celtic

The Tannahill Weavers – The Yew Tree

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Paisley, Scotland’s Tannahill Weavers, here with an independence-minded, history-filled choon written from a curious rhetorical stance: a series of questions and assumptions as spoken to and asked of a thousand-year old yew tree. After all the tales of war, hunger, and strife the tree is suggested to have witnessed, the singer finally says to the tree…

And I thought as I stood and laid hands on your wood
That it might be a kindness to fell you
One kiss o’ the axe and you’re freed frae th’ likes
O’ the sad bloody tales that men tell you
But a wee bird flew out from your branches
And sang out as never before
And the words o’ the song were a thousand years long
And to learn them’s a long thousand more.

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Old Blind Dogs – The Lancashire Lads

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Just try not to sing along.

For the Lancashire lads have gone abroad
Whatever shall we do?
They’re leaving many’s a pretty fair maid
To cry “What shall I do?!”

Ashley MacIsaac – Hills of Glenorchy

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Another wild-ass rock bagpipe song from Cape Breton Island’s Ashley MacIsaac, this from his 1995 release Hi™ How Are You Today?. His performances are a treat.

Dougie MacLean – Mr. & Mrs. MacLean of Snaigow

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A sweet, gentle instrumental from Dunblane, Scotland’s Dougie MacLean: perfect for this sunrise:

Silly Wizard – If I Was A Blackbird

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A traditional tune, full of the poetic use of avian imagery to transcend the distance between his love and he. It is –as lovers often are– both melancholy and full of hope.

Oh, if I was a blackbird, could whistle and sing
I’d follow the vessel my true love sails in
And in the top rigging, I would there build my nest
And I’d flutter my wings o’er her lily-white breast

The Saw Doctors – The Joyce Country Ceili Band

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Co. Galway’s The Saw Doctors –natives of Tuam– deliver a rollicking party song that lives up to their name. Danceable, singable, ear-warming.

Thomas and Mary out on the floor
Well they never lost it, that’s for sure
In his sparking shoes and his daz-white shirt
She’s got a brand new perm
And a pleated skirt

And we’re the Joyce Country Ceili Band
Playing away and we’re doing grand
We’re singing a song won’t you give us a hand
‘Cos we’re the Joyce Country Ceili Band

Four Men and a Dog – Waltzing’s For Dreamers

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A sweet song of Richard Thompson’s, performed by Belfast, Ireland’s Four Men and a Dog. Kevin Doherty and Gerry O’Connor’s picking throughout is understated, exemplary. Brian McGrath’s mandolin gives the tune a certain gleam. The sentiment…few do a blue song like Richard Thompson. Speaking of which…

Oh play me a blue song and fade down the light
I’m sad as a proud man can be sad tonight
Just let me dream on, oh just let me sway
While the sweet violins and the saxophones play
And Miss, you don’t know me, but can’t we pretend
That we care for each other, till the band reach the end

One step for aching, and two steps for breaking
Waltzing’s for dreamers and losers in love
One step for sighing and two steps for crying
Waltzing’s for dreamers and losers in love