Jimmy Mo Mhíle Stór

When my sweety and I started our relationship, money was often tight. To continue satiating my appetite for new music, I joined one of those eight-ten-or-twelve-CDs-for-one-cent clubs. I only stuck around long enough to make the minimum commitment of purchases. (Two such clubs, Columbia House and BMG, merged in 2005 but filed for bankruptcy in 2015.)

Among the CDs I hauled in from the initial offer was Tears of Stone by The Chieftains (1999). It is a weighty collection of 14 songs, each of which features a different guest artist (or artists, including Natalie Merchant, Bonnie Raitt, Loreena McKennitt, Sinéad O’Connor, The Corrs, and others). Their 1995 album contains similar types of collaborations (Tom Jones, Sting, Sinead O’Connor, again, Marianne Faithfull and others). I don’t recall ever listening to the earlier album; it’s on the pile now. The Chieftains are a very interesting group who play quite varied styles, and have been active since 1962.

I recommend Tears of Stone as each song is memorable and powerful; for example, “The Magdalene Laundries” features Joni Mitchell singing of the work houses, the conditions of which have often been downplayed by the church. “Raglan Road,” featuring Joan Osborne, is another powerful and moving song. Diana Krall contributes a smoky jazz tone to the closing track, “Danny Boy.”

Today’s selection features Canada’s The Rankin Family (known after 1998 as The Rankins) playing with The Chieftains, and the song is carried aloft by the beautiful, melodic voices of the female Rankins.

“These twelve months and better
My darling has left the shore
He ne’er will come back
‘Til he travels the globe all o’er
And when he returns with laurels
I’ll crown him all o’er
He’s the (fondest) of lovers,
Sweet Jimmy Mo Mhíle Stór”

(from “Jimmy Mo Mhíle Stór,” Traditional Irish song)

The titled translating to, “Sweet Jimmy my darling sweet,” it’s one of the loveliest tunes on the album, recorded with three verses in Gaeilge and one in English (lyrics for the entire song are translated here. Some of the lyrics are slightly different but the above quote matches what’s sung on this track.

When reading up on the Rankin Family today, I came across an article that noted three of the Rankin siblings died quite young (Geraldine, John Morris, and Raylene; I’d only known of John Morris having died, in a truck mishap). To me this makes the song even more poignant, knowing it could never be recreated in the same way.  

Now you know a little about why this is my song of the day for today. Please enjoy. And cuddle up; the cold weather is back, at least here in Winnipeg, Canada.

Here’s the Youtube video (not an official version, but a pretty amazing animation complementing the studio recording):

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