Y’know, the whole world is just plain full of Folk music.
When I lived in Ireland, we all sang.
We sang in the Pubs.
It was World Cup (Soccer) in 2002, and I watched Ireland play Spain – in Spain (it’s just a short hop across and it was BPO – before Peak Oil). And when I got back to Ireland, we went down to the Pub, and they were watching another game with Ireland. They lost and were knocked out of the World Cup.No matter. They were so proud of their team’s efforts. We all sat…some drinking…some eating…some playing cards or watching TV. It’s not like a bar or places here. It’s a family affair. And all of a sudden, an old gent in a business suit stands up and begins to sing! And a few of us join in. We clap, and then another sings another song. What fun this American had!
And when we visited my good friend, Millie, up in Gorey, after dinner we didn’t turn on the TV. We sang songs. I know all the old Irish songs – including a bunch of old Rebel ones (and of course, I’m married to a Brit, so that really thrills him, but bless him, he tolerates it, because for me, ‘Four Green Fields’ is a lovely song. My favorites (song by the late Luke Kelly) are ‘Dublin in the Rare old Times,’ ‘A Song for Ireland,’ and ‘Wild Rover.’
But we Americans, by and large (ever wonder what ‘by and large’ actually means???) don’t sing. I think we are afraid of looking foolish. Now, I’m not talking about the folks in Appalachia, or mountain folk, or any of us who live far enough out in the country, or close enough to the land, or just plain old enough, that we remember that singing has always been a part of who we were as Americans.
We’d sing around the dinner table…of course sing in church (music is our longest term memory, did you know that? I remember all those hymns I learned as a child, sitting with my grandmother in the 3rd pew from the front on the left hand side where the minister read the Epistles)…and gatherings where we’d sing the folk songs of the day.
But now, we have TV for that…iPods…CDs…car radios and iTunes. We’re a nation of Listeners, but not much Singers. Oh, we might sing in the vehicle by ourselves. But, I can remember going on trips, or down to the Jersey shore, and my Dad would always sing – and we’d join in (my mom would too, but she couldn’t much stay on key. We used to tell her God hears ya’ in tune, just go ahead). He’d sing, ‘You are my sunshine….my only sunshine…you make me happy, when skies are gray.’ And then they’d sing a song they used to sing to one another when they were young…in the war years – ‘You’re My Darlin’ Coo-chee-coo.’ And Dad could yodel. Yep, he sure could. He’d sing, ‘From this valley they say you are going…’ and we all knew all the words after a while.
My grandmother always sang. We’d sing together. I learned all the way old songs from her. She’d be cleaning and sing. And she always laughed…like everything was funny somehow. Well, she lived to be 97, then went to sleep and transitioned to spirit, so I guess she knew something about it.
When we came back from living in Ireland, though, we had a Memorial Day party at my daughter and son-in-law’s house. We had some folks over, including an Australian horse hauler. After dinner (and they were warned), most of us sat out on the front porch and Geoff sang…I sang…the horse hauler, Ray, sang…but no one else would. Sad…Keep singing, okay? My gram, she had something there.