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Book Report: Drive Dull Care Away

04 Sep 00 - 07:16 PM (#291011)
Subject: Book Report: Drive Dull Care Away
From: Naemanson

Title: Drive Dull Care Away: Folksongs From Prince Edward Island as Gathered by Edward D. "Sandy" Ives.

Published in 1999 by the Institute Of Island Studies

ISBN: 0-919013-34-1

This weekend I finally sat down and read this book I bought last year. So sue me, I been busy! But I'm glad I did. I should have read it earlier. This one is a keeper!

This is the second Sandy Ives book I've read. The first was "Larry Gorman: The Man Who Made The Songs". That book was a biography of Gorman with many of the songs he wrote included and placed in the context of his life.

Drive Dull Care Away, on the other hand, is a description of the author's visits to PEI and his work in the field. But it is more than that. It includes 62 songs and fits them into the community from which they came. It introduces the people who wrote them and those who kept them alive until Dr. Ives could get there with his tape recorders.

If you are at all curious about the field work of a folklorist this book is for you. Though Dr. Ives makes the point that he wasn't doing general field work but researching specific song writers he does provide a good picture of what our favorite folklorists must have gone through to preserve the music. Here you find him as he slogs along the dirt tracks that served PEI as roads in the '50's, lugging his heavy tape recorder along only to find that the people he needed to record didn't have electricity. (Later recorders could be run from his car battery but he lived in fear that the battery would die.)

In the book you meet the men and women in whose heads the songs were preserved. These people were anxious to help, knowing the importance of the work and happy to find someone who was interested in them and their songs. They became more than "informants" to Dr. Ives and his family. These people became his lifelong friends and family.

The book also includes a number of photographs of the contributors and the area in which they live. There are pictures of some of the people who were the subject of some of those songs. And there are two photos, one of the Amberly house and one of Peter Amberly's grave, that speak volumes for the life to be found in folk music.

And above all are the songs. The book includes the words and music to 62 songs and a CD of the original field recording of 14 of those songs.

Some of the songs are familiar to us. Included are The Jam On Gerry's Rock, The Dreadnought, Wild Colonial Boy, and Brennan On The Moor. Dr. Ives explains there is good reason for recording even familiar songs. He says comparing multiple recordings of a song helps to nail down how the original may have been sung. And it shows how a community can change a song and make it their own. It is a record of the folk process.

The book also includes songs I had never heard of before, though some of you may have. These included The Miramachi Fire, My Seventy Six Geared Wheel, The Norway Bum, Guy Reid, Fogan MacAleer, Saville The Brave Man, and quite a few more. These are songs written and kept within the community. They are full of local place names and in jokes that we outsiders could not understand.

Many of these songs went out with the men who left to find work in the Maritime Provinces of Canada and the State Of Maine. Even so they are linked inexorably to the homes of these people telling as they do of neighbors and events in those homes.

All in all this is a good read and a valuable addition to your repertoire, especially if you live in the Maritimes or Maine.

05 Sep 00 - 09:33 AM (#291327)
Subject: RE: Book Report: Drive Dull Care Away
From: karen k

Haven't read it cover to cover yet but have read parts of it. You're right, Naemanson, it definitely is a keeper. Just yesterday I listened to the CD again with the possibility of learning a couple of the songs. The only down side is that the CD has only 14 songs. Sure wish there were more. This one is money well spent.


05 Sep 00 - 07:25 PM (#291696)
Subject: RE: Book Report: Drive Dull Care Away
From: Joe Offer

Naemanson, you get an A+ for the book report, and 20 extra points for having actually read the entire book. I have to admit I rarely read a songbook from cover-to-cover, but I've been tempted to do it with this one. Usually, I'll pick a song and then look up what ten songbooks say about it. It was fascinating to read in the Sandy Ives book that "Peter Emberly" may be thought of as a "bad luck" song on Prince Edward Island. It's the one song that most people associate with PEI, but a good many people in that area believe that it's bad luck to sing it in one's home.
-Joe Offer-

05 Sep 00 - 07:34 PM (#291701)
Subject: RE: Book Report: Drive Dull Care Away
From: Naemanson

Thanks, Karen and Joe, for reading my little book report. I didn't think anyone would notice it.

I was fascinated by the little things like that in the book. At one point Ives was leaving Mary Cousins house and she asked him to leave by the same door he entered. She indicated it was better to do so but didn't say what might happen. Ives complied with her request.

I too was surprised about singing Peter Emberly in the house. I think Kendall sings it. We should check with him on the results.

05 Sep 00 - 09:16 PM (#291773)
Subject: RE: Book Report: Drive Dull Care Away
From: kendall

Sandy Ives is an old friend of mine. Have you read his biography of that Doweast poacher McGoon? very interesting.

05 Sep 00 - 10:44 PM (#291823)
Subject: RE: Book Report: Drive Dull Care Away
From: Naemanson

No I haven't but I'd like to. As a kid I read all of the stories about the One Eyed Poacher of the Mopang Woods by Edmund Smith. Somewhere I've heard that there was some connection between McGoon and those stories. Do you know anything about that?

06 Sep 00 - 09:25 PM (#292532)
Subject: RE: Book Report: Drive Dull Care Away
From: Naemanson


And this book is just that!

07 Sep 00 - 12:59 PM (#292891)
Subject: RE: Book Report: Drive Dull Care Away
From: KathWestra

I've always loved hearing Sandy Ives talk and sing. My ex, Joe Hickerson, always starts his concerts with "Drive Dull Care Away," which he learned from Sandy, and Dick Swain has been singing that one lately, too -- both versions worth hearing.

I have bought, but have not yet read, "Drive Dull Care Away." This will spur me to do it SOON. Thanks! Great book report. Kathy

08 Sep 00 - 12:40 PM (#293495)
Subject: RE: Book Report: Drive Dull Care Away
From: KathWestra

Refresh. Too good a subject to disappear!

09 Sep 00 - 12:22 PM (#294121)
Subject: RE: Book Report: Drive Dull Care Away
From: richardw

Sounds great! Does anyone have ordering information?

Richard Wright

10 Sep 00 - 08:21 AM (#294510)
Subject: RE: Book Report: Drive Dull Care Away
From: Naemanson has it for $24.95. Go in through the Mucat at the top of the page so this site gets the credit.