Tuesday, March 29, 2016

"Belle of Belfast City" -- aka "I'll Tell Me Ma" -- a song for Clayville with audio by Sinéad O'Connor and Kirsty MacColl, and a bonus track video, a BBC documentary on "Fairytale of New York"

Here's a tune we used to enjoy at sessions of the Prairieland Dulcimer Strings. It dropped out of the rotation a couple of years ago, but we had too much fun with it to make that state of affairs permanent.

So let's take a run at it Saturday.

Two sessions coming up in the next week:

  • From 10 a.m. till noon Saturday, April 2, Clayville Pioneer Academy of Music, in the barn at Clayville Historic Stagecoach Stop, Ill. 125, Pleasant Plains.

  • From 7 to 9 p.m. Tuesday, April 5, Clayville-Prairieland Strings, at Peace Lutheran Church (formerly Atonement), 2800 West Jefferson, Springfield.

The song is known by two titles -- "Belle of Belfast City" and "I'll Tell Me Ma."

Shelley Stevens has dulcimer tab with chords on her website -- directories at http://shelleystevens.com/ (click on links to "Tab Archives 2005-2010" and "Tab Archives 2010-2016"). "Belle" is in the directory for August 2010 and "Jamaica Farewell" for September 2006. The Internet is acting cranky on me tonight: If you can't open the webpage, I'll have copies available Saturday. .

"I'll Tell Me Ma" is performed by big-name commercial Irish bands like the Dubliners and the Irish Rovers as a rowdy, hard-driving pub song. It is all of that, but it's also an old, old children's song, first collected during the 1800s in various parts of England, with a lovely melody.

Some interpretations --

Na Fianna. Contemporary Irish band of Laois who got their start in the RTÉ All Ireland Talent Show in 2009–10. Website at http://www.nafiannamusic.com/. Hazel Entertainments presents Laois Band 'Na Fianna' performing 'I'll Tell Me Ma' at the Hazel Hotel, Monasterevin, Co. Kildare.

Hounds of Finn. Folk-rock trio of St. Paul, Minn., a live performance in 2015 that elevates it (IMO) from pub music to a real song. http://houndsoffinn.com/ --

It's been recorded frequently by other artists. Two that stand out in my mind are:

Which brings us to Kirsty MacColl, best known for her association with the Pogues on "Fairytale of New York" but a fine independent artist in her own right:

And the bonus I promised -- while I was looking for interpretations of "I'll Tell Me Ma," I came across a 56-minute BBC documentary:

The Story Of The Pogues & Kirsty McColl Fairytale of new york The full Story 1 of 1

For those who want to learn the song, there's an absolute gold mine at http://www.irish-folk-songs.com/fairytale-of-new-york-song-lyrics-guitar-chords.html, where lyrics, guitar chords and notes for melody instruments are given on Martin Dardis' Irish Folk Songs website.

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