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Are the Clancy Bros. Always Right?

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Blackcat2 13 Dec 99 - 03:45 PM
stupidbodhranplayerwhodoesn'tknowanybetter 13 Dec 99 - 05:43 PM
Bruce O. 13 Dec 99 - 05:58 PM
Tiger 13 Dec 99 - 06:21 PM
Rick Fielding 13 Dec 99 - 08:32 PM
fulurum 13 Dec 99 - 08:59 PM
Liam's Brother 13 Dec 99 - 09:34 PM
DonMeixner 14 Dec 99 - 12:00 AM
paddymac 14 Dec 99 - 12:11 AM
Bruce O. 14 Dec 99 - 12:12 AM
DonMeixner 14 Dec 99 - 12:22 AM
Bruce O. 14 Dec 99 - 12:48 AM
Stewie 14 Dec 99 - 01:58 AM
Bruce O. 14 Dec 99 - 02:15 AM
JedMarum 14 Dec 99 - 10:58 AM
InOBU 14 Dec 99 - 11:09 AM
Winters Wages 14 Dec 99 - 08:49 PM
Den 14 Dec 99 - 11:03 PM
InOBU 14 Dec 99 - 11:19 PM
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Subject: Are the Clancy Bros. Always Right?
From: Blackcat2
Date: 13 Dec 99 - 03:45 PM

Hi all. This came up in another thread . . .

The Clancy Brothers on their many albums and in their countless live appearances (along with Tommy makem & Robbie O'Connell, etc.) often tell a bit of information about the songs they sing. How accurate are they? I would assume pretty accurate, but part of the basis of that assumption is that I have used the conveinence of relying upon their info during my own gigs and until I discovered the Mudcat last year and joined the discussion a couple months ago, I had little else to go on.

What do you think? Do you have instances where they are (or seem) to be off the mark? I'm just curious - they're so legendary to seem to be almost infallible, but they're human like the rest of us.

pax yall

Blackcat2


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Subject: RE: Are the Clancy Bros. Always Right?
From: stupidbodhranplayerwhodoesn'tknowanybetter
Date: 13 Dec 99 - 05:43 PM

NO they aren't. Rich


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Subject: RE: Are the Clancy Bros. Always Right?
From: Bruce O.
Date: 13 Dec 99 - 05:58 PM

Nobody is always right. New things about old songs keep turning up all the time, and previous judgements often have to be modified. I try to stick to facts, but once in a while I can't find any and have to rely on what somebody else said who didn't document the source of his/her information (I usually qoute them and give the souce of the quote, so if it proves wrong it's not my fault). I'm very critical in my choice of 'experts' when it comes to this kind of thing. My feeling in general is that professionals try to get some valid information, but often aren't very critical about what they pass on, and some of it is nonsense (though it usually makes a good story). It's also amazing how often when somebody tries to paraphrase what someone else said they get it completely screwed up.


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Subject: RE: Are the Clancy Bros. Always Right?
From: Tiger
Date: 13 Dec 99 - 06:21 PM

I love the Clancys and believe them to be forthright in their patter, memories and history in general.

It's true, though, that they've rearranged much of their stuff to be a smidge closer to the mainstream. Without that, they might not have broken through, and who knows where we'd be today?


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Subject: RE: Are the Clancy Bros. Always Right?
From: Rick Fielding
Date: 13 Dec 99 - 08:32 PM

I'll tell you one area where they've seldom been right. It's the line at the bottom of each page of their songbooks dealing with authorship. Other than that, when I was 14 they blew me away.
Rick


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Subject: RE: Are the Clancy Bros. Always Right?
From: fulurum
Date: 13 Dec 99 - 08:59 PM

liam clancy once told me that written history is nothing more than the propaganda of the victor. a lot of the clancy songs are hundreds of years old and nobody today was around back then so we have to rely on the written and oral histories that have been passed down with the songs. this applies to thousands of songs as well to any singer singing these songs. i'm sure arlo guthrie could interpret a song much different than tommy makem would, and pete seeger would have his own ideas about the same song. just learn the words and have fun singing the songs, and pass them on with whatever story you might have.


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Subject: RE: Are the Clancy Bros. Always Right?
From: Liam's Brother
Date: 13 Dec 99 - 09:34 PM

Bruce O. is, of course, right. Can you accept that "Tim Finigan's Wake" (sic) was probably written in New York for the music hall?

All the best,
Dan


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Subject: RE: Are the Clancy Bros. Always Right?
From: DonMeixner
Date: 14 Dec 99 - 12:00 AM

I often find myself wondering about the facts of a song. I Loved "The Haughs of Cromdale" from the first moment I heard it. A great song of battle and retaliation with a victory for the good guys. What isn't explained in the song is the battle and the retaliation are some 60 years apart. I learned this from the liner notes, not the song.

I used to do workshops on cowboy songs as sung around the chuck wagon and the drag. Quite often people were surprised when I'd start out with Jeanie With the Light brown Hair or The Bright Mohawk Valley. The Cowboys took the songs they learned in the states out wesr with them. They were there for quite awhile before Old Paint came along. Just as in the case with Finnegan's Wake, much of what we know as cowboy songs probably went west rather than come east.

As a perfornmer I find it incumbent on me to do my own research and prove or deny the song. This won't stop me from doing a good song, even if the history is bad. I'll just tell the truth of it.

As to the Clancy Brother's question, I find them to be more often than not right about their history.

Don


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Subject: RE: Are the Clancy Bros. Always Right?
From: paddymac
Date: 14 Dec 99 - 12:11 AM

Let's not forget that earlier performers didn't have access to the tools of today, such as Mudcat.


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Subject: RE: Are the Clancy Bros. Always Right?
From: Bruce O.
Date: 14 Dec 99 - 12:12 AM

John Glen, 'Early Scottish Melodies' notes that "Haws of Cromdale" (SMM #488) is absurd. He pointed out that the only battle ever fought at Cromdale was one in 1690, and the song has Montose as the principal leader. Neat trick, since he had been executed in 1650.


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Subject: RE: Are the Clancy Bros. Always Right?
From: DonMeixner
Date: 14 Dec 99 - 12:22 AM

Hi Bruce,

Wow, an astronaut and a music historian too.

Thats what makes alot of what we do fun I think. We can poke fun at the absurdity of songs like "Cromdale". But we need to tell everyone how absurd they are. At least with "Cromdale" we get learn the names of a lot of clans.

Don


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Subject: RE: Are the Clancy Bros. Always Right?
From: Bruce O.
Date: 14 Dec 99 - 12:48 AM

Some of the impressive tools of today are Steve Roud broadside and folksong indexes (for 16th and 17th century broadsides mine is far more complete); the Bodley Ballads website; Levy sheet music collection website; Charle Gore's 'The Scottish Fiddle Music Index' 1994 (plans are now for a CD ROM version with search software, which will make it much easier and faster to use); 'Sources of Irish Traditional Music', 1998.

The 'National Tune Index', 1980 (English, Scottish, and American tunes of the 18th century, and many, but far from complete on songs. (Weak on Scottish song and dance music and nothing from Ireland) It is only on microfiche, which makes it awkward to use (I have it, but no reader so I have to take it to my films to a library with a reader in order to use it, which isn't very often.) There are also microfim copies of many manuscripts in the Bodleian Library, Oxford; NLS, Edinburgh; British Library, London; Victoria and Albert Museum Library, London and some others. The 'British Union Catalog' is massive, but doesn't cover all big or good libraries in the UK, and same for the 'National Union Catalog' in the US. BUCEM, 'British Union Catalog of Early Music' (to 1800) is useful, but far from complete, and only lists song published separately with music (no listing of songs in books with music).


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Subject: RE: Are the Clancy Bros. Always Right?
From: Stewie
Date: 14 Dec 99 - 01:58 AM

Jeez, I can just imagine the Clancys poring over that lot!


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Subject: RE: Are the Clancy Bros. Always Right?
From: Bruce O.
Date: 14 Dec 99 - 02:15 AM

Don, where did you get that astronaut, not even close?


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Subject: RE: Are the Clancy Bros. Always Right?
From: JedMarum
Date: 14 Dec 99 - 10:58 AM

When I tell the background of a song, I usually explain my source, as well. If you're passing on info about a tune you are about to play, and you got your info from the Clancys - perhaps just saying that the Clancys explain the songs background this way, is enough. Otherwise, I agree with the notion that you can never do enough study on your own, and you'll still probably have to make your own conclusion, in many cases. As you've probably already noiced here, the experts don't always agree!


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Subject: RE: Are the Clancy Bros. Always Right?
From: InOBU
Date: 14 Dec 99 - 11:09 AM

Well right or not, one late night several decades ago, Tom Clancy was quite convinced that my bodhran skin was too tight - great man that he was, he was tighter than the drum, and I had to wressle it away from him as he was intent on taking it into the jacks to piss on it. Traditional or not,that was just plain wrong. I tell this story with great thanks and respect for what he and his brothers did, both as musicians an volunteers for Irish freedom. He was jovial in his cups, unlike others, on the nights I saw him in that state, not at all out of control or sloppy, but in good humor. The Clancey Brothers, are somewhat at some fault for making neat clean popular versions of some great raunchy raucous songs, but in so doing popularised the music so others came to know it at its sourse. The one that comes to mind is the Clancy version of Sam Hall, which next to the one I often heard Pavees (Travellers) sing, is a pale as watered down beer.
...They say I kilt a man - an I did!
I koshed im on the ead, wi a lump o poxied lead
now the buggers dead, says Sammy Hall
Raise a toast to Tom and of course Sarah Makem
all the best
Larry


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Subject: RE: Are the Clancy Bros. Always Right?
From: Winters Wages
Date: 14 Dec 99 - 08:49 PM

Well, I just heard a new one..As I was driving to(6:00Am) here in the bay areaI lsten to KPFA on Mon- Thru Wed -morns to hear the program "First Light" I heard a guy I nevre had listened to before/...Dont know who he was... He played " Cattle Call" By Eddy Arnold. (One of my favorite Cowboy Songs) After He announced...It was a Polish Melody.. Which he then announced was callled "The St. Paul.How about that. Anyone have iformation on that???


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Subject: RE: Are the Clancy Bros. Always Right?
From: Den
Date: 14 Dec 99 - 11:03 PM

InOBU thanks for mentioning Sarah Makem. Correct me if I'm wrong but weren't they the Clancy brothers and Tommy Makem. Tommy Makem brought the knowledge of his mother to the group, she was a walking anthology of Irish music, mostly Ulster tradition, for all the people that were knocking us for only having one tune: The Star of the County Down. OK I said it. Its out of my system. I think the Clancys and Tommy Makem owe an awful lot to Sarah Makem from Keady Co.Armagh. She helped Peter Kennedy compile his great book Folk songs of Britain and Ireland and his Sunday morning BBC radio programme As I Roved out, which ran through the early 50's. The programme started with Sarah Makem singing, As I Roved Out. It was Sarah and her relations and they're friends that instilled in the young Tommy the right way to go and I think that his input on the Clancys (and Tommy Makem) material was right on the money. My thoughts Den.


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Subject: RE: Are the Clancy Bros. Always Right?
From: InOBU
Date: 14 Dec 99 - 11:19 PM

Hi Den: One afternoon I was driving through the catskills with Johnny Monaghan, Charlie Pigott, Sharron Shannon and Shabhan Peoples in the van, having been happily tapped to drive them hither and yon for a weekend. Johnny had sung Farewell and Remember Me, the night before, and I knew it from the singing of Cathal McConnell, so I said, Johnny, I enjoyed that song of Cathals you sung last night, he asked which one, and I said Farewell and Remember Me... Thats not Cathals, thats Sarah MaKems, he said, not completely without some degree of distain. As I remember this story, it might be Triona O Donnals aunt, who is one of the other few who are responcible for vertually all the greatest songs it seems - and whos name I am blanking on, ... but in the hall of fame mentioned in the Martin Carthy posts, up there on that highest tier, we have to place these two great singers
All the best
Larry


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