Here...we...go. The history of the song Danny Boy is a long and foggy one. The words I've transposed here were penned in 1910. The author was an English lawyer (Not Irish, as many would contend), Frederic Edward Weatherly (1848-1929). He had written over 1500 songs in his lifetime, many of which are by now famous standards. End of story.

Not quite.

Originally, These oh-so-famous words were penned to a not-so-spectacular tune, and the song "Danny Boy" went over like a led balloon.

Until...

Fast Forward - 1912.

Weatherly's sister-in-law from The United States sends him the manuscript to a song entitled (many things, but most of the time) "Londonderry Air." The tune fit the words to Weatherly's ill fated original "Danny Boy," he slaps the new tune and the old words together and Bam! the song we know today.

But wait, there's more.

No one could figure out where the hell "Londonderry Air" came from. Well, an early account of the tune is held in the book entitled Ancient Music of Ireland. Here the song is untitled, but is accompanied by this note

"For the following beautiful air I have to express my very grateful acknowledgment to Miss J. Ross, of N.-T.-Limavady, in the county of Londonderry..."

OK. So there's the name and that's that.

But wait, there's more.

Miss Ross claimed she jotted down the ditty when it was played to her by a blind fiddler (by some analyses this man may have been Blind Jimmy McCurry, a local fiddla n'jiva at the time, but I digress). Where did the blind dude get his song?

Flash Back. - 1796

A book was released by the name of A General Collection of the Ancient Irish Music, and contained within the book was a song entitled Aislean an Oigfear ("The Young Man's Dream"). Well, this Young Man's Dream bears an uncanny resemblance to "Londonderry Air." OK, so Danny Boy's melody goes back a ways. To 1796 in fact.

But wait, there's more.

Upon further fumbling through the manuscripts of Olde, some English words were found written to the turn of our Danny Boy, this time in the mid 1700s, in a Scottish Manuscript. So this brings up the question of whether or not Danny Boy's tune is of Irish, English, or Scottish origin. So the tradition Irish song we all know and love certainly isn't Irish in lyric, and might not be Irish in melody. Dizamn

Without further delay, the lyrics to...Danny Boy.

Oh Danny boy, the pipes, the pipes are calling,
From glen to glen and down the mountain side,
The summer's gone and all the flowers dying,
'Tis you, 'tis you must go and I must bide.

But come ye back when summer's in the meadow,
Or when the valley's hushed and white with snow,
'tis I'll be there in sunshine or in shadow,
Oh Danny boy, oh Danny boy I love you so.

But if ye come when all the flowers dying,
And I am dead, as dead I well may be,
You'll come and find the place where I am lying,
And kneel and say an "Ave" there for me.

And I shall hear, tho' soft you tread above me,
And all my dreams will warm and sweeter be,
If you'll not fail to tell me that you love me,
I simply sleep in peace until you come to me.


The vast majority of this stuff I yoinked from my dad and the excellent research of www.standingstones.com.
Also, a song written by Larry Kirwin for his band, Black 47. It appears as the eleventh song on their second album, Home of the Brave.

The story of this song starts on their first album (besides the previously released Black 47), Fire of Freedom. The third song on this album, Rockin' the Bronx, is their "history of the band to date" song of the album (each of their albums has at least one of these). In it, Larry Kirwin complains about the poor reception of Black 47 among Irish-Americans in New York. They complain, it seems, about the non-traditionalist sound of the group. Larry retorts with the line, "the next thing you'll be wanting is Danny Boy," a clear reference to the fact that Black 47 is a progressive Irish band, and doesn't wish to sound traditional.

Well, their second album comes along, and they've done their own version of Danny Boy. This one is a hip-hop influenced song about a gay guy, Danny, who comes over to America from Ireland to live his life. He is, of course, poorly received on the docks where he works, but too proud, and too strong to let that stop him. The song ends with Danny dying on a hospital bed, and the narrator sings the traditional lines of Danny Boy to him.

This song was released just before the big fiasco with they gay club that wanted to march in the St. Paddy's Day parade in New York. I've never once seen Black 47 perform this song live (and I can't count the number of times I've seen Black 47 perform).

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