The Unicorn Song

IRISH SONGS – IN HONOUR OF ST. PATRICK’S DAY

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7. THE UNICORN SONG – 1962

Image result for Where the Sidewalk ends This song by accomplished author Shel Silverstein was made very popular by The Irish Rovers in 1968. Silverstein was fascinated by folklore, myths, fables and legends. The lyrics to the song were printed as a poem in Silverstein’s book Where the Sidewalk Ends. What seems to be a timeless Irish folk song was written by a Jewish children’s book author from Chicago.

When the Irish Rover’s picked it up for recording, their – – “very, very authentic Irish sound and ethnic background” complemented the subject of the piece. It remains one of the best-known songs of the Irish Rovers’ long career, who were named Band of the Year at the JUNO Awards in 1968. It was a #2 hit for them in North America and #5 in Ireland.

It can still be heard regularly in Irish Pubs. Image result for The Irish Rovers

In the original version of the song, The Irish Rovers speak half of the lyrics, as well as part of the 4th Chorus. The final line of the 5th verse is spoken freely without the music: “And that’s why you’ll never see a Unicorn to this very day”. Many people today also claim there are gestures that accompany the song. 

THE UNICORN SONG

Oh Danny Boy

IRISH SONGS – IN HONOUR OF ST. PATRICK’S DAY

6. OH DANNY BOY – 1910/1913

Image result for Oh Danny BoyA ballad set to an ancient Irish melody. The words were written by English songwriter Frederic Weatherly in Bath, Somerset, in 1910, and eventually set to the Irish tune of “Londonderry Air” when his Irish-born sister-in-law, living in the U.S., sent him a copy of the song in 1913.

Jane Ross of Limavady (Londonderry, Northern Ireland) is credited with collecting the melody of “Londonderry Air” in the mid-19th century from a musician she encountered.

By the time it was recorded in 1915, Weatherly’s Oh Danny Boy was one of the most popular songs in the new century. Through the years it has become Image result for John McDermott Danny Boyan unofficial signature song of Irish Canadians due to our own close ties to Great Britain.

Over the years this song has had more Top Ten rankings than any other Irish song, beginning with Judy Garland in 1940; Glen Miller, 1940; Bing Crosby, 1945; 1956 Ruby Murray – The Voice of Ireland in Ireland, UK. In the 60’s: Andy Williams, Connie Francis, Patti LaBelle, Johnny Cash and Ray Price. 1972 Roy Orbison and Canadian Glen Campbell; 1976 Elvis Presley; 1990 Carly Simon; 1992 Canadian John McDermott.

Oh Danny Boy From the Ukulele Club of Santa Perez.

I’m Looking Over a Four-Leaf Clover

IRISH SONGS – IN HONOUR OF ST. PATRICK’S DAY

5. I’M LOOKING OVER A FOUR-LEAF CLOVER – 1927

Related imageWritten by Bronxeville, New York composer Mort Dixon, whose first hit was That Old Gang of Mine in 1923, followed by Bye Bye Blackbird in 1926.

Music composed by Harry M. Woods (a Tin Pan Alley Songwriter of the depression years), of Boston, Mass. Woods also wrote these hit songs: When the Red, Red Robin and Side By Side, among others.

The original hit recordings of the song were made in 1927, but the song was revived in 1948 by several artists, most notably Art Mooney, whose recording topped the charts for 18 weeks. (First result to come up on Youtube)

Ukulele-playing television personality Arthur Godfrey also had a hit recording of this Related imagesong during the same year, topping the North American charts at #14. It is likely that no other single person has been directly responsible for the sale of as many ukuleles as Arthur Godfrey, an enormously popular television star of the 1950’s and 60’s.

http://www.ukulele.org/?Inductees:2000-2001:Arthur_Godfrey

This song was created after WWI and during the Roaring Twenties. Musically it’s called a Chorus Song. Lyrically it’s an Appreciation Song. Times were tough during the first Word War, but we survived and are having fun in the 1920’s! As the U.S. entered the second World War in 1941, it was a very popular big band song on the Eastern coast, and became an Irish-American WWII tribute song which was played repeatedly in home-coming parades.

I’m Looking Over a Four-Leaf Clover This version is from Dr. Uke and we like to play it twice over. There is another version that has verses, and below is a video of the song as performed by Donny and Marie Osmond.

Lord of the Dance

IRISH SONGS – IN HONOUR OF ST. PATRICK’S DAY

4. LORD OF THE DANCE – 1963 – Gospel

Related image A Traditional Shaker hymn “Simple Gifts”, words added by Sydney Carter, 1963. Carter was an English poet, song writer and folk musician who wrote many folk songs, carols and gospel songs. During WWII he served as a volunteer in the Friend’s Ambulance Service in Egypt, Palestine and Greece, and was a self-described pacifist.

Regarding Lord of the Dance, Carter wrote that he was using the metaphors of dancing and playing music, ie. playing a flute or pipe, to represent the life and times of Jesus. Related image

Due to it’s musical allusion to flute playing, it has long been associated with traditional Irish music.

Lord of the Dance An excellent adaptation made available by the Bytown Uke Group – BUG, based in Ottawa.

Molly Malone

IRISH SONGS – IN HONOUR OF ST. PATRICK’S DAY

3. MOLLY MALONE – 1883, Boston, Massachusetts

Image result for molly maloneAlso known as “Cockles and Mussels”, or “In Dublin’s Fair City”, this popular song is set in Dublin, Ireland, and has become the unofficial anthem of Dublin. The song is sung regularly by fans at soccer and hurling matches, and June 13 has been officially declared Molly Malone Day.

Whether or not Molly ever existed is a long-time debate. The statue of her on lower Grafton Street, erected in 1987, depicts a woman in a 17th century dress wheeling a cart. Though Historians claim she lived in the 1600’s, the song “Cockles and Mussels/Molly Mallone” does not appear in any historic musical record before the 1880’s. She is typically represented as a fishmonger by day and a street-walker by night.

MOLLY MALONE C This version is in the Key of C, developed by our group, T’UkeS.

When Irish Eyes Are Smiling

IRISH SONGS – IN HONOUR OF ST. PATRICK’S DAY

2. WHEN IRISH EYES ARE SMILING – 1912

Image result for the isle o' dreams This song is the unofficial anthem of all those who consider themselves to be “Irish Americans”.

To quote Irish Fun Facts: “Written by two of New York’s most prolific professional songwriters, in collaboration with a leading vaudeville performer, none of them Irish.” The credits are shared by George Graff Jr and Chauncey Olcott who wrote the words, and Ernest R. Ball who composed the music for Olcott’s stage production of The Isle O’ Dreams, and Olcott sang the song in the show. In 1912 this was a time when songs in tribute to a romanticized Ireland were very numerous and popular both in Britain and the United States.

Bing Crosby recorded the most iconic version in 1939, then again in 1946 for a movie Image result for when Irish Eyes are smiling
soundtrack, and then released on his album of that name in 1952 which featured all Irish tunes.

When Irish Eyes Are Smiling G This is the traditional version in the Key of G

When Irish Eyes are Smiling Our version, Tillsonburg Uke Society – T’UkeS – in the Key of C.

My Wild Irish Rose

IRISH SONGS – IN HONOUR OF ST. PATRICK’S DAY

1. MY WILD IRISH ROSE – 1899

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Probably the most famous song that Irish-American Chauncey Olcott ever turned out, published in 1899. The inspiration came from a trip to his mother’s homeland (Ireland) in 1898 by Olcott and his wife, during which a child offered her a flower. When she asked what kind it was, they were told “a wild Irish rose.” Mrs. Olcott had saved the flower by pressing it into an album. Chauncey Olcott was an American stage actor, songwriter and singer of Irish descent, widely known as an accomplished tenor. He co-wrote the popular Irish-American tune “When Irish Eyes Are Smiling”. An Oscar-winning movie depicting the life and times of Olcott was made in 1947, called “My Wild Irish Rose”.

 

My Wild Irish Rose (1)  This version is available from the San Jose Uke Club, with verses.

My Wild Irish Rose  This is our version, also available in a different key at the Doctor Uke website.

 

The Wild Irish Month!

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March was the best month! Since I am part Irish I really enjoy St. Patrick’s Day songs during the month of March, and even though I don’t know very many authentically Irish songs I do like to regard it as “St. Patrick’s Month”.

This year I was pretty busy preparing songs for the new uke group that I co-founded with my good friend Cheryl. We decided in February to change our delivery of instruction to the group, beginning with a 30-minute instruction that is relevant to the songs we are going to play in the jam session.

Erin Go Bragh

In the spirit of “St. Patrick’s Month” – when everyone is Irish! – I have researched some songs and written some blurbs. I hope none of you will find it too tedious but I am going to do a separate post per song, so that if I want to  include a video it will not be too long of a post. I have several songs already blurbbed up, so I will be doing those first.

For this post, I have created a fun little cue card trivia game that you can use as an ice-breaker and to build anticipation, or use to fill in between songs when you feel your group needs a little break. Just print it out on thicker card stock instead of paper, flip it over and print out the Answer document on the reverse, and presto chango, you’re a St. Patrick’s Day game show host!

Cue Card Game

Cue Card Game Answers