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Danny Boy

Is the character who sings " Danny Boy " male or female? I've always thought it to be male ( a father ), but Majikthise believes it to be explicitly female. What say you?

Female. Either mother or sweetheart. See DANNY BOY: The Beloved Irish Ballad by Malachy McCourt (reviewed here)for a full discussion of the song.

I wouldn't be sure that this settles it. The review states that McCourt's book has a lot of blarney in it, and it states that even he explores a few theories as to whom the singer might be and who the subject might be.

I actually spent many an hour listening to Malachy McCourt, who once had a call-in radio show on what was once a good talk radio station in NYC, WMCA.

Malachy was interesting to listen to, but absolutely full of " blarney " when speaking of almost anything. There were howlers on every show.

See the original post on Majikthise, there have been good responses there.

I think that it is Danny boy's father, an old man. That is why it talks about him possibly being in the grave when Danny come home.

I sued to think that it was a sweetheart, but wondered why she thought that SHE might well be dead. It makes more sence as an old man lamenting his son going off to war.

I feel very strongly that it is a parent that is singig it to a child who is going off to war (which is why the pipes are calling him), someone older who well may be likely to die prior the child's arrival back at home. Found a site that has extensive history, including the facts that the man who wrote the words was a professional English songwriter, who had a son named Danny:
http://www.standingstones.com/danny3.html#true

After rereading the lyrics, I think you're right that they're gender neutral.

Phantom, do you remember Johnny Cash's intro to Danny Boy? It was originally recorded in 1963 and it now appears on the Bear Family "Man in Black" box set. That was where I got the idea that "Danny Boy" had a female narrator. Cash says that the song is about a girl who has to go into the peat bogs and tell her lover that the pipes are calling him off to war.

I now think the song had deliberately unisex lyrics, but it's interesting that Cash didn't read them that way.

--Do you remember Johnny Cash's intro to Danny Boy?--

No! But that is an interesting bit of detail. I will track it down, thanks.

I don't know if there's a song that's ever been sung that is more sadly beautiful.

Looking at Wikipedia, I see that it was a song that Elvis Presley loved, one which he recorded when he was young and strong, and which was sung at his funeral.

I've just found the Elvis rendition of the song on my Yahoo Music Player. God, it's good.

Thanks for raising this subject!

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