Sunday, January 20, 2008

Irish Music and Paper Airplanes

One of the highlights of my husband’s musical year is always the annual World Folk Music Association’s benefit concert, which took place last night at NoVa’s Schlesinger Hall. This year’s concert was dedicated to the memory of Tommy Makem, an Irish legend in the folk music world.

Every year I notice that the average age of the audience is creeping up just as fast as the average age of the performers. Gone are the days of groups like The Kingston Trio, Christine Lavin, and Buskin and Bateau. But there are new faces like the all-women group Hot Soup.

I’ve never quite connected with folk music, probably because it is usually piano optional. There was not one group that used anything more than an electronic keyboard last night. I still have a lot of trouble processing and understanding the words. So much of it just seems like plunking guitars.

But I did enjoy the emphasis on Irish ballads in the second half of the concert. They seem to mix feelings of sadness and love with a wistfulness that bespeaks a life of hard work. The final acts included three of Tommy Makem’s sons, who seem to have inherited their father’s gift for music.

At intermission I chanced to run into two people from my old office whom I really liked. After a round of hugs, they invited me to come back for the annual paper airplane contest on February 13. For years I have made a plane with varying results of airborne success.

The issue for me was not whether I would have a winning airplane, but rather how I would feel about seeing those people who were the reason why I left. Truthfully I have a hard time calling up the same feelings of anger that made me miserable just a year ago. Maybe it’s time to go back and see the many people I loved working with.

That will just about complete the healing process that has taken place since I left in May. I should probably thank those who caused me so much angst for giving me a reason to retire. I have never regretted my decision for one minute, and it might have been difficult to decide totally on my own.

So as I hum an Irish tune, I’ll start folding the paper to make this year’s plane. Maybe I should call it Freedom Flyer.

Here’s one of Tommy Makem’s most beautiful songs:


Come over the hills my bonny Irish lass
Come over the hills to your darling
You choose the road love and I'll make a vow
That I'll be your true love forever

Red is the rose that in yonder garden grows
Fair is the lily of the valley
Clear is the water that flows from the Boyne
But my love is fairer than any

It's down in Killarney's green woods that we strayed
When the moon and the stars, they were shining
For the moon shone its rays on her locks of golden hair
And she said she'd be my love forever


It's not for the parting with my sister Kate
It's not for the grief of my mother
It's all for the loss of my bonny Irish lass
That my heart is breaking forever


Blogger Pauline said...

My ex was Irish and he brought his Tommy Makem albums into the marriage. My kids cut their teeth to that music and I learned to dance an Irish jig.

Glad you are feeling better about those folks who were so uncomfortable to be around a year ago and may your airplane win!

7:58 AM  
Blogger Barbara said...

Pauline -- I think I could grow to love folk music if it all sounded like those beautiful Irish songs, sung with that lilting brogue.

I am very glad not to feel angry any longer. I'll even try to behave myself and be gracious toward them if and when I do pay a visit.

As for my airplane, I will feel content if it stays inbounds and doesn't hit the ceiling!

9:20 AM  
Blogger steve said...

Christine Lavin! Yay!

2:53 PM  

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