Singing (13)

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  • Teideal (Title): Singing (13).
  • Uimhir Chatalóige Ollscoil Washington (University of Washington Catalogue Number): 860904.
  • Uimhir Chnuasach Bhéaloideas Éireann (National Folklore of Ireland Number): none.
  • Uimhir Roud (Roud Number): none.
  • Uimhir Laws (Laws Number): none.
  • Uimhir Child (Child Number): none.
  • Cnuasach (Collection): Joe Heaney Collection, University of Washington, Seattle.
  • Teanga na Croímhíre (Core-Item Language): English.
  • Catagóir (Category): singing style.
  • Ainm an té a thug (Name of Informant): Joe Heaney.
  • Ainm an té a thóg (Name of Collector): Ewan Mac Coll and Peggy Seeger.
  • Dáta an taifeadta (Recording Date): late 1963 early 1964.
  • Suíomh an taifeadta (Recording Location): London, England.
  • Ocáid an taifeadta (Recording Occasion): interview.
  • Daoine eile a bhí i láthair (Others present): unavailable.
  • Stádas chóipcheart an taifeadta (Recording copyright status): unavailable.

Classification of songs

Following Joe’s performance of Patrick Sheehan1, Ewan Mac Coll and Peggy Seeger ask how Joe classifies songs in his own mind. Joe doesn’t seem too clear what they are asking him at first, and follows their lead; it’s not clear for example that what Mac Coll and Seeger mean by ‘ballad’ is the same thing that Joe takes that word to mean. Joe’s classifications – when he is pressed for them – include ‘folk-songs, ballads, rebel songs, funny songs, sad songs, lamentable songs, oh different things – every time I sing I try to give a bit of each.’ Asked if he makes a distinction between ‘Patrick Sheehan’ and ‘Lord Randal’ – Peggy asks if ‘Lord Randal’ means more to Joe than Patrick Sheehan, because Lord Randal is ‘such an older song’ – Joe responds that both of them have the same sad feeling, even though he knows (following a remark by Peggy) that ‘Lord Randal’ is much older2.


1. i.e. ‘The Glen of Aherlow’; Joe’s performance can be heard here.

2. This segment is revealing of gap in understanding between Mac Coll and Seeger — who had by this time carved out a niche for themselves as ‘experts’ — and Heaney, who is clearly groping to understand the ramifications of their professional terminology.