Mairi's Wedding(The Lewis Bridal Song) — I thought this nice, bouncy wee Scottish song could use an infusion of Caribbean sunshine. Just once. I'll never do it again, I promise. The tune that follows is a lovely Scottish air: The Flowers of Edinburgh.
Preab San Ól(Trust In Drink) — This is an oldie I got from a Dubliners album yours ago. It's almost existentialist in its premise life is futile, let's drink! I sing a couple of verses in Irish and a couple in English. I hope you can toll which Is which. If not — let's drink!
Wilderness Letters — There's a very big and very talented folksinger and songwriter up in Alaska named Mike Campbell. He writes really great songs, and I look forward to meeting him on my annual trips there because we get to pick and sing together. He gave me this beautiful song a couple of years ago, and I've finally had a chance to record it. Thanks Mike. It's also on Mike's CD — Sad Eyes. Check it out …
The Boogie Woogie Piper(From Nashville, Tennessee) — I always wondered what pipes would sound like on country music and boogie-woogie, so I wrote this one to find out. That's E. J. Jones of Clandestine piping his way into the Country Music Hall of Fame with Mike Auldridge on Dobro and Tad Marks on fiddle. Oh yeah, Brad Hayford doing hot Iicks on the electric guitar.
Sweet Ellen Joyce — My friend, Jed Marum from Texas via Fall River, Mass., wrote this fine ballad about a young Irish-American soldier marching off with the 20th Massachusetts Regiment to fight for the Union in the Civil War. He's leaving his sweetheart behind, but he's optimistic that one day he'll return to her and his New Bedford home. This song is featured on Jed's CD — Streets Of Fall River.
I See His Blood Upon The Rose — This poem, written by Joseph Plunkett in 1911, was handed to Grace Gifford Plunkett, his new bride, on the morning of May 4th 1916, just before he walked out to face the firing-squad.
Grace — Joseph Plunkett was nineteen years old when he left his sick-bed(he suffered from TB) to fight alongside Padraig Pearse and the other freedom fighters in the Easter Rebellion in Dublin, 1916. The Uprising was quelled and many of the rebels were executed by the English. At 1:30 a.m. on the 4th of May, Joseph Plunkett was led handcuffed into the chapel of Kilmainham Jail, where Father Eugene McCarthy united him in matrimony with his fiancee, Grace Gifford. They were separated immediately after the ceremony. Just before dawn, Grace was brought back to his cell and they were allowed ten minutes together, and then, as she left Joseph gave her the words of a poem he had written in 1911 — I See His Blood Upon The Rose. At dawn, Joseph Plunkett's life was ended by an English firing-squad in Stonebreaker's Yard. My grateful thanks to Russell Vance of the Erie, PA Irish Cultural Society for his research and assistance with this poignant story.
American Beer — Randall Dighton, a fine singer and songwriter from California, gave me permission to set this song in Ireland. It was originally set in Scotland. Thanks, Randall! Bud and Miller are now available in Ireland; I'm not sure about Coors, but it's just a matter of time.
The Scottish Song — Years ago, I recorded a song on my Bar Rooms and Ballads album called the 3-Minute Hamlet. I was unable to track down the author, and so I attributed it to the ubiquitous 'Anon.' Since then, I learned that it had been written by a brilliant Scots teacher,/singer-songwriter/folklorist/activist named Adam McNaughtan. Well, here is another one of his gems. Since theatrical tradition considers it unlucky to refer to this Shakespearean play by name, it is usually called "The Scottish Play." Adam apparently is carrying that tradition over to singers, and he calls it "The Scottish Song." The melody which is played instrumentally on the following track is "The Soldier's Joy."
Fáinne Geal An Lae(The Dawning Of The Day) — My thanks to Pat McManus and Lorraine McCaffrey of Belfast for the Irish words to this lovely song, in which a young man meets a pretty milkmaid on the shore of Lough Leane(one of the Lakes of Killarney). He tries to woo her with sweet words, but she's having none of it, and runs off, leaving him with his wounded pride. I'm grateful to Bob Christy of Baltimore for delving into his extensive collection to get the English translation for me.
The Chemists Drinking Song — Some people have a misguided image of Chemists as a white lab-coated bunch of nerds. As you can tell from this song, they are party animals! And they can sing this song faultlessly after imbibing their own concoctions.
To Morrow — Bob Gibson wrote and recorded this one back in the '60s. His "Morrow" was originally in Ohio, bit it's been Hibernicized to Mayo. My friend John McGrath does a great version.
Song For Ireland — In his beautiful song from the viewpoint of a visitor to Ireland, Phil Colclough lists many of the things that make Ireland a fascinating place to come to. I can smell the fresh Atlantic sea-breezes, hear the music and the craic in the pubs, and the cries of the seabirds wheeling over the Cliffs of Moher.
The Tumbler — I roared with laughter when I heard this parody of Kenny Rogers' "The Gambler," by Greg Trafidlo and Neal Phillips. It's set in a laundromat instead of on a train, and the guy giving the advice is a man a doing his laundry instead of a gambler.
The Dutchman — This moving song by Michael Smith has been one of my favorites for many years, and has been recorded by many fine performers — Makem & Clancy, the Kingston Trio, and Steve Goodman among them. Here's my rendition.
Barretts Privateers — Brad and Dave join me in singing Stan Rogers' superb chanty about a rather inept band of Canadian pirates who bit off more than they could chew. It's a perfect song to throw back your head and belt out especially if there's fifteen bottles of rum on a dead man's chest nearby. Yo, ho ho! Aaaarrrrh, me hearties!