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Malachy McCourt

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Om författaren

Malachy McCourt was born in Brooklyn, New York and raised in Limerick, Ireland. He was a pioneer in talk radio and went on to have an illustrious career on stage, screen, and television. He lives in New York City. (Bowker Author Biography)
Foto taget av: Credit: David Shankbone, 2007

Verk av Malachy McCourt

Associerade verk

Gods and Generals [2003 film] (2003) — Actor — 215 exemplar
The Irish in America [audio series] (1998) — Bidragsgivare — 5 exemplar


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Disappointing. There is a lot of drinking in this. A lot. Something that I have a tough time relating to, the drinking itself and the bragging about it. Or admitting to it, but to keep doing it. It's okay, but his other book, Death Need Not Be Fatal (I believe that's right) is so much better.
Cantsaywhy | 16 andra recensioner | May 23, 2023 |
Very enjoyable read, much different style and story from the other, more famous McCourt brother. Not quite as good, but I don't think that was the intent.
Cantsaywhy | 2 andra recensioner | May 22, 2023 |
Hm. I SO wanted to LOVE this book. I love Malachy's style, wit and way with words. He's a talented writer, obviously intelligent and witty. I enjoyed some parts...when they story wasn't heavily bogged down with alcohol/drunken focus. I get the point that he was in deep as an alcoholic. I got it over and over. At first it was part of the story but after a bit it seemed to take over all his stories. Maybe that is the point. That someday he'd travel while sober. Someday he'd make a life that wasn't drowned in his favored alcoholic beverages, or whatever he could get his hands on if that wasn't available. I'd rather read about the someday. Or at least that his memory had more to it than the drink. I do have to give him credit for opening my eyes to a couple historical atrocities that were not on my radar...and I will read his other book if it crosses my path, if for nothing more than his style with words.… (mer)
Martialia | 16 andra recensioner | Sep 28, 2022 |
I wish I could pad out my bibliography this easily.

In the last few years, I've seen a number of "biographies" of famous songs -- "The Battle Hymn of the Republic," "Amazing Grace," one or two others. Most have been pretty thin. Given how famous "Danny Boy" is, it's perhaps not surprising that it got its own book, but this is without doubt the fluffiest of the fluff.

The book opens with an attempt to trace the music, then the words, then it looks at the meaning and career of the song. The first two parts are very disappointing. McCourt describes a number of hypotheses about the origin of the Londonderry Air, but has no evidence for any of them; all we can really say is that it was first published in 1855, from a field collection rather than from an author. McCourt doesn't even really look at what the tune itself tells us -- e.g. it was almost certainly written as an instrumental, since the range is simply too large for comfort.

To top it all off, McCourt clearly doesn't know beans about folk song collecting -- which one must understand, since the melody was collected, not composed. He claims that Miss Ross, the woman who supplied the tune for the 1855 collection, "was allegedly a composer, as all collectors must be" (p. 22). As someone who does know something about folk song collecting, this is pure bovine end product -- most collectors are not composers. It sounds as if he read about one folk song collector (my guess would be that it was Cecil Sharp), and assumed that all collectors were that way. In fact, many song collectors didn't even read music, let alone compose it; the earliest folk song collections generally include words only, no tunes, and by the mid-twentieth century, most folk song collectors recorded songs and found someone to transcribe the words for them. This chapter is full of errors of this sort.

The next chapter looks at the words. McCourt spends some (too much) time telling us that not everyone knows where the words are from, but there is no real doubt but that they were by Fred E. Weatherly. There is some description of Weatherly, and a little about his writings, but no real analysis of his catalog (e.g. his next most popular song, "Roses of Picardy," gets little attention, and #3, "The Holy City," even less).

This is halfway through the main body, and the book hasn't said much more than is in brief treatments like the section about the song in James J. Fuld's The book of world-famous music : classical, popular, and folk. The rest is all criticism of one sort or another: What the song means (without reaching any real conclusions, since Weatherly never told us, and any conclusion McCourt draws would doubtless offend somebody), then a brief, rather silly analysis of places the song showed up in popular culture. This seemed pointless to me, but it might be helpful to someone.

The last third of the book is an appendix listing recordings of the song; it admits to not being comprehensive. And it doesn't even give catalog numbers for the releases -- just the record company. If you want to haunt old 78 bins, this won't help you.

So: Apart from the appendix, the book is only 104 pages long -- with exceptionally large space between lines and a lot of white space. In a proper font and layout, it probably could have been fitted into sixty pages at most. Not really a book; a puffed up magazine article.

They could at least have added an index and bibliography to give it a little more heft. To be sure, it would have been a short index, and probably a short bibliography too.. But it would have made the book a little more useful.

If you love "Danny Boy," there is probably something in here for you. Not much, but something. If you are interested in research on popular song in general, though, there isn't enough here to be worth the bother, and most of what you will find is available elsewhere. It really feels as if Malachy McCourt was taking advantage of his (and his brother Frank's) name to bang out a quick and dirty pamphlet marketed as an actual book.
… (mer)
1 rösta
waltzmn | 2 andra recensioner | Oct 18, 2021 |


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