I sometimes joke the beauty of a Celtic song is in direct proportion to its body count. If you want to hear some heart-rending melancholia, head for the Scottish Highlands or the Emerald Isles. In honor of St. Patrick’s Day, here’s a good one, “The Wind That Shakes the Barley.” The singer is Lisa Gerrard of Dead Can Dance. Here’s one version of the lyrics.
My copy of the The Irish Songbook says:
This is an excellent example of many songs that serve both as love lyrics and rebel song. The scene described refers to the 1783 rising. The words are the work of Robert Dwyer Joyce, a professor of English Literature at Catholic University at Dublin. In danger of arrest for rebel activities, Joyce fled to the United States. He later returned to Ireland and died in Dublin in 1883.
Meanwhile, I’m looking forward to seeing the 2006 film, The Wind That Shakes the Barley, soon to hit the United States. Directed by Ken Loach, it stars Cillian Murphy and won the Palme D’Or at Cannes. Here’s the official website and here’s the trailer: