Sunday, September 28, 2008

Crossroads of Ireland

The first song you hear in the morning are the crows. The Jack Daw Ravens of time and tide. Irish Magpies. Wild cawing news of Yeats resurrected, perhaps from the sea on hangdog Irish mornings. Next comes the sound of dead Guinness barrels scrapping across the wet alley pavement; loaded on fog bound trucks behind the Longford Arms Hotel. And the night before the bearded lads were staring into their Guinness pints until they thought up a song; sung them low and dreamy and a sad and drunk and wistful and all of it; don’t matter if it was "Ragland Road" or "Bobby McGee," for it all sounded timeless and Irish. No matter where it come from, lad. The sessions! "But the bottles are done…we've killed each one….." And the lads sang "The Parting Glass," and disappeared into the mist. And right around the corner; upstairs in an empty storefront: "the International Pentecostal Church of Lost Souls," full of displaced Africans shouting versions of old white Missionary hymns brought to Africa by the English and Americans, and now carried back to Ireland by the "saved" black tribesmen. Music everywhere. Fueled by a sharp passion and the reaching for an uncertain God. The gypsy man playing Parisian CafĂ© accordion while his wives work the streets for coins in long red dresses. Babies on their backs. The crossroads of central Ireland. All the waitresses are from Poland. Forget any Brogue served up with your toast and tea. Wild cross currents and shiftings and turnabouts. And America has transported its fast food across the waters to poison the cuisines of the Olde Country. Germ colonialism. Fat babies in Spain, Italy, Ireland and France gnawing on Hamburgers and fries. Jesus Christ! What has God wrought? Diabetes! This cross pollination of the good and the bad; the ugly. Hang the Earl of Hamburger! Melamine and poison in Chinese baby milk and candy. But music flaps it's ancient wings above all woe - it is the wail of the human heart trying to survive and rise above war, madness, disease, loss of love and money; death, poverty, politics and boredom. The melodies rising out of churches and pubs and restaurants and book stores. It is a more human sound then debating politicians and commercials for life insurance and the Catholic and Protestant and Jewish and Islamic sermons. It is the keening of humankind.
God invented man. The Italians invented food. The French invented "cuisine," and the Irish invented music. It is only the music that will save us. Embalmed by it we are! Yet still alive. Immunized.
"On Ragland Road…of an autumn's day….I saw her first and knew! That her dark hair would weave a snare….that I would one day roux…." (Patrick Kavanaugh)
"For I'm drunk today! And I'm rarely sober…a handsome rover….from town to town.
But I'm sick now, my days are numbered, come all ye young men….
and lay me down." (Carrickfergus)
And finally, the dead Guinness barrels sliding across the wet alley pavement…on another Irish morning. Amen, lads, amen.


dynawebb said...

Hey, Tom you didn't mention the soda bread...

dynawebb said...

And here's the poet AND the late great Luke Kelly with Raglan Road

If you get the chance to see Liam Clancy perform you can guarantee some tears when he talks about Luke...

Ruahines said...

Kia ora Tom,
Van's version of Raglan Road was the first I ever heard, with the Chieftans in 86 I recall. I just got done listening to your version of Ira Hayes. They both mean a lot.
Ka kite ano,

Saddle Tramp said...

TR . . . your Irish mist soaked words are a comfort and your travel notes a welcome. As for me, I was awakened this morning at my downtown Portland curbside campsite ( where I unload at the curb ) by the backup alarms and the scraping of bakery by-product roll off containers being changed out and trash dumpsters being emptied. Compensation was granted by a walk to and from Powell's Books. All those geniuses staring down from the shelf. Bukowski and Burroughs, forever alphabetical neighbors on the shelf. " John Hammond on Record " explaining of all things how this American aristocrat ended up with a crew cut. Joe Schlitz on the outside and you know the rest. Also, finding out that creativity is the greatest aphrodisiac, contrary to the money angle and Kissinger's power theory. All three combined. Whew! That was gleaned from " Your Brain on Music. " a worthwhile trip. W.S. Auden quoting Dorothy day who quoted a jailhouse whore.

" Hundreds have lived without love
but none without water "

This was heard by Dorothy as they were being taken down for showers. He included it in a poem.

On my return walk, I stumbled onto The Laughing Horse, a radical anarchist bookstore. Took a quick look. As it is I will also be reverse travelling The Oregon Trail with a load from Hood River, Oregon to Joplin, Missouri. Not quite Europe, but at least I am travelling. First a hike above Multnomah Falls on a 6 mile loop trail. The weather so many times here misty is all blue sky and sun.
Keep em' coming Tom. I never leave empty handed.

-ST Downtown Portland under the spinning loaf of bread.

Saddle Tramp said...

TR . . . Correction: That should have been W.H. Auden, not W.S. and he being such a stickler on the correct usage of the English language. I see [your] efforts are paying off nicely and we know back here that America is being well represented over there. My eyesight grows dimmer by the mile, that and this damn predictive text that slips by me along with a keyboard designed for infant sized fingers.


Unknown said...

Tom, once again you spun your magic in storytelling.
Reads like the stuff your songs are made of.
Tom and I enjoyed the 2 hour workshop on Saturday and feel we got to know you and your talent for writing stories and weaving them into songs.
Hope to see you out at Chinati Hot Springs some day. It is magical out there and always touches me spiritually.

Tom and I moved onward to Westport after the workshop and are now in Galway.

Looking forward to seeing you in Austin in February next year. Tell Michael sorry that I missed seeing him in Longford.

Kathleen Griffith

Saddle Tramp said...

TR . . . Sorry, but lest someone misconstrue my W.H. Auden mention I thought I should clarify. As I recall, Dorothy Day was locked up for protesting and was being held in a womans detention center in New York City. On their way down for a weekly shower, a prostitute yelled out " Hundreds have lived without love
but none without water "
Her math was off, but her answer was correct. These were the last two lines of Audens poem that had recently been in the New Yorker Magazine. Even though her quote was not verbatim, the truth came through. When Dorothy quoted the prostitutes lines to Auden he realized through that kind of readership he was doing the right thing.

" Thousands have lived without love
but not one without water "

( I think that is correct ) my photographic memory has become more and more out of focus. Sorry.

-ST At the Wahkeena / Larch Mountain Trail crossing 3 miles up the trail with exceptional reception.