The tune is Loch Lomond. The origin of the lyrics, like so many lovely traditional Irish songs, lays hidden.
Step Lightly / Off She Goes :57
Rocking the Cradle 4:02
My Lagan Love 4:10
This traditional Irish melody may reach back to the 16th century. When coupled with lyrics by Joseph
Campbell (b. 1864) it evokes a deep visceral beauty - the intimate portrayal of the silent lover who
watches his love “bank the fire” and prepare for bed. When in the last stanza he rises to leave her, he is
“leaving love and light.”
The Garden Song 2.43
David Mallett, a true American treasure who captures the spirit of New England in his music, composed
the one modern piece on this CD.
Over time this song has told the story of many famous Geordies. My version from Francis Child’s anthology published 1884 tells of Englishman George Stowell, executed in Newcastle in 1610 despite his wife’s pleas, which fell on deaf ears -- “over the judge’s left shoulder”.
O’Carolan’s Draught 1:32
The great Irish harper, Turlough O’Carolan (b. 1670) wrote this reel. Legend holds that people would delay their weddings and funerals until O’Carolan arrived to fill the hall with music. It takes little imagination to believe this - his works are gorgeous.
Simple Gifts 2:50
In 1774, a small group of revolutionary pacifists crossed the Atlantic in search of religious freedom. Their communal life of prayer, singing, dancing, and simplicity flourished up and down the east coast for two hundred years. “Hands to work and hearts to God” was the Shaker manifesto. They numbered over 6,000 strong in the early 1800s; today only one community remains, Sabbathday Lake Shaker Village in ME. This now famous tune was written by Elder Joseph Brackett in 1848.
Cockles and Mussels 3:26
The Dublin Millennium Commission claims that Molly Malone died on 13 June 1699. The song itself embodies the music hall style and themes of the 1880s. I enjoy the image of Molly still haunting the streets with the echo of a hawker’s cry.
Lord Gregory 2:43
Scottish anthologist David Herd first recorded these lyrics in his manuscripts, published in 1769. The ballad is rich in drama: the pleading and despair of a young abandoned mother, the scorning grandmother, the bitter son. Passion, manipulation... all the ingredients for a great song.
Everyone needs a jig or two after a Scottish suicide and lament.
Castle of Dromore 3:44
Humours of Whiskey (Poitín) 3:28
The Thames Tunnel was built in 1825. Since this song attributes the wisdom imparted from Poitín (Irish illegal Whiskey) for the ability to achieve that most remarkable feat, we can easily date this song to the mid or late 1800s. The best recordings of this song have been done by intoxicated men. I did my best to honor them.
After the Battle of Aughrim / The Halting March 2:00
The 1600s gave birth to love poetry that will speak as long as there are lovers. This song was first published in English by musicologist Herbert Hughes in 1909. Although a traditional song from Donegal, the melody may originally be Medieval.
Red is the Rose 4:01
As much as Australia loves to claim this song, it is most likely a Scottish “cockoldry ballad”. This theme has been popular since Shakespeare, “it is a wise father that knows his own child” (Merchant of Venice, 1596). This version most closely follows the Bodleian Broadside Ballads printed by Nugent of Dublin in 1850.
Sir Harold Boulton set this old Irish lullaby to English in 1892. The castle itself was built in the 1830s. The song will subconsciously haunt my children forever because I sang it to them nightly when they were babies, setting a permanent desire that “Holy Mary, pitying us, in heaven for grace doth sue” would be part of their intuitive coping mechanisms. Irish Catholic mothers are sneaky.
On 12 July 1691, over 7,000 men died at Aughrim. The hopes of Irish Catholics that the penal laws might be rescinded also died that day. Both these tunes are traditional Irish polkas.
She Moves Through the Faire 4:39
© Kathleen Johnson 2012-2016