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Author Topic: Music: And in the cause of making Christmas music less insipid  (Read 2286 times)

SunflowerP

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And in the cause of making Christmas music less insipid
« on: December 11, 2014, 11:05:22 pm »
... I ran across this campaign to raise the profile of The Pogues' 'Fairytale of New York'.

From Marc Gunn's post, linked above:
Quote
For me, this is one of those quintessential Celtic Christmas songs. It captures a piece of Irish culture and history and flips it on its end during Christmas. It’s a powerful song that deserves international recognition.
Two things struck me while reading the article. First, it has grown in popularity every year since it was first released in 1987. It’s been a top 10 hit on the charts. But it has NEVER hit #1.

I have to admit that, though I'd heard of it, I'd never heard the song itself until I sought it out last year - at which point I fell in love with it. Since it was Cauldronites' enthusiastic mentions of it that prompted me to deliberately find it to check it out, I figured I'd share the campaign link here.

(For those who don't know, Marc Gunn is a musician, enthusiast, and proselyte of Celtic music of any sort, particularly though not exclusively independently-released; he has no stake in this aside from, 'the more people there are actively paying attention to this stuff, the better it is for all the artists,' and this campaign is for sheer love of the music.)

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Sophia C

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Re: And in the cause of making Christmas music less insipid....
« Reply #1 on: December 12, 2014, 03:41:40 am »
Quote from: SunflowerP;167235
... I ran across this campaign to raise the profile of The Pogues' 'Fairytale of New York'.

From Marc Gunn's post, linked above:


I have to admit that, though I'd heard of it, I'd never heard the song itself until I sought it out last year - at which point I fell in love with it. Since it was Cauldronites' enthusiastic mentions of it that prompted me to deliberately find it to check it out, I figured I'd share the campaign link here.

(For those who don't know, Marc Gunn is a musician, enthusiast, and proselyte of Celtic music of any sort, particularly though not exclusively independently-released; he has no stake in this aside from, 'the more people there are actively paying attention to this stuff, the better it is for all the artists,' and this campaign is for sheer love of the music.)

Sunflower

It doesn't really represent the Irish very well... I'm not sure I'd call it a quintessential Celtic song for that reason. It's about a drunk, sexist, possibly violent Irishman, and his lover who appears to be just as bad. If that's the best way we can represent Celtic culture, I'm not sure we're doing very well.

All that said... I still love the song, and in my world it's officially not Chrisyulenukkah until I hear it on the radio. Which I haven't yet. :P
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RandallS

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Re: And in the cause of making Christmas music less insipid....
« Reply #2 on: December 12, 2014, 08:06:10 am »
Quote from: SunflowerP;167235
... I ran across this campaign to raise the profile of The Pogues' 'Fairytale of New York'.

Here's a link to the song on Spotify: The Pogues – Fairytale Of New York (feat. Kirsty MacColl)
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beachglass

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Re: And in the cause of making Christmas music less insipid....
« Reply #3 on: December 12, 2014, 02:49:26 pm »
Quote from: Naomi J;167247
It doesn't really represent the Irish very well... I'm not sure I'd call it a quintessential Celtic song for that reason. It's about a drunk, sexist, possibly violent Irishman, and his lover who appears to be just as bad. If that's the best way we can represent Celtic culture, I'm not sure we're doing very well.


I always thought of it as being more specifically about the experience of the Irish in America, discovering the cold reality after hearing about streets paved with gold and whatnot. Sort of a more modern equivalent off getting of the boat only to see NINA signs in all the shop windows. (I use this example symbolically, as the prevalence of actual signs is in dispute.)
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Sophia C

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Re: And in the cause of making Christmas music less insipid....
« Reply #4 on: December 12, 2014, 06:08:06 pm »
Quote from: beachglass;167285
I always thought of it as being more specifically about the experience of the Irish in America, discovering the cold reality after hearing about streets paved with gold and whatnot. Sort of a more modern equivalent off getting of the boat only to see NINA signs in all the shop windows. (I use this example symbolically, as the prevalence of actual signs is in dispute.)

Oh yes, it's about a historical context - but still not a very positive representation.

(Here the signs used to read 'No blacks, no dogs, no Irish'  or variations on that, and they're disputed here too - but everyone in the relevant communities remembers them,  and there's photographic evidence at least. I could make some arguments about what's going on when they are denied, but it would be a long way off topic!)
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beachglass

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Re: And in the cause of making Christmas music less insipid....
« Reply #5 on: December 12, 2014, 06:22:24 pm »
Quote from: Naomi J;167301
I could make some arguments about what's going on when they are denied, but it would be a long way off topic!


I do wonder about that. I have some Irish ancestors and historical discrimination against the Irish was certainly something my family would discuss/remember. But I also feel like many Irish-descended people in America are very keen to highlight their Irishness as a mark of uniqueness (never mind we're everywhere!). So while I am very aware that the discrimination against my ancestors was real, I wouldn't be awfully surprised if the prevalence of things like NINA signs in the United States could be overstated.

Interestingly, I also have some Italian heritage, and while I find many Americans of Italian descent identify with their ancestry with similar enthusiasm, I don't hear about historical discrimination from that branch quite so often. Certainly it happened to them as well. I have no idea what makes the difference (maybe it's just my own family's attitudes, who knows?).
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SunflowerP

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Re: And in the cause of making Christmas music less insipid....
« Reply #6 on: December 12, 2014, 11:09:39 pm »
Quote from: Naomi J;167247
It doesn't really represent the Irish very well... I'm not sure I'd call it a quintessential Celtic song for that reason. It's about a drunk, sexist, possibly violent Irishman, and his lover who appears to be just as bad. If that's the best way we can represent Celtic culture, I'm not sure we're doing very well.

All that said... I still love the song, and in my world it's officially not Chrisyulenukkah until I hear it on the radio. Which I haven't yet. :P

 
Yeah, I don't agree with everything Marc Gunn says about it - or for that matter, everything he says about 'Celtic musicanything'; there's a heavy thread of Romantic Celticism going on. I'm mostly there for the music itself, not the commentary.

(I concur with the overall convo that's sprung from this post, but don't have anything specific to add.)

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Sophia C

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Re: And in the cause of making Christmas music less insipid....
« Reply #7 on: December 13, 2014, 03:27:19 am »
Quote from: SunflowerP;167313
Yeah, I don't agree with everything Marc Gunn says about it - or for that matter, everything he says about 'Celtic musicanything'; there's a heavy thread of Romantic Celticism going on. I'm mostly there for the music itself, not the commentary.

Well, yeah. It's the guy from the Celtic Music Podcast. There would be Celtic romanticism. Thing is, I mind that a lot less when it comes to modern Irish/Scottish music and arts, much of which has sprung out of the Celtic revival itself. Most modern Irish music is relatively recent, or at least recently revived in its modern form, and comes out of the Celtic nationalist movement. There's certainly a Celtic music movement these days. That's different from when we talk about ancient 'Celtic' culture in the pre-Christian world. Celticism today is a modern and very vibrant cultural thing.

And this song is definitely an example of it for me. The Pogues specifically call themselves 'Celtic punk' and they founded a genre of music called that:  https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Celtic_punk   Both they and Kirsty MacColl are/were part of the Celtic diaspora in Britain, a very specific cultural milieu.

*goes off to buy the song for the campaign! *
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Sophia C

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Re: And in the cause of making Christmas music less insipid....
« Reply #8 on: December 13, 2014, 03:33:44 am »
Quote from: beachglass;167303
I do wonder about that. I have some Irish ancestors and historical discrimination against the Irish was certainly something my family would discuss/remember. But I also feel like many Irish-descended people in America are very keen to highlight their Irishness as a mark of uniqueness (never mind we're everywhere!). So while I am very aware that the discrimination against my ancestors was real, I wouldn't be awfully surprised if the prevalence of things like NINA signs in the United States could be overstated.

Interestingly, I also have some Italian heritage, and while I find many Americans of Italian descent identify with their ancestry with similar enthusiasm, I don't hear about historical discrimination from that branch quite so often. Certainly it happened to them as well. I have no idea what makes the difference (maybe it's just my own family's attitudes, who knows?).

Yeah, I'd be interested in learning more about the early Irish American experience of discrimination. I know much more about the Anglo-Irish experience, and we're not 'everywhere' to write the same extent. But modern experience doesn't necessarily reflect that of those first immigrants.
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Re: And in the cause of making Christmas music less insipid....
« Reply #9 on: December 13, 2014, 11:51:54 pm »
Quote from: Naomi J;167320
Well, yeah. It's the guy from the Celtic Music Podcast. There would be Celtic romanticism. Thing is, I mind that a lot less when it comes to modern Irish/Scottish music and arts, much of which has sprung out of the Celtic revival itself.

 


Yep, exactly that. One bit of Celtic romanticism that MG doesn't do is the 'faux purism' thing; the music is 'folks engaging in folk process', not a quasi-Platonic ideal of Celtic - for that, I can put up with quite a bit of Romanticist nattering around the edges.

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Jabberwocky

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Re: And in the cause of making Christmas music less insipid....
« Reply #10 on: April 23, 2015, 12:30:17 pm »
(Coming to this very late.  So we'll see if people still read threads with Christmas in the title.  :p)

Quote from: Naomi J;167320

And this song is definitely an example of it for me. The Pogues specifically call themselves 'Celtic punk' and they founded a genre of music called that:  https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Celtic_punk   Both they and Kirsty MacColl are/were part of the Celtic diaspora in Britain, a very specific cultural milieu.

*goes off to buy the song for the campaign! *


As part of that milieu, have you come across The Men They Couldn't Hang?  They're interesting because they're a more general 'British' take on that milieu.  There's a Pogues connection as well.  Shanne Bradley was in Shane MacGowan’s first band, the Nipple Erectors.

But they have an interesting approach for me.  They take inspiration from British history, but not in a standard/patriotic way:

[video=youtube;CNKLBwAcP04]http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=CNKLBwAcP04[/video]

But they also look at more modern history (and not all of it was historical when the songs were written) like Thatcher.  In a way that feels like a natural progression to me:

[video=youtube;8zVmx709Nrg]http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=8zVmx709Nrg[/video]
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Re: And in the cause of making Christmas music less insipid....
« Reply #11 on: April 23, 2015, 12:36:33 pm »
Quote from: Naomi J;167321
Yeah, I'd be interested in learning more about the early Irish American experience of discrimination. I know much more about the Anglo-Irish experience, and we're not 'everywhere' to write the same extent. But modern experience doesn't necessarily reflect that of those first immigrants.

 
While I don't agree with all of it theoretically, I'd still highly recommend How the Irish Became White by Noel Ignatiev for a scholarly examination of that subject.
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Jabberwocky

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Re: And in the cause of making Christmas music less insipid....
« Reply #12 on: April 23, 2015, 12:48:51 pm »
Quote from: SunflowerP;167370


Yep, exactly that. One bit of Celtic romanticism that MG doesn't do is the 'faux purism' thing; the music is 'folks engaging in folk process', not a quasi-Platonic ideal of Celtic - for that, I can put up with quite a bit of Romanticist nattering around the edges.

Sunflower

 
There's also an interesting anti romanticism strand to Celtic music as well.

Take the Stiff Little Fingers, who I'd see very much as a Celtic punk band, from a specifically Belfast perspective.  This from them as absolutely scathing and doesn't let anyone off the hook:

[video=youtube;TBSkQufazCc]http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=TBSkQufazCc[/video]

Or you have fascinating cases like Dick Gaughan.  He's very much part of the Celtic folk tradition and the Scottish folk music revival.  Absolutely immersed in it and mixes in traditional Scottish folk songs with the more modern ones.    But he's also the same artist who has sung this Brian McNeill song:

[video=youtube;pB9fb3lIXko]http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=pB9fb3lIXko[/video]
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SunflowerP

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Re: And in the cause of making Christmas music less insipid....
« Reply #13 on: April 24, 2015, 08:41:18 pm »
Quote from: Jabberwocky;174255
(Coming to this very late.  So we'll see if people still read threads with Christmas in the title.  :p)

 
Me, and I'm glad of it; thank you for these many contributions to my head-furnishings.

Alas, I don't have any more substantial response than that.

Sunflower
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