Mark Twain, whose real name was Samuel Langhorne Clemens, is an American icon. But in his time, he wasn't the only one in his family with name recognition. Twain's older brother, Orion Clemens, was a newspaper publisher and had studied law under Edward Bates, who later became President Abraham Lincoln's Attorney General. Orion was appointed … Continue reading Tuesday Trivia: Mark Twain
This song was actually written in 1857 by H. D. Webster & J. P. Webster and, for obvious reasons, became popular with the men on both sides of the Civil War, after which it became a staple of the Old West. You can hear a traditional interpretation by John Hartford with excellent banjo accompaniment here. … Continue reading LORENA: A Song of the Civil War
Harry Stephens, an American cowboy, wrote this song circa 1890, while he was herding wild horses in Canada. While the rest slept, one or two unlucky cowboys always had to stand guard overnight. Called the “night hawk”, this job was one of the worst a cowboy could draw, and they believed the sound of music … Continue reading THE NIGHT HERDING SONG, A Cowboy Tune
A traditional Irish toe-tapper bemoaning the single state, Old Maid in the Garrett introduces an unmarried woman whose fate would probably lead to a dismal life in her brother's attic. She is extolling her virtues and ready to settle for anyone, even “a wee fat man”, as single women were considered a drain on the … Continue reading OLD MAID IN THE GARRETT: An Irish Song
Another song that's featured in my Donovan family series, this song tells the story of a bold highwayman of the 1700s in County Cork who, like Robin Hood, stole from the rich to give to the poor. You can hear a live version of it by The Clancy Brothers here. BRENNAN ON THE MOOR 'Tis … Continue reading BRENNAN ON THE MOOR: An Irish Song
A popular ditty with cowboys, this old tune has borrowed from both Irish and American traditions. If some of it sounds familiar, the line “Her parents don't like me, they say I'm too poor” was borrowed by Peter, Paul & Mary for “Pretty Mary”; the lines “I'll eats when I'm hungry” and “them that don't … Continue reading JACK O’ DIAMONDS: A Cowboy Tune
Reposting this today in honor of Mick Mulvaney, who stood in his green tie and shamrock pin yesterday to assure us all that feeding the hungry was an unnecessary luxury.
Most of the time I find history boring. But every once in awhile, I stumble over something fascinating. And usually, that something makes me cry.
I’d heard quite a bit about the Irish Famine at different places along the way, like in English class in high school when we read Jonathan Swift’s essay A Modest Proposal (if you haven’t already read it, I highly recommend it. It gives an incredible satiric look at the British government’s feelings on “the Irish problem.” The problem, in short, was that there was such a thing as “the Irish”.)
At any rate, the subject cropped up now and again. But it wasn’t until I started writing my Donovan series that I realized how closely related I was to it. My father’s family emigrated from Ireland in the early 20th century, chased out by the British Army (or so the story goes). As I started…
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One of my favorites! This traditional song is a perfect rendition of the pull-and-tug between a courting couple: a man who's madly in love, and a woman who's trying to 'play it cool'. You can find a version of it by the inimitable Wolfe Tones here. RORY O'MORE Young Rory O'More courted Kathleen bawn. … Continue reading RORY O’MORE: An Irish Song
Some say this Appalachian folk song dates from the Civil War, and identify it as the lament of a girl for her beau that's gone to war and her promise to remain faithful until he returns. The theme, however, seems to be Scottish, as it bears some distinct semblance to Lass of the Roch Royal … Continue reading WHEN HE IS GONE: An American Folk Song
You can't wake a person who is pretending to sleep. -Navajo Proverb I also don't usually use this blog for statements on public affairs. But today is different. Today, I believe that too many of us are pretending to sleep. Pretending that what's going on in our country has no far-reaching effects. Pretending that since … Continue reading PRETENDING TO SLEEP: A Navajo Proverb