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Lyr/Tune Add: Michael Collins (not again)

02 Nov 02 - 03:57 PM (#817022)
From: belfast

A while ago, in a thread talking about Michael Collins, there was a request for the words of a song.   Words were given and a link to this site. (Yep, you're right, I'm just doing this to practice blue clickies.) The words were not 100% accurate but close enough so I didn't bother posting any corrections. However, since I've worked out that ABC stuff I thought I might as well post the melody. By the way, I am aware of the following facts:
(1) Michael Collins was the greatest Irishman who ever lived.
(2) Michael Collins was a swine who betrayed the ideals of the Republic.
(3) Michael Collins was somewhere between (1) and (2).

(aka Hang Out Your Brightest Colours)

The bark of a dog breaks the silence like a bitter last hurrah   
And a raven spreads its wings for flight over fields near Beal na Blath   
A rifle still clasped to his breast, hanging low his head   
A black August day in the County Cork, Michael Collins is dead   

Hang out your brightest colours and his memory now recall   
Each one wants a part of him, no one wants it all   

Working over in London town when he joined the IRB   
Sworn to use most deadly force, his native land to free   
His squad is ready and willing to strike, he is loved for his ruthless charm   
When the laughing boy smiles at the Castle, it's a smile to cause alarm.   

A British Intelligence agent is working from a Dublin room   .
Michael Collins adds a name to a list that will take men to the tomb   
The spy slowly rises from his chair, walks across the floor.   
A man with a parabellum is knocking at the door   

Returning then to London town, who will take the blame?   
The Treaty lies before him, Michael Collins adds his name.   
There's a darker time upon the land, who will bear the load?   
An awkward hero in an armoured car on an Irish country road.   

The bark of a dog breaks the silence like a bitter last hurrah   
And a raven spreads its wings for flight over fields near Beal na Blath

T:Michael Collins
d|gg/a/ba/g/|e g>edG|A3B/A/|

02 Nov 02 - 04:07 PM (#817026)
Subject: RE: Michael Collins (not again)
From: Ireland

Do ravens have some symbolism with death? I have seen some art work from artist from Bosnia,Romania etc that show ravens on a corpse etc, sorry for going off topic.

02 Nov 02 - 04:20 PM (#817031)
Subject: RE: Michael Collins (not again)
From: GUEST,oliphant

Great song, belfast. Any chance of the guitar chords?

02 Nov 02 - 04:28 PM (#817040)
Subject: RE: Michael Collins (not again)
From: beachcomber

Yea and then there was that raven who perched on the shoulder of the dying Chuchullain and drank his blood !

02 Nov 02 - 04:29 PM (#817042)
Subject: RE: Michael Collins (not again)
From: belfast

I'm sure that there are people out there with greater knowledge of the raven and celtic mythology than me but, yes, it is closely connected with death.

And thank you, oliphant. I'll post the chords tomorrow for it is now 9.25pm (GMT) and, just for a change, I'm off to the pub.

02 Nov 02 - 04:32 PM (#817045)
Subject: RE: Michael Collins (not again)
From: Big Tim

"Not quite 100% accurate"? Can you tell us why? And more importantly, who wrote this excellent song, the words of which I posted fairly recently?

03 Nov 02 - 06:21 AM (#817325)
Subject: RE: Michael Collins (not again)
From: Big Tim

Also on a previous thread there was discussion of the correct spelling and meaning of "Beal na Blath". If memory serves, Father Patrick Twohig, a native speaker from Cork, and historian too, insists that the spelling should be "Beal na mBlath" (apparently the "m" is very important), and the meaning refers to a "ravine", not to "flowers".

03 Nov 02 - 06:34 AM (#817329)
Subject: RE: Michael Collins (not again)
From: Big Tim

Sorry: the title of Patrick Twohig's book on the Collins ambush is "The Dark Secret of Bealnablath" - all one word and no "m".

03 Nov 02 - 08:37 AM (#817358)
Subject: RE: Michael Collins (not again)
From: Fiolar

The "raven" who sat on the dying Cuchulan's shoulder was the form which was taken by the Irish war-goddess "Morrigan" which means "phantom queen." She was able to take many forms including the "washer at the ford" i.e. an old woman who washed the armour and weapons of the warriors who were about to die.

03 Nov 02 - 11:03 AM (#817413)
Subject: RE: Michael Collins (not again)
From: The Pooka

belfast, many thanks. I vote for choice (3) above -- but much closer to (1) than (2). // Candidates on my ballot for Number One btw would include among others Tone, Yeats, and na gCopaleen aka O'Brien aka O'Nolan. (And, I'd have to give a sentimental transfer vote to the late great Governor of my great state of Connecticut, John Noel Dempsey, born in the county Tipperary. Um that *is* in Ireland, right? :) // But the Greatest Irishman Who Ever Lived is Queen Maeb. She took on all the Kings and laid 'em low. :)

Fiolar, thanks for that info. Wonderful. / The Morrigan emigrated to far Philadelphia at one time y'know -

And the raven, never flitting, still is sitting, still is sitting
On the pallid bust of Pallas just above my chamber door;
And his eyes have all the seeming of a demon's that is dreaming.
And the lamplight o'er him streaming throws his shadow on the floor;
And my soul from out that shadow that lies floating on the floor
Shall be lifted---nevermore!
- E.A. Poe

03 Nov 02 - 12:10 PM (#817456)
Subject: RE: Michael Collins (not again)
From: belfast

G / / / Am / / / C / G / D / / /
G / / / Am / / / C / D/ G / / /
D / / / C / G / D / Em / D / / /
G / / / Am / / / C / D/ G / / /

G / D / Em / / / C / / / D / / /
G / D / Em / / / C/ D / C /
I said I'd post the chords and, despite a mild hangover, here they are. And I just knew that there would be people out there bursting with information. Which reminds me, in the middle of the summer I saw a small boat named "Morrigan". Not a name I would have chosen myself.

Béal na Blath. It hadn't occurred to me that there was any doubt about this. How foolish of me! Is there anything in this bloody country that is not the cause of some dispute or other? But come to think of it, should "Blath" not be plural? Blathanna? Anyway, it's a beautiful name and I'll leave the disputes to those more qualified than myself.

The Greatest Irishman (oh dear. I meant "person") Who Ever Lived. I hope you realize what you may have started. Or possibly it was me. Perhaps a new thread should be created. I'm making a list of names guaranteed to irritate. Daniel O'Donnell. (No, not O'Connell). Gerry Adams. I can already hear the gnashing of teeth. Wolfe Tone would be a serious contender for many reasons. I would probably end up plumping for James Connolly (and I can already hear someone pointing out that he was Scottish). I've just got it. Leopold Bloom! The epitome of human decency. And, naturally the great Irish person who ever lived would have to be fictional.

03 Nov 02 - 01:29 PM (#817517)
Subject: RE: Michael Collins (not again)
From: The Pooka

belfast - no gnashing here. Agree about Tone. Might O'*Connell* (I know, you said Not Him) perhaps contend for "Most *Popular* Irishman of his Time"?? (Ref. "Most Popular Irish Songs" thread; not to be confused with "Greatest"?) Gerry Adams - I'd say, he could yet BECOME one of the Greatest -- but still has a long & rocky road to travel, to get there. And, it has still to become *truly* the "one road", comrades *all*. // Leopold Bloom it is then! Excellent!! What's wrong with fictional? *I'm* fictional! :)
- The Pooka Fergus MacPhellimey

03 Nov 02 - 02:56 PM (#817577)
Subject: RE: Michael Collins (not again)
From: Big Tim

I'd taken the "raven" reference to simply imply that the bird, a carrion eater, was taking off to feast on Michael Collins' bones. I suppose it depends whether the author was into mythology or ornithology.

03 Nov 02 - 02:58 PM (#817581)
Subject: RE: Michael Collins (not again)
From: belfast

Yep, we're all fictional and as the great Flann O'Brien remarked "Evil is even, truth is an odd number and death is a full stop."

As regards Tone, a caveat. I have recently been reading his journals and his dislike of Americans is a bit on the extreme side. When they were originally published they had to be edited to avoid offending our friends across the Atlantic. And he had never even heard of the Bush family!

I'm beginning to realise what the term "thread creep" means. And I like it.

03 Nov 02 - 03:29 PM (#817605)
Subject: RE: Michael Collins (not again)
From: belfast

Big Tim, my apologies, I missed your earlier question. (Am I the only one who finds reading from a screen difficult?) The guilty party is myself. In a sense. The line "Hang out your brightest colours" is borrowed from a letter that George Bernard Shaw wrote to Collins' sister after his death. Actually he wrote "Hang up.." It's a beautiful piece of work. And a woman told me that at least a couple of bars of the melody are taken from a Mozart aria. That borrowing was unconscious. But if you're going to steal you may as well steal from geniuses.

Thank for your generous use of the word "excellent". A friend once praised this song, talking about construction, conciseness and so on. He concluded by saying, "But it must have been very difficult to write a song while sitting on a fence".

03 Nov 02 - 04:05 PM (#817635)
Subject: RE: Michael Collins (not again)
From: Big Tim

Did you write the song Belfast?                                       

"Sitting on a fence" - Is this a reference to the difficulty of dealing in-song with the complex political problem of the Treaty? "The Treaty lies before him, Michael Collins adds his name", I think this sums it up neatly. What else could Collins have done in the circumstances? As Charlie Daly , one of executed, anti-Treaty, Republican, "Drumboe Martyrs" (1923) wrote, "if Mick only considered himself, he would have no hesitation in refusing [to sign]"

Slight thread creep: any idea who wrote "Croppies Who Will Not Lie Down"!

04 Nov 02 - 01:37 AM (#817919)
Subject: RE: Michael Collins (not again)
From: The Pooka

O so it's th' oul "Thread Creep" izzit! Would youse 2 guys kindly quit talkin' about me behind me back. :) Thankee.

No idea, Big Tim. But I'll think of that title whene'er I feel that I fain would lie doon.

belfast, may the Lord have Mercy upon you, I can't write songs for beans but I yield to no man in the fence-straddling competitions. If you'd ever care to peruse my roster of postings, as a gentle Guest of both our ould acquaintance apparently once did when really bored, you'll see. :)

The great Brian O'Nolan yields to no man in the Wit & Wisdom Competitions.

Bold Theobold Tone may have dissed Americay lang before the Bushes Burned our Arse; but here's what yer man St. Brendan Behan (another potential "Greatest" candidate??) is reputedly reported, and also reportedly reputed, to have said concerning our fair Neighbor to the Great White North:

"A lot of people say I hate Canada. I don't hate any place. Well, I make certain exceptions. Canada's the only place where I've been accused of being a Dogan. That's an Irish Catholic. I asked them for it in writing so I could show it at home...Vancouver? A terrible hole...Canada is barbaric without being picturesque...Toronto will be a fine town when it's finished." :) (Source: click here, scroll way down )

G'night to youse all.

05 Nov 02 - 10:03 AM (#818983)
Subject: RE: Lyr/Tune Add: Michael Collins (not again)
From: GUEST,oliphant

What a great song, belfast. If that's fence sitting i wish i could sit on the same fence. You've a great line in self-mockery but i'm sure your blood's worth bottling. Another behanism.

05 Nov 02 - 01:55 PM (#819170)
Subject: RE: Lyr/Tune Add: Michael Collins (not again)
From: belfast

A very kind response. The "fence-sitting" remark was a friendly bit of banter. The song deliberately avoids any moralizing or judgements. I can think of a dozen reasons why he should not have signed the Treaty and another dozen to explain why he had no choice. I think we (by which I mean "I") should avoid what E. P. Thompson, in another context, called "the enormous condescension of posterity".

The song "Croppies who will not lie down". Again, guilty as charged. I'm curious as to how you ever got to hear of it. A pretty obscure piece of work, I'd have thought. Has it been posted here? If not, I may work out the ABC. It will only take me about a month.

No matter what Brendan Behan says, Canada is a fine country. At least Montreal is a wonderful city. One of the nicest European cities I have ever visited

If my blood were worth bottling it would only be because of the alcohol content.

05 Nov 02 - 02:14 PM (#819189)
Subject: RE: Lyr/Tune Add: Michael Collins (not again)
From: Big Tim

That's an excellent piece of vocalistaion of the song by "Cormac O'Moore" as well.

As some Catters may have noticed, maybe not, I'm a big fan of the genre known as the "rebel song". Some great compositions there, largely overlooked in wider musical circles because of the controversy over politics.                                                         

How about us doing a Top Twenty Irish Rebel songs. Off the top of my head:

The Soldiers Song,
Bold Fenian Men ("see who comes over the red blossomed heather")
The West's Awake
Erin go Bragh
Boys of Kilmichael
Boys of Mullaghbawn
General Monro
The Croppy Boy
Roddy McCorley
Broad Black Brimmer
Rebel Heart
Drumboe Martyrs
Patriot Game
Irish Ways and Irish Laws
Kelly of Killanne
Sean South
Ballyneety's Walls
Smashing of the Van
Kevin Barry
Sean Treacy (Tipperary so far Away)
Rising of the Moon
Memory of the Dead
Outlaw Rapparee - That's enough!

05 Nov 02 - 02:45 PM (#819227)
Subject: RE: Lyr/Tune Add: Michael Collins (not again)
From: belfast

Far too hard a choice. What about "Down By The Glenside" (esp. the recording by Delia Murphy)? In fact, any thing written by Peadar Kearney, "Down By The Liffeyside", "The Recruiting Sergeant", "Slan Libh".

And the version of "Henry Joy" which begins, "'Twas on the Belfast Mountains ?"(esp. as sung by Frank Harte or Roisín White).
The Roddy McCorley song which contains the wonderful lines (I quote from imperfect memory)
"Farewell unto you sweet Duneane, if in you I had stayed
Among the Presbyterians I ne'er have been betrayed"

It looks like my bias is pushing me in a northerly direction.

And I've just been thinking of a distinction in my mind. This is totally subjective, personal, non-scientific etc. I tend to think of "rebel songs" as the kind of songs not to be sung in mixed company, not to be performed where they might make anyone feel uncomfortable. "The Broad Black Brimmer" would fall into that category. "The Boys Of Mullaghbawn", for some reason, does not.

05 Nov 02 - 05:04 PM (#819340)
Subject: RE: Lyr/Tune Add: Michael Collins (not again)
From: Big Mick

I am not sure how one could leave out Back Home In Derry.

06 Nov 02 - 01:33 AM (#819646)
Subject: RE: Lyr/Tune Add: Michael Collins (not again)
From: weerover

How about Skibereen, Roscarbery, Take it Down from the Mast, The Boys from the County Cork?

06 Nov 02 - 02:17 AM (#819656)
Subject: RE: Lyr/Tune Add: Michael Collins (not again)
From: Big Tim

Sorry guys, you have no taste!

"Brimmer" - yes not for mixed company but a very stirring song, full of old IRA symbolism and very well constructed too and, not unimportantly, fantastic melody. I know I'm in a minority but I can appreciate this song, for its own sake, without supporting the IRA. Equally I can appreciate some loyalist songs, "Derry's Walls" for example, and remain of a nationalist ethos.                                                            

Any news on the "Brimmer" composer?

"Mullaghbawn" and "Monro" are not really true modern type, "rebel" songs. In fact "Monro" is sometimes included in loyalist collections. "Mullaghbawn" is more of a "protest" song, by some 18th century Bob Dylan, (the events took place in 1791)but as its about crime and punishment under the Penal (and Coercian) Laws it also has "rebel" connotations.

Weerover: is "Roscarbery" a different one from "Skibbereen"? If so, I don't know it and would appreciate the details. Thanks.

Incidentally I know a guy, NOT ME, who is shortly going to be publishing a book of rebel songs, about 300, in collaboration with a very well known "rebel" musician. Should be interesting!

06 Nov 02 - 02:36 AM (#819661)
Subject: RE: Lyr/Tune Add: Michael Collins (not again)
From: weerover

Big Tim,

Yes, "Roscarbery" is a very different song. I have it at home on an album "Easter Week and After" by Dominic Behan - I can post lyrics if you don't have access to this album.

06 Nov 02 - 04:47 AM (#819688)
Subject: RE: Lyr/Tune Add: Michael Collins (not again)
From: Big Tim

Wee man! I don't know the song or the DB album. I'd much appreciate the lyrics, plus, if it's not too much trouble, the titles of the other tracks on the album. I only recently managed to get a copy of DB's "Ireland Sings" book, its not in that. Must dash to work now!
Cheers, BT.

06 Nov 02 - 05:19 AM (#819708)
Subject: RE: Lyr/Tune Add: Michael Collins (not again)
From: weerover

Big Tim,

I'll post when I get home later today. Incidentally, if you met Gordeanna McCulloch recently, I'd guess you're (like me) from central Scotland - if so, the Mitchell Library in Glasgow has loads of songs including several large Irish collections, searchable by song title.

(not-so-wee at that)rover

06 Nov 02 - 06:21 AM (#819741)
Subject: RE: Lyr/Tune Add: Michael Collins (not again)
From: Fiolar

Big Tim: I wouldn't classify "A Soldiers' Song" as strictly a rebel song. After all it is now Ireland's national anthem. In passing by the way the death occurred on November 2nd of Brendan and Dominic Behan's brother, Brian. RIP.

06 Nov 02 - 10:46 AM (#819923)
Subject: RE: Lyr/Tune Add: Michael Collins (not again)
From: Wolfgang

I can't say I completely share that feeling, but 'The boys of the old brigade' always had an appeal for me.


06 Nov 02 - 11:38 AM (#819974)
Subject: RE: Lyr/Tune Add: Michael Collins (not again)
From: Big Tim

Delete "The Memory of the Dead" from my list and insert "Foggy Dew" - how could I have forgotten that terrific song?

Fiolar: I'just having a bit of fun, no "strict speaking". However "The Soldiers Song" was certainly written as a rebel song, in 1907 I think, and became a marching favourite of the Irish Volunteers, many of whom fought in 1916. Those guys were rebels! And try telling 60,000 Celtic fans that "The Soldier's Song" isn't a rebel song! You'd be a braver man than me! Sorry for the overuse of the apostrophe!! All the best.

06 Nov 02 - 03:41 PM (#820204)
Subject: RE: Lyr/Tune Add: Michael Collins (not again)
From: Big Tim

Fiolar; I forgot, thanks for the new re Brian Behan.

07 Nov 02 - 01:43 AM (#820522)
Subject: RE: Lyr/Tune Add: Michael Collins (not again)
From: weerover

Big Tim et al,

Just remembered that tune of "Roscarbery" (lyrics recently posted) is that of "Memory of the Dead".

28 Apr 16 - 01:54 PM (#3787642)
Subject: RE: Lyr/Tune Add: Michael Collins (not again)
From: Capt. James

Stumbled on this thread...
The song "Croppies Who will not Lie Down", according to a poster on YouTube, was written by Brian Moore. The video I saw features the performance of Terry "The Cruncher" O'Neill, who apparently recorded it on the album "By memory inspired - songs of the 1798 rebellion"

20 Apr 17 - 03:29 PM (#3851477)
Subject: RE: Lyr/Tune Add: Michael Collins (not again)
From: widowmaker

the author of The Broad Black Brimmer was Art McMillen one time belfast OC of the I.R.A

21 Apr 17 - 04:41 AM (#3851564)
Subject: RE: Lyr/Tune Add: Michael Collins (not again)
From: Thompson

No, no - Béal na mBláth (a neologism) would mean "Mouth of the Flowers" - the place was always Bealnablath in English, and in Irish was Béal na bPláth, "the moth of the inlet", pláth, apparently, being one of those old specialised geographical words meaning a river inlet. Though I don't know why that should be so; looking at Google Maps, Bealnablath doesn't seem to have ary a river near it at all. Perhaps water, as well as history, has been culverted there.