Traditional Irish Music
Last week, in a different discussion group (VOICE: THE NATURAL & THE TRAINED) I was exposed as a naive and gullible believer of the "Blarney" in regard to the origins of the Australian song, "Waltzing Matilda". Long story short, I was told that the song was about a homeless man that had a sorted affair with his blanket/bedroll named Matilda. My source, an eldery session mate, seemed sincere and serious in his explanation of the origin of the song. I had no reason to doubt him (at the time) since he always presented himself as an honest and upright man. He spoke with eloquence and certainty, as a knowledgable person would. His explanation of "what Waltzing Matilda was really about", seemed credible and made the song a unique and sad piece of romantic music: An Irishman, sentenced to transportation from Mountjoy Prison in Dublin to the wilds of Australia/Tasmania, escapes soon after arrival and travels about the country living free and off of the land,....his only companion for warmth and comfort is his bedroll. At some point, perhaps his isolation got the better of him, he calls his blanket Matilda. His walkabout (waltzing) brings him to a place where he is confronted by a landowner for poaching a rabbit (jumbuck). Rather than being taken alive he commits suicide by jumping into the swamp, where his ghost still haunts. Sounded good to me!!!! What did I know???
The knowledgable Peter Laban, Tradconnect Member Extraordinaire, set me straight with a link to the true origin of Waltzing Matilda. After reading from the website link, I understood that a Swagman (may have been homeless) was a transient worker, a jumbuck was a sheep, and there was political turmoil and union problems and a body found suggesting a possible murder. Along with this was the possibility of love afffair of the song's composer and his fiance's best friend,.........anyway, it gets very convoluted. (best thing would be to go to VOICE: THE NATURAL & THE TRAINED discussion, find Peter Laban's comment and click on the links that he provided,....read it for yourself). But that's not the end of the story,........
After being slightly embarrassed for thinking I could pass this "knowledge" I thought I had to others, only to find out how wrong I was, I decided to confront my source and set him right. I called him and he seemed happy to hear from me,but was too busy at the time to talk. He said he was having a small session at his home that evening and suggested that I drop by,.....and "Oh yes, feel free to bring some libations with me!!" I agreed, packed up my car and drove the 100+ miles to his home northeast of me. After some hearty handshakes, back patting embraces and reaquainting with some of his other guests, and playing a tune or two, I proceeded to tell him about what I learned from Peter Laban's link. He sat there patiently listening,....with an occasional "You don't say??" and "Really????" and "Tsk, Tsk-ing". When I was done, he looked me squarely in the eye, raised his fiddle to his chin, gave me a wink and said, "Well,....ye can't believe everything ye read!!!", and proceeded to play an exaggerated aire-like version of "Fool on the Hill". Everyone burst into laughter. He,....he allowed himself a mischievious smile as I sat there dumbfounded for a few seconds, until I, too, sat and laughed with everyone else. And now, I am a true surviving Victim of the Blarney.
Some may try to do it and fail, yet others are masters of the "Sweet Tongue and Golden Voice" that'll have you believing almost anything they say. Do you have a "Blarney Tale" you'd like to share. Join in on this discussion and help me feel that I am not alone!!!
I can add something Dhomhnaill - I believe the tune used for Waltzing Matilda was actually English and written for a recruiting song in the time of Marlborough. Oh, and thats not the ones that come in packets of 20 - it relates to this fellow......
One of my favourite English bands re-constructed a set of words for it as the original ones had been lost over time. This is their version........
Hey Mike, Your addition is greatly appreciated. Hope all's well by you. It's amazing how the music of many songs inspires a variation of lyrics that covers so many different topics. Thanks, mate. I enjoyed the links. By the way,....have you ever had the wool pulled over your eyes by a "Blarney Master"????,......at least that you'd care to admit and disclose????? Cheers, Mike!!! Always great to hear from you, Danny
Well, this is not so much being pulled as pulling. When I was at University in the 1960s, a couple of us were in the bar when a young lady from an expensive part of London, hearing our Merseyside accents, asked, "Are you from Liverpool?" We said that we were rather than getting into discussions about exactly where we lived. Her friend then said,"Liverpool. Didn't they have tram races at one time?"
Now this went back to a time in the late 1950s when somebody wrote in to the Liverpool Echo complaining about tram drivers racing past the stops. The natural response of the Scouser to an opportunity like this is to go off on the wildest flight of fantasy possible. The next evening, the next letter was published.
"Do you remember the tram races that were held before the war? That's what you call tram racing!"
The letters flooded in recounting tales of the legendary tram racing teams and drivers that came to Liverpool from all over the world. Women wrote in about how handsome were the drivers from the Argentine; "They all played polo very well!" The Germans were quite abrupt in their manner, apparently. Teams from Italy did very well in the romantic stakes. Drivers from San Francisco were at a disadvantage because of the lack of steep hills on the tram tracks. It went on for a few weeks until everyone got bored with the tall tales and we got on to another topic. For the unworldly, I must point out that trams run on rails with no passing places so to anyone with half a brain, the whole shooting match was one giant piece of fun.
Back to our young lady with the posh voice: Bob and I looked at each other. "They certainly did have tram races before the war," said Bob.
I joined in. "Did I tell you about my Grandad? He was chief tram engineer for the British Team. It was his designs for the rotary flange bracket control that made all the difference and let us win the final against the German team. The family all reckoned that that was let us win the war! And he got a letter of commendation from Winston Churchill!"
The young lady was well impressed. "Gosh," she said, "why don't more people know about this. I'm surprised that you don't find it in history text books."
Hook, line, and sinker!
Bravo, David!!!! Well done!!!! It's always a grand thing to witness (and cause) the birth of an Urban Legend!!! Like alligators and giant goldfish in the sewers. And who knows if it would have eventually turned up in history books. It certainly hooked the newspaper,.....a source where alot of people get their "factual news". Cheers, David!!! Danny
I can promise that the Liverpool Echo wasn't hooked by a spoof. It's just the character of the city that everyone loves spoofing! Rather like the Scotsman Newspaper and its annual Haggis Hunt. This runs from St Andrew's Day until Burns Night and is full of delightful fantasies. Just Google Haggis Hunt and enjoy the fun.
Thanks, David. I get it!!! But you know that there may be some folks that just might be thinking, "Hey, it says here in the paper that they're hunting Haggis in Scotland!!! Let's Google "haggis" and see what the beast looks like before being kilt!!!" (that's a pun, Dave) LOL!!!!! Cheers, mate. Danny
Americans can be such trusting folks! Especially in the mountains! But there again, USA gave us John Henry and the Sasquatch!
Hi David, Americans!!! Ahhh yes!!! We can be very,........HMMMMMMM!!!!??????? What about apple pie & mom & sasquatch & WMDs & .........
And "Waltzing Matilda"??????