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Whistling Gypsy - prejudice?

DigiTrad:
GYPSY ROVER
GYPSY ROVER (2)
GYPSY ROVER (3)


Related threads:
(origins) Gypsy Rover a real folk song? (92)
Gypsy Rover - River Claydee (12)
Help: history of the song 'Gypsy Rover (15)
Req: Gypsy's Whistling Rover (parody-unanswered) (9)
Lyr/Chords Req: Whistling Gypsy (3) (closed)


paddymac 26 Jul 00 - 12:52 AM
Áine 26 Jul 00 - 09:29 AM
MMario 26 Jul 00 - 09:37 AM
paddymac 26 Jul 00 - 09:40 AM
Gary T 26 Jul 00 - 09:43 AM
sophocleese 26 Jul 00 - 09:47 AM
sophocleese 26 Jul 00 - 09:54 AM
AllisonA(Animaterra) 26 Jul 00 - 09:59 AM
Gary T 26 Jul 00 - 10:10 AM
Áine 26 Jul 00 - 10:18 AM
Downeast Bob 26 Jul 00 - 10:23 AM
paddymac 26 Jul 00 - 12:09 PM
Áine 26 Jul 00 - 12:19 PM
InOBU 26 Jul 00 - 12:20 PM
GUEST 26 Jul 00 - 12:31 PM
Áine 26 Jul 00 - 12:32 PM
GUEST,Airto 26 Jul 00 - 01:36 PM
JenEllen 26 Jul 00 - 02:35 PM
Pseudolus 26 Jul 00 - 03:52 PM
InOBU 26 Jul 00 - 05:30 PM
paddymac 26 Jul 00 - 11:05 PM
Roger in Sheffield 17 Sep 00 - 09:34 AM
CarolC 17 Sep 00 - 07:48 PM
Áine 17 Sep 00 - 08:24 PM
MartinRyan 18 Sep 00 - 04:48 PM
MartinRyan 18 Sep 00 - 05:05 PM
Áine 19 Sep 00 - 11:57 AM
rabbitrunning 19 Sep 00 - 08:36 PM
Bernard 19 Sep 00 - 08:47 PM
Bernard 19 Sep 00 - 08:50 PM
Seamus Kennedy 20 Sep 00 - 12:00 AM
GUEST,from skarpi at work 20 Sep 00 - 08:30 AM
Áine 20 Sep 00 - 09:12 AM
rabbitrunning 20 Sep 00 - 09:31 AM
Seamus Kennedy 20 Sep 00 - 03:47 PM
Áine 20 Sep 00 - 04:00 PM
Llanfair 20 Sep 00 - 04:03 PM
The Lighthouse 21 Sep 00 - 12:29 PM
JedMarum 13 Nov 01 - 10:31 AM
GUEST,From skarpi Iceland . 14 Nov 01 - 10:34 AM
Roger in Sheffield 17 Nov 01 - 09:21 AM
GUEST 05 Feb 02 - 11:14 PM
DonMeixner 05 Feb 02 - 11:38 PM
Kaleea 06 Feb 02 - 01:32 AM
InOBU 06 Feb 02 - 07:01 AM
McGrath of Harlow 06 Feb 02 - 02:39 PM
DougR 07 Feb 02 - 12:35 AM
GUEST,McGrath of Harlow 07 Feb 02 - 05:23 AM
GUEST,Davey 08 Feb 02 - 09:38 PM
DougR 08 Feb 02 - 11:02 PM
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Subject: Whistling Gypsy
From: paddymac
Date: 26 Jul 00 - 12:52 AM

Something InOBU mentioned about the Roma people in another thread got me thinking about this song. It's a great pub song, really made for singing with good , easy harmonies, and our audiences seem to really enjoy it. But, to be honest, I hadn't really thought of it as disparaging to Gypsies. But, the story line involes the father chasing after his daughter who ran-off with the "Whistling Gypsy", and when he finally finds her/them, she says: "well, Pops, he's not really a Gypsy, but he is 'Lord of these lands all over'". Question: did Pops chase her because she ran off with the proverbial handsome stranger, or did he chase her because she ran off with a Gypsy, who also just happened to be the proverbial handsome stranger?


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Subject: RE: BS: Whistling Gypsy
From: Áine
Date: 26 Jul 00 - 09:29 AM

Dear paddymac,

Could you please give us a blue clicky thing to Larry's original comment? I'd like to address your question, but I want to see what inspired it before I do.

Thanks, Áine


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Subject: RE: BS: Whistling Gypsy
From: MMario
Date: 26 Jul 00 - 09:37 AM

I always assumed the father searched after his daughter because she was his daughter and she had run off...; the fact that everything became hunky-dory when he finds out that her lover is rich has always bugged me.


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Subject: RE: BS: Whistling Gypsy
From: paddymac
Date: 26 Jul 00 - 09:40 AM

I'm still "HTML challenged" and haven;'t learned how to do BCTs, but here's a CNP (cut 'n paste)(:>) of Larry's msg. It comes from the "Do you play in a police state?" thread, which is a great discussion. The discussion at this point was about an interview Larry did in re some book which he found sorely lacking in merit.

Subject: RE: Do you play in a Police State? From: InOBU Date: 25-Jul-00 - 06:08 PM

Hi Kat: No he interviewed me after he inadvertantly made a racist remark about Roma (Gypsies). He had a rather racist guest, an author, and offered me an opportunity to debate his guest. His guest turned tail and ran, so I had an hour to my point of view.

--------------------------------------------------------------------------------


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Subject: RE: BS: Whistling Gypsy
From: Gary T
Date: 26 Jul 00 - 09:43 AM

I'm no expert on this, but here's my opinion anyway.

Pops would have been upset about his daughter running off with any poor bum of a stranger, Gypsy or no. But by calling the rover a Gypsy, it's automatically to be assumed that he is indeed a poor no-good bum--after all, aren't they all?

Gypsies and beggarmen seem to be considered suspect, the difference being the beggar is being judged by what he does where the Gypsy is being judged for what he is, ethnically. It's not that the song actively disparages Gypsies, but that it repeats and accepts the prevalent prejudice against them.


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Subject: RE: BS: Whistling Gypsy
From: sophocleese
Date: 26 Jul 00 - 09:47 AM

Like MMArio I have always assumed that the father was pissed because she ran away with anybody. The inferior social status of her partner made it even worse but also showed that she really did love the guy as she was willing to put up with hardship in order to be with him. The ending just restates the proprieties, this was a one time deal so we'll let it pass, so that other young women will be less willing to run off with poor young men.


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Subject: RE: BS: Whistling Gypsy
From: sophocleese
Date: 26 Jul 00 - 09:54 AM

So Gary T. If we put our postings together we come up with a romantic song that has a pleasant tune but isn't going to disrupt any social order, or provoke much deep thought over such issues. Unless of course you are at the bottom of the heap, or outside the circle in which case it might bother you to hear it too much.


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Subject: RE: BS: Whistling Gypsy
From: AllisonA(Animaterra)
Date: 26 Jul 00 - 09:59 AM

I first heard it,
"He is no gypsy my father," said she, "but lord of free lands all over."
I always took it to mean, "He isn't a no good bum like you think, dad, but a free spirit, not bound by convention, and that's the way I want to live, thank you very much." Talk about your historical revisionism- but that's the way I think!


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Subject: RE: BS: Whistling Gypsy
From: Gary T
Date: 26 Jul 00 - 10:10 AM

Makes sense to me, Sophocleese.


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Subject: RE: BS: Whistling Gypsy
From: Áine
Date: 26 Jul 00 - 10:18 AM

Thank you very much for the 'CNP', paddymac.

The version of 'Whistling Gypsy' that I learned was in Irish, and titled 'An Spailpín Fánach'. Now 'spailpín' is the word for an itinerant farm worker in Ireland, whose life was full of hard physical labor, low wages and maltreatment by landowners. Even the word 'spailpíín' came to mean a person of low character, which is also, of course, the common stereotypical image of the Irish Travelers and the Roma.

I don't know which language the song was originally written in, but I find it interesting that the Irish language version does not call the young fella a 'tincéir' (Tinker/Gypsy), but a 'spailpín' (traveling farm worker). So, looking at the song in Irish, it doesn't seem to me that it should be considered particularly prejudiced or 'racist'.

-- Áine


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Subject: RE: BS: Whistling Gypsy
From: Downeast Bob
Date: 26 Jul 00 - 10:23 AM

Gypsies may have seemed like no-goodniks to the do-right daddies of young ladies, but I think most of the songs about them come down on the side of the daughters who see them as free, charming, and probably sexy. I think the gypsies of European folklore are kind of like the hoboes of American folkmusic. They don't own squat, but they have the horizon and a way with the ladies.


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Subject: RE: BS: Whistling Gypsy
From: paddymac
Date: 26 Jul 00 - 12:09 PM

Aine - thank you for the very interesting insight to the Irish version of the song. The "itinerant farmworker" here would probably be equated with "migrants" (los migrantes?) which would have about the same pejorative content as "gypsies" seems to have in Europe. There was a time when those low paid, unskilled jobs were filled by hungry "anglos", but in today's world they have largely been replaced or displaced by other groups.

As a kid growing up in the American mid-west, I heard the stories about "a Gypsy" took this, that, or the other thing or person, whatever or whoever happened to turn up missing. But I don't recall any of the kids giving voice to negative views about "Gypsies." Mostly, I recall that we romanticised them as care-free adventurers and wanderers, going where they wanted when they wanted. "Travellers" in a more literal sense of the word. Ah, for the youthful fantasy of freedom without responsibility.

Although there are gypsy groups here, I suspect that the antipathy of the adults of my youth was probably a hand-me-down brought over by previous generations from Europe. It appears to be what is called a "folk-way".

I can also see the bases for the interpretations GaryT and Soph have suggested, and though phrased differently, I think views expressed by Animaterra and Bob are essentially the same.

Do we have any Romas or Roma descendants in the family who might offer a view of the song?


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Subject: RE: BS: Whistling Gypsy
From: Áine
Date: 26 Jul 00 - 12:19 PM

Dear paddymac,

InOBU would be a great fella to ask in on this discussion, and I would be very interested in hearing his opinion of the song. Send him a PM, OK?

-- Áine


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Subject: RE: BS: Whistling Gypsy
From: InOBU
Date: 26 Jul 00 - 12:20 PM

Well folks, here comes the last word on the Whitling Gypsy!
In all the earlier versions, it is the HUSBAND who runs after her, and she has left home and baby to run off with one or more Roma. It is part of the orientalist view of Roma as romantic and exotic. However, it is rare that Roma marry outside the Roma community, though among all Roma, Romanichales as well as Vlax Roma, when it happens, it is more likely, as in the song, a woman marring into the tribe. Now, there may be a historical precident for the song, as women had a greater position of power in Roma society, and there were cases where gyzhey did marry Rom. As to the version where it is her father running after her, From James the second to the eighteenth century being Rom carried a sentence from death to transportation, in Scotland Roma men were hanged and the women and children drowned, so a dad would not concider a Rom to be a great catch for his daughter, unless she swam very well while tied to a heavy wieght or could hold her breath underwater for days. Some earlier varrients are Nine Yellow Gypsies, Gypsie Davie, Raggle Taggle Gypsy, the american version Black Jack Davie, the Gypsy Rover and on and on. Any of the early Scotish Ballads about Jamie Faa, are also about Rom, by the by, Faa was the Ray Boro (chieftan) of Scotland's Romanichales, at the time that James ordered them out, under threat of exicution, so a lot of the strange little songs about people being led away to death for no apparent reason in Scotish ballads often concern the genocide agianst Roma.
Das baxtalo hai Sastimos
Larry


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Subject: RE: BS: Whistling Gypsy
From: GUEST
Date: 26 Jul 00 - 12:31 PM

Well, my ancestors came from Russia, and spoke various German dialects, so there isn't a drop of Roma in these veins. However I perform a variant of this song under the title of Black Jack Davey. Mine borrows heavily from versions collected in Virginia, and one recorded by Woody Guthrie.

I understand that the song came from Great Britain, and appeared about the time of James VI of Scotland, aka James I of England. While he was on the Scottish throne, James decides to kick all the "Egyptians" out of Scotland. One of them, whose name is supposedly Johnny Faa defies the order, and in some versions never leaves Scotland, or in other versions of the story returns to Scotland. Eventually the Law catches up with Johnny Faa, and they hang him. The songwriters of the day got hold of the story, and in the end we have our Whistling Gypsy Rover, or Black Jack Davey, or Gypsy Davey.


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Subject: RE: BS: Whistling Gypsy
From: Áine
Date: 26 Jul 00 - 12:32 PM

Ha! Great minds run in the same direction, eh Larry? You can take what InOBU said to the bank, folks. Go raibh maith agat, a Lorcán.

-- Áine


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Subject: RE: BS: Whistling Gypsy
From: GUEST,Airto
Date: 26 Jul 00 - 01:36 PM

I've never been fond of the song we're talking about here. I find the chorus twee and the melody too wholesome. According to the DT, where it appears as Gypsy Rover, it was written by Leo Maguire.

Leo presented a programme for many years on Irish radio sponsored by Walton's, a well known music shop in Dublin. He finished up every week with the advice "if you feel like singing a song, do sing an Irish song".

Irish music wasn't particularly respectable at the time Maguire started (the 40s or 50s?)and what he's written here, it seems to me, is a bourgeois version of an old story.

The second last verse makes it clear that the man she runs away with is indeed wealthy, and not a gypsy: "At last he came to a mansion fine...". So all's well then, etc. The whole message has been transformed compared with the variants mentioned by InOBU.

Davy Faa, also in the DT, is much more complex. Have you ever heard a more poetic way of describing a rape ("Twas there he took the wills o'her afore she was won awa'")? Social realism in Scotland obviously didn't begin with Trainspotting.


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Subject: RE: BS: Whistling Gypsy
From: JenEllen
Date: 26 Jul 00 - 02:35 PM

Thanks InOBU, very informative.
~Elle


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Subject: RE: BS: Whistling Gypsy
From: Pseudolus
Date: 26 Jul 00 - 03:52 PM

Geez, I always took the song to have the message, "Don't judge a book by it's cover" as in, don't make assumptions about people because of their culture, apprearance, race, etc. etc. In fact I prefer to think of it that way. I love a song that has a prejudiced opinion proven to be wrong. It's good for the soul. However, It is interesting to hear the folks who have clearly thought about and researched the song....Interesting thread....

Frank


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Subject: RE: BS: Whistling Gypsy
From: InOBU
Date: 26 Jul 00 - 05:30 PM

My hat is off to our Russian guest for getting the ninbers right on old James - Thanks.. Larry


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Subject: RE: BS: Whistling Gypsy
From: paddymac
Date: 26 Jul 00 - 11:05 PM

Thanks to all for your contributions to the discussion. It illustrates once again that you never know where a thread will go, but you can be assured that an honest question will receive honest and considered responses. Educational as well!


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Subject: RE: BS: Whistling Gypsy
From: Roger in Sheffield
Date: 17 Sep 00 - 09:34 AM

'An Spailpín Fánach', do you have words in english Áine. I have the tune already.
Roger


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Subject: Lyr Add: AN SPAILPIN FANACH
From: CarolC
Date: 17 Sep 00 - 07:48 PM

AN SPAILPIN FANACH (without fadas)


Never again will I go to Cashel
Selling and trading my health
Nor to the hiring-fair, sitting by the wall
A lounger on the roadside
The bucks of the country coming on their horses,
Asking if I'm hired
"Oh lets go, the journey is long"
Off goes the Spailpin Fanach.

I was left as a Spailpin Fanach
Depending on my health
Walking the dew early in the morning
Catching all the illnesses going around.
You'll not see a hook in my hand for harvesting
A flail or a short spade,
But the flag of France over my bed
And the pike for stabbing

Five hundred farewells to the land of my father
And to the dear island
And to the boys of Cualach because they never
feared in the trouble times of defense,
But now that I'm poor, miserable and alone
In these foreign lands
I'm heart-broken becauseI got the call
To be a Spailpin Fanach.

I well remember my people were at one time
Over at the bridge at Gail
With cattle, with sheep, with little white calves
And plenty of horses
But it was the will of God that we were evicted
And we were left with only our health
And what broke my heart everywhere I went
"Call here, you Spailpin Fanach."


Taken from the liner notes of the Dervish CD, "at the end of the day".

Carol


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Subject: Lyr Add: WHISTLING GYPSY ^^^
From: Áine
Date: 17 Sep 00 - 08:24 PM

Dear Roger,

I have a different set of words that Carol, and these are the ones that are closest to the lyrics that I know in the Irish. I guess you can sing both sets to the tune that you know and see which set of words fits.

A gypsy rover came over the hill,
Into the valley shady,
He whistled and he sang 'till the green woods rang,
And he won the heart of a lady.

She left her father's castle gate,
She left her own true lover,
She left her servants and her estate,
To follow her gypsy rover.

Refrain:
Ah-dee-doo-ah-dee-doo-dah-day,
Ah-dee-doo-ah-dee-day-dee,
He whistled and he sang 'till the green woods rang,
And he won the heart of a lady.

Her father mounted his fastest steed,
And searched the valley all over,
He sought his daughter at great speed,
And the whistling gypsy rover.

At last he came to a mansion fine,
Down by the river Claydee,
And there was music and there was wine,
For the gypsy and his lady.

Refrain

"He is no gypsy, Father," she cried,
"But lord of these lands all over,"
"And I shall stay 'till my dying day,"
"In the arms of my gypsy rover."

Refrain ^^^


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Subject: RE: BS: Whistling Gypsy
From: MartinRyan
Date: 18 Sep 00 - 04:48 PM

Áine

Those are Leo Maguire's words, as near as dammit - but I've never seen a version of An Spailpín Fánach that resembled it. Could you be thinking of a translation of Maguire? I'll have a look.

Regards


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Subject: RE: BS: Whistling Gypsy
From: MartinRyan
Date: 18 Sep 00 - 05:05 PM

Áine

Got it. The collection "Abair Amhrán" gives a song under the title "An Spailpín Fánach" which is clearly a trnslation of Maguire's song and intended to be sung to the same air. It states:"Proinsias Ó Maonaigh a d'aistrigh"

Carol's set is a translation of the older Irish song of that title which is not really related to the thread topic IMHO.

Regards


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Subject: RE: BS: Whistling Gypsy
From: Áine
Date: 19 Sep 00 - 11:57 AM

Dear Martin,

That's the song I was thinking of, all right. So it's Leo Maguire that wrote it, right? I prefer it in Irish (of course), and I've always been impressed with Proinsias Ó Maonaigh's translation abilities. His translations always sound like they are the 'originals'.

-- Áine


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Subject: RE: BS: Whistling Gypsy
From: rabbitrunning
Date: 19 Sep 00 - 08:36 PM

The version I learned was so close to Aine's that I can't remember the words I knew. Hopefully I've written them down somewhere. I do remember thinking that the Gypsy Rover wasn't rich in anything but freedom and the love of his lady, though. I always imagined the father having to go back home grumbling, and I don't remember anything about a mansion.

Oh, why don't twelve year olds learn to take proper notes!


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Subject: RE: BS: Whistling Gypsy
From: Bernard
Date: 19 Sep 00 - 08:47 PM

Then there's the Scots song, Lizzie Lindsay -

He says 'I fancy you, will you elope with me?'

She says 'No way!'

He says 'I'm rich, with a title'

She says 'Oh, alright then'!!

Not too dissimilar in ethic!


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Subject: RE: BS: Whistling Gypsy
From: Bernard
Date: 19 Sep 00 - 08:50 PM

BTW - the line as I sing it is:

'At last he came to a castle fair'


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Subject: Lyr Add: AN SPAILPÍN FÁNACH
From: Seamus Kennedy
Date: 20 Sep 00 - 12:00 AM

Seo an Spailpín fánach ón sliabh anuas
Le coiscéim éadrom lúfar,
Ag ceiliúr 's ag ceol agus draíocht ina ghlór,
Agus mheall sé an ógbhean uasal.

Ah, dí dú, ah dí dú dah dé,
Ah, di du, ah di dé di
,

D'fhág sise teach a hathair féin,
D'fhág sise gaolta 's cáirde,
Thréig sise 'n fear a bhí luaite léi
Agus lean sí and Spailpín Fánach.

Ah, dí dú, ah dí dú dah dé,
Ah, di du, ah di dé di
,

Ghluais a hathair sa tóir 'na ndiadh
Trasna sléibhte is bánta,
Ag iarraidh tuairisc' fána níon
Is an Spailpín béalbhinn fánach.

Ah, dí dú, ah dí dú dah dé,
Ah, di du, ah di dé di
,

Tháinig sé 'r ball go dtí caisleán mór,
B'ann a fuair sé 'n lánúin; Is bhí togha gach bia agus rogha gach dí
Ag an níon 's ag an Spailpín fánach.

Ah, dí dú, ah dí dú dah dé,
Ah, di du, ah di dé di
,

"Ní spailpín é," a athair ar sí,
"Ach tiarna óg na háite;
Go dté mé i gcré ní scarfaidh mé
Leis an Spailpín béalbhinn fánach."

Ah, dí dú, ah dí dú dah dé,
Ah, di du, ah di dé di
,

Proinsias Ó Maonaigh, d'aistrigh.

As you can see, Áine, a direct translation of the popular Clancy Brothers version.

Le meas,
Séamus Ó Cinnéide


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Subject: RE: BS: Whistling Gypsy
From: GUEST,from skarpi at work
Date: 20 Sep 00 - 08:30 AM

Hallo all, i think I will try to sing one Irish version next time when I perform with my band. We did use the Leo Version when we recorded it. All best skarpi Iceland.


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Subject: RE: BS: Whistling Gypsy
From: Áine
Date: 20 Sep 00 - 09:12 AM

A Shéamuis,

If you mean by 'direct' you mean 'literal', I can't agree there. Ó Maonaigh's version doesn't have any 'green woods' in it, for example. To me, his Irish lyrics draw a much more romantic picture than the English. For example, Ag ceiliúr 's ag ceol agus draíocht ina ghlór agus mheall sé an ógbhean uasal and Go dté mé i gcré ní scarfaidh mé leis an Spailpín béal bhinn fánach.

Come on, admit it, this is one of those few times when the translation improves on the original. And if you've ever tried to translate an song in English to the Irish, you know how hard it can be. Not only to capture the intent of the original words; but also to write it well as Gaeilge. Which is exactly what Ó Maonaigh has done here with his beautiful imagery and well turned internal rhyme.

Le meas, Áine


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Subject: RE: BS: Whistling Gypsy
From: rabbitrunning
Date: 20 Sep 00 - 09:31 AM

Áine,

Could you please tell us what got improved in the Irish in English, because I'm all curious and I took Norwegian in college?

I'm crossing my fingers and hoping I got your name right!


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Subject: RE: BS: Whistling Gypsy
From: Seamus Kennedy
Date: 20 Sep 00 - 03:47 PM

A Áine, I agree. It's not a literal translation, because a literal translation would probably have been cumbersome He captured the spirit of the original, and his internal rhymes are more consistent (and mellifluous). "Ag ceiliúr 's ag ceol agus draíocht ina ghlór," is better than "He whistled and he sang til the green woods rang."

But verse for verse, he pretty much matches the story line, which is what I meant by "direct". Le meas.
Seamus


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Subject: RE: BS: Whistling Gypsy
From: Áine
Date: 20 Sep 00 - 04:00 PM

Ah, Seamus, I just blowin' up yer nose a wee bit! ;-) I knew you'd agree with me; after all, aren't you a fella le draíocht i do ghlór and all? *BG*

Le gach dea-ghuí, Áine


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Subject: RE: BS: Whistling Gypsy
From: Llanfair
Date: 20 Sep 00 - 04:03 PM

The only trouble with Lizzie Lindsay is that she couldn't resist Big Macs.


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Subject: RE: BS: Whistling Gypsy
From: The Lighthouse
Date: 21 Sep 00 - 12:29 PM

By the way, the father never states one way or the other at the end of the song what HE thinks of the whole thing. It's the daughter who claims that "I will stay til my dying day". The father makes no comment on being happy that she's rich - so I think he chased them both because she had left and not simply that she left with a gypsy or not.


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Subject: RE: Whistling Gypsy - prejudice?
From: JedMarum
Date: 13 Nov 01 - 10:31 AM


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Subject: RE: Whistling Gypsy - prejudice?
From: GUEST,From skarpi Iceland .
Date: 14 Nov 01 - 10:34 AM

Halló all, Now I can begin to sing this song in gealic great. I think I sang He´s no gypsy my fathe she said, but lord of these lands all over..... . Thats Tamóra´s version. All the best skarpi Iceland..


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Subject: RE: Whistling Gypsy - prejudice?
From: Roger in Sheffield
Date: 17 Nov 01 - 09:21 AM

words and midi


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Subject: RE: Whistling Gypsy - prejudice?
From: GUEST
Date: 05 Feb 02 - 11:14 PM

Very interesting thread here. I'm sorry I'm so late in joining. My brother, who passed away 1 1/2 years ago, used to sing this on those close-to-perfect evenings- in front of a fire or on long walks along the water. I don't think I'll ever forget his soft voice or his beautiful whistle nor the contentment I felt when he got to the line about the gypsy who was actually a "lord of these lands all over." I always took it to mean he owned the land in spirit and she would love him forever because of this spirit. I think I'll stick with my interpretation because it fits my memories perfectly. I do wish I had asked my brother's interpretation. He would have so enjoyed this thread as he was ever curious and I'm sure he would have enhanced it with his own posting. Thanks for triggering fond memories. A grateful Kathleen


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Subject: RE: Whistling Gypsy - prejudice?
From: DonMeixner
Date: 05 Feb 02 - 11:38 PM

I first learned this song from a Corries record I had in HighSchool. I still have the record and I still sing the song.

There isn't whole lot different from The Whistling Gypsy Rover than from Anachie Gordon or Willie O' Winsbury or Jock of Hazeldean. Or for that matter Patches and Romeo and Juliette.

Kids fall in love and Dad doesn't like it or the in most cases his daughter's Boyfriend. And as in life he either comes around or he doesn't, they live happily ever after or one or both of them die.

I imagine they are all retellings of the same old story with the moral made to fit a time and a place. Willie O Winsbury wins over Janet's father because he is so handsome. Jock O' Hazeldean does esentially the same thing . Poor Anachie arrives late leaving Lord Salton to bury two people. And Patches can't can't escape the stigma of the shanty town so she drowns herself.

But jeepers gang its just a bunch of good songs. Lets not make more of them that they are. Next thing you know some pinhead will be telling me I shouldn't sing songs that speak of oppressing the Gypsies, poor folk, or landless poachers.

.....The socially acceptable but politically discontected and landless rover can over the hill.......

Doesn't really sing from the soul does it?

Don


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Subject: RE: Whistling Gypsy - prejudice?
From: Kaleea
Date: 06 Feb 02 - 01:32 AM

There is too much emphasis on being aghast at what some perceive to be prejudice! Lighten up, folks. We cannot go back several decades or hundreds of years & change the prejudices of the composers. We cannot change the lyrics to Stephen Fosters songs where he commonly & liberally uses vocabulary of the time (i.e., "darkies" "ethopian" etc.). If we take songs in context of when they were written, and by whom, especially a "folk" song, then we are students of music, musicoligists, if you will, if only of the armchair variety. At this point, we then must accept the song & it's lyrics for what they are, and not place blame, but rather ascertain the message, if any, which the song offers. If we like a song, if it speaks to us, then it has a message worth sharing to others. I have heard the Whistling Gypsy Rover song as long as I can remember. I have heard some of the above versions in english & Irish, and sometimes they sing that the "whistlin' Gypsy Rover" is a pauper, an ideal of the proverbial, romantic "gypsy" living as Robin Hood in the forest. Most of the time, it is the classic tale of the prince who, posing as a pauper, finds love and takes her home, for her to find that she has indeed won the brass ring & married a prince. But most miss one important clue to his personality & musicianship, and that is of the "irish tin whistle" or "penny whistle," which gives a whole new meaning to "he whistled & he sang till the green woods rang." I prefer to enjoy the version where they came to a castle fine.


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Subject: RE: Whistling Gypsy - prejudice?
From: InOBU
Date: 06 Feb 02 - 07:01 AM

Hi Kaleea:
It is not about cleaning up the words or only singing PC songs. However, it is important to unpack the history in the songs we sing, as they are the historical record of the common people. I was very happy to see this, as discriminiation against Roma is still accepted, and I hope those who sing this (I sing an old varrient) do so with some appreciation of the history of prejudice behind the song, not that the song is prejudical per se. It is hard to lighten up when scores of Roma are being murdered today in the Czech Republic, when a million or so Roma in the US live under the civil rights radar, and well, if the world where all rosey and nice, warm with love instead of global warming and the detonation of bombs, it would be great to lighten up! So in all warmth and love I say, get a little heavy!
Chearsmdears, Larry


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Subject: RE: Whistling Gypsy - prejudice?
From: McGrath of Harlow
Date: 06 Feb 02 - 02:39 PM

I've never heard any songs about oppressing poor people or poachers, except they are taking the side of the poor people being oppressed and the poachers.

Gypsies and the like, well, I have heard a few songs where they are seen as the outsiders and suspect. But more often in the songs where Gypsies come in, the song tends to be from their side.

So far as this song is concerned, it's maybe a bit more complicated than has come out.

My understanding is that there are two parallel songlines in the tradition which have come together in this version.

One is the song about the lady eloping with a band of Gypsies, and the husband (most times) coming after her. Sometimes the Gypsies end by getting strung up, sometimes the ending is left open - either way the lady is clear enough that she would always choose the Gypsies over her husband. (And there are some versions in which there is a suggestion that she was a Gypsy in the first place herself.)

And the other song is the one about the lord or the prince, or often enough the King of Scotland who makes himself out to be a Gypsy, because he envies the free life, and when he has a girl run off with him, at the end he reveals who he is.

Both songs on balance tend, in their various versions, to be on the side of the Gypsies, even if sometimes there's an element of patronising romanticising of the life.

The Leo Maguire song brings the two separate songs together and blends them. I've never really liked it too much, seems a bit too sweetened. Maybe it'd be better in the Irish version.

Incidentally I've said Gypsy here because a lot of the time in these songs they probably aren't Roma - while the word "travellers" has got so mixed up in recent years, what with New Age Travellers and that, and my understanding is that these days many travelling people prefer to avoid it. And of course "travelling" doesn't define people, it's often what's been forced on them. As a term, it's maybe a bit like migrant or refugee.


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Subject: RE: Whistling Gypsy - prejudice?
From: DougR
Date: 07 Feb 02 - 12:35 AM

Arghhhhhhhh! Don and Kaleea are right, I think. The are just songs, and they have been performed for a long time. And the performers enjoy singing it, and the listeners enjoy listening to it. Why make such a big deal of it?

DougR


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Subject: RE: Whistling Gypsy - prejudice?
From: GUEST,McGrath of Harlow
Date: 07 Feb 02 - 05:23 AM

Songs are a big deal, I believe. They can put us in touch with all kinds of important things in the past and the present.

That doesn't mean they have to be prettied up and so forth to avoid offending people. It means that when we sing them we have to be aware that in some cases their might be people who may be offended, and take that into account. That's just good manners.

"Taking into account" doesn't mean censoring. It means understanding and being ready to explain.


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Subject: RE: Whistling Gypsy - prejudice?
From: GUEST,Davey
Date: 08 Feb 02 - 09:38 PM

I agree with Mr. Harlow. there is far too much PC crap bandied about these days. He hit it on the head when he mentioned the blurring of definitions. Some there be who, in their ignorance, apply the social divisions of their own society to other societies. This is a type of patronising arrogance which I find difficult to stomach. For example, there are no Gypsies / Roma in Ireland. The term is misapplied in English and leads to confusion. The mixup becomes even worse when the PC'ers treat Tinkers as if there is no difference between them and "Gypsies". The distinction is clearcut in the Irish language: A Tinker is a "Tincéir" i.e. a tinsmith, a man with a respected and useful trade in days before the disposable society. I doubt if there are any Tinkers to be found today. They had settled homes and travelled in a limited area plying their trade. They were often musicians, which made their periodic visits to a locality doubly welcome. The dictionaries give no cross reference to any other class of people!! The term covering "Gypsy" is "Lucht Siúil" i.e. walking people, which approximates to "Travellers" but in its literal sense. Racially, the "Lucht Siúil" are identical to the Irish population; they have the same surnames, speak English with a pronounced brogue, play the same type of music, sing the same types of songs, practise the same religion (Catholic)and they are white. They are not foreign refugees.


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Subject: RE: Whistling Gypsy - prejudice?
From: DougR
Date: 08 Feb 02 - 11:02 PM

Jeeze, McGrath! We are in agreement on something! I cawnt believe it! You did, in fact, hit the nail on the head. I'm delighted that you finally came around to my point of view! :>)

DougR


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