Page 5 - MacDougalls and Whittys and Songs
ISSUE : Issue 23
Published by Ronald Caplan on 1979/8/1
ing, but it was all Gaelic, so my first singing was in Gaelic • milling frolics. There was a fellow down north by the name of Jimmy MacPherson, and there's where I learned "Brave Ann O'Neil." Used to go down, he was old enough to be my father, he's dead since years • it was him that gave me "The St. John's Girl" and some others. (Why would he sing for you?) Be? cause I'd ask him to. And I'd sing for him. He had one, but I never learned that one • it was called "The Flying Cloud." I don't know one word of it. John James; I heard my father say that this MacPherson was a wonderful singer, and if my father said that he must have been good, because my father was one of the best. And he said he was the most beautiful singer he ever listened to. Just like a violin, he said, his voice. But where the songs came from is a hard one to answer, my son. I learned a lot of my songs from my mother and father. And they learned a lot of theirs from their mother and father. And that's the way that they went. I don't know about the real old peo? ple, were they poets or not, could they make songs. I never heard. Marcella; And John, your father learned ar. awful lot from his father-in-law, from your mother's father. I learned some from Jimmy MacPherson, but not all. I learned from others. My cousin Katie MacNeil, she was a wonderful singer • dead now. I'd learn everywhere, dear, wherever you could hear a song. John James; My father knew of Marcella from Bay St. Lawrence. And my sister, Mary Ann, went down there one winter. My father was a great singer, and he used to go a- round from house to house, singing for them. He was one of the best • I'm telling you no lie, my boy. My father had a song, it was called "The Mary L. McKav" • and I'll tell you right here it was a hard song to sing. It was about a vessel in a big storm. It came from the States there, wherever she was going. They were all saved on it but she was an awful able ves? sel. And do you know what • after he was 70 years old or more • he'd stand up and I used to sing it with him • and he could put that song higher than I could at that age. I've never seen a man in my life sing a song as high. You give my father a couple of hooters of beer • he'd jump right up. He'd ask no ques? tions, catch the chair like that (stand behind it, holding the chair back in his hands) and put those songs right up. You'd never think a guy could put a song up as high. But he'd never flinch. Put it right up and that was it. And he wasn't a big man. 158 pounds • that was his steady weight. (Mary Ann, your husband, Dan R., didn't he write some little songs?) Mary Ann; Oh, yes. (Laughing.) He was a poet. He used to make an awful lot of songs. Carry? ing on more than any other kind. Write a- bout anything. Not the old songs. He used to write songs anything'd happen around. (Did you like those songs?) Some of them. Used to make us laugh anyway. He'd take a scribbler or maybe a big calendar • I didn't know what he was going to do • then by and by if it was any kind of a funny song, he'd laugh. "What are you doing now?" "Oh, nothing." He'd let it go anoth? er 4 or 5 verses. Then he'd read it to me. Sometimes anything I didn't like, I wouldn't let him make it. Some more times you'd have to like it, He did a lot of good songs. He made a song about a fellow here once • well, I'm telling you it was sad. So he come square with him about the song he made. Well, that song went to court. The magistrate heard the song sung 4 or 5 times by my husband because he was out of his mind about it • oh, the kick he got out of that song. And he was supposed to be the magistrate. But I wouldn't want you to publish that song. It's just to tell you the kind of man my husband was. Here's part of one he made; for-tune which you will quick-ly hear Steve Whitty; Mike MacDougall's father (Dan Rory), he was the awfullest man ever to make up a song about you. He made one there about Where we went to the Harvest in 1920. People had been going for years and years before that. That was the first year I went. I was 23. In my prime of life. At that time you'd go over to North Sydney on the first Aspy and buy your train tick? et • 28 dollars and a quarter from North Sydney to Winnipeg • one way. Before we left Ingonish, you'd be hearing the talk of it. Oh, they'd be there and meeting you, to get you to go to work for them. "It be? ing on the fourth of August we left our friends so dear/ On board the steamboat Aspy for Sydney we did steer/ It being on Oceanside Campsites All Supplies Laundromat and Swimming Pool PI PER'S Restaurant and Trailer Court INDIAN BROOK, on the Cabot Trail
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