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NY Times : The Sounds That Crossed the Water and Took Root

jeudi 17 mars 1994

Source : NY Times

From The New York Times :

March 17, 1994

Review/TelevisionThe Sounds That Crossed the Water and Took Root


"Irish Music and America," a documentary on the Disney Channel tonight, conveys the distinct and misleading impressionthat just about every American tune ever composed has its roots in Ireland. It’s a harmless bit of blarney, much like insistingthat on St. Patrick’s Day everybody is Irish.

But "A Musical Migration," as the show is subtitled, does make an impressive case for the widespread influence of Irish music and musicians. Brought to the United States by waves of immigrants, it can be found clearly in Civil War songs ("TheLakes of Pontchartrain"), in cowboy songs and, most obviously, in bluegrass and country music. Bono of the rock group U2 says : "I didn’t know I was Irish until I went to America. It was amazing to go to Graceland, the birthplace of rock-and-roll, and find that the Irish had already been there in their songs and in their tunes." Believing that the strength of the Irish tradition resides in its "treasury of magnificent melodies," the folk singer Pete Seeger does point out that Ireland represents only one of "two big strains" in American music, the other being African. There is passing mention of the Irish tradition’s often really beinga Scots-Irish tradition, but it is left to Elvis Costello to underscore the point by performing his own "Mischievous Ghost," inspired by a Scottish murder ballad.

Irish humor is at a premium in this survey, narrated by the singer Emmylou Harris. The tone is set at the very start with a clip of President John F. Kennedy reminding a crowd in County Galway of how James Joyce, remembering all those Irish forced to leave home, called the Atlantic Ocean "a bowl of bitter tears." Many of the musical selections here focus on the loneliness, isolation and anger of the immigrant experience. But it is beguilingly interpreted by a host of fine performers, also including the Everly Brothers, Ricky Skaggs, John Prine, the Clancy Brothers, Richard Thompson and, visiting from Ireland, Mary Black, Delores Keane and Christy Moore.

Bono offers a dramatic example of Irish music’s reinventing itself with his new composition "A Wild Irish Rose," inspired not by the traditional Irish ballad, but by a cheap wine called Wild Irish Rose. He saw homeless people drinking it on the streets of Los Angeles. Noting that the rose in Ireland is a romantic symbol of the nation itself, he says it is "an image I thought it would be nice to subvert." There is, thank heaven, no accounting for Irish rebelliousness. Irish Music in America A Musical Migration Disney Channel, tonight at 10:05. Directed by Peter Carr ; musical director, Donal Lunny ; produced by Philip King for Hummingbird Production in association with the Disney Channel ; Kieran Corrigan, executive producer ; Emmylou Harris, narrator.

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