Tuesday, June 1, 2010

Truth, Honor, and Freedom (thinking of Memorial Day)

This AMAZINGLY BEAUTIFUL song sums up a lot of my personal way of looking at life. When I sing it, I substitute "all people" for "our people" for obvious reasons. Please send me a quick comment if you listened to the song and tell me if you like it, too. How do you feel about this post? It's different from the others....thanks.

Listen to it on this link (it's free):


Here are the lyrics:

Both sides the Tweed

What's the spring breathing jasmine and rose
What's the summer with all its gay train
What's the splendour of autumn to those
Who've bartered their freedom for gain.

Let the love of our land's sacred rights
To the love of our people succeed
Let friendship and honour unite
And flourish on both sides the Tweed.

No sweetness the senses can cheer
Which corruption and bribery bind
No brightness the sun can e'er clear
For honour's the sum of the mind.

(repeat chorus)
Let the love of our land's sacred rights
To the love of our people succeed
Let friendship and honour unite
And flourish on both sides the Tweed.

Let virtue distinguish the brave
Place riches in lowest degree
Think them poorest who can be a slave
Them richest who dare to be free.

(repeat chorus)
Let the love of our land's sacred rights
To the love of our people succeed
Let friendship and honour unite
And flourish on both sides the Tweed.

This is a beautiful ballad and was composed by Dick Gaughan. Copyright to lyrics = Dick Gaughan
The version you just listened to was recorded by Mary Black. It has also been recorded by Capercaillie. If you have never listened to Irish traditional music, you ought to give yourself the gift of at least checking it out. ;-)

Perhaps you know, or have figured out due to my name, that I am at the very least, significantly Irish. I speak some Gealic (though I've forgotten most of it), and sing some of the old songs in the old language. I was at 3 different traditional Irish sessiuns this weekend. We slept until almost time to go, took quick showers, and went straight to the sessiuns, and played Irish and Scottish traditional music through the night. I dozed off in the middle of about 20 top traditional Irish/Scottish musicians playing the best of the old music and my dreams danced like the Faerie.

Tonight (well forest is softening into light and the sweet sounds of sleepy birds awakening floats through my window, so it's really the next morning), I want to share with you the music that inspires me, moves me, informs me. This song pretty much defines my philosophy, although when I sing it, I substitute "all people" for "our people" for obvious reasons.

Tonight, many of the songs were about the wars and troubles when we were sold into slavery by the English, when our land was taken and made into farmland for England while we perished by the millions from starvation, or protest songs about Scotland being sold off to the English for gold ("they made us slaves for the sake of the gold"), and we were crammed into death ships and dumped off in Australia (being a criminal meant disagreeing w/ the English crown at that time - it's kinda like being banned, but the consequences are much worse). The Irish Famine, the divisions made between the different Celtic groups. Don't get me wrong - I have no problem w/ English people - it was their leaders at those times who did these things. And they also did them to the regular English people, too.

Like many peoples, the Celts (pronounced Kelts) have struggled to maintain their culture and integrity in the face of much opposition. I think this is true for most human beings at some point in their lives, too.
Anyway, some songs were protests, some were sad, but this one is by far my favorite because it is conciliatory and hopeful.

This bit of family history might also give you insight into why I am so against the twisting of truth and why I find it so scary when people are frightened into silence over something as mild as an anonymous chat room. It's scary. People used to give their lives to shelter a stranger - a Jew during WW2, a slave before/during the Civil War, anyone who is persecuted, during the persecution of that person's group.

To be too fearful to stand for the truth and to be a voice for those without a voice when the consequences are not death and dismemberment is astounding to me. So many people have given their lives for the freedom of others, for the truth to be allowed, for freedom of speech and thought.

This is a touching song that is sung in pretty much all Irish and Scottish music circles (which are everywhere by the way. Call your Irish pub and ask if they know of or if they have a "Traditional Music Session" and GO TO IT if you can!

Thank you to all the veterans who have freely given of their very lives for the sake of freedom and justice. We will never forget you.

-Stacey O'Brien (Steise Ni' Bhriain)


silkenpaw said...

Stacey, I love the song and this type of music in general.

I understand exactly why you fear the suppression of different opinions. My family and my husband's family left communist countries because their exercise of free speech put them at a disadvantage to those who toed the Party line.

Luckily, my country, Poland, is no longer under this type of government. Less luckily, my husband's country, Cuba, continues to suppress the rights of its citizens.

Unfortunately, such systems exist all over the world, but we must fight to discourage them in our daily life.

Monica K. said...

A beautiful, poignant song... and blog post. Thank you, Stacey, for reminding us that Memorial Day means more than picnics and sales.

mspeg said...

I was lucky enough to travel to Ireland once and it is my all-time favorite country to visit. The people are so friendly and welcoming, the food hearty and the tea divine. I stayed one night at Adare Manor - the fanciest place I ever stayed. When I was a young woman Tommy Makem was popular and "Butcher Boy" is my favorite Irish song - guaranteed to move me to tears each time I hear it.


I liked your song also.

Best, mspeg

Anonymous said...

Thanks for sharing your heritage and the music that touches me like no other can. Mary Black has one of the most incredible voices on the planet. Given their history, it's no surprise the Irish are have such a talent for tearing your heart out with song.
I met my Irish-born husband while we were both listening to traditional Irish music in Boston years ago. Six years ago last week he lost his battle with cancer, so it's been tough to listen to it for a while.
I'd never heard this song before. It is beautiful, and expresses sentiments not usually found in such ballads.
Maybe it's the time we live in.. a time when we seem more polarized than ever before politically. Some, especially in the media, seem completely dedicated to perpetuating an "us vs. them" mentality.
Focusing on the problems we face instead of the ways we're different, thinking the best of people and treating everyone with respect and dignity we have a chance to grow beyond the limits we place on ourselves and each other when we line up on one side or the other. We're all on the same side. Some of us just can't see that yet.

Charlotte said...

SO beautifully said, Mary. As the beauty and truth of the song's message echoed through each note of that crystalline voice, I listened with a catch in my throat. I would comment later.. First I would finish reading the post's reflective comments, then call my sister to tell her she HAD to read the blog and follow Stacey's link. As I reached the 4th heartfelt post the catch turned to tears.. My sister had already been here.. Bautifully said, Maizyb.

Susan said...

It's a beautiful song only the Irish sensibility can create. I wish the Mary Black recording used traditional instrumentation (harp, flute, fiddle, uillean pipes) -- guitar isn't a Celtic instrument and doesn't have the plaintive sound for Irish and Scottish ballads. Guitars developed in Moorish Spain and the Middle East and aren't really suitable for Celtic music.

I appreciate your blog, Stacey; I've learned so much from you.

Victoria B said...

Stacey: I love Mary Black. Thanks for putting Memorial Day into perspective. Unless you take a pause in life to reflect, you do end up blowing through important moments. There are lessons to be had, and I'm taking one from this post.

Maizb and Charlotte, you brought me to tears with the loss and love you both share. I am so proud to be working alongside the two of you.

God Bless

Victoria B said...

Stacey: I reread your posts to gleen from them what was missed the first time through. My spirit could not be crushed as a child. I have always been a fighter, and it makes me sad to see people turn away from conflict or trouble, especially when there are children or animals involved. I understand that fear stops them from getting involved.

Some of the chatters are now saying they knew the original design of the owl box needed a branching system. They were keeping quiet about their concerns. They were afraid to go against popular opinion.

Not everybody can be a soldier I suppose. I take comfort in seeing those individuals find a voice now. To know that our voices were being acknowledged even when I didn't think they were.

Craig said...

Hi Stacey, I hope you're still blogging and that you see my question regarding this post, even though it was four years ago.

I just attended a Full Set concert (www.fullsetmusic.com) and they performed this tune which is also on their second album. I love the song, and want to get everything out of the lyrics, but I'm a little confused by the exact meaning of the phrase, "To the love of our people succeed". Why is it, "To" the love of our people? What is the subject of "To"? I feel like I'm missing something. Can you help?