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Review: Liam Clancy Autobiography

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GUEST,TM 06 Mar 02 - 02:20 PM
GUEST,Bill Kennedy 06 Mar 02 - 02:40 PM
The Pooka 06 Mar 02 - 10:52 PM
GUEST,GuestTM 07 Mar 02 - 05:09 PM
gnu 07 Mar 02 - 05:13 PM
The Pooka 07 Mar 02 - 06:25 PM
Tiger 07 Mar 02 - 08:25 PM
gnu 07 Mar 02 - 09:26 PM
emjay 20 May 04 - 11:39 PM
GUEST,nickr90 21 May 04 - 02:08 PM
Blackcatter 21 May 04 - 04:34 PM
Big Al Whittle 21 May 04 - 09:02 PM
emjay 22 May 04 - 02:39 AM
Blackcatter 22 May 04 - 12:43 PM
Greg B 25 Sep 07 - 10:35 AM
GUEST,beachcomber 25 Sep 07 - 06:12 PM
Mickey191 26 Sep 07 - 06:37 PM
GUEST,TJ in San Diego 26 Sep 07 - 07:14 PM
gnu 26 Sep 07 - 07:24 PM
Greg B 04 Oct 07 - 10:44 PM
greg stephens 05 Oct 07 - 07:31 AM
GUEST,Dermot from Dublin, avid reader of history a 19 Oct 07 - 06:19 PM
GUEST,Review by Nicky Rossiter March 2004 19 Oct 07 - 06:28 PM
GUEST,Beachcomber 20 Oct 07 - 12:57 PM
Geoff Wallis 20 Oct 07 - 05:36 PM
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Subject: Liam Clancy Biog.
From: GUEST,TM
Date: 06 Mar 02 - 02:20 PM

I have been unable to purchase a copy of this long-awaited book, which I am told has "sold-out" it's first printing. Can anybody re-view it for me please?


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Subject: RE: Review: Liam Clancy Biog.
From: GUEST,Bill Kennedy
Date: 06 Mar 02 - 02:40 PM

I just finished reading it and was pretty disappointed, Liam doesn't write that engagingly about his life, though the bits & pieces are interesting. Some events are merely aluded to, big names are dropped, smaller more important names are glossed over. One not knowing anything about the Clancy Bros. might come away thinking Tommy Makem was just an acquaintance. The early history is not quite kosher, I don't think, from other things I know about it, but it is his story to tell as he remembers it. It tends to lean toward the Malachy McCourt side of memoir, salaciously, rather than the Frank McCourt side which is so far superior in style and content. How many thousands of Irish men & women have come to the US in this century, and how much more interesting might thier stories be than this. There is precious little about the music, but the facts are that music was an after thought to the Clancy's, as Liam rightly admits, though doesn't quite explain. The story of the theatrical Clancys isn't really explored in any depth either. I was expecting more, wouldn't need to buy it, as I tried to do, read a library copy and glad I didn't spend the money. It does have an index, which is sorely missed in many autobiographies, but the incidents referred to are not compelling.


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Subject: RE: Review: Liam Clancy Biog.
From: The Pooka
Date: 06 Mar 02 - 10:52 PM

Hm. Disappointing indeed. Ahh I suppose not really so surprising. I'll have to read it anyway, matter of duty somehow; but with lowered expectations. / Tommy Makem just an acquaintance! Geez. What is it with those two? I still say they were a helluva good singing duo; but... / Well, thanks Bill. Good honest review.


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Subject: RE: Review: Liam Clancy Biog.
From: GUEST,GuestTM
Date: 07 Mar 02 - 05:09 PM

Many thanks for your honest appraisal Bill, though I must admit as indeed Pooka does that sheer curiosity about a man who was so instrumental in awakening my own folk music interest will force me to include a copy , sometime (perhaps the "softcover"??) in my collection. Thanks again TM


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Subject: RE: Review: Liam Clancy Biog.
From: gnu
Date: 07 Mar 02 - 05:13 PM

Gee, I am truly disappointed to hear these reviews. I was REALLY looking forward to this book. Perhaps I'll wait to borrow a copy. Sad.


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Subject: RE: Review: Liam Clancy Biog.
From: The Pooka
Date: 07 Mar 02 - 06:25 PM

But it's cheer up me lads, let yer hearts never fail. It doesn't have to be a Good Book to say that Liam & the other Clancys, and their passing acquaintance that Makem feller, have left us a fine old folkmusic heritage to still enjoy. (Hey, Liam was never much at writing *songs*, either. But he sure could sing 'em.) And the work continues even unto the next generation, with such as The Makem Brothers, Aiofe Clancy (Bobby's daughter) and Liam's son Donal. // Us old Clancyites never die y'know. We just sing Isn't It Grand Boys.


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Subject: RE: Review: Liam Clancy Biog.
From: Tiger
Date: 07 Mar 02 - 08:25 PM

Good point, Pooka.......

Clancy (Liam, father), O'Connell (Robbie, nephew), and Clancy (Donal, son) is also a semi-regular performing group.

Also, add Bobby's son, Finbar (maybe 2 r's) to that list. Fits the shoes well.

For that matter, Tommy's sons (the Makem brothers), are also great to see.

Let's hope it goes on forever.


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Subject: RE: Review: Liam Clancy Biog.
From: gnu
Date: 07 Mar 02 - 09:26 PM

There was never any doubt !


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Subject: RE: Review: Liam Clancy Biog.
From: emjay
Date: 20 May 04 - 11:39 PM

Just found this old thread, it looks like all the opinions about the book, The Mountain of the Women, were based on one person's opinion. Too bad. I hope more people read it. I liked the book very much, I liked the gentle humor with which he wrote the book, the informal style, the very human stories he told of himself and his friends, the philosophical asides, in all it's an interesting, very readable book. I know a number of people who have read it, all joined me in calling for more.
I also have and have enjoyed the abridged version read by Liam himself on cd.
Perhaps some people are just determined not to join their voices to those who praise the Clancys and Makem. I fall into that trap myself on some things, but I guess not on the Clancys. I am a wholehearted and unashamed fan. I'm glad he wrote this book, I hope he continues his story.
By the way, there may be something somewhere else about his book, but Tommy Makem's Ireland is also interesting.


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Subject: RE: Review: Liam Clancy Biog.
From: GUEST,nickr90
Date: 21 May 04 - 02:08 PM

This book in paperback is on sale at Easons in Cork for a mere € 4.99 a fantastic bargain.
They also have the brilliant Ride On by Jimmy McCarthy fot 6.99 hardcover
Nick


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Subject: RE: Review: Liam Clancy Biog.
From: Blackcatter
Date: 21 May 04 - 04:34 PM

I am a big fan of the Clancys and Tommy Makem, but I'd have to say that to me the book would be a bit of a disappointment to anyone who isn't a avid fan of them. There are other books about life in Ireland that are similar enough, and better written that can be suggested. I had hoped that more stories about what happened after they made it big would have been nice. But this was a "How I (we) got there" story - not a complete biography. More stuff, like is in the Chieftains bio would be nice.

I'd bet that Makem could write a wonderful book if he ever got around to it.

You can get it used online at Amazon or Half.com too - I paid $2.50 plus book rate shiping for a "like new" used copy of the book.


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Subject: RE: Review: Liam Clancy Biog.
From: Big Al Whittle
Date: 21 May 04 - 09:02 PM

I think Christy Moore got it right with his biog. He wrote all the songs and told about his life through the songs and what they meant to him. Ralph Mctells biog is also pretty good - but Iiked the second volume better than the first - that was about the time he got his first guitar and so on - whereas the first volume is about his childhood and early adolesence.

I have got the old Clancy Bros Song Book and that is really lovely. there are so many songs in there Liam and the lads obviously felt some deep committment to and it gave them the brilliant theatricality of their act.

did anybody ever see that video where they declaimed a poem about booze and then sung carrickfergus. I had never really understood that song before - the image of the marble stones as black as ink is as intense as anything out of Robert Jonhson. I had been used to Val Doonican's version - which had conveyed none of the pathos of becalmed boozehound who cannot cross over.

a thoughtful and exciting presentation of a song.


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Subject: RE: Review: Liam Clancy Biog.
From: emjay
Date: 22 May 04 - 02:39 AM

Blackcatter, I mentioned earlier Tommy Makem's book,Tommy Makem's Ireland. It's not a bigraphy, auto or otherwise, but is about places around Ireland. Includes some history and description of the places and some personal anecdotes. It is interesting, he also writes well, perhaps he too will write an autobiography one of these days.


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Subject: RE: Review: Liam Clancy Biog.
From: Blackcatter
Date: 22 May 04 - 12:43 PM

I check that out emjay. I would think that Maken would do a wonderful bio - he's had a fair amount of different aspects, and the thoughful words from someone from Antrim would be a refreshing departure from all the books about early 20th century life in the South. I know very little about his life in the last 25 years or so - I think he's in Canada, right?

Anyone know if there's info on him somewhere on the net? Biography information.

Ta


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Subject: RE: Review: Liam Clancy Biog.
From: Greg B
Date: 25 Sep 07 - 10:35 AM

I'm a few chapters into it, and am enjoying it immensely.

The only thing better would be to hear the man himself read it
aloud.

By the way, good hardback copies are available on Amazon.com
for a couple of dollars, maybe $US5 with shipping. They're
library discards, which come when libraries thin their stocks
of recent books down to one or two copies.


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Subject: RE: Review: Liam Clancy Biog.
From: GUEST,beachcomber
Date: 25 Sep 07 - 06:12 PM

Yes, Read it a few years ago and enjoyed it too.
Wouldn't it be true to say that Liam concentrates on those years up to the time when the group got there big break in New York. In his early years Liam did not have anything much to do with his own brothers the late Tom, Paddy and Bobby much less Tommy Makem. Anyone who heard Liam's fulsome tribute to Makem after his recent death could not but realise how close the two had become. Liam himself said that they were like brothers.I saw them together at Paddy's funeral and there was no sign of anything other than affection and regard between them.
No, I suspect that, as we speak, Liam is busily scribbling away high up in his "garrett" over looking Dungarvan Bay, putting the finishing touches to Vol 2, at least I hope so.
I wonder if he rfemembers the night/morning when I,and others,attenmpted to invade his little cottage in Ring in order to hear the great Seamus Ennis ? Mind you , he had issued a fairly general invitation in Mooney's Pub at "closing" time but his sensible wife, Kim, managed to persuuade us to postpone our pilgrimage until a more courtly hour.


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Subject: RE: Review: Liam Clancy Biog.
From: Mickey191
Date: 26 Sep 07 - 06:37 PM

I got my copy in a Dollar store. Hardbound.

BN.com has it for low of $3.75 (plus shipping) it's a -trade paperback (like new) Most that are classified as good-are new. I've only been disappointed once bying a used book. It was so scruffy I did not want to touch it--let alone read it. That was under a classification of good.

The book was fair. But as most agree-we don't like Liam for his writing - but for his voice. And Oh Yea! He was awful cute!


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Subject: RE: Review: Liam Clancy Biog.
From: GUEST,TJ in San Diego
Date: 26 Sep 07 - 07:14 PM

I read another book by Liam Clancy, perhaps two or three years ago, in which he dealt with much of the same subject matter. The thing I found most striking was his depiction of his early Catholic upbringing; the harshness of the priests and nuns most particularly.
He seemed to be bearing that cross, deep inside, for all of his adult life.

I got no great sense that there was a real personal joy in his performing, although you would never know that when hearing them.
Tommy and Paddy were both Battle of Britain veterans and Paddy seemed to be the business head of the clan. Liam was always "little brother." They were all natural performers with a great sense of theater. The upbeat, boisterous delivery of many of their songs was truly a departure from the way most had been traditionally performed, and a pragmatic choice. Some felt that it put life back into Irish song, while others felt if was not really representative. Whatever it was, it got the attention of a much bigger audience than what had come before.


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Subject: RE: Review: Liam Clancy Biog.
From: gnu
Date: 26 Sep 07 - 07:24 PM

I am remiss. I must check these out.


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Subject: RE: Review: Liam Clancy Biog.
From: Greg B
Date: 04 Oct 07 - 10:44 PM

Just finished it.

Well, it was enchanting.

Again, I'm perhaps biased, as I've had the pleasure of himself's company.

I thought he was particularly honest, and self-deprecating,
concerning his mistakes big and small.

So many would have been tempted to depict the rise of the
Clancy/Makem dynasty as great, painful struggle to 'make it.'

Whereas it wasn't: they were clearly in the right place at the
right time, with the right stuff to make it work. And when you
look at it that way, you can't begrudge them a damned thing. They
paid their dues, in poverty-stricken Ireland, in the second war
to end all wars, and even for a few years of struggle in New
York. Astonished, I think they were, by their own success.

I came away from the book saying 'good on you, lads, godspeed
and thank Him that you were there to show the way.'

They say there's a sequel in the works. I await it.


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Subject: RE: Review: Liam Clancy Biog.
From: greg stephens
Date: 05 Oct 07 - 07:31 AM

Well, for my two-pennworth, I thought it was a great read.


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Subject: RE: Review: Liam Clancy Biog.
From: GUEST,Dermot from Dublin, avid reader of history a
Date: 19 Oct 07 - 06:19 PM

A real humdinger of a read.
To be honest, when I bought this book, I was expecting an interesting, but ultimately bland recounting of a life in showbiz, a book typical of the genre, processed rather than written. How wrong I was. What I got was a superbly crafted book about his formative years by a genuine writer with a sure and sensitive feel for words and an eye for life. The devil is in the detail and that makes it a devilishly good read. At times it reads almost like a novel. In fact, I temporarily abandoned a couple of other books I had in hand, and kept reading to the end. It is a very honest book, which took no small measure of moral courage to write. I've been trying to think of other Irish autobiographies to compare it with, but to be honest, none come to mind. It really is a unique achievement.


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Subject: RE: Review: Liam Clancy Biog.
From: GUEST,Review by Nicky Rossiter March 2004
Date: 19 Oct 07 - 06:28 PM

From a small town in the south east of Ireland to the dizzy heights of the folk boom, Liam Clancy tells a story with humour and sadness that enthrals. I have long been a fan of Liam Clancy in his many musical combinations: as a solo artist, with his brothers, with Tommy Makem and in Clancy, O'Connell & Clancy. Now I am a fan of him as a writer and social historian. This book is a revelation.
He fills 290 pages plus pictures, but even at that the book only brings us up to the time that he got seriously into the folk music scene, so hopefully there is a sequel in the works.
That he was born in Carrick-on-Suir I knew, and that he became part of the folk music revival I was quite aware, but the array of people he met and worked with and the range of experiences recounted here is new, revealing and fascinating.
His tales of childhood are a mixture of joy and sadness, but they are recounted with a wit and charm very much like his on-stage banter. He has all the turns of phrase and the sayings that paint true word pictures. His story of his aunt's devotion to St. Martin de Porres and how she turned against him in true Irish small-town fashion had me laughing aloud. (After putting his statue on a stair landing she prayed fervently for a favour. When it wasn't granted she was heard on passing the statue to call him a "little black bastard.")
His introduction to the insurance business in Dublin is more memorable for the break into acting and appearances with the Abbey Theatre. We find the great Irish actor Cyril Cusack suggesting he use the name Liam instead of Willie as he was known up until then.
His tales of travelling the British Isles recording old folk tunes with two American ladies -- one of whom turned out to be a Guggenheim -- bring us in contact with some of the great Celtic traditional musicians of the day.

The book is punctuated with verses from these and other songs.

His travels to America to learn about film, funded by a lady whom he says had designs on his body, and subsequent expeditions to the Appalachians in search of more music bring us into proximity with great American musicians. His descriptions on the poverty in some mountain areas and relating it to conditions in Ireland can tell us a lot about the bonds in our music.

I was fascinated to read of the people he met and worked with. Not only that but the casual no-nonsense attitude that he had with them reminds us that all our heroes and heroines are ordinary people.

As an actor he worked on stage and in U.S. television. He performed alongside Robert Redford, Walter Matthau and Julie Harris. He played in Shakespeare in small loft theatres and in the open air.

He met Odetta and Ramblin' Jack Elliot. Maya Angelou was an opening act on the bill with him and his brothers. He swapped songs with Bob Dylan. A girl called Barbra Streisand got a slot in one of their shows to break into the music business.

Having read this book I can better understand his stage persona. His first great love was acting and we now find him giving full rein to that skill in his banter between songs. We find in these pages the consummate performer who grew out of a shy boy and teenager. We get a real feel for life in small-town Ireland in the 1940s and '50s. We experience the reality of a hard life that was made good by a family and we live through the sadness of the loss of a sister and later his father. His honesty in telling of his loss of religion, his sexual awakening, health problems and attitude to monogamy is revealing.

This is storytelling at its best. It grabs our attention, it makes us laugh, it makes us think and it makes us glad to have had a chance to read it.


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Subject: RE: Review: Liam Clancy Biog.
From: GUEST,Beachcomber
Date: 20 Oct 07 - 12:57 PM

Mr Rossiter, your really incisive , knowledgeable review brought the entire narrative back to memory, even though it has been several years since I first read it.
Did you or any other Mudcat afficionadoes happen to hear his interview with Eamon Dunphy recently on RTE Radio ??


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Subject: RE: Review: Liam Clancy Biog.
From: Geoff Wallis
Date: 20 Oct 07 - 05:36 PM

One that Dermot and others should definitely read is Tommy Sands's autobiography, 'The Songman' (published by The Lilliput Press, Dublin in 2005). It's a witty, poignant, sometimes irreverent, sometimes chilling account of his musical career, life and times in the North and further afield.


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