kildare" which Christy Moore found in Johnson's Scots Musical Museum, and added an Irish chorus to.

As I said elsewhere, an Irish song is a song which has been sung at least once by an Irishman.


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Subject: RE: relocating songs
From: Ernest
Date: 05 Feb 10 - 12:01 PM

Definition of "Irish Folk song": Any song the Dubliners ever done.

;0)
Ernest


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Subject: RE: relocating songs
From: MGM·Lion
Date: 05 Feb 10 - 12:06 PM

But not, interestingly, the Clancy Brothers. They famously did MacPherson's Farewell - with an attempt at a Scots accent what's more - but I don't think anyone claims that as an Irish song.


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Subject: RE: relocating songs
From: Steve Gardham
Date: 05 Feb 10 - 02:36 PM

Well one thing we do know, relocating songs is traditional, so whether you like it or not it has happened for many centuries and there's bugger all you can do about it. In which case it's best to smile and accept it.


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Subject: RE: relocating songs
From: Joe Offer
Date: 05 Feb 10 - 03:10 PM

Some Europeans allege that American Si Kahn plagiarized the traditional song "Belfast Mill" and made it Aragon Mill. It's the other way around. Of course, I've heard Irishers insist that all good songs were copied from Irish roots.

The American Civil War Song, At Fredericksburg (The Last Fierce Charge), has been relocated to a number of places, including Custer's Last Stand.

When I was a camp counselor in Wisconsin, camps had their own songs, and I always assumed they were made up by counselors at each camp. Not so. In the Age of the Internet, I found that many of MY camp's songs were sung at other camps, with the names changed. It broke my heart to learn that the "Killy Watch-Watch Song" was not just about Camp Chippecotton of the Racine County Council of the Boy Scouts.

And my home town's official song, "Oh, Racine, What a Hole," was also sung about a town in Indiana.

Hymns get changed from church to church, too. I'm sure that Father Faber's Faith of Our Fathers would never be sung in a Protestant church (or in the U.S.) if this original verse were included:
    Faith of our fathers, Mary's prayers
    Shall win our country back to Thee;
    And through the truth that comes from God,
    England shall then indeed be free.


So, it appears that changing place names in songs is a hallowed tradition.

-Joe-


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Subject: RE: relocating songs
From: Emma B
Date: 05 Feb 10 - 03:14 PM

somehow I just can't imagine The Town I Loved So Well being relocated to Llanfairpwllgwyngyllgogerychwyrndrobwllllantysiliogogogoch. :)


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Subject: RE: relocating songs
From: olddude
Date: 05 Feb 10 - 03:20 PM

Darn near every single traditional song I ever heard from anywhere I can usually name 5 or six others that came before or after. A tune gets carried, modified, takes on a new life with someone else's lyrics. At least it doesn't get lost in history never to be heard again. don't see it as a problem in regard to traditional songs. Big problem if someone plagiarize anything new for sure. but we can't go back in time and copyright.


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Subject: RE: relocating songs
From: mg
Date: 05 Feb 10 - 03:24 PM

I have a strong preference for leaving songs where they are from.\\

And I can't tell if someone is joking or not, but Sonny's Dream is from Newfoundland. mg


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Subject: RE: relocating songs
From: Emma B
Date: 05 Feb 10 - 03:32 PM

Actually, to be serious for a moment, I agree with you entirely about the 'oral tradition' olddude but it's not quite the same when a song, penned in the 60s, is recorded with different words and even a different title in the same decade.
I sometimes wonder how the original writer feels but I suppose the royalties help to appease any exasperation.


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Subject: RE: relocating songs
From: Cuilionn
Date: 05 Feb 10 - 09:49 PM

One of my favourite "relocations" occurred at a much-hyped U.S. concert by a Welsh fiddler who had "spent years researching and reconstructing the distinct repertoire of the almost-lost Welsh fiddle tradition."

She stepped up onto the stage, put her fiddle under her chin, lifted her bow, and launched into a tune I'd heard Ray Fisher sing years before as "What Can a Young Lassie Dae wi an Auld Man."

Oh, aye. Distinctly Welsh, maybe...but not Welsh exclusively!


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Subject: RE: relocating songs
From: Young Buchan
Date: 06 Feb 10 - 09:08 AM

The saddest tale I've ever heard regarding relocation: the old East Anglian singer Bob Hart used to sing a version of the Umps and Dumps which began 'As I strolled out by Happisburgh' (pronounced Hasebro - a seaside town in Norfolk). Someone one day heard him sing it as 'As I strolled out by Aylesbury'. They asked why he had changed. He said it was because he had got it wrong before, and when asked what he meant he explained that 'one of those Folk people told me it should be Aylesbury and I know he must have been right because he showed it to me in a book.'

Words fail me.


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Subject: RE: relocating songs
From: Bob the Postman
Date: 06 Feb 10 - 09:16 AM

I WAS trying to be a bit funny about "Sonny's Dream". I wonder where exactly in Newfoundland it refers to. The southern end of the Avalon is "a wide open place" about 100 miles from St. Johns (apostrophe or not, who knows, I'm from B. C.). The Codroy Valley is openish, has proper farms, and is about 100 miles from Stephenville.

Anyway, a Maritimer did "Sonny's Dream" at our local coffee house, with a peppy pub-music two-step beat. I'd never heard the last verse (The Hamish Imlach verse, apparently, thanks, Emma B) which completely alters the point of the story, so I asked "where did you get those words" and the guy replied "from the song". Mr. Google led me to Christy Moore's website where the song with the Imlach addendum was credited as Trad., hence my wise-crack above.

And while I'm explaining my jokes, let me make it clear that when I say I blame the Irish, I mean I thank them.


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Subject: RE: relocating songs
From: Geoff the Duck
Date: 06 Feb 10 - 02:24 PM

While you are relocating songs, could you relocate "On Ilkley Moor Baht Hat" to somewhere warmer where you wouldn't "catch thy death o' cowd" when out courting....














Okay - I'll get my coat...

Quack!
Geoff the Duck (flying backwards to keep the muck out of my eyes...)


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Subject: RE: relocating songs
From: Steve Gardham
Date: 06 Feb 10 - 02:34 PM

Yes, please do relocate 'Ilkley Moor Baht 'at', somewhere like Timbuktu would be fine. We'll keep the tune of 'Cranbrook' though if that's alright. We nicked it from Canterbury anyway.


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Subject: RE: relocating songs
From: GUEST,matt milton
Date: 06 Feb 10 - 02:52 PM

you can sometimes "relocate" songs without actually changing a word.

Sing the song "Richmond Blues" (which I know from Cephas & Wiggins) in South West London and the audience will mentally do the relocation for you.


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Subject: RE: relocating songs
From: meself
Date: 06 Feb 10 - 03:12 PM

It seems to me that I once heard Ron Hynes on radio sing that last and belated verse of Sonny's Dream himself - but I could be misremembering, as I've been known to do. Be that as it may, I don't see how that last verse "completely alters the point of the story"; I would say rather that it elaborates the point of the story - unnecessarily.


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Subject: RE: relocating songs
From: meself
Date: 06 Feb 10 - 03:20 PM

Actually - having said that - I think I just got your take on the song .... Your understanding is that the "wide open space" (place?) is the home he grew up on and which he never left (right?), whereas I've always interpreted the song to indicate that he did leave and that he is haunted by regret and memory in a Tennessee-Williams-The-Glass-Menagerie/Alistair-MacLeod-The-Boat kind of way ....


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Subject: RE: relocating songs
From: meself
Date: 06 Feb 10 - 03:20 PM

(The above being addressed to Robert the Letter Carrier).


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Subject: RE: relocating songs
From: GUEST,mg
Date: 06 Feb 10 - 03:25 PM

I think Ron Hynes did write another verse over time. I don't know what Ch risty Moore did. The original tune was peppy and got really dirgified when it was brought to Ireland..at least I think that is what happenhed. lmg


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Subject: RE: relocating songs
From: Bert
Date: 06 Feb 10 - 03:48 PM

Makes you wonder how many towns actually do have a "House of the Rising Sun"


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Subject: RE: relocating songs
From: Bob the Postman
Date: 06 Feb 10 - 07:01 PM

My take on "Sonny's Dream" is that the "voice" in the song, the narrator of the story, is the mother . . . but you don't figure it out until the last lines of the third verse "I know I can't hold him though I've tried and I've tried". Up until the end you think the narrator is the simply the omniscient authorial voice telling a tale of a stifled son, then you're kicked in the guts by the poignant realisation that the story is being told by the about-to-be abandoned mother. Sonny didn't stay, he left for McMurray or wherever and he never came back, just like his mother always knew he would. But the fourth Imlach/Moore verse subverts the original surprise ending and unequivocally makes the story one about a middle-aged bachelor haunted by matriarchal authority.


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Subject: RE: relocating songs
From: Bob the Postman
Date: 06 Feb 10 - 07:12 PM

I find I've got my numbering wrong. The original Hynes song has four verses with the surprise reveal coming at the end of verse four, not three. The Imlach/Moore addendum would thus be verse five, not four.


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Subject: RE: relocating songs
From: meself
Date: 06 Feb 10 - 08:00 PM

Hmmm ... I have to admit that I'm a little off-base here, too - I thought that the verse added by Imlach/Moore must have been the FOURTH verse - I'm unfamiliar with the additional "fifth" verse .... If Hynes wrote the fourth verse, that would explain why I'd heard him sing it (as opposed to the fifth verse). However, I first heard the song as Hynes recorded it with the Wonderful Grand Band (from Newfoundland); that rendition consisted of the first THREE verses only - and to my mind was more effective, because the poetry of the fourth verse is so much weaker than that of the preceding three - it's hard to believe it's written by the same person - except for the line that you quote: "I know I can't hold him though I've tried and I've tried" (and, I think, one more "and I've tried"), which in the context is powerful.

I do like your take on the song - but I think the last line of the first verse - "Sonny always remembers those words his mother said" - suggests the voice of an omniscient narrator rather than that of the mother herself. Also, that his mother's words were spoken sometime in the (distant?) past. Although, not necessarily ....


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Subject: RE: relocating songs
From: Bob the Postman
Date: 09 Feb 10 - 08:11 AM

Five, four, three . . . countdown to confusion.

This page from the Christy Moore website has the lyrics to a three verse version which Moore uses (about a son who never left), as well as the original four verse Hynes version (about a son who is leaving very soon). The five verse version I heard at the local coffee house comprises Hynes' four verses plus the last verse of the Moore version. It's this mash-up I objected to in my first post in this thread, but apparently Moore (and/or Imlach) is not responsible for the hybrid.

To return to the theme of this thread, I understand that the mother-dominated middle-aged bachelor is an Irish sociological cliche, whereas Buddy going down the road is an Atlantic Canadian sociological cliche. So in relocating the song, the relocator has made the appropriate changes to the theme.

Newfoundland
lonely farm + only son = emigration

Ireland
lonely farm + only son = infantalised bachelor


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Subject: RE: relocating songs
From: Tootler
Date: 11 Feb 11 - 04:58 PM

I don't blame the Irish one bit - they take songs they like and make them their own. That's what happens when you have a rich and living song-culture.

Taking a song and making it your own is fine. Claiming a song originated there when it clearly did not is quite another matter.


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Subject: RE: relocating songs
From: GUEST,Tinker in Chicago
Date: 11 Feb 11 - 05:12 PM

Valid point, Tootler.

But perhaps the geographical point of origin of a song is irrelevant. The cultural point of origin is more to the point, I'd say. For specific gigs I've written many a song in the Irish musical tradition, referencing people and places in Ireland or in Irish history (e.g. Boru, Grania, etc.). If someone were to call one of those an Irish song, I don't think that would be out of line.

Wasn't it the Wolfe Tones who sang, "My home is in Ireland wherever I may be"? Well, as a dual citizen, my home is in Ireland though my body is not.

(BTW, I'm not a traveler. The above is just my nickname.)


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Subject: RE: relocating songs
From: GUEST,Grishka
Date: 12 Feb 11 - 09:59 AM

Tootler, sometimes the origin is not known to the singers. Who knows (re Steve Gardham 06 Feb 10 - 02:34 PM), there may be an Italian song titled Il clamore "patate"?


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Subject: RE: relocating songs
From: MGM·Lion
Date: 12 Feb 11 - 10:05 AM

Nic Jones sang Barrack Street, which is in the Sailortown section of Halifax NS [from the singing of O J Abbott, I think Nic told me once, but wouldn't swear to it]; the Irish variant is Patrick Street, which is in Belfast Docks, I believe ~~ the group who sing it use the title as their name also; in both Liverpool & Glasgow it is sung as Peter Street, as both cities' docks have one. Being a Londoner, I sing Ratcliffe Street, to Nic's Barrack St tune, & with most of his words tho collated with & augmented from other versions, as it's the one I like best...

~Michael~


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Subject: RE: relocating songs
From: Richard Mellish
Date: 12 Feb 11 - 10:32 AM

From the OP
>"The Pub with no Beer" with its lyrics so evocative of the Irish countryside<

I do wonder whether such an obviously nonsensical description might actually have been tongue-in-cheek, lampooning the phenomenon which Emma was objecting to. Emma, where did you find that one?

Otherwise I entirely endorse the postings from Young Buchan 06 Feb 10 - 09:08 AM and Tootler 11 Feb 11 - 04:58 PM.

Richard


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Subject: RE: relocating songs
From: Darowyn
Date: 12 Feb 11 - 01:02 PM

Some students of mine, playing a gig in the Railway Station in Kidderminster, started playing "Sweet Home Alabama", thus...
"Sweet home Kidderminster, where the skies are so grey.
Sweet Home Kidderminster, we're playing here for you today"

Everybody's doing it!

Cheers
Dave


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Subject: RE: relocating songs
From: GUEST,Donjo
Date: 12 Feb 11 - 01:12 PM

Patrick Street took their name from the main street in Cork.


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Subject: RE: relocating songs
From: EBarnacle
Date: 12 Feb 11 - 01:30 PM

Pub with no beer is definitely from Oz.
I generally relocated Maid of Amsterdam and the Mermaid. The Mermaid gets whatever local lighthouse there is and Maid of Amsterdam goes to New York or some other town with a famous vice cop.

Also, Lady Hillary reminds me that "The snow is high as an elephant's eye and it's gonna be here 'til the 4th of July" is about NJ.


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Subject: RE: relocating songs
From: MGM·Lion
Date: 12 Feb 11 - 02:38 PM

Thank you for locating Patrick St [the group]'s origin in Cork, Donjo. Is that also the site of the street which gives its title to the song of that name, a version of Jack All Alone aka Barrack Street, Peter St, &c? Or is that actually Belfast, as I thought?

~M~


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