O Danny Boy is one of the most well known and beloved Irish Songs. It’s what folks refer to as an “old standard”. O Danny Boy is popular world wide-sung by famous vocalists as well as around the family piano-or guitar in my case.
As I researched the old song I discovered some interesting facts:
- While the tune is indeed Irish-the words were written in England
- There are varying opinions about the origin of the tune-some believe its as old as the 1600s
- In about 1855 Jane Ross rediscovered the tune and passed it along too a collector of old Irish music, at that time the tune was called Londonderry Air
- Many songwriters tried to add words to the music but nothing seemed to fit the mournful tune
- In the 1800s the tune made it to America along with Irish immigrants
- About 1912 a Mrs. Weatherly heard the song in Colorado, she sent the music back to England to her brother-n-law who was a songwriter
- Mr. Weatherly had already penned the words to Danny Boy but had never found the right melody-now he had it
- When Mr. Weatherly put the old Irish tune to his words a hit that would last through the ages was created
I believe O Danny Boy appeals to so many people because the song evokes a strong emotion of longing for someone you love and miss-a truly common theme of mankind. For me personally, the song also transcends location-if I replace the word glen with hollow-I would swear someone from Appalachia wrote the words. In the same way, you could substitute glen and mountainside with hills, dunes, or whatever topography you live near-and feel as though it was written just down the road from you. When I think of the longevity of the song, it seems fitting that O Danny Boy started in Ireland hundreds of years ago, came to America, went to England and then on to the world.
For this week’s Pickin’ & Grinnin’ In The Kitchen Spot O Danny Boy. I want to encourage you to watch the video-Paul sings the original 2nd verse- most performers leave it out. No matter how many times I hear the 2nd verse-I still get chills.
Hope you enjoyed the song-and the history.