Monday, November 17, 2014

Remembrance of the Road: Dervish and "The Trip to Sligo"

The Trip to Sligo by Dervish on Grooveshark

The Trip to Sligo, today's random song, is one that I can identify with because I made the trip to Sligo from Belfast by bus one beautiful sunny day in the late 1990s. Ireland is a beautiful country, and we rolled through the hills of Northern Ireland toward the coast. I was with three Germans, and our plan was to get out at Sligo and hitchhike down to Galway. For a number of reasons this was a bad idea but we did it, splitting up into two groups of a man and a woman so that we would be able to get rides. It took a long time.

Because of this, I never stopped in Sligo, which was a pity because Sligo was the childhood and spiritual home of one of the most illustrious poets of the English language, William Butler Yeats. Despite the fact that he only really spent his childhood there, Yeats was buried in County Sligo after a long literary, political career and somewhat tempestuous personal life. Here is a poem by him that I think relates to today's song and mentions Sligo as well:

The Fiddler of Dooney
by William Butler Yeats

When I play on my fiddle in Dooney.
Folk dance like a wave of the sea;
My cousin is priest in Kilvarnet,
My brother in Mocharabuiee.
I passed my brother and cousin:
They read in their books of prayer;
I read in my book of songs
I bought at the Sligo fair.
When we come at the end of time
To Peter sitting in state,
He will smile on the three old spirits,
But call me first through the gate;
For the good are always the merry,
Save by an evil chance,
And the merry love the fiddle,
And the merry love to dance:
And when the folk there spy me,
They will all come up to me,
With "Here is the fiddler of Dooney!"
And dance like a wave of the sea.  

Fiddling (and fluting with guitar accompaniment) is a part of today's song.  Dervish is a traditional Irish band from County Sligo described by the BBC as an "icon" of Irish music. Formed in 1993, they represented Ireland in 2007 in the finals of the Eurovision song contest. They have also been known to stand for their principles. In 2012 they canceled tour dates in Israel and announced a cultural boycott of the country, which in turn led to a negative backlash at home. The Trip to Sligo is from their 1997 album Live in Palma, and is a set of reels.