Big Strong Man
|"Big Strong Man"|
"Big Strong Man" or "My Brother Sylveste" is an English-language folk song, commonly associated with Ireland and performed by Irish bands. It's not known when the song was originally written, but the date might be reflected in the references to the "Jeffries-Johnson fight" of 1910, American boxer Jack Dempsey, who started boxing in 1914, and to the RMS Lusitania which was in service from 1907 to 1915. It's also not known who wrote it, or even if it came from Ireland or another country, but having "lived in a caravan" might indicate the main character is from the Irish Traveller community – a community renowned for its boxers, both bare knuckle and professional. The song was popular with Canadian soldiers in World War II.
The song is about the singer's brother Sylveste, hyperbolically described as a man of legendary strength capable of extraordinary feats, such as swimming from New York to Italy, drinking all the water in the sea, playing every instrument in a brass band, and averting the sinking of the Lusitania.
Artists and groups who have recorded the song include:
- The Wolfe Tones, on their 1969 album Rifles of the I.R.A.
- Mike Harding, as a 1976 single
- Houghton Weavers, on their 1978 Album Sit Thi Deawn
- Orthodox Celts, on their 1996 album Muzičke paralele
- Brobdingnagian Bards, on their 2002 album Songs of Ireland
- Carbon Leaf, on their 2003 album 5 Alive!
- Derek Warfield, on his 2005 album Songs for the Bhoys
- Blaggards, on their 2005 album Standards
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