Monday, June 10, 2013

"El-a-noy" -- from the Shawnee ferry to Carl Sandburg to (I'm not making this up) Billy Corgan and the Smashing Pumpkins


More notes for my presentation "Roads, and Rivers and Creole Girls: Early Music of Illinois" Sunday afternoon at Rock Springs Conservation Center ...

"El-A-Noy" from the Old Town School Songbook, Vol 4. From the school's website: "Old Town School Co-Founder Win Stracke leads off the Old Town School of Folk Music Songbook, Volume Four with his rendition of "El-A-Noy", backed by current Old Town School instructor Mark Dvorak on guitar and vocals. Win's vocal & original backing track date from 1968 (Win passed away in 1991), and Mark's contributions were added in August 2007. We don't quite span the entire 50-year history of the school with this one track, but we came real close."

... Corgan gave the following account, quoted on the Smashing Pumpkins Fan Collaborative's website at

"actually, it began one innocent evening in 2000 while I was waiting for my girlfriend to get ready to go out to dinner.... i had 15 minutes to kill, and I had this book of old folk songs laying around.... i flipped it open, and because I can't read music, I started making up my own version of a song from the 1800's.... this lead me to eventually create 28 of these types of "imagined" songs over a period of months, and I had a lot of fun writing them... songs about Jesse James and hearses rolling by with broken hearted lovers and the like....

out of these 28 there was one song that struck a deep nerve with me personally called "el-a-noy," a folk song from the 1860's about settlers coming into Chicago.... because of the personal nature of the lyrics and the lonesome and hopeful quality of this city, it seemed to resonate more deeply within me.... somewhere along the way, because of that one connection, I hatched the idea to assemble a whole group of songs that would be linked by the spirit of Chicago, because I think that this town is truly indescribable.... it is an odd mix of violence, pioneer recklessness, unbridled capitalism, undying hope, and if you have ever been here during the winter, death and endless rebirth.... at the bottom of all of it though, is that I really love this place!!"

Here, from a fan's YouTube channel, is Corgan singing his piece and backing it with acoustic guitar:

classical ...

The Norman Luboff Choir has a full-bore choral treatment on an old Columbia LP posted by YouTube user UnclaimedFr8 at UnclaimedFr8, who has one of the more imaginative screen names I've seen in a long time, adds, "This pioneer song of the United States is of the period of the movement westward. The somber melody is probably Irish in origin, and balanced by lyrics of optimism and hope."

Hibernia, Vol. IV

Hibernia, Vol. IV
TROY630 - $16.99

This is the third release on Albany Records of the music of Edward Collins. (Irish Rhapsody) from 1929, is the fullest realization of Collins's thoughts on the Irish folksong "O! The Taters they are small over here!" a tune he used in several compositions between 1927 and 1932. In Hibernia, the composer's imagination, his gift for orchestral tone painting and his ability to establish a reflective mood are lovingly in evidence. No doubt Collins's Irish heritage manifested itself, permeating the nineteen-minute work with an atmospheric mixture of gaiety and wistful melancholy. ... Submitted by Collins in response to a Chicago Symphony Orchestra commission on the occasion of its Golden Jubilee, Lament and Jig was the sixth of a set of twelve variations written by a dozen different composers under the collective title, Variations on an American Folk-Song. Other composers included Leo Sowerby, John Alden Carpenter and Rudolf Ganz. The theme was "El-A-Noy, an Illinois pioneer recruitment song, perhaps selected by Frederick Stock who conducted the premiere on April 17, 1941.
(my emphasis)

No comments: