Wednesday, August 08, 2007

Another Somewhat Overdue Tribute

Tommy Makem passed away last week at the age of 74. I've seen tributes from several bloggers including Chestertonian (and, by the way, welcome to the blogosphere - it's about time!) and Causa Nostrae Laetitiae.

I couldn't let this pass without a post because his music is another one of those significant little milestones that have become a real part of our family.

You see, my husband and I started dating partly because of our common interest in Irish music - an interest I had only begun to pick up a few months earlier in the TAC development office (where I worked, as I may have mentioned before, among others with Margot one of Danielle's sisters) at the instigation of a co-worker named, believe it or not, Patrick Finegan. That was during my Freshman year at TAC, a time in which the development office was squished into a tiny four-room trailer. All of the students assigned to the office had to put in their work-study hours after office hours, which wasn't much fun scheduling-wise but definitely gave us a sense of camaraderie.

Anyway, a couple of months before we started dating John was planning a beach trip that my roommate was already heading to. If I remember right John had a boombox in hand with Irish music playing (to get people in the mood?) and I figured some singing would be a fun part of the evening. I've always loved the friendliness and openness of casual, fun group singing that Irish music is so conducive to. I don't really remember anything about the beach trip itself, just the planning part. :)

Over the years we've seen Tommy Makem in concert a number of times at the great Milwaukee Irish Fest and sung his* songs at beaches, round the campfire and to many little tots - especially ones getting anxious on long car trips when we need to make it *just a little further* ... please!

*Yes, I understand that many of the songs we've learned through him weren't written by him, but were simply introduced to us by him.

Joy - I just found that Tommy Makem's website has a huge database of lyrics. You don't know how much trouble we went to in college trying to learn the lyrics to his songs!!!

Here are a few of our favorites that might be heard in our house any odd time of the day or year:

The Ballad of Saint Anne's Reel
The Band Played Waltzing Matilda
Big Ship Sailing
The Castle of Dromore
Johnny McEldoo (as much as we tried, we never were able to figure out all the words to this song)
Mountain Dew
New South Wales
Rambles of Spring
Red is the Rose
The Wild Rover
Winds of Morning

There are two more I thought we first heard from a Makem and Clancy recording, but I couldn't find in the lyrics section - "All God's Creatures Got a Place in the Choir" and "Waltzing with Bears."

Tommy Makem, rest in peace.


Leticia said...

Thanks for sharing your Irish music memories, and the great link to his lyrics. What a legacy he left for us!
I would especially love to be able to sing one of his ballads in Irish, they are so hauntingly beautiful.

Willa said...

Oh, you wrote the post I didn't get around to -- even to the favorite songs. May he rest in peace.