- I’ve mentioned how much traditional Irish music has influenced and inspired me many times over the years. This week, Project: Archives goes international, revisting Eire, my sixth song collection. “Drunken Sailor” is a rambunctious, dexterity-testing little tune meant to get your feet tapping and the Guinness flowing.
Year Composed: 1988
About the Song
As part of the American Music Abroad program, I had the opportunity to travel overseas after I graduated from high school, performing music for various embassies and events throughout Europe and the UK. The trip lasted four weeks, but I ended up extending my stay another two weeks in order to spend more time in the UK and also visit Ireland. Irish culture, architecture, and music in particular had fascinated me for some time, and it was a dream come true to be able to actually visit many of the places I had read about.
When I returned home, I knew exactly what my next collection of songs would be. I had been including original arrangements of traditional tunes in my recordings since
The Bard’s Tale, but I thought that dedicating an entire collection to the music of Ireland was definitely in order. Thus, Eire was born. I used the Gaelic word for Ireland as its title, and, armed with a brand new Yamaha portable keyboard (this one with full size keys as well as a rudimentary onboard sequencer), set about trying to capture the spirit of the isle in song.
I had heard “Drunken Sailor” during a castle-hosted medieval dinner whiile on my trip and absolutely loved its rollicking energy. I decided to use a half-tempo introduction on my version in order to add a little drama and contrast to the bulk of the song. This was easily the most challenging track I had in my live set, simply because of its relentless pace and finger-twisting runs.