Inspired by the Three tune Tuesday idea started by @ablaze I thought I would try singing you guys a few old folk songs this week.
Back before Covid hit I was at college here in Perth, Scotland doing the first year of music school. As part of that course we had a module called music appreciation.
For this module we had to pick 2 genres of music to study for around 3 months and prepare a powerpoint presentation on each genre.
I went with Folk and Celtic music as my 2 genres and on the 3 month journey down that musical rabbit hole I was exposed to a hell of a lot of old songs.
The 3 I have chosen to sing this week are all songs I sing with the capo on the 7th fret.
The first song is "Dirty Old Town" a classic folk song by Ewan MacColl.
MacColl was his stage name, his birth name was James Henry Miller, he is credited as being one of the instigator's of the 1960's folk revival.
He was born in Salford in Lancashire England to Scottish parents in 1915 and died in 1989 aged 74.
"The song was written about Salford, Lancashire, England, the city where MacColl was born and brought up. It was originally composed for an interlude to cover an awkward scene change in his 1949 play Landscape with Chimneys, set in a North of England industrial town, but with the growing popularity of folk music the song became a standard. The first verse refers to the gasworks croft, which was a piece of open land adjacent to the gasworks, and then speaks of the old canal, which was the Manchester, Bolton & Bury Canal. The line in the original version about smelling a spring on “the Salford wind” is sometimes sung as “the sulphured wind”. But in any case, most singers tend to drop the Salford reference altogether, in favour of calling the wind “smoky”. "
The song has also come to be unofficially associated with the city of Dublin in Ireland due to being sung by Ronnie Drew and Luke Kelly of The Dubliners as well as Shane MacGowan of The Pouges.
The second tune I sing in the video above is called "The Lakes of Pontchartrain"
I was inspired to learn this song after seeing Paul Brady play a version of it as part of a BBC documentary on the history of Folk music.
Here is Brady's version played in a beautiful open G Irish tuning. My version uses a much simpler standard tuning.
Lake Pontchartrain forms the Northern boundary of New Orleans. The song is a ballad from the United States which tells the story of a man who is given shelter by a Louisiana Creole woman. He falls in love with her and asks her to marry him, but she is already promised to a sailor and declines.
Brady would have likely encountered this song while traveling around America in the early 1970s.
The last song in my 3 song set is "The Parting Glass"
This is a Scottish traditional song, often sung at the end of a gathering of friends or at pub closing time. It has also long been sung in Ireland, again made popular by Irish musical icons like Ronnie Drew of The Dubliners and Liam Clancy and Tommy Makem. It was apparently the most popular parting song sung in Scotland before Robert Burns wrote "Auld Lang Syne" in 1788.
I love closing my sets with this one, its a great way to say farewell to the audience.
I will leave you guys with a beautiful version sung by Liam Clancy and Tommy Makem.
Until next time......"Goodnight and joy be with you all!"