Although a song title, this blog does not refer to that endearing ditty written by Lew Quadling and Jack Elliot and sung by Bing and his son Gary back in 1950.
The melody is the familiar, haunting and eerie tune, "Ghost Riders in the Sky" by composer Stan Jones, and recalls a "cowboy" legend of an endless roundup, similiar in style to the northern European epic, "Wild Hunt" in which the doomed hunt a stag forever across an endless eternal forest.
It has been recorded by many, including a wonderful rendition by Johnny Cash.
This song, however, begins with the words:
"I have been a Provo now for fifteen years or more. With armalites and motorbombs I thought I knew the score."
And ends with the chilling:
"I can't forget the massacre that Friday at Loughgall. I salute my fallen comrades as I watch the choppers fall."
This is a tune gloryfing surface-to-air-missiles and about murder, death and ruin and memories that run so deep they cut to the bone.
Ireland has been called by some the land of happy wars and tragic love affairs.
I don't know about human love, (nor will I ever) but I do know that there are no happy wars. And there is still today no happiness many places in Northern Ireland, nor will there be as long a song can be raised with a glass of stout, celebrating martyrs and mayhem, slaughter and vengeance.
For 800 years the might of the English have fought a small band of "patriots" and stubborn folks who believe in an eye for an eye, a death with another death. There are those today who say "f**k the Brits" and "Go Home British Soldiers, Go Home."
The Treaty of Lisbon means nothing to them.
Years ago I spent 3 hours alone; one on one, with Tommy Makem, a poet, musician and storyteller from County Armagh in Northern Ireland. Three hours does not an expert make, but if I learned one thing in that time, it is that Ireland will never know freedom until the English leave. So said Makem, and so I believe.
And how much blood will it take, Tommy? Do you know? You are no longer with us, but are playing your long-neck Celtic banjo with your lads, The Clancy Brothers and drawing a perfect pint in Heavens Pub.
"Sams' Song" is sung today in pubs across the world. Youtube will slap you senseless with dozens of other ant-Brit songs filled with hate and avenging violence.
Warren Zevon came close to defining this type of terror the world over with his "Roland the Headless Thompson Gunner" and Dominic Behan (younger brother of Brendan) nearly nailed it with his eulogy to slain IRA member Fergal OHanlan and "The Patriot Game".
But even this song begot political fall out when the Clancy Brothers were singled out and chastised by Behan for not singing the line with says ".....and still de Velara is largely to blame. For shirking his part in the patriot game."
In this world where mankind is such a precious commodity even now we spill our blood and our childrens blood in places and for ideas which are, in the end, only pride.
Pride goes before the fall. Are we too blind to see?
I am sick of heart and will speak no more of this now.
(C) 2011 George Locke