Church avoids exile and death

Sep 19th, 2007 | By | Category: Ireland

Despondency at the dismal performance of Chelsea football team at home to Norwegian opponents in the Champions League, prompted channel surfing.  Classic Fm television soothes even the most angry of moods, and there was Ms Charlotte Church to sing a beautiful Irish air.  Except the lyrics sung reduced the song from one of exile, alcohol problems and death, to a bland love ballad.

Charlotte Church’s rendition of Carrickfergus has the following lyrics,

I wish I was in Carrickfergus
Where the castle looks out to sea
I would swim over the deepest ocean
For my love to be with me
But the sea is wide and I cannot swim over
Nor have I the wings to fly
I wish I had a handsome boatman
To ferry me over, my love and I

I wish I was in the land of Eire
Where the mountains reach the sea
Where flowers blossom as I do remember
Where my true love came to me
But the sea is wide, and I cannot swim over
Nor have I the wings to fly
Ah, to be back now in Carrickfergus
To be together, my love and I
To be together, my love and I

I wish I was in Carrickfergus
To be together, my love and I.

As pretty as the tune and Ms Church may be, the song entirely loses its edge.  The traditional words are somewhat more gritty:

I wish I was in Carrickfergus,
Only for nights in Ballygrant
I would swim over the deepest ocean,
For my love to find
But the sea is wide and I cannot cross over
And neither have I the wings to fly
I wish I could meet a handsome boatsman
To ferry me over, to my love and die

My childhood days bring back sad reflections
Of happy times I spent so long ago,
My boyhood friends and my own relations
Have all passed on now like melting snow.
But I’ll spend my days in endless roaming,
Soft is the grass, my bed is free.
Ah, to be back now in Carrickfergus,
On that long road down to the sea.

But in Kilkenny, it is reported,
On marble stones there as black as ink
With gold and silver I would support her,
But I’ll sing no more ’till I get a drink.
For I’m drunk today, and I’m seldom sober,
A handsome rover from town to town,
Ah, but I’m sick now, my days are numbered,
Come all you young men and lay me down.

Why the change?  Can we no longer cope with harsh realities?  Must everything be made so anodyne?  Pretending the world doesn’t have a nasty side to it doesn’t make the nasty things go away.  Carrickfergus as a love song betrays a tune that for generations has expressed the depths of human experience.

In a land filled with migrants from eastern Europe and further beyond, we are surrounded by emotions as deep as those experienced by our forefathers.  Aren’t exile and death part of the reality of our world, even for music superstars?

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  1. Blue is the colour, football is the game
    We’re all together and winning is our aim
    So cheer us on through the sun and rain
    Cos Chelsea, Chelsea is our name.

    Here at the Bridge, whether rain or fine
    We can shine all the time
    Home or away, come and see us play
    You’re welcome any day

    Blue is the colour, football is the game
    We’re all together and winning is our aim
    So cheer us on through the sun and rain
    Cos Chelsea, Chelsea is our name

    Come to the Shed and we’ll welcome you
    Wear your blue and see us through
    Sing loud and clear until the game is done
    Sing Chelsea everyone
    Here’s a much better love song…

    Blue is the colour, football is the game
    We’re all together and winning is our aim
    So cheer us on through the sun and rain
    Cos Chelsea, Chelsea is our name.

    Blue is the colour, football is the game
    We’re all together and winning is our aim
    So cheer us on through the sun and rain
    Cos Chelsea, Chelsea is our name.

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