Saturday, March 17, 2007

Mick Ryan's Belated Birthday Greetings

There are likely a good many readers who, as I say time and again, probably wonder why this blog isn't called, 'Why I Love Tim O'Brien" -- but that's kind of silly, don't you think?

No? Good! Because Tim O'Brien is not just a phenomenal musician, but Irish too, and I can think of no better way this Saint Patrick's Day to honor bluegrass than to call out yet another song he's recorded about the Emerald Isle.

But good LORD, which one?! Well, being a wee bit morbid these days, I have to share one of my favorites, Mick Ryan's Lament. It's the story of a man who came over to America, got swept up in an survived the Civil War, only to follow Custer out West, and well, you probably know how that story ends. It's from what may be my favorite Tim album, Two Journeys (although the Crossing is really good for mixin' in all that Irish stuff too). As Tim says, the really cool thing about this tune is that the guy's still singing after he's dead.

My Two Journeys cd mysteriously disappeared a while ago, hasn't been seen in a long time. I really miss it, and I hope it's being thoroughly enjoyed.

I hope however you're celebrating today, and if, that you're in touch with those things that matter to you, in touch with the struggles, in touch with the good stuff, in touch with meaning. Tim's music and philosophy have held a lot of meaning for me over the last five or six years and they still do, there's something about it that has been kind of a soul compass, if you will. I feel really lucky to have been put in touch with his work (and every now and then, with Tim and his gang, thanks to Earl from Ohio!).

Tim just celebrated a birthday, so raise a glass for this much beloved singer songwriter from Wheeling WV (all hail).

Mick Ryan's Lament

From Two Journeys

(1999 by Robert Emmet Dunlap, Prodigal Salmon Music/ASCAP)

Well my name is Mick Ryan, I'm lyin here still
In a lonely spot near where I was killed
By a red man defending his native land
In the place that they call Little Big Horn

And I swear I did not see the irony
When I rode with the Seventh Cavalry
I thought that we fought for the land of the free
When we rode from Fort Lincoln that morning

And the band they played the Garryowen
Brass was shining, flags a flowin
I swear if I had only known
I'd have wished that I'd died back at Vicksburg

For my brother and me, we had barely escaped
From the hell that was Ireland in forty eight
Two angry young lads who had learned how to hate
But we loved the idea of Amerikay

And we cursed our cousins who fought and bled
In their bloody coats of bloody red
The sun never sets on the bloody dead
Of those who have chosen an empire

But we'd find a better life somehow
In the land where no man has to bow
It seemed right then and it seems right now
That Paddy he died for the union

Ah, but Michael he somehow got turned around
He had stolen the dream that he thought he'd found
Now I never will see that holy ground
For I turned into something I hated

And I'm haunted by the Garryowen
Drums a beating, bugles blowin'
I swear if I had only known
I'd lie with my brother in Vicksburg

And the band they played that Garryowen
Brass was shin, flags a flowin'
I swear if I had only known,
I'd lie with my brother at Vicksburg


At March 18, 2007 9:28 AM, Anonymous Earl said...

ANita does "Brigadoon" on the 23rd and 24th.

NOT ONLY are Lunasa and Dervish playing at OTS but I just found out that Old Crow Medicine Show is playing at the Victoria Theater in Dayton on the 24th.

I have been wanting to see those cats ever since I saw them on Garrison Keilor's New years Eve show.


We can go for many, many MONTHS without a worthwhile show within driving range and now this...

On the other hand, the local "newgrass" band that I went to see last night didn't do it for me. I am sooo spoiled -- people whose "roots" are fourth generation poseurs just don't get me off any more. I'm a terminal stage roots music junkie. Only the KILLER stuff keeps me from going into withdrawals.

I had to put "PLAY LIVE" (Old Blind Dogs) on full blast in the van on the way home to keep my sanity.

Freakin' good thing that I didn't get pulled over. "The Battle of Harlaw" might have been tough to explain... Oh well, I got my shot of Jameson's and my pint so it was "officially" St Patrick's Day.

At March 18, 2007 12:24 PM, Blogger Mando Mama said...

Och, Aye, I feel the pain of no good live tunes within miles, that's for sure. My main motivation in trying to get a fest going over here is because I'm tired of driving all over the mid-atlantic or beyond. I'm doing Wilmington OH in a few weeks, but gave up on Merlefest this year. I can't even get to the Pennyroyal Opera House outside Cambridge on Friday nights in time for their shows unless I leave work early.

The bane of working for great folks at a job I'm still closer to music with than most anything else I imagine I'd be doing right now: no help, almost no time off. Working two nights this week helping run after-hours interviews. I wouldn't really trade it for anything but a full-time music gig, and then I'd probably be working four nights a week and weekends, right?!

Sigh. People not in the small-biz, family enterprise, indie, arts and culture world don't get it. Och.

I hope we can all meet up for a show soon.


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