Danny Boy

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"Danny Boy"
Danny Boy p1 - cover page.jpg
Danny Boy
Song
Published1913
GenreFolk
Songwriter(s)Frederic Weatherly (lyrics) in 1910
Recording
Performed by Celtic Aire of the United States Air Force Band

"Danny Boy" is a ballad, written by English songwriter Frederic Weatherly in 1913, and set to the traditional Irish melody of "Londonderry Air".

History[edit]

1940 recording by Glenn Miller and His Orchestra on RCA Bluebird, B-10612-B

In 1910, in Bath, Somerset, the English lawyer and lyricist Frederic Weatherly initially wrote the words to "Danny Boy" to a tune other than "Londonderry Air". An alternative story is that Margaret Weatherly sent him a copy of "Londonderry Air" in 1913, Weatherly modified the lyrics of "Danny Boy" to fit its rhyme and meter.[1][2] Another alternative version of the story has Jess singing the air to Weatherly in 1912 with different lyrics. Another alternative story is that Frederic did not set the poem to any tune, but that his sister-in-law Margaret Enright Weatherly, who together with her husband Edward were living near Ouray, Colorado at the Neosho mine, set the poem in 1913 to the tune of the "Londonderry Air" which she had heard as a child in California played by her father and other Irish railroad workers.[3]

Weatherly gave the song to the vocalist Elsie Griffin, who made it one of the most popular songs of the new century. Ernestine Schumann-Heink produced the first recording of "Danny Boy" in 1915.

Jane Ross of Limavady is credited with collecting the melody of "Londonderry Air" in the mid-19th century from a musician she encountered.[4]

Lyrics[edit]

The 1913 lyrics by Frederick E. Weatherly:[5]

Oh, Danny boy, the pipes, the pipes are calling
From glen to glen, and down the mountain side.
The summer's gone, and all the roses falling,
It's you, It's you must go and I must bide.
But come ye back when summer's in the meadow,
Or when the valley's hushed and white with snow,
It's I'll be there in sunshine or in shadow,—
Oh, Danny boy, Oh Danny boy, I love you so!

But when ye come, and all the flowers are dying,
If I am dead, as dead I well may be,
Ye'll come and find the place where I am lying,
And kneel and say an Avé there for me.
And I shall hear, though soft you tread above me,
And all my grave will warmer, sweeter be,
For you will bend and tell me that you love me,
And I shall sleep in peace until you come to me!

Meaning[edit]

There are various conjectures about the meaning of "Danny Boy".[6] Some interpret the song to be a message from a parent to a son going off to war or participating in the Irish uprising (as suggested by the reference to "pipes calling glen to glen") or emigrating as part of the Irish diaspora.[6]

The 1918 version of the sheet music with Weatherly's printed signature included alternative lyrics ("Eily Dear"), with the instructions that "when sung by a man, the words in italic should be used; the song then becomes "Eily Dear", so that "Danny Boy" is only to be sung by a lady". Nonetheless, it is unclear whether this was Weatherly's intent.[7]

Usage[edit]

  • Percy Grainger's Irish Tune from County Derry adapts the Danny Boy/Londonderry Air melody for wind ensemble in 1918.[8]
  • The song is popular for funerals; but the National Catholic Reporter wrote in 2001 that it "cannot be played during Mass."[9]

Select recordings[edit]

"Danny Boy" has been recorded multiple times by a variety of performers. Several versions are listed below in chronological order.

References[edit]

  1. ^ "Fred Weatherly's own description of writing Danny Boy". Archived from the original on 2018-10-08. Retrieved 2010-03-09.
  2. ^ In Sunshine And In Shadow: The family story of Danny Boy by Anthony Mann (Weatherly's great grandson) ISBN 1300775017
  3. ^ Nancy Lofholm (March 16, 2022). "Without Ouray, Colorado, there'd be no 'Danny Boy'". Colorado Public Radio. Retrieved March 16, 2022.
  4. ^ George Petrie: The Ancient Music of Ireland, 1855
  5. ^ "The 'Danny Boy' Trivia Collection". www.standingstones.com. Archived from the original on 2018-10-08. Retrieved 2019-12-17.
  6. ^ a b "The true meaning of Danny Boy". Standingstones.com. Archived from the original on 2018-10-08. Retrieved 2010-03-09.
  7. ^ a b c d McCourt, Malachy (30 Mar 2005). Danny Boy: The Legend of the Beloved Irish Ballad (Reprint ed.). New American Library. p. 128. ISBN 0-451-20806-4.
  8. ^ "Irish Tune from County Derry ... | Details".
  9. ^ "`Danny Boy' cannot be played during Mass. - Free Online Library". www.thefreelibrary.com (Archive of National Catholic Reporter). 2001. Retrieved 2022-03-13.{{cite web}}: CS1 maint: url-status (link)
  10. ^ "Danny Boy (Londonderry Air) (song by The Glenn Miller Orchestra) ••• Music VF, US & UK hits charts". Musicvf.com. Retrieved 2016-08-29.
  11. ^ "A Bing Crosby Discography". BING magazine. International Club Crosby. Retrieved August 20, 2017.
  12. ^ "Deanna Durbin sings 'Danny Boy' for Charles Laughton". Archived from the original on 2021-11-17.
  13. ^ "Danny Boy (song by Al Hibbler) ••• Music VF, US & UK hits charts". Musicvf.com. Retrieved 2016-08-29.
  14. ^ "Danny Boy (song by Conway Twitty) ••• Music VF, US & UK hits charts". Musicvf.com. 1959-09-28. Retrieved 2016-08-29.
  15. ^ Leigh, Spencer (2008). This Record Is Not to Be Broadcast Vol. 2: 50 More Records Banned by the BBC (liner notes). Fantastic Voyage. FVDD 038.
  16. ^ "Danny Boy (song by Andy Williams) • Music VF, US & UK hits charts". Musicvf.com. 1961-10-30. Retrieved 2016-08-29.
  17. ^ "Danny Boy (song by Patti LaBelle & the Bluebelles) ••• Music VF, US & UK hits charts". Musicvf.com. 1964-12-19. Retrieved 2016-08-29.
  18. ^ "Danny Boy (song by Jackie Wilson) ••• Music VF, US & UK hits charts". Musicvf.com. 1965-02-27. Retrieved 2016-08-29.
  19. ^ "Danny Boy (song by Ray Price) ••• Music VF, US & UK hits charts". Musicvf.com. 1967-03-25. Retrieved 2016-08-29.
  20. ^ Moore, Rick (24 June 2020). "Behind The Song: Johnny Cash, "Danny Boy"". American Songwriter. Retrieved 25 April 2021.

External links[edit]