Liam Clancy dies…

Another big apple has fallen with the passing of Liam Clancy. David Hammond is no longer with us either. The third member of that extraordinary triumvirate Tommy Makem has also crossed over to the other shore. These three unique talents, anchored in the oral tradition of song and story telling, embodied centuries of creative expression. Bob Dylan called Liam Clancy: “The best ballad singer I’ve ever heard.” Ar lámh dheis De go raibh anam Liam.

  • Liam O’Muckamoo

    Slan Abhaile

  • Dave

    The passing of another legend. He was a fine ballad singer, but I could never get too far past his stage Irishman persona aimed at marketing his records to an American audience. Bob Dylan must not have heard Luke Kelly. He, like Bob, belongs to that select group of singers who have the truth in their voices – not many of them left now.

  • Danny O’Connor

    Oiche mhaith Liam

  • brendan,belfast

    One way of capturing the importance of Liam Clancy is to look at Scorsese’s wonderful, wonderful docuemtary on Dylan, No Direction Home. The man was a giant. God bless.

  • Nollaig a chara

    I tell ya what… thats some band playing in heavan now…Luke, Ronnie, Liam… what a session that’d be god bless ya a Chara

  • sleepingpostie

    Had a pint with him very late one night in a pub on the Dungarvan side of An Rinn (Murry’s, I think. The gardai put us all out about 1 am, we sat on a bench outside in the summer night; the garda sat in a van for 5 minutes and, honour intact, he left and we went back inside. A decent man as well as a good singer and full of stories.

  • Thanks for this info Eamonn, condolences to the man and his family and friends and thanks for the music Liam.

    I was only chatting with a friend the other day whether in the USA, out of the current economic crises a Woody Guthrie, Leadbelly or Hank Williams might emerge, is some songsmith at this very minute penning a 21st century bourgeois town/blues.

  • Ulster McNulty

    A very talented individual

    Dave

    “but I could never get too far past his stage Irishman persona aimed at marketing his records to an American audience”

    For me that’s the complete opposite of what Makem and the Clancys were doing in America – anything distictive and fresh at the time will eventually become cliched. That’s the way it looks now. But Makem and the Clancy’s gave the Americans a huge dose of genuine Irish folk music, which they hadn’t heard before – as opposed to the standard stage Irish (American) fare of that time – “If your Irish come into the parlour”, “McNamara’s Band” etc. Can you imagine Bob Dylan getting inspired by “stage Irishman” music of the 1950’s – “Hennesy, Tennesy, tootle the flute”? No chance.

    For me there is no question of “authenticity”, the only difference between Makem and the Clancys, and the Dubliners is the decade they emerged, and Aran jumpers and Beards – everybody needs a look and a gimmick to both stand out from the crowd, and fit into the scene – there is no difference in quality.

  • Dave

    Fair comment, but it’s really a matter of individual perception. I don’t think I could prove that Liam Clancy adopted a stage Irishman persona anymore than you could prove that he didn’t.

    If you look at the “No Direction Home” documentary that Brendan mentioned above, you will see a man who out of time and out of place (or, rather, I do). Perhaps he was really like that (and another poster should know as he shared a pint with him), but I just see an absurd performance that owes more to out-of-date marketing to an audience who have expectations of what an Irishman should be than its owes to sincerity.

    There will always be an element of marketing if you are bringing a product to a mass audience, and even Dylan is a marketing invention. Their manager at the time, Marty Erlichman, knew that; and hence, for examples, we got the trademark Aran sweaters and a lot of folksy guff intermingled with their renditions.

    That is not to detract from his greatness as a ballad singer or to detract from the success that The Clancy Brothers had in popularising Irish music in America (a worthy acheivement by itself). That marketing was a mental block to me whenever I listened to their records. I’m just giving my opinion, so I don’t expect it to carry greater weight than the millions who loved their music. I like my folksingers to be less folksy. 😉

  • An Lorgain

    Loved his version of the sash 🙂

  • kensei

    Dave

    That is not to detract from his greatness as a ballad singer or to detract from the success that The Clancy Brothers had in popularising Irish music in America (a worthy acheivement by itself).

    They didn’t just help popularise Irish music in America, the Clancy Brothers helped popularise it in Ireland.

    Theer was a documentary a while back that explained that the music could be seen as backward at the time. But if the great and glamorous America liked it…..

  • Dave

    Well, yes, but then again isn’t that imprimatur in the thread topic? If Dylan liked him…

    America is important to Ireland beyond cultural imprimatur – politically, historically, and economically – so any exchange that promotes a favourable impression and better relations is for the national good. If in doubt, see who Gerry ran to for an external guarantor. Irish companies employ 80,000 people over there and American companies employ 100,000 over here.

  • Greenflag

    Kensei,

    ‘They didn’t just help popularise Irish music in America, the Clancy Brothers helped popularise it in Ireland.’

    Very true .

    And in England , Scotland and elsewhere also . The ‘folk’ revival in Ireland also led to a revival for English and Scots folk artists in the 1960’s and 70’s which has continued to this day . I suppose one could call it a ‘reaction ‘ to the bland ‘internationalism ‘ of the post war era ?

    I read that both elder Clancy Brothers served in the RAF before they went full time into folk music and that younger brother Liam and Tommy Makem had to wean them off their ‘anglo ‘ speaking tones to make the product work 😉

    Whatever it takes eh .

    Sad news anyway as another great passes .RIP

  • The Phantom

    I’m mildly surprised that his passing wasn’t a bigger story in America.

    Few know who he was, or how important he was.

  • Greenflag

    The phantom ‘

    The USA is a vast country with 300 million people of whom maybe 40 million would be of Irish extraction and even of them only a fraction would be interested in Irish folk . I’d guess more people are aware of Bono . But here’s one USA ‘remembrance’ as aired on the USA’s ‘BBC’ as it were .

    http://www.npr.org/templates/story/story.php?storyId=121109044

  • Greenflag

    True – and it was mentioned in the NY Times and other papers. But almost as an afterthought.

    He was for a time a big part of a larger folk scene – not just Irish folk. Part of a group that was on national TV when that really meant something, etc.

    Folk is not so big now. And the fifties and sixties are a long, long time ago

  • Greenflag

    Times change ‘phantom ‘ C’est la vie and c’est la morte aussi. Though fashions change and music fads come and go some have that ‘eternal ‘ ring to them and among a select few I would think the Clancy’s and the Dubliners and the Chieftains will merit the mark of ‘eternal’ . And so too will from another genre the Beatles and from another Mozart 😉