Sermon by Billy Joe O’Martin
I searched for this and didn’t find it so I am passing it on. Forgive me if this is a duplication.
A sermon by The Rev. Billy Joe O’Martin
Irish folk music is old-time in my book, so you will have to put up with the following or skip over it:
Celtic?! What is that fantasy all about? I tried to listen in my car to “The Thistle & Shamrock” on public radio last night and had to grit my teeth to get through the first song. I have a passion for real Irish dance tunes done on a scratchy fiddle or breathy whistle, so its disappointing to rarely hear any of that on the Portland "celtic" music programs.
What passes for Irish music on the radio these days is easy- listening pap, clueless hymns to an invented prehistoric spirituality, sophomoric political chest-pounders, intensely self-aware evocations of cheap sentiment, and frenetic "celtic" ensembles that all use the same tawdry tricks in their tiresome, predictable arrangements. And the conga drums. Saints preserve us.
Listening to Thistle, I wondered where was the Irish solo fiddler to get my feet pounding and my car weaving? The solo Irish song that is both sweet and strong and earns a quiet and respectful listening? After four tunes I bellowed "Pretenders!" "Fakers!" "Mountebanks!" and flipped off the radio.And then I turned off the radio.
"Celtic" music has left behind the blood-simple vitality of the Irish and Scottish music that is found between the leather sole and the floorboards. There is no "celtic" culture, other than the contrived fusion that now supplies hypnotizing background music to massage clinics. I’d love to hear more of the traditional Irish solo singers with their spare, lightly ornamented style that paradoxically uses an unsentimental presentation to move the hearts of the listeners.
The same thing applies to North American folk music like the Southern mountain ballad singers and square dance fiddlers. Like its American sibling, Irish fiddling is primarily dance music, and brother, "celtic" don’t dance. Oh yeah? Well what about the Celtic Women, Bill?
"Jaysus Sufferin’ Christ!" says the good Father.