Wednesday, October 13, 2021

Ireland's Musical Ambassador

Yesterday's bummer story was news of the death of Paddy Moloney, multi-instrumentalist and founder of influential Irish folk band The Chieftains, who made their debut in 1962.  The Chieftains were, along with The Clancy Brothers and The Dubliners, were great revitalizers and popularizers of Irish traditional music in the mid-to-late 20th Century.  His contributions to Irish culture, and his introduction of it to the Whole Wide World were honored by Irish president Michael Higgins.

The Chieftains were particularly known for their collaborations with other artists, and their championing of World Music, particularly Galician music.  They collaborated not only with rock artists, but with astronauts (a particularly lovely story).  There could be no better celebration of Paddy Moloney's life than a brief review of his musical career, so here's a sampler.

From the Chieftain's first album, released in 1964, here's s;ow air/jig/air/reel combo:


From their second album, here's Brian Boru's March


From the 1970s, here's The Timpán Reel, which incorporates the hammered dulcimer into the band's sound:


In the 1980s, the Chieftains recorded an album with Van Morrison, beginning a tradition of collaborations with rock and pop musicians which continued for decades: 


Here's The St Stephen's Day Murders with Elvis Costello: 


They also released an album of American country music, here they are will Willie Nelson:


Perhaps their best-selling album was The Long Black Veil, on which they collaborated with a cast of rock-and-pop groups. Here's one of my favorite trad songs, The Rocky Road to Dublin performed with the Rolling Stones:


Here they are with an orchestra and Luciano Pavarotti singing the 19th century Neapolitan pop song Funiculì, Funiculà:


A particular favorite of mine was a collaboration with Irish pop group the Corrs:


I've saved some of the more global collaborations between the Chieftains and other artists for the tail end of the post. Here are the Chieftains with Bastard fave Akiko Yano:


 Perhaps my favorite song by the Chieftains is Guadelupe, a Galician folksong they originally recorded with Linda Ronstadt and Los Lobos. Linda Ronstadt was unable to appear during a live performance which would have made Los San Patricios proud:


Here's NASA astronaut Cady Coleman playing with the Chieftains:


Now, here's a real marvel, Frank Zappa leading an ensemble consisting of Johnny Guitar Watson, Mongolian tuva singers, and the Chieftains. It's great fun: 


I figured I'd end with a concert performance by the Chieftains and the Pogues, a collaboration between two generations of musicians, the great virtuoso elder statesmen and the younger, punked out enfants terribles:


One thing I've noticed in the live performances is the ever-present look of joy on Paddy Moloney's homely, kindly face. By all accounts, he was a gentleman, and he just radiates a beatific look. Here was a man who loved music, and loved sharing his love of music with others. The news of his death is a genuine blow... pun originally unintended.


Anonymous said...

Thanks for this BBBB. The Irish Times very graciously wrote of his passing. 'Tis a sad day in Dublin, for sure. I would wager his wake and his funeral will be memorable affairs. No doubt the lads will be pourin' a few out in memory of Ol' Paddy.

Big Bad Bald Bastard said...

Yeah, he was a force of nature, and his impact on the music world cannot be easily measured.

Richard said...

He opened a world for me. Even a boy could hear this music and get a pennywhistle.
Thanks to him.