Friday, March 9, 2012

The Fakin' O' the Green

I'm trying to write an Irish ballad.

The guitarist in our Irish band introduced us to a lovely tune last summer, "If Ever You Were Mine." My daughter wanted to sing it at our upcoming St. Patty's Day performance at the Kahuku Library. Only one problem, we didn't have the lyrics. Three cheers for the internet! I went online and was surprised to learn that "If Ever You Were Mine" is NOT a traditional Irish ballad. It's a modern composition.

Could have fooled me.

Since there are no traditional Irish lyrics for this non-traditional song I decided to write some myself. I have just as much right to do it as anyone else, right?


I wrote some words, and they were nice, but they just didn't sound Irish! Of course not. I've never even been to Ireland. So I googled and read dozens of Irish ballads, hoping to soak up the style. And I noticed something.

Irish ballads are packed with crystal clear, concrete detail.

That must be why I love them so much. They transport me to another world. "Near Bainbridge town in the County Down one morning in July, Down the boreen green came a sweet colleen and she smiled as she passed me by. Oh she looked so sweet from her two white feet, to the sheen of her nut brown hair..." The song names specific places, gives visual images, uses Irish-sounding vocabulary. Irish ballads give us a glimpse of an entire way of life. That's hard to fake. I don't even know the names of any towns in Ireland, except for the ones I've heard of in songs.

My husband told me to use google maps. But that's a poor substitute for actually being there. So I decided to write some Irish-style lyrics for "If Ever You Were Mine," but set in Hawaii:

Oh I lost my surfboard near Haleiwa town
On a bright and windy day
And it was the final round
Of the Surfing Triple Crown
Oh surfboard, come back, if ever you were mine!

I don't know, I think the last line needs some work.

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