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origins: The Dutchman (Michael Smith): meanings?

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DEAD EGYPTIAN BLUES
I DIG SEX
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VAMPIRE


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Blackcatter 16 Jan 04 - 11:03 PM
Blackcatter 16 Jan 04 - 11:13 PM
Arkie 17 Jan 04 - 09:53 PM
Arkie 17 Jan 04 - 09:55 PM
Blackcatter 17 Jan 04 - 11:46 PM
Joe Offer 18 Jan 04 - 03:23 AM
Mudlark 18 Jan 04 - 03:18 PM
McGrath of Harlow 18 Jan 04 - 05:39 PM
Barbara 18 Jan 04 - 07:24 PM
McGrath of Harlow 18 Jan 04 - 08:05 PM
curmudgeon 18 Jan 04 - 08:21 PM
Big Mick 18 Jan 04 - 08:28 PM
Susanne (skw) 18 Jan 04 - 09:20 PM
Joe Offer 18 Jan 04 - 09:33 PM
Blackcatter 18 Jan 04 - 10:26 PM
McGrath of Harlow 19 Jan 04 - 11:12 AM
Sandy Mc Lean 19 Jan 04 - 11:58 AM
Amos 19 Jan 04 - 01:52 PM
Bill Hahn//\\ 19 Jan 04 - 07:14 PM
Joe Offer 19 Jan 04 - 07:36 PM
Amos 19 Jan 04 - 07:43 PM
Melani 20 Jan 04 - 12:23 AM
GUEST,Andrea 27 Feb 04 - 04:42 PM
Deckman 28 Feb 04 - 03:50 PM
Bill Hahn//\\ 28 Feb 04 - 08:09 PM
Blackcatter 02 Mar 04 - 10:03 PM
Mark Cohen 03 Mar 04 - 12:18 AM
Mark Cohen 03 Mar 04 - 01:54 AM
Backstage Manager(inactive) 03 Mar 04 - 10:41 AM
johnfitz.com 03 Mar 04 - 11:43 PM
Jim Dixon 05 Mar 04 - 09:28 AM
Backstage Manager(inactive) 05 Mar 04 - 09:41 AM
EBarnacle 05 Mar 04 - 10:34 AM
Amos 05 Mar 04 - 10:38 AM
GUEST,dave o dea 07 Nov 04 - 07:40 AM
Auggie 07 Nov 04 - 09:47 AM
Terry Allan Hall 07 Nov 04 - 10:18 AM
GUEST,Colin 22 Jan 05 - 06:42 PM
My guru always said 22 Jan 05 - 06:50 PM
frogprince 22 Jan 05 - 06:51 PM
GUEST 22 Jan 05 - 07:57 PM
Bill Hahn//\\ 22 Jan 05 - 08:57 PM
GUEST 22 Jan 05 - 11:36 PM
Blackcatter 31 Jan 05 - 10:32 AM
GUEST,Mickey 15 Apr 05 - 01:27 AM
Chris in Wheaton 15 Apr 05 - 02:20 PM
Megan L 15 Apr 05 - 02:43 PM
McGrath of Harlow 15 Apr 05 - 05:23 PM
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Subject: The Dutchman (M. Smith): meanings?
From: Blackcatter
Date: 16 Jan 04 - 11:03 PM

Hello all,

My music partner and I were recently working on Michael Smith's The Dutchman and we were wondering what the true story was behind the song. We get the jist (as another Mudcatter said on an earlier thread: "This song, The Dutchman, is about enduring love. In the song, Margaret is the loving care giver to her husband who appears to be suffering from madness or dementia or Alzhemier's disease, one or the other and of the moments when there is a glimpse of recognition to their history."

Anyone know the real story?

Thanks in advance.


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Subject: RE: The Dutchman (M. Smith): meanings?
From: Blackcatter
Date: 16 Jan 04 - 11:13 PM

Sorry - the quote above was from Ellen in a previous Dutchman thread.


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Subject: RE: The Dutchman (M. Smith): meanings?
From: Arkie
Date: 17 Jan 04 - 09:53 PM

I would have expected quite a few responses to this. It has been discussed here before and you might locate that thread. I consider this an excellent song and it has long been a favorite of mine. When I first heard the Dutchman I had not heard of Mudcat and asked other folk who were pretty knowledgable about contemporary music and the best I can remember there is no real story behind the song. Surely something inspired it though.

Good luck.


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Subject: RE: The Dutchman (M. Smith): meanings?
From: Arkie
Date: 17 Jan 04 - 09:55 PM

Since all the related threads are listed above, surely you have checked them out.


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Subject: RE: The Dutchman (M. Smith): meanings?
From: Blackcatter
Date: 17 Jan 04 - 11:46 PM

Thanks Arkie

I've looked through the threads - read most of them when they were current most likely too. I thought someone would know the real story. Michael Smith has a website, maybe I'll email him and ask.


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Subject: RE: The Dutchman (M. Smith): meanings?
From: Joe Offer
Date: 18 Jan 04 - 03:23 AM

I've always liked this song, but I hadn't heard it in a while until somebody sang it at Camp Harmony earlier this month. It really hit me this time, because my mom has dementia now, and my dad is really struggling to take care of her.
It always was a good song, but now it brings tears to my eyes and I can't sing it.
-Joe Offer-


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Subject: RE: The Dutchman (M. Smith): meanings?
From: Mudlark
Date: 18 Jan 04 - 03:18 PM

Seems likely there is some story behind it. Most of Michael Smith's songs have a very personal story telling feel to them--I Play Piano in Altoona, for instance. His renditions of his songs are very personal, as well.


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Subject: RE: The Dutchman (M. Smith): meanings?
From: McGrath of Harlow
Date: 18 Jan 04 - 05:39 PM

The feeling I get is that he might have written it after reading a short story, or maybe seeing a film. But this is the kind of question that doesn't call for speculation, but for somebody who could ask Michael Smith, or who has asked him.

There are a few interesting articles about Michael Smith on the net, and interviews, but none that I've come across that touch on this.

Nearest I found is where Michael says he was about 26 when he wrote it, and that he was a bit pissed off at first with Steve Goodman when he started singing it years later, but always getting the words wrong when he sang it, and blurring his images. But he forgave him, obviously.


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Subject: RE: The Dutchman (M. Smith): meanings?
From: Barbara
Date: 18 Jan 04 - 07:24 PM

Michael Smith often writes about songs that have other sources (like Spoon River Anthology) and I have often wondered if this song is about the grandfather in the children's book "Hans Brinker or The Silver Skates".
It was a long time ago that I read it, but as I recall the grandfather has some kind of brain damage and the book's conflict centers around Hans winning the silver skates to pay for some piece of surgery that his grandfather must have. But I think maybe it was that he was going blind, not demented. Does anyone remember, or have the book to hand?
Blessings,
Barbara


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Subject: RE: The Dutchman (M. Smith): meanings?
From: McGrath of Harlow
Date: 18 Jan 04 - 08:05 PM

Here's the Project Gutenberg online version of Hans Brinker. (A bit difficult to read, but easy enough to search.)

Ah, the marvels of the Internet...


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Subject: RE: The Dutchman (M. Smith): meanings?
From: curmudgeon
Date: 18 Jan 04 - 08:21 PM

From deep within my RAM many years back when my friend Bill Madison was performing this song and I'd worked out a nice concertina bit, comes the distant memory that Margaret and the Dutchman were two children, whose adult appearance or mannerisms gave rise to the song -- Tom


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Subject: RE: The Dutchman (M. Smith): meanings?
From: Big Mick
Date: 18 Jan 04 - 08:28 PM

Interesting thread. I will see Michael on Feb. 6 and see if I can get his take on this. This is a song that I have sung almost more than any other. To me it is one of the greatest love songs ever written. It is about pure love and caring, the type of love that blossoms from the seeds of passion we plant in our youth. As the love grows from these seeds, we reap a harvest of genuinely felt, and deeply rooted caring. The song seems to capture that for me.

Mick


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Subject: RE: The Dutchman (M. Smith): meanings?
From: Susanne (skw)
Date: 18 Jan 04 - 09:20 PM

A reply garnered from rec.music.folk:
[1999:] I have a friend who had the opportunity to ask Smith about the song, but Smith didn't give a very satisfying answer. It may be that the song did not have a definable inspiration or it may be that Smith just didn't feel up to an explanation at that time or maybe it was something else. (Harold Hedberg, rec.music.folk, 1 July)


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Subject: RE: The Dutchman (M. Smith): meanings?
From: Joe Offer
Date: 18 Jan 04 - 09:33 PM

I guess I wouldn't say that Hans Brinker is a source for "The Dutchman"; or that Spoon River Anthology is a source for the song "Spoon River." I think I'd call them "literary references, but not sources.

The "Spooniad" appears to be an attempt by Masters to tie together all the poems of the Anthology, and I hate it. The song does a lot better job of tying the spirit of the poems together. I love the poems, but I really do hate the "Spooniad."

I can't say I see any hidden meanings in "Dutchman," but I guess it is open to many interpretations, speaking to many visions of reality. It seems the guy is demented for some reason, and lives in his real or imagined past in Holland. Margaret has been with him many years, and keeps herself going by seeing glimpses of their loving past, when she dreamed of bearing his children.

Poetry is sometimes best left unexplained, because explanation limits imagination.

-Joe Offer-


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Subject: RE: The Dutchman (M. Smith): meanings?
From: Blackcatter
Date: 18 Jan 04 - 10:26 PM

You're probably right Joe - it is poetry of the highest sort and allows the reader or listener to add whatever "back story" she or he wishes. We were just thinking that it had a personal experience as it's inspiration.

Thanks everyone for the comments. I'll look forward to seeing if Michael Smith can clear it up a bit if Mick talks to him.

Once again, this proves to me that Mudcat is one of the best sites on the 'Net and it's members (and many guests) are some of the best people out there too.

Blackcatter


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Subject: RE: The Dutchman (M. Smith): meanings?
From: McGrath of Harlow
Date: 19 Jan 04 - 11:12 AM

Agreed, Joe - "The Dutchman" seems very simple and direct and open. Of course we can imagine all kinds of stories around it, into which what we are shown could fit, but that's another matter.

It'd be interesting to have any background. It's always interesting to see how a song comes into being and I hope Mick gets something to share - but the song itself stands by itself, and doesn't need anything extra.

It may not apply here, but very often a poem and a song can have meanings that the person who writes it has never even thought of. And yet they are real meanings. That's part of the mystery. (So I don't really go along with Joe in saying "explanation limits imagination".)


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Subject: RE: The Dutchman (M. Smith): meanings?
From: Sandy Mc Lean
Date: 19 Jan 04 - 11:58 AM

Liam Clancy told this story at a concert before singing "The Dutchman:"
Smith was trying to interest Liam in a song that he had written' but Liam didn't care too much for it. A lady with Smith kept telling him to "play The Dutchman" and he finally relented and sang it. Liam snapped the song up on the spot .


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Subject: RE: The Dutchman (M. Smith): meanings?
From: Amos
Date: 19 Jan 04 - 01:52 PM

I'd love to know what Michael Smith was seeing in his mind's eye when he wrote it, Mick. I have always believed that the Dutchman was father, not spouse or sweetheart, to the girl (Margaret). Matches my own experience with elders more, I guess. Just an interpretative quirk on my part.

A


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Subject: RE: The Dutchman (M. Smith): meanings?
From: Bill Hahn//\\
Date: 19 Jan 04 - 07:14 PM

In listening once again to the lyrics of this song---which I just adore---as I do all of M. Smith's work---I cannot but believe it has to do with a caring spouse (companion,lover,etc;)caring for a person with some form of dementia. If not for some of the words it could also represent a caring daughter.

What personal things, if any, caused or inspired this beautiful piece I have not a clue. I can just hear it and be greatly moved.


Bill Hahn (WFDU)


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Subject: RE: The Dutchman (M. Smith): meanings?
From: Joe Offer
Date: 19 Jan 04 - 07:36 PM

To drift the thread a bit, I have to put in a plug for Spoon River Anthology. Although I dislike the closing "Spooniad," I love the character portraits in the poems of the Anthology. Has anybody ever set these poems to music?
-Joe Offer-


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Subject: RE: The Dutchman (M. Smith): meanings?
From: Amos
Date: 19 Jan 04 - 07:43 PM

As I remember Spoon River, the meter isn't regular enough to go straight to a folk type of song structure, is it? I have never seen it put to music in any case.


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Subject: RE: The Dutchman (M. Smith): meanings?
From: Melani
Date: 20 Jan 04 - 12:23 AM

I seem to recall hearing--possibly from Michael Smith when her was here a few years ago--that Margaret was his sister. The relationship wasn't explained in any detail, but it seemed to be a much younger woman taking care of an older man.


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Subject: RE: The Dutchman (M. Smith): meanings?
From: GUEST,Andrea
Date: 27 Feb 04 - 04:42 PM

Listening to this song, I've always had the impression that Margaret is the Dutchman's wife. The line "Sometimes he thinks he's still in Rotterdam" gave me the idea that perhaps he had fought in the Battle of Rotterdam, and that his dementia could be the result of some injury or psychological trauma from that experience. I imagine them as one of those couples who got married right as the man was about to be sent off to fight in the war... Tragically, the Dutchman comes back with his mind destroyed, so they never get to live as a typical married couple, but many years later Margaret still loves and takes care of him.

In any case, I agree that regardless of the inspiration, it's a beautiful, moving song, and listening to it makes me cry almost every time.


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Subject: RE: The Dutchman (M. Smith): meanings?
From: Deckman
Date: 28 Feb 04 - 03:50 PM

I'm finding this thread very interesting. I would echo what someone else has already said: It's often just the hint of the story that makes songs/tales so very interesting. And, we are all left to our own imaginations.

This does remind me of a brief conversation I had with Tom Paxton years ago. I've always enjoyed his song,"I Followed Her Into The West." I asked him if maybe he was inspired to write this song because of either the book, or the film, "Zorba, The Greek?" If you know the song, and the book, you might draw the parellel between the song and the widow's story.

His answer was a simple "no." Then he kinda smiled/grinned. I took that to mean something like: "Nope, you haven't caught me yet, but keep trying!" CHEERS, Bob


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Subject: RE: The Dutchman (M. Smith): meanings?
From: Bill Hahn//\\
Date: 28 Feb 04 - 08:09 PM

I wonder if the beautiful piece of work by the late Charles Aidman--Spoon River Anthology--will ever be revived. I recall seeing it on Bway in the 1960s (I believe).

My recollection is that those with me were bored and I was so moved by it---and, interestingly, Bway prices then----$10 for balcony seats.

Bill Hahn


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Subject: RE: The Dutchman (M. Smith): meanings?
From: Blackcatter
Date: 02 Mar 04 - 10:03 PM

So - Big Mick - any news on the subject?


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Subject: RE: The Dutchman (M. Smith): meanings?
From: Mark Cohen
Date: 03 Mar 04 - 12:18 AM

It wouldn't surprise me if there is no "real" answer, even from Michael Smith. Some songs just start from a few images, or a brief half-remembered scene, and take on a life of their own. I once started out writing a song about my grandparents, and by the middle of the second verse it turned out to be about two people I'd never known, one of whom has Alzheimer's--which my grandparents never had--and only "comes alive" when she dances with her husband. In that case, the half-remembered scene was from the movie "Harry and Tonto," and I didn't even know if it could even happen outside of the movies. Then, when I sang the song for the first time at the Seattle Song Circle, a friend came up to me afterwards and said, "That's exactly what happened to my mother." As I said, some songs just take on a life of their own...

Aloha,
Mark


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Subject: RE: The Dutchman (M. Smith): meanings?
From: Mark Cohen
Date: 03 Mar 04 - 01:54 AM

PS, I agree, though, that sometimes you can use the words of a song to make a pretty good guess about what the writer was thinking about...or maybe NOT thinking about. For example, Melani suggests the song is about "a much younger woman taking care of an older man." Two lines would seem to me to suggest that it's not a young woman, but a partner his own age: Long ago, I used to be a young man/And dear Margaret remembers that for me and Sometimes she sees her unborn children in his eyes. At least, that's the way I see it.

Aloha,
Mark


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Subject: RE: The Dutchman (M. Smith): meanings?
From: Backstage Manager(inactive)
Date: 03 Mar 04 - 10:41 AM

Last summer at the Champlain Valley Folk Festival there was a songwriters session in which Mike Regenstreif interviewed Michael Smith about "The Dutchman." As Michael Smith explained it, the song is about an old man with Alzheimer's or some similar dementia and his wife whose love and caring endure.


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Subject: RE: The Dutchman (M. Smith): meanings?
From: johnfitz.com
Date: 03 Mar 04 - 11:43 PM

I have been singing this song for years. I have always introduced it as a song about a sister taking care of her mentally handicappped brother. I am not sure why. because I like the husband wife story better. but somehow I got the previous story from a reliable source. Maybe I need to keep it as ambiguous as Michael obviously intended.


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Subject: RE: The Dutchman (M. Smith): meanings?
From: Jim Dixon
Date: 05 Mar 04 - 09:28 AM

Though I like the song as a whole, I'm a bit uncomfortable with the lines "Long ago, I used to be a young man, and dear Margaret remembers that for me." It seems to imply that the Dutchman can't remember his own youth clearly, but Margaret can. According to my understanding, that's not how memory loss works.

I think it's more like this: It's not so much that you lose old memories as that you lose the ability to acquire new ones. It's like having a tape recorder where the recording heads have been gradually going bad for a long time, but the playback heads are just fine. So any tapes that you made long ago can be played back OK, but tapes you made more recently get increasingly faint or fuzzy.

It seems Margaret's real value to him would be that she can remember when it's time to go home, and how to get there, etc.; not that she can remember his being a young man.

But probably most people don't like to have their songs analyzed to that extent.


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Subject: RE: The Dutchman (M. Smith): meanings?
From: Backstage Manager(inactive)
Date: 05 Mar 04 - 09:41 AM

Johnfitz.com,

Margaret is most definitely the Dutchman's wife. I heard Michael Smith say so.

Jim Dixon,

Your understanding of memory loss is not right. Memory loss manifests itself very differently in different people. Based on my own experiences with relatives and friends who've suffered with, and died of, Alzheimer's, it is very plausible that Margaret can remember the Dutchman's youth while he can't.


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Subject: RE: The Dutchman (M. Smith): meanings?
From: EBarnacle
Date: 05 Mar 04 - 10:34 AM

A friend of mine sings it "remembers that of me." The "of" changes the implications of the line to her memories of him as a strong and healthy youth and all that goes with it. I also love the song for its ambiguity.


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Subject: RE: The Dutchman (M. Smith): meanings?
From: Amos
Date: 05 Mar 04 - 10:38 AM

What the line about Margaret remembering that for me means is not that she recalls his past for him, but that she still sees him as the lovable man he was in his prime, rather than being fooled by the ravages of time. As any over-55 boomer can tell you, this is the greatest single kindness one person can do for another in that stage of life :>))

A


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Subject: RE: Michael Smith cd (uk)
From: GUEST,dave o dea
Date: 07 Nov 04 - 07:40 AM

does anyone know where a michael smith can be purchased in england


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Subject: RE: The Dutchman (M. Smith): meanings?
From: Auggie
Date: 07 Nov 04 - 09:47 AM

You have to wade through a lot of Michael W. Smith listings, but most of the CD's from Michael Smith, he of The Dutchman fame, can be found at
www.amazon.co.uk


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Subject: RE: The Dutchman (M. Smith): meanings?
From: Terry Allan Hall
Date: 07 Nov 04 - 10:18 AM

I absolutely LOVE Goodman's version of "The Dutchman"...very moving rendition.


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Subject: RE: The Dutchman (M. Smith): meanings?
From: GUEST,Colin
Date: 22 Jan 05 - 06:42 PM

Too many of my aged friends and loves cannot see themselves in the mirror any longer; they see only a decrepit caricature.
Each time I've listened to a recording of "The Dutchman" over the radio I've heard:
"and dear Margaret remembers that in me."
I imagine he does understand she sees him more completely than he can himself.


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Subject: RE: The Dutchman (M. Smith): meanings?
From: My guru always said
Date: 22 Jan 05 - 06:50 PM

This song took so long to learn, too many tears. Wonderful


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Subject: RE: The Dutchman (M. Smith): meanings?
From: frogprince
Date: 22 Jan 05 - 06:51 PM

As good a love song as has ever been written.


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Subject: RE: The Dutchman (M. Smith): meanings?
From: GUEST
Date: 22 Jan 05 - 07:57 PM

one of the great songs. Like all stories it's quite transparent and obvious,but, like all great stories it invites the listener to filter the images through their own experiences.As the responses above show, those filters gradually give the song new meanings. Does it matter which is right? Only the first meaning of the writer is the right one and then he lets it go as a gift to all the listeners, knowing it will change subtly for each one.


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Subject: RE: The Dutchman (M. Smith): meanings?
From: Bill Hahn//\\
Date: 22 Jan 05 - 08:57 PM

Which---Guest---you should identify yourself---can be said for most pieces of music. From Mozart and Schumann to the pop and folk performers we know.   

So that a song by, say, Dylan is hailed by many and abhorred by others as is, say, a Kate Wolf piece.   The point is that we all receive and perceive things through our own filters and tastes. As you say. The only thing I add here is that the writer/composer has put his/her feelings and thoughts into the piece. To him/her it seems to be that picture---to the listener it can be percieved differently. That is art. That is the beauty of art and the personal meaning it has for us all.

Bill Hahn


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Subject: RE: The Dutchman (M. Smith): meanings?
From: GUEST
Date: 22 Jan 05 - 11:36 PM

Alzheimer's erases the memory-bank from the most rescent to the most distant - hence - Shakespeare's reference in the Seven Ages of Man to the final stage and "second childhood."

Somewhere, in the MC, is a woman who claims to be a US "mental health professional."


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Subject: RE: The Dutchman (M. Smith): meanings?
From: Blackcatter
Date: 31 Jan 05 - 10:32 AM

I think you'll find there are more than one "mental health professionals," as you put it, here at Mudcat.

Interesting that this thread has been revived.

I love that that happens on many of the threads of all the great songs discussed here.


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Subject: RE: The Dutchman (M. Smith): meanings?
From: GUEST,Mickey
Date: 15 Apr 05 - 01:27 AM

Just stumbled upon this thread, but felt moved to respond to Mark's post of 3/4/04: I tend to agree with the prevailing thought that the song describes an older couple and the results of the love they have crafted together over many years. But like at least some others, I have also been intrigued by the interpretation of a committed daughter caring for her older father. Mark objected, citing two lines:

- "Long ago, I used to be a young man. And dear Margaret remembers that for me . . ." and "Sometimes she sees her unborn children in his eyes . . ."

I DO see the possibility of either line describing the bonds felt by a daughter with the heritage of her father, and the children she hopes to bear one day, and that she hopes will carry on the characteristics she remembers of her father when he was younger.

Like others, I am seldom able to get through the song without having to pause. Sometimes it is because I am thinking of the depth of the relationship with my wife. But other times, it is because i am thinking of my father, my memories of him as a strong and vibrant younger man, and my hope that his grandchild will represent that same strength and vitality in his life.


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Subject: RE: The Dutchman (M. Smith): meanings?
From: Chris in Wheaton
Date: 15 Apr 05 - 02:20 PM

When Liam Clancy came to Chicago a few years ago, he said it was his favorite song.
I always thought the best version was Mike Dunbar's when he was with Redhead. Perhaps someone in Nashville can talk him into reissuing the Redhead cd - lots of great stuff by Mike and Betsy.
Chris


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Subject: RE: The Dutchman (M. Smith): meanings?
From: Megan L
Date: 15 Apr 05 - 02:43 PM

Perhaps that is the mark of a truely great song, that each of us can see a little of ourselves or those we love in them.


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Subject: RE: The Dutchman (M. Smith): meanings?
From: McGrath of Harlow
Date: 15 Apr 05 - 05:23 PM

Like Blackcatter back in January, I love it when a thread like this is revived, and a bit more gets added.

I've always taken it that the "unborn children" bit means that, one way and another, Margaret never had the children she'd have wanted to have, maybe because of having to take care of the Dutchman; and now he has, in a way, become her child.

But I'm in agreement with all the people who've felt that looking for a single unambiguous story, and thinking that that explains everything in a song like this, is a mistake. There's a sort of uncertainty principle that applies, you can't really pin down mneanings, because they are all true. The meaning exists in the minds of the listeners, and they've all had different lives feeding into what they hear.


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Subject: RE: The Dutchman (M. Smith): meanings?
From: GUEST,Arkie
Date: 15 Apr 05 - 05:41 PM

This is certainly an example of a great song. The lyrics provide images that evoke the feelings of the listener. The melody and words fit together like a single unit. Enough of the story line is omitted so that the singer and listener can allow their imagination to complete the picture. It is nice to see threads like this find new life from time to time.


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Subject: RE: The Dutchman (M. Smith): meanings?
From: GUEST,Norm MadDawg Siegel
Date: 08 Apr 06 - 08:24 PM

I have been singing this song since Steve Goodman introduced me to it in performance some 30 odd years ago, I think. I tend to agree with "Guest"'s comment on January, 2005. Why do we have to search for any other meaning other than that of the writer? Why not just enjoy the song for its sheer poetic beauty and Michael Smith's ability to tell a story in a beautiful way? Another song that is equally as beautiful in a similar way is John Prine's treatment of old age, "Hello In There" Both songs are from around the same era in Chicago singer/songwriter history. Both are simply stated and quite exquisite settings of old age. Accept them as the simply beautiful expressions that they are and nothing more!


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