Tuesday, February 11, 2014

The Rocky Road to Dublin

Not really rocky--I just love the song, here with the Clancy Brothers and Tommy Makem-- although Thursday's maybe huge storm is sending me out a day earlier than planned. I'm going to capital of Eire, for you crossword fans, for President's Day Weekend to sing a service at St. Patrick's Cathedral, founded in 1191. Whoa.

Unlike New York, this cathedral, named for the uber Catholic patron saint of an uber Catholic country in its capital, is Protestant (to Americans), Church of England, there called Church of Ireland, summing up the whole difficult history of that Emerald Isle beside the Scepter'd Isle. I love that the wikipedia page for the cathedral lists "previous denomination" as Roman Catholic, because of course it started as a Roman Catholic Cathedral, until the Reformation. OMG, such a succinct description of centuries of bloodshed.

From Wiki
After the English Reformation (an uneven process between 1536 and 1564 but at St. Patrick's, effective from about 1537), St. Patrick's became an Anglican Church of Ireland Cathedral, although most of the population of the surrounding Pale remained Roman Catholic. During the confiscation process, some images within the cathedral were defaced by soldiers under Thomas Cromwell, and neglect led to collapse of the nave in 1544.

 Jonathon Swift was the dean of St. Patrick's from 1713 to 1745, which is why in my very first visit to Ireland while studying in Southampton, England, I made a literary pilgrimage there.

The other big, medieval cathedral, down the Dublin block is Christ Church . It is also "previous denomination" Roman Catholic, but actually Protestant/Church of England/Ireland for the rest of Europe. Even more interesting, for those who follow such things, is that technically, Christ Church is the cathedral that the Vatican recognizes as the rightful seat of the Roman Catholic archbishop. But he's over in St Mary's,  known as a "pro-cathedral"in acknowledgement of the former statement.

Welcome to Irish/English history. Is it a wonder that Queen Elizabeth II made the supreme effort to visit while she could, and put some sense into this difficult past. The Penal Laws and the Troubles are not to be taken lightly, but the world has moved on.

I'm singing in a service in St. Patrick's because of a wonderful community that Ghislaine Morgan has formed.  She is a professional soprano who runs a week-long choral workshop in Sintra, Portugal, which I attended. And she has devoted students who run reunions in their own cities, like Berlin and Bologna. It's much easier for the Europeans to go to a weekend reunion than the isolated Americans, but when I heard it was Dublin, and on a 3-day weekend, I signed up.

St. Valentine's Day
And, as fate would have it, I will be in  ancestor's land on February 14. It feels like a cosmic Celtic embrace of the the land of my forefathers.

I had read that the relics of the actual martyred St. Valentinus were given to an Irish Carmelite priest in the 19th century, and he interred them at Our Lady of Mt. Carmel.

They are brought to the high altar on the feast day. I thought it would be interesting to see, if it wasn't too far out of my way. Turns out the church is literally between my hotel and St. Patrick's Cathedral, by complete chance. Lots of background about how the saint ended up in Dublin here.

 I don't know how much sightseeing I will get in in between jet lag, rehearsals, and the reunion activities. But I'll be tweeting from the Old Country. You can follow along here

The lyrics to the great "Rocky Road to Dublin"

In the merry month of June, From me home I started,
Left the girls of Toom, Nearly broken hearted,
Saluted father dear, Kissed my darlin' mother,
Drank a pint of beer, My grief and tears to smother,
Then off to reap the corn, leave where I was born,
with a stout blackthorn, To banish ghost and goblin,
In a brand new pair of brogues, I rattled o'er the bogs,
And frightened all the dogs, On the rocky road to Dublin.

One, two, three, four five,
Hunt the hare and turn her
Down the rocky road
And all the ways to Dublin,

In Mullingar that night, I rested limbs so weary,
Started by daylight, My spirts light and airy,
Took a drop of the pure, To keep my heart from sinkin',
That's the paddie's cure, Whene'er he's on for drinking.
To see the lasses smile, Laughing all the while,
At my curious style, 'Twould set your heart a-bubblin'.
They ax'd if I was hired, The wages I required,
Till I was nearly tired, Of the rocky road to Dublin.

In Dublin next arrived, I thought it such a pity,
To be so soon deprived, A view of that fine city.
Then I took a stroll, All among the quality,
Bundle it was stole, In a neat locality;
Something crossed my mind, Then I looked behind;
No bundle could I find, Upon my stick a wobblin'.
Enquirin' for the rogue, They said my Connacht brogue,
Wasn't much in vogue, On the rocky road to Dublin.

One, two, three, four five,
Hunt the hare and turn her
Down the rocky road
And all the ways to Dublin,

From there I got away, My spirits never failin'
Landed on the quay As the ship was sailin';
Captain at me roared, Said that no room had he,
When I jumped aboard, A cabin found for Paddy,
Down among the pigs I played some funny rigs,
Danced some hearty jigs, The water round me bubblin',
When off Holyhead, I wished myself was dead,
Or better far instead, On the rocky road to Dublin.

One, two, three, four five,
Hunt the hare and turn her
Down the rocky road
And all the ways to Dublin,

The boys of Liverpool, When we safely landed,
Called myself a fool; I could no longer stand it;
Blood began to boil, Temper I was losin',
Poor ould Erin's isle They began abusin',
Hurrah my soul, sez I, My shillelagh I let fly;
Some Galway boys were by, Saw I was a hobble in,
Then with a loud hurray, They joined in the affray.
We quickly cleared the way, For the rocky road to Dublin.

One, two, three, four five,
Hunt the hare and turn her
Down the rocky road
And all the ways to Dublin,

Sunday, February 9, 2014

"In my life, I love you more" Paul McCartney to John Lennon

The Beatles were not the band of my youth. I didn't know about them until the midseventies, after they had broken up. And I didn't have a epiphany when I did learn about them. That came much later.

I know exactly where I was when I heard John Lennon was murdered. But the shock didn't have that extra personal depth that fans feel when someone they feel attached to dies.

But I'm excited about the 50th anniversary of the Beatles first appearance on Ed Sullivan today because my late-in-life Beatles love came when working on an exhibit at the Paley Center of photographs from the group's beginnings in Liverpool. And that fired my imagination. How Johh, Paul, and George found each other as teens, and completed themselves later with Ringo, and went on to change the world in all the ways people have been talking about since then. Theirs was a positive energy filled with love and yearning amidst the bloodless revolution they were creating.

The talent of Lennon and McCartney is one of the great phenomenons of all time and their relationship one of the great love stories of the 20th century.

In My Life
This first video is from the Anthology documentary series that Paul, George, and Ringo, along with Yoko Ono for John, did in 1995 so that they could tell their own story. The opening montage to "In My Life" tells you everything you need to know about them.

"Some for ever, not for better" dissolves from John in Germany at the very beginning, to John on the Let It Be rooftop, the last time the Beatles played together. Having the "not for better" lyric over that Rooftop image is a pretty strong editorial judgment: Paul didn't like what John had become.

Then later is a dissolve from Paul to  John: "In my life,  I love you more." And there you have it.

Revolution: But When You Talk About Destruction You Can Count Me Out

Across the Universe: Sounds of Laughter Shades of Life

(top photo: AP via Daily News