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|Writer||Frederick Weatherly (lyrics)|
|Writer||Frederick Weatherly (lyrics)|
A piano arrangement of the tune Londonderry Air.
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Although initially written to a tune other than "Londonderry Air", the words to "Danny Boy" were penned by English lawyer and lyricist Frederic Weatherly in Bath, Somerset in 1910. After his sister-in-law in the United States sent him a copy of "Londonderry Air", in 1913, Weatherly modified the lyrics of "Danny Boy" to fit the rhyme and meter of "Londonderry Air".
However recent discovery of family papers and letters, archived since 1936, brings out a different story. The sister in law was Margaret Weatherly married to his brother Eddie and living in the silver mining town of Ouray in the San Juan mountains in Colorado. Jess was first generation Irish American, musical, with a good singing voice, who had learnt traditional Irish airs from her father. On a visit to Fred Weatherly in Bath in 1912, she sang the Londonderry air to him, bringing with her words that she had written to the melody to commemorate her father from Co Kerry, Fred who had never heard the melody before, took it upon the piano and later modified his 1910 words to fit. Neither the published words nor the melody belonged to Margaret, yet she continued until her death in poverty in the American depression to resent that Fred had stolen her birthright. Fred never acknowledged any contribution from her–but her actively conveying the melody to him, a melody which meant so much to her as an Irishwoman might help explain one of the song’s mysteries –how did this Englishman produce a song so resonant for Irish people?
Weatherly gave the song to the vocalist Elsie Griffin, who made it one of the most popular songs in the new century; and, in 1915, Ernestine Schumann-Heink produced the first recording of "Danny Boy".
Ernestine Schumann-Heink (1917)
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(There are a number of variations on these lyrics.)
Oh, Danny boy, the pipes, the pipes are calling
From glen to glen, and down the mountain side
The summer's gone, and all the flow'rs are dying
'Tis you, 'tis you must go and I must bide.
But come ye back when summer's in the meadow
Or when the valley's hushed and white with snow
'Tis I'll be here in sunshine or in shadow
Oh, Danny boy, oh, Danny boy, I love you so.
And if you come, and all the flowers are dying
If I am dead, as dead I well may be
I pray you'll find the place where I am lying
And kneel and say an "Ave" there for me.
And I shall hear, though soft you tread above me
And all my grave will warm and sweeter be
And then you'll kneel and whisper that you love me
And I shall sleep in peace until you come to me.
- or I'll simply sleep in peace until you come to me.
- or And I shall rest in peace until you come to me.
- or Oh, Danny boy, oh, Danny boy, I love you so.
There are various theories as to the true meaning of "Danny Boy". Some listeners have interpreted the song to be a message from a parent to a son going off to war or leaving as part of the Irish diaspora.
The 1918 version of the sheet music included alternative lyrics ("Eily Dear"), with the instructions that "when sung by a man, the words in italic should be used; the song then becomes "Eily Dear", so that "Danny Boy" is only to be sung by a lady". In spite of this, it is unclear whether this was Weatherly's intent.
The song is popular for funerals; but, as it is not liturgical, its suitability as a funeral song is sometimes contested. In 1928, Weatherly himself suggested that the second verse would provide a fitting requiem for the actress Ellen Terry.
"Danny Boy" has been recorded multiple times by a variety of artists. Several versions performed by notable artists are listed below in chronological order.
|Year||Artist||Release||Notes and/or Peak Chart Position|
|1939||Gracie Fields||Shipyard Sally soundtrack|
|Judy Garland||Little Nellie Kelly soundtrack|
Miss Showbusiness soundtrack
|1940||Glenn Miller and His Orchestra||#17 on Billboard. Arranged by Glenn Miller and pianist Chummy MacGregor|
|1945||Bing Crosby||White Christmas album|
|1946||Deanna Durbin||Because of Him soundtrack|
|1950||Al Hibbler||Danny Boy||#9|
|1957||Sam Cooke||Sam Cooke|
|1959||Conway Twitty||#10 (Hot 100) and #18 (R&B) and #1 in Italy. His version was banned by the BBC.|
|1959||Harry Belafonte||Live at Carnegie Hall, New York City|
|1960||Jim Reeves||Tall Tales and Short Tempers|
|1961||Andy Williams||Danny Boy and Other Songs I Love to Sing||#15 on the U.S. adult contemporary chart and #64 on Billboard. The B-side "Fly by Night" also charted|
|1962||Connie Francis||Connie Francis Sings Irish Favorites|
|1964||Patti LaBelle and the Bluebelles||Danny Boy||#76|
|1964||The Seekers||The Seekers (a.k.a. Roving with The Seekers)|
|1965||Johnny Cash||Orange Blossom Special|
|1965||Al Hirt||That Honey Horn Sound|
|1965||Jackie Wilson||#94 (Hot 100) and #25 (R&B). One of his mother's favorite songs|
|1967||Ray Price||#60 (Hot 100) and #9 (Country)|
|1967||Sarah Vaughan||It’s a Man’s World||Original release: Mercury Stereo SR 611220; released as an audio CD on Verve label in April 2002|
|1969||Tom Jones||Las Vegas to London: The Best of Tom Jones Live|
|1972||Roy Orbison||Memphis||In Roy's version, the singer is Danny Boy who is recalling when his father (who has since died) said farewell to him|
|1975||Joan Baez||Diamonds & Rust|
|1976||Elvis Presley||From Elvis Presley Boulevard, Memphis, Tennessee||The song was one of Elvis's and his father Vernon's favorites and was played at Elvis' funeral|
|1979||Kelly Family||The Kelly Family (untitled debut album)||The song was already on the singing family's first cassettes a few years earlier|
|1979||Thin Lizzy||Black Rose: A Rock Legend||Gary Moore and Phil Lynott often played the tune in jamming sessions in their early days. Under the name of Funky Junction, Thin Lizzy had previously recorded an instrumental version, titled Dan, on their Tribute to Deep Purple album in 1972|
|1979||Willie Nelson||One from the Road|
|1987||Tony Bennett||Jazz||Featuring Stan Getz on tenor sax, Herbie Hancock on piano, Ron Carter on bass, and Elvin Jones on drums|
|1990||Carly Simon||My Romance|
|1994||Jerry Lee Lewis||The Locust Years...And the Return to the Promised Land|||
|1995||Charlie Haden Hank Jones||Steal Away|
|1996||Eric Clapton||Change the World|
|1996||Shane MacGowan and the Popes||Christmas Party E.P.|
|1998||Sinéad O'Connor||The Sea of Dreams||Sinéad O'Connor performed the song, adding a third political verse, on whistler and piper Davy Spillane’s album The Sea of Dreams|
|1998||Charlotte Church||Voice of an Angel|
|1998||Jacintha||Here's to Ben|
|1999||Harry Connick, Jr.||Come by Me|
|2000||Judy Collins||Judy Collins sang it at her Live at Wolf Trap concert (CD & DVD).|
|2001||The Irish Tenors||Ellis Island||The song would proceed to be re-released on the albums The Very Best of The Irish Tenors (2002), Heritage (2004), and Ireland (2010).|
|2002||Megan Mullally||Big as a Berry|
|2002||Johnny Cash||American IV: The Man Comes Around|
|2003||Von Trapp Children||Volume 1|
|2004||Christy Moore||The Box Set 1964–2004|
|2004||Lena Martell||My Homeland|
|2004||Mormon Tabernacle Choir||America’s Choir||This arrangement was a cappella, and made by Mack Wilberg, then the associate director for the choir. He later made a second arrangement including orchestra as a bonus track for their 100th anniversary album while he was the chief director|
|2005||Celtic Woman||Celtic Woman|
|2006||Marco T||Cuan grande es El||Himnos y Alabanzas|
|2008||Celtic Thunder||Act Two|
|2011||Girls' Generation||2011 Girls' Generation Tour||Five members of the South Korean girl group Girls' Generation (Taeyeon, Jessica, Sunny, Tiffany and Seohyun) recorded a studio version and performed the song at The 1st Japan Arena Tour and 2011 Girls' Generation Tour|
|2012||Celtic Thunder||Voyage II|
|2012||Vocal Point||Lead Thou Me On: Hymns and Inspiration|
|2013||Angelo Kelly||Off Road Live 2||Kelly Family member Angelo now sings Danny Boy with his oldest son|
|2013||John Butler Trio||Tin Shed Tales||John Butler solo for this song|
|2013||John Laing[disambiguation needed]||Awakened||The track is titled Londonderry Air (Danny Boy) on the album. It is done as a piano solo|
|2013||Renée Fleming||"Guilty Pleasures"|
Edward Christopher Weatherly papers 1890-1936 North library archives (archivist David M Hayes) University of Colorado at Boulder
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