Thursday, December 29, 2011

Thoughts Provoked by Celtic Music

Song: The Dingle Berries by Lunasa

The joyous clash of the double fiddling against a recurring tin whistle melody brings me to a pebble-strewn shore under smoke-gray skies of rain. The beachcombers are heard and the woman strikes a match upon her cigarette. The westerly winds blow the sands o're the dunes and bring them back to friends lost.

To the town of Cork; among men of bravery and drunkery. It is a Sunday and all are done at mass and seated on a revolving stool inside a small building, where spirits flow as well as stout, and where a quartet of smiling troubadours string reels together for the dancers as the sun goes to bed through the stained glass window.

Song: Lots of Drops of Brandy by The Chieftains

I see her standing in her garden, along the shores of the Atty Ocean, praising the salts that cure her wounds. As I approach the village in shoes of brown and pants of gray, I keep my hand on my scally as the wind howls ever-brisk around the corner of the emerald hill.

I pass through winding paths of well-made dwellings of dirt and sand, grass and moss, rock and stone. A distance waltz draws me to Gilly's Pub where the ale is always cold. And once again the sun goes down and I find myself in the cot of a generous lad who stay up all night letting the porter stain his lips.

Song: Bridget Flynn by the Irish Rovers

We must cross rivers to get to our Bridget Flynn. It will be through storms and sorrow, and many a tomorrow, but surely our love will take us far in this life. The singing of an Irishman can thrust pride into any man of any origin

Song: The Whistling Theif by Tommy Makem and Liam Clancy

I don't mind being poor, because there is always something to steal from people who do wrong. It's enjoyable having no one place to lay my head, as I may drop my feet wherever there is coverage from the Donegal rains. The evil ones dismiss me for my whistling but when the suited man's back is turned, I'm quick to reach into his trousers. I once found a gold claddagh and walked four miles to me Ma, only to have her scorn and throw her boy out her cherry door.

Song: Cotati Nights by Lunasa

When the sun goes down during my stay with you, I shall walk to the grand gazebo and count the stars. I am told that one is easily led to the moss swamps under bright moonlight, where the echoes ring strong. I will bring Paddy's lute and sit myself on the mossy rock and play the hornpipe to dancing ghosts. It draws deer and wolves and while I am surrounded by predators, I am never taken away from the beauty of the moonlight through the gnarled pines atop the hungry hill.

A light rain will force the lute back in the sack, and I find myself tramping through the swamp towards a fire-lit light, where I will eventually sit down amongst strangers and accept a strong cup of Barry's and Jameson.

Song: The Trip to Sligo by The Cheiftains

The trip to Sligo was one of trouble, scouring lands of herb and water, fuel for a man in dire need of sleep. The storms came in unexpected, with a chill and a force unsuited for travel, though we travelled more. We had a flute, a tin whistle, and two fiddles. When the storms became too much to bear, we all stood on the Black Mountain Side and played our tune towards the ocean, in hopes that the Great Spirit would hear our prideful tune and turn merciless on our travels.

After two or three or reels, the storm erupted into a hurricane and we stood by our instruments. You fell off the mountain with your whistle. Paddy slipped and followed with his fiddle, dragging his wife and her fiddle with him. I played my whistle as long as I could, but the last image in my mind is free-falling through trees into the blue deep, and my whistle was the last to join us.