Thistle Song Origins
Sources include  Wikipedia, Micky Mulligans Song Book , ,,

Fairytale of New York is an Irish folk style ballad by UK-based punk/folk group The Pogues, also featuring Kirsty MacColl.

It features two Irish immigrants, lovers or ex-lovers, reminiscing and bickering in the drunk tank over Christmas in New York. MacColl's melodious singing contrasts with the harsh sound of Shane MacGowan's voice and the lyrics which are sometimes bittersweet, sometimes plain bitter. 

The Hills of Connemara - Trad. Irish Song, about evading the "exise men" in search of illegal poitin (moonshine) in the Connemara Hills.  This song probably originated in the late 19th Century, although it may be early 20th.  Beware the excise man if you're brewing up moonshine!

The Fields of Athenry is a song about the Irish Famine of the late 1840s, which was composed in the 1980s by Pete St. John, a prolific composer of widely sung modern ballads; his other most famous song is Dublin in the rare ol' times. His songs often express regret for the loss of old certainties (the latter song regrets the loss of Nelson's Pillar and the Metropole Ballroom, two symbols of old Dublin, as progress makes a 'city of my town'). The Fields of Athenry is widely seen as the definitive folk song on the Famine, telling the story of the Famine through the personal experiences of someone gaoled and deported.

The song, which was first recorded by Irish ballad singer Paddy Reilly, recounts the tale of a mythical Irishman in prison, reporting the story he could hear through the prison walls of another prisoner who is being deported to Tasmania for stealing food to feed his starving family. 

Blue Moon Of Kentucky  -  words and music by William Smith "Bill" Monroe.  In 1911, William Smith Monroe, a descendent of President James Monroe, was born near Rosine, Kentucky. Music was natural to William Smith Monroe. He grew up singing on the front porch with his family. By the time he was 12, he was an eager guitar player. Between 1928 and 1930, William Smith and his brothers, Charlie and Birch, formed their own band, the Monroe Brothers. William was picked to play the mandolin because the other brothers didn't know how to play it and William, well...he was the youngest. The Monroe Brothers, playing Appalachian songs about sin and redemption, found success with such great tunes as "Kentucky Waltz", "Footprints in the Snow" and "Blue Grass Ramble".

In 1938, the Monroe Brothers broke up and William formed the Kentuckians, which evolved into The Blue Grass Boys. Monroe's new musical directions included driving rhythms and tight harmonies. His music was a combination of Appalachian, Church, Jazz and Breakdown styles. This was the beginning of bluegrass.

From 1939-1941, Bill Monroe and The Bluegrass Boys performed at the Grand Ole Opry, were signed by RCA Records and formed their own touring company.

In 1946 Bill Monroe wrote and The Bluegrass Boys first recorded a song that was to become Monroe's signature, "Blue Moon of Kentucky."

By 1970, Bill Monroe was widely recognized as the "Father of Bluegrass." And in that year, he was inducted into the Country Music Hall of Fame, the next year into the Nashville Songwriters Association International Hall of Fame and more was to come...

  • Formed the Bean Blossom Festival
  • Opened Bluegrass Hall of Fame in Nashville
  • Inducted into the Bluegrass Hall of Honour
  • Grammy Lifetime Achievement Award
  • National Medal of the Arts
  • "Blue Moon of Kentucky" Official Bluegrass Song of Kentucky


1986 - US Senate passed a resolution honouring "his many contributions to American culture and his many ways of helping American people enjoy themselves." The resolution went on to say, "As a musician, showman, composer, and teacher, Mr. Monroe has been a cultural figure and force of signal importance in our time."

Bill Monroe died from a stroke on September 9, 1996, in Springfield, Tennessee.

The Green Fields of France  Written by Eric Bogle (born 1944) a Scottish-born Australian singer and songwriter. He was born in Peebles, Scotland, and emigrated to Australia in 1969. He currently resides near Adelaide, South Australia. Perhaps his best-known song, written in 1972, is "And the Band Played Waltzing Matilda", a haunting evocation of the ANZAC experience fighting in the Battle of Gallipoli; it has also been interpreted as a reaction to the Vietnam war.

His songs cover a wide range, including bright comic songs, satires ("I Hate Wogs"), protest songs and other serious considerations of the human condition. Some idea of the breadth of his work can be gained from the fact that another of his well-known songs is "The Aussie Bar-B-Q", a cheerful ditty about a completely different Australian institution.

In a similar vein to "And the Band Played Waltzing Matilda", his song "No Man's Land" refers to the old Scots song "Flowers of the Forest" being played over the grave of a World War I soldier. (Bogle is also on record as calling the song "The Green Fields of France", and it has sometimes been covered as "Flowers of the Forest".)

Wild Rover No More - another folk song of Irish flavour but without any hint of sadness as in The Black Velvet Band.  This song is about gold and love, but not the romantic kind of love.  You will see the lyrics tell a story as old as time itself stretching right back to the start of the biblical era.  This tune and lyrics express a great cheeky confidence and expectation that everything will be alright, and if it isn't - well that's okay too (typical Australian traits) on behalf of Wild Rover and we all know what the end result will be.  Forgiveness - do you agree?  But maybe Wild Rover  has gone too far this time - it can happen.

The Holy Ground

This an Irish set of lyrics to the tune: Old Swansea Town Once More. The "Holy Ground" is a quarter of Cobh (once known as Queenstown), which was inhabited mainly by fisherman. The tune is also referred to as The Cobh Sea Shanty. It was popular on the docks of Cork and Cobh as well as on the ships. The tune was originally a capstan shanty. (A song sung as sailors turned the capstan to raise the anchor.)

The Rare Ould Times

Another song by Pete St.John.  In this song he express regret for the loss of old certainties like the loss of Nelson's Pillar and the Metropole Ballroom, two symbols of old Dublin, as progress makes a 'city of my town'.

Pete St. John is a Dubliner. Educated at Scoil Muire Gan Smal, Inchicore and Synge Street C.B.S. he served his time as an electrician and then emigrated to Canada. Moving on to Alaska, Central America and the West Indies he worked as a professional athelete, truck driver, logging camp labourer, Pr/Sales Official and finally electrical contracting executive in the U.S.A.

He became deeply involved in the Peace Movement and International Civil Rights before returning to his native city of Dublin in the late 70's.

Finding the face of his city greatly changed he began writing songs in a very distinctive and unique style depicting the social conditions around him. Redundancy became the core element of his work and the city soon recognised his talent with the major folk artists recording his songs with great success.






All for me grog.  An old song popular among Irish balladeers. It is a celebration of the famous three vices: wine, women and song and the cost of our indulgence. Old Grog, nickname of Edward Vernon died 1757 English admiral responsible for diluting the sailors' rum.


Dirty Old Town, written by Ewan MacColl about his home town of Salford in Lancashire. 

Ewan MacColl (1915- October 22, 1989) was a Scottish playwright, poet, actor, folk-singer, and record producer.

Born Jimmy Miller, either in Auchterarder, Scotland or in Salford where he was brought up, MacColl changed his name to that of a Scottish poet whom he admired. 

Eileen OG  The song is written by Percy French.  "Eileen Og" means "young Eileen". The place name was Petrovogue or Petravore?. It is believed that French made up the name.  However, "Pedar a Voher" is on an Ordnance Map of 1836. Pedar is Peter in Irish.

Hey Good Lookin  Words & Music by Hank Williams and first Recorded by Hank Williams, 1951

"Mr. Tambourine Man" is a song, originally written and performed by Bob Dylan, and featured on his 1965 album, Bringing It All Back Home. It was then covered and popularized by The Byrds on their debut album Mr. Tambourine Man (1965). The song is allegedly about an attempt to make a drug deal, with the titular character being the drug dealer. The album brought the folk-rock sound into mainstream American consciousness.

"The Town I Loved So Well"  is a tune by Phil Coulter that was recorded by the Dubliners (among others, but noteworthy for the subsequent collaborations between the Pogues and the Dubliners). It's rooted in traditional Irish music but with a modern sensibility. The song itself describes the devastation to Derry (we can see the Irish Republican leanings of the song in the use of the name "Derry" for the town; the English refer to it as "Londonderry") wrought by British occupation as the Troubles began to heat up again.

Streams of Whiskey

"Last night as I slept
I dreamed I met with Behan..."

Most likely a reference to Irish playwright and author Brendan Behan .

"I am going, I am going
Any which way the wind may be blowing
I am going, I am going
Where streams of whiskey are flowing"

Given the causes of Behan's death (alcoholism) this chorus detailing his philosophy of life is rather poignant.

Danny Boy    It was George Petrie who gave the "Londonderry Air" its title in his compendium of Irish Music, the Ancient Music of Ireland, which was published in 1855. The melody was supplied to Petrie by Jane Ross of Newtown Limavady
Jane Ross (1810-1879) stated that she had taken down the tune in Limavady in 1851 when she heard it played by an itinerant fiddler. One of Ireland's most distinguished folk song collectors, Sam Henry, states in "Songs of the People" a regular weekly feature in the Northern Constitution (1923- 1939), that blind Jimmy McCurry (1830-19 10) was the fiddler referred to by Jane Ross.


Jimmy McCurry
Jimmy McCurry

Jimmy was born in the flatlands of Myroe and his favourite spot for playing the fiddle on market days was outside the Burns & Laird Shipping Office in Limavady. It was customary for the farmers of the day to bring their produce to the Limavady market by horse and cart. After they had unyoked their horses they left their carts with shafts on the ground all lined up along the Main Street. Jimmy usually took up position between the shafts of one of these carts just opposite the home of Jane Ross, who lived at 51 Main Street.


Black Velvet Band

The Black Velvet Band tells about the transportation of prisoners from Belfast to Port Arthur in Van-Diemen's Land - meaning of course Tasmania.  Typically up-beat and optimistic with just that little twist of sadness as most of these traditional Irish tunes have.

Ten years after the naming of Botany Bay  the first fleet left Britain in May 1787 and reached Botany Bay on January 19-20-1788.  There were eleven vessels which carried  about 730 convicts and 250 free settlers

One of the most evil and notorious penal colonies was situated at Port Arthur in Tasmania, where apart from the extreme cruelty meted out to the prisoners,  the total population of Aboriginals bar one were killed.

American Pie 

"American Pie" is an eight-and-a-half minute long classic pop song by singer-songwriter Don McLean, about "the day the music died".


Recorded in 1971 and released that year on the album of the same name, it was a #1 US hit in 1972. It is an allusive history of rock and roll, inspired by the deaths of Buddy Holly, Ritchie Valens, and J. P. Richardson (The Big Bopper) in a plane crash in 1959.

Although McLean dedicated the American Pie album to Buddy Holly, none of the singers in the plane crash are identified by name in the song itself. Later performers are also alluded to with easily decoded identifications, leading to much discussion, encouraged by McLean's canny lifelong refusal to explain the lyrics. (Asked what "American Pie" meant, McLean once replied, "It means I never have to work again." Later, he more seriously stated, "You will find many 'interpretations' of my lyrics but none of them by me.… Sorry to leave you all on your own like this but long ago I realized that songwriters should make their statements and move on, maintaining a dignified silence.")

The "standard interpretation"

During its initial popularity, guessing about the meaning of the song's lyrics was a popular pastime; many radio stations and disc jockeys published unofficial interpretations. Over the years, assisted by the collective power of the Internet, something approaching a "standard interpretation" of the song has emerged. How much of it was actually in McLean's mind, consciously or unconsciously, when he wrote the lyrics is a matter of popular debate among fans.

According to this interpretation, the song is a tribute to Buddy Holly, Richie Valens and the Big Bopper, though most especially Holly. With the deaths of Holly et al, McLean felt that dance music was gone.

Contrary to popular belief, McLean has discussed the meaning of the song on multiple occasions, in his 2000 Starry, Starry Night video he said, "I'm very proud of the song. It is biographical in nature and I don't think anyone has ever picked up on that. The song starts off with my memories of the death of Buddy Holly. But it moves on to describe America as I was seeing it and how I was fantasizing it might become, so it's part reality and part fantasy but I'm always in the song as a witness or as even the subject sometimes in some of the verses. You know how when you dream something you can see something change into something else and it's illogical when you examine it in the morning but when you're dreaming it it seems perfectly logical. So it's perfectly okay for me to talk about being in the gym and seeing this girl dancing with someone else and suddenly have this become this other thing that this verse becomes and moving on just like that. That's why I've never analyzed the lyrics to the song. They're beyond analysis. They're poetry."

The chorus is simple, with most reviewers equating "Miss American Pie" with all types of American music or everything that is good about the country. There is also an unconfirmed rumour that McLean dated a Miss America contestant for a time. The chorus ends with "this'll be the day that I die." Holly had a popular song called "That'll Be The Day", in which the line "that'll be the day that I die" is repeated in the chorus. "Bye, bye Miss American Pie" may also refer to the loss of innocence caused by the assassination of John F. Kennedy, since "American pie" may be an oblique reference to apple pie, a symbol of traditional American values and morality. In addition, the singer drives a Chevy to the levee; Chevrolet was an American company at a time when foreign cars were very popular. Some believe that the reference to "rye" may mean Rye, New York with "The Levee" being the name of a bar where McLean and his friends mourned the death of Buddy Holly. The belief that "Miss American Pie" was the name of the plane that crashed is an urban legend — the plane had no name, only a registration number.

First Verse

In the first verse, the singer expresses his desire to become a musician because "I could make those people dance/And maybe they'd be happy for awhile." "February made me shiver" refers to the winter plane crash, which occurred in the early hours of February 3, 1959. "With every paper I'd deliver" refers to McLean's only job besides singer/songwriter; he was a paperboy as a young man. "I can't remember if I cried/When I read about his widowed bride" refers to Holly's wife, Maria Elena, who was pregnant at the time of his death.

Second Verse

The beginning of the second verse ("Did you write the book of love"... "if the Bible tells you so") may be McLean questioning the final destinations (i.e. Heaven or Hell) of the dead musicians. The "Book of Love" is a reference to the 1958 song by the Monotones. The line "Can you teach me how to dance real slow" may refer to the decline of slow-dancing that accompanied the rise of psychedelic music. Rock and roll from the 1950s included frequent slow songs, played at sock hops and other dances. Sock hops are referenced later in the second verse, with "I saw you dancing in the gym" (sock hops were frequently held in gyms) and "You both kicked off your shoes" (shoes would scuff the floor of gyms, hence teens danced in socks). There are also, of course, other more sexual interpretations of 'dancing' and removing clothing.

Third Verse

The third verse begins with "Now for ten years we've been on our own" - the song was being written in the late 1960s, about ten years after the plane crash. The "moss grows fat on a rolling stone" may be a criticism of the alleged greed of the Rolling Stones; "a rolling stone gathers no moss" is of course a traditional proverb. A strong case has been made that the jester who "sang for the king and queen" was Bob Dylan, since the song says that he sang "in a coat he borrowed from James Dean". Dean famously wore a red windbreaker in Rebel Without a Cause, and Dylan was shown in a distinctly similar windbreaker on the cover of one of his albums. It makes sense for the King to be Elvis Presley (nicknamed The King), and the queen may be Connie Francis, or Queen Elizabeth II of the United Kingdom (to whom Dylan gave a command performance), or Little Richard. The royal pair may also refer to President John Fitzgerald Kennedy and his wife, Jackie Kennedy, with the jester being Lee Harvey Oswald or Jack Ruby.

Assuming that the jester really does refer to Dylan (or maybe Buddy Holly), the fact that he sang in a "voice that came from you and me" refers to the populist origin of folk music, such as sung by Bob Dylan, or similarly, the populism of Buddy Holly. A further interpretation, supporting the Dylan claimants, is Dylan's untrained vocal style, which stood out a mile from those of his early contemporaries. "While the King was looking down/The jester stole his thorny crown" may refer to Dylan overtaking Presley in popularity, or to Buddy Holly's meteoric rise to fame. The "thorny crown" is a reference to Jesus, who was also forced to wear a crown of thorns in the Bible, and it can carry connotations of the price of fame and power, similar to the Sword of Damocles. The lines may also be interpreted to mean that JFK's legacy of populism, as he "was looking down" was transferred to Bob Dylan instead of Lyndon Baines Johnson, JFK's successor as president--hence, the line means that politicians are no longer interested in the trials of the common man. "The courtroom was adjourned/No verdict was returned" may mean that the lone gunman theory of JFK's assassination was not accepted, or refer to the trial of the Chicago 7, or simply that fans of Elvis and Dylan were perpetually unable to reconcile their differences because the music of the 1950s and the 1960s were incredibly different from each other. "Lennon read a book on Marx" refers to John Lennon (of The Beatles) actually reading about socialism in the work of Karl Marx and indicates the political message of music, unheard of during the 1950s but predominant by the end of the 1960s. "Lennon" may also be a play on words, referring to the Communist leader of the USSR, Vladimir Lenin, while "Marx" could refer to Groucho Marx or the other Marx Brothers, whose style of verbal wit was evident in the Beatles' own interviews and writing. "The quartet practiced in the park" may refer to the Beatles (a quartet) playing in Shea Stadium, or it may refer to The Weavers, a musical group from the early 1960s that McLean was friends with; they were later blacklisted because of McCarthyism. Some critics believe that the Beatles are the quartet and are practicing in the park because their brand of music was still unpopular, as the early rock and roll of Buddy Holly et al was still popular. The park could also be a reference to England, as viewed from the US. The last line of the verse is "we sang dirges in the dark", perhaps referring to art rock or progressive rock, frequently long, symphonic and undanceable music that was becoming popular at the time. A dirge is a funereal song, so this may refer to the deaths of countless people, including Buddy Holly. Also, it may be the national mourning that occurred after the assassination of JFK.

Fourth Verse

The fourth verse begins with the line "Helter Skelter in a summer swelter", a reference both to the Beatles tune and to the Tate/LaBianca murders of August 1969 (or perhaps the 1967 Summer of Love or the "long, hot summer" of Watts, California in 1965). The line "the birds flew off ... eight miles high, and falling fast," likely refers to The Byrds and their controversial song Eight Miles High from 1966. The reference to them flying off "with the fallout shelter" may be a reference to their entering the counterculture music scene in 1965 covering Dylan's "Mr. Tambourine Man" making it much more widely popular and the peace protest song "Turn, Turn, Turn" by Pete Seeger. The jester returns to the song and is "on the sidelines in a cast", referring to Dylan's 1966 motorcycle crash that badly injured him. The beginning may also refer to the sudden rise to fame of the Beatles after Holly's death (with Holly being the jester and the cast being death). "The halftime air was sweet perfume" may refer either to the use of illegal drugs, such as marijuana, or the 1968 Democratic National Convention, which was broken up by tear gas, making the "sweet perfume" an ironic reference. "The sergeants played a marching tune" may refer to the Chicago police and Illinois National Guard, who used tear gas the DNC in 1968, or to the Beatles magnum opus, Sgt. Pepper's Lonely Hearts Club Band which is "marching" music because it is not meant to be danced to. The "marching tune" may also be the draft. "We all got up to dance/But we never got the chance" could be a reference to the Beatles thirty-five minute concert at Candlestick Park in 1966, or to the lack of dance music being created at the time. The following two lines ("Cause the players tried to take the field/The marching band refused to yield") may bring back the DNC of 1968, with the marching band being the protestors and the players being the Chicago police and Illinois National Guard. The players may also be the Ohio National Guard, referring to the infamous shootings of unarmed protestors at Kent State University. More generally, some have interpreted it as an indictment of the military-industrial complex's refusal to heed the desires of the people of the United States on the subject of the Vietnam War. Others interpret this line as the rivalry between intelligent, art rock (such as the Beatles) and fun, dance rock (such as the Beach Boys).

Fifth Verse

The fifth verse begins with "There we were all in one place/a generation lost in space" which probably refers to the hippie generation congregating at Woodstock, who were "lost in space" because of rampant drug use. They may also be "lost in space" because of the lack of good music at the time. Because the alleged drug abuse, the hippies had "no time left to start again" as they had spent so much time stoned. "So come on, Jack be nimble, Jack be quick" may refer to Mick Jagger of the Rolling Stones and their 1968 song "Jumping Jack Flash" as well as a nursery rhyme with the same line. "Jack Flash sat on a candlestick" is also from the nursery rhyme and may refer to the Rolling Stones concert at Candlestick Park. "Fire is the devil's only friend" may refer to "Sympathy for the Devil" by the Rolling Stones, or "Friend of the Devil" by the Grateful Dead. Alternatively, the "fire" refers to the fire that burned the plane Holly died in; Holly died from the fire itself, and not the crash. The entire beginning of this verse has also been interpreted as referring to the Cuban Missile Crisis, with "Jack" referring to John F. Kennedy, the devil being either Cuba, Communism or the Soviet Union and candlesticks referring to ICBMs or other nuclear weapons. "Sympathy for the Devil" was part of the Rolling Stones' set in their notorious concert at Altamont Speedway, during which a fan was killed by the Hells Angels, who had been hired as security for the concert. (However, the song playing at the time of the killing was "Under My Thumb", not "Sympathy for the Devil" as is commonly thought.) The rest of the verse ("As I watched him on the stage...I saw Satan laughing with delight" may refer to this concert. McLean may have been among those who blamed the song ("Sympathy for the Devil") for inciting the riot because of the Rolling Stones frequent allusions to alleged Satanic themes; in this case, "Satan laughing with delight" may be Mick Jagger. However, the Rolling Stones recorded many roots-rock covers (which McLean probably liked) and were unusually dance-oriented for their time. "To light that sacrifical rite" may also refer to Jimi Hendrix setting his guitar on fire in concert at the Monterey Pop Festival in 1967, though the rest of the verse seems to refer to 1968. Some have claimed that the end of this verse refers to McLean prophetically knowing that the plane would crash and kill his musical heroes but was unable to stop it.

Sixth Verse

The sixth verse begins with "I met a girl who sang the blues", probably referring to Janis Joplin or Billie Holiday, who "smiled and turned away" (died of an overdose) when McLean asks her if she has any "happy news". The "sacred store" may refer to a literal church or synagogue where McLean had heard music in his childhood ("years before"), or to record stores and music performance venues (which are seen as sacred as rock and roll is sacred, as per the earlier line "Can music save your mortal soul") or just to the Fillmore West. There is also an allusion here to many of the origins of rock and roll in the church music of the American south. The following line, "But the man there said the music wouldn't play", may mean the discontinued practice of record stores allowing shoppers to preview music before buying it, or that listeners had stopped listening to Buddy Holly and similar rockers, or that good music was no longer being created. "In the streets the children screamed" may refer to brutal tactics used to disperse protestors in Chicago, Kent State University or, most likely, Berkeley, California's People's Park riots. The broken church bells later in the verse may be the people killed and injured at these protests, or to the death of innocence caused by the US government's heavy-handed tactics, or to the dead musicians from the plane crash.

"The three men that I admire most/The Father, Son and the Holy Ghost" is an unmistakable allusion to the Christian Trinity of God the Father, Jesus, and the Holy Ghost, as it is a quote of a phrase used weekly in churches of many denominations. But it is presumably a metaphor for something else. The interpretation that is most consistent with the main topic of the song is that the three stand for Holly, Valens and the Big Bopper. This line is followed by "they caught the last train for the coast/the day the music died" and "the day the music died" is the day Holly, Valens and the Big Bopper died and "going west" (as in to the West Coast of the United States) is a common metaphor for death. However, thoughtful people also hold out for Hank Williams, Elvis Presley and Buddy Holly, or John F. Kennedy, Martin Luther King Jr. and Robert F. Kennedy (three political figures who were assassinated). Some critics believe this is a reference to the many religions (generally New Age) that came from California in the 1960s. Many other critics believe that the Father, the Son and the Holy Ghost were the intended subject, and that the lines refer to the supposed abandonment of the United States by God, who had protected the nation through World War 1 and World War 2 but not when greed became the motive for the Vietnam War.

Just enjoy the song !!!


Star of the County Down is an old Irish ballad which has been re-recorded many times. This song shares its melody with the church hymn "Led By the Spirit" and many other works. It has been covered by many artists, including Van Morrison, the Pogues, the Chieftains, the Flash Girls, Béla Fleck and Orthodox Celts. The song is notable for its particularly intricate rhyme scheme, whereby the lines are in rhyming couplets, but every line also has an internal rhyme on the second and fourth feet.

The song is sung from the point of view of a young man who chances to meet a charming lady by the name of Rose McCann, referred to as the "star of the County Down". From a brief encounter the writer's infatuation grows until, by the end of the ballad, he plans to wed the girl.

Don't think twice, it's alright.  Originally from the Bob Dylan album The Freewheelin' Bob Dylan (1963)

"Goodnight Irene" is a folk standard, made famous by Leadbelly in a 1950 recording.  It is associated with the Bristol Rovers football team.
Leadbelly, nickname of Huddie William Ledbetter, 1885–1949, American singer, b. Mooringsport, La. While wandering through Louisiana and Texas, he earned a living by playing the guitar for dances. For a time he joined with Blind Lemon Jefferson, the blues singer, who influenced his future style. Leadbelly's blues and work songs are a survival of the earliest African-American music. He was jailed in 1918 for murder and put on a chain gang; he was pardoned in 1925 but was again put in jail for attempted murder (1930–34) and for assault (1939–40). The folklorist John A. Lomax discovered Leadbelly in prison and used his songs for a book, Negro Folk Songs as Sung by Lead Belly (1936). In the 1940s Leadbelly made numerous nightclub appearances, accompanying himself on his 12-string guitar; in 1949 he made a concert tour in France.

Molly Maguires,

The Molly Maguires were members of a secret organization of miners in the anthracite-coal country of northeastern Pennsylvania in 1865-1875. These men (all of whom belonged to an Irish-American fraternal society, the Ancient Order of Hibernians) took their name, and to some extent their methods, from an extralegal association in Ireland organized to resist oppressive landlords. Angered by the grim conditions under which they lived and worked, frustrated by the mine owners' ability to prevent all union activity, and denied legal recourse by the owners' control of local police and politics, the Mollies turned to intimidation, arson, and murder.

In 1875, they finally succeeded in forming a miners' union and called a strike. At this point, the president of the Reading Railroad called in the Pinkerton Agency, and one of the Pinkertons, James McParlan, successfully infiltrated the Molly Maguires. Based on the testimony of McParlan and other agents, the organization was destroyed and twenty of its members hanged in 1877. Amid the bitter class conflict that characterized the last quarter of the nineteenth century, the Mollies were remembered by some as brutal terrorists, whereas others saw them as martyred heroes of the labour movement.


City of New Orleans

Written by Steve Goodman (July 25, 1948–September 20, 1984) an American folk music singer and songwriter.

Born and raised in Chicago, Illinois, Goodman began writing and performing songs as a teenager. By 1969, after a brief sojourn in New York City's Washington Square, Goodman was a regular performer at the well-known Earl of Old Town folk music club in Chicago, while attending Lake Forest College. During this time Goodman also married Nancy Pruter, and paid bills by writing and singing advertising jingles.

It was also during this time that Goodman wrote many of his most enduring songs, including "City of New Orleans", the song which would become most associated with Goodman. Goodman's songs first appeared on a locally-produced record, Gathering at the Earl of Old Town, in 1971.

In 1971, Goodman was playing at a Chicago bar called the Quiet Knight as the opening act for Kris Kristofferson. Kristofferson, impressed with Goodman, introduced him to Paul Anka who brought Goodman to New York to record some demos; these resulted in Goodman signing a contract with Buddah Records.

Seeing Arlo Guthrie in a bar, Goodman asked to be allowed to play a song for him. Guthrie grudgingly agreed; Goodman played "City of New Orleans" which Guthrie liked enough that he asked for the right to record it. Guthrie's version of the song became a hit in 1972, and provided Goodman with enough financial success to make his music a full-time career. The song would become an American standard, covered by many other musicians including Johnny Cash, Judy Collins, and Willie Nelson.

In 1974, singer David Allen Coe achieved considerable success on the country charts with Goodman's "You Never Even Call Me By My Name", a song which good-naturedly spoofed stereotypical country music lyrics.

Goodman's own success as a recording artist was more limited. Although known in folk circles as a great song writer and highly influential, his albums received more critical than commercial success.

Goodman's singing career remained centered around the folk music clubs of Chicago, and Goodman wrote and performed many humorous songs about the city, including two about the Chicago Cubs: "The Dying Cub Fan's Last Request" and "Go, Cubs, Go." Others included "The Lincoln Park Pirates", about the notorious Lincoln Towing Company, and "Daley's Gone," about Mayor Richard J. Daley. He could also write serious songs, most notably "My Old Man," a tribute to Goodman's father, Bud Goodman, a used car salesman.

Goodman was closely involved with the Old Town School of Folk Music, where he met and mentored his good friend, John Prine.

Around the time Goodman's career began to take off, he was diagnosed with leukaemia. The entire time he was writing and signing, he was also fighting cancer. On September 20, 1984, Goodman died at University of Washington Hospital in Seattle, Washington . Eleven days later, the Chicago Cubs, the baseball team Goodman rooted for and wrote two songs about, would play their first play-off game since 1945 at Wrigley Field.

South Australia is a sea shanty used by the wool traders who worked the clipper ships between Australian ports and London. It is now a very famous folk song that is recorded by many artists and is present in many of today's song books.

This is well known as a farewell song, sung at the docks as the big ships were leaving. The men grew a sentimental attachment to the song and were even known to request a rousing chorus on their death beds, so that they could die happy.


"N17" is a song about an Irish emigrant longing to be driving on the N17 trunk road that connects Galway with the Saw Doctors' hometown of Tuam.

Waterboys' frontman Mike Scott produced the band's first single in August 1989