“Siúl a rún” and Mary Black

I cannot say that I was ever a great admirer of the Irish singer Mary Black. I put thist down to the fact that she, while still fairly young, and with a lot more to offer as an interpreter of traditional Irish songs than she had as an of popular songtress, she attempted, with, I hate to admit, some considerable commercial success, to appeal to a Middle of the Road audience. 

 Fom that point on she made every effort she could to play it safe – the material was familiar and unchallenging, the musicians and musicians were competent at turning out things tha pleased the ear, and and generally the albums were as smooth as you could wish for – but there’s a missing sparkle. In other words, there was nothing that either offended or more than please.

Even when material that might have asked of her to do something more than give her usual breathy reading – Aker Bilk/Mellin Stranger on the Shore,  Sandy Denny’s Full Moon and a few Dylan’s come to mind – she rarely rises to the occasion, or provides the listener with anything more than something that is pleasing to the ear. 

It’s only when you hear her sing a traditional song like Siúl a rún that you realise that all the talent she had has not yet been sarcificed to her crowd pleasing instincts.

 Siúl a rún

Siúl a rún

I would I were on yonder hill
It’s there I’d sit and cry my fill
And every tear would turn the mill Is go dté tú mo mhúirnín slán
** And may you go safely, my darlingSiúl siúl siúl a rún
** Go, go, go, my love
Siúl go socair ‘is siúl go ciúin
** Go quietly and go peacefully
Siúl go doras agus éalaigh liom
** Go to the door and fly with me
Is go dté tú mo mhúirnín slán
** And may you go safely, my darling
I’ll sell my rock, I’ll sell my reel
I’ll sell my only spinning wheel
For to buy my love a coat of steel
Is go dté tú mo mhúirnín slán
I’ll dye my petticoats, I’ll dye them red
And ’round the world I’ll beg for bread
Until my parents would wish me dead
Is go dté tú mo mhúirnín slán

And now my love has gone to France
To try his fortune to advance
If he ne’er came back, there’ll be but a chance
Is go dté tú mo mhúirnín slán


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