Oh, me and my cousin, one Arthur McBride
As we went a-walkin’ down by the seaside
Now mark what followed and what did betide
For it bein’ on Christmas mornin’
Now, for recreation, we went on a tramp
And we met sergeant Napper and corporal Vamp
And a little wee drummer intending to camp
For the day bein’ pleasant and charmin’
We have another 19th century Irish Ballad coming to you today, this time it is Arthur McBride by Bob Dylan from his 1992 album Good as I Been To You. According to Wiki: it was first collected around 1840 in Limerick by Patrick Weston Joyce; also in Donegal by George Petrie. The song expressed the sentiment that not all the young Irish were willing to fight war for the British crown. The song can be narrowly categorized as an “anti-recruiting” song, a specific form of anti-war song, and more broadly as a protest song.
It took me some time to appreciate the album Good as I Been To You. Some songs made an immediate impact like Jim Jones and Canadee i-o, but others like Arthur McBride and Hard Times were an acquired taste. The album is composed entirely of traditional folk songs and it’s also his first album not to feature any original songs since Dylan 1973. I really admire his guitar playing on this album. I haven’t really heard the acoustic guitar played like that before. How Dylan strums and picks the guitar can’t be replicated – Good as I Been To You is surely the best testament to that! It’s his first solo acoustic album since Another Side of Dylan in 1964. Good as I Been To You also resurrected Dylan with critics after getting panned for Under the Red Sky.
I really like what Dylan has done with this old Arthur McBride song. The timbre of his voice and focus of his phrasing really elevates this song. He of course sung traditional folk songs all the time in his early years, but they were more topical / political in nature where as this compilation go back at least a century. Dylan mentioned once in an interview that he could have imagined himself being a heroic military officer dying on a battlefield somewhere. Arthur McBride and Good as I Been To You overall seems to be him tapping into this very – very old folkloric wellspring when people were behest to destitution and war – ‘hard times’ if you will. When you listen to these tracks sometimes you catch a glimpse of what it must have ‘really’ been like back then. Dylan’s music has always been a portal to another time in our history. Like how David Sexton pointed out in his review of the album “Dylan sounds now, in comparison to his younger self, like one of those ghosts, but a powerful ghost.‘
I really like Rosanne Cash’s story about Paul Brady’s recording of Arthur McBride (see video below here). She wrote a blog post for the New York Times and below were her remarks about it:
‘The first thing my husband, John Leventhal, ever gave me, shortly after we met, was a cassette mix tape he had put together of some of his current favorite songs. On that tape was Paul Brady’s eight-verse version of “Arthur McBride,” a gorgeous, lilting Irish folk song…
I must have listened to “Arthur McBride” a thousand times. It made me want to marry John Leventhal. I did marry him. A couple of years after that, we went together to Aberdeen, Scotland, to tape “Transatlantic Sessions,” a music show that puts American and Scottish and Irish musicians together to see what they will come up with. I sat on the floor in the corner of a little room at an inn where we were taping, a few feet from Paul Brady, with no one else in the room but him and the camera operators, and listened to him sing “Arthur McBride.” It remains one of the greatest live performances I’ve ever seen, and a moment I’ll never forget.’
Dylan’s Arthur McBride has just been recently made available on you tube:
A friend gave me this cd…I liked it…and the song that hooked me? Froggie Went A-Courtin…yes that song. I know it’s silly…but I love the way he delivered it. Arthur McBride, I remember but I need to listen to again…it’s been a while since I listened to this album.
I wasn’t a big fan of that song. I preferred a lot of others from the album. But I can see its appeal. I like the album. I consider it a low to mid level tier album from him. But I love his guitar playing on it. Canadee IO and Jim Jones are probably in my top 50 Dylan songs. I don’t grow tired of them.
I heard it when I was a kid. It was like this little universe within ours. I was shocked to find it on a Dylan album…nothing shocks anymore with him after the Christmas album.
I would think that he played some of these songs when he started out. He didn’t put much time in it….but it works .Not my favorite Dylan album but it was cool to hear his interpretations of these mostly traditional songs.
I just reheard ‘Froggie Went a Courtin’ for the first time in 3 or so years. His guitar playing is fantastic. Thanks for bringing that song up. It was well worth hearing it again.
I suppose we’ll be dusting off his Christmas album come end of November. Hehe
Bob always surprises… I like his voice on that album also.
This game 7 is riveting
It is…I’ve never seen 7 games where the road team wins 4…this is unusual to say the least.
Yes that’s right it’s never happened before. Washington have had a bad time with the umps this series. I personally want to see a digital strike zone. I profess I’m a big Greinke fan even since he was as the Dodgers.
He is pitching better than he did in parts of the season. You can’t ask for more in a game 7
He’s had a great PS Greinke. For someone who suffers from social anxiety he’s an inspiration. He was magnificent against NYY when they were harassing the crap out of him.
He really is…he almost quit when he started with the Royals. He is a real pitcher now because he doesn’t have the velocity he did have.
I never saw him at the Royals.
It’s still anyone’s game the way Washington hit the ball.
It’ may go down to the wire…great game. Washington is capable of putting up numbers very quickly…I know all too well!
That’s right. As soon as Greinke gets in trouble I’d pull him. Astros can’t get runners home.
They will probably go to Cole
Yeh, but Greinke’s dealing right now
If Greinke keeps this up it will go down as one of the greatest pitching performances
Yes it will… he did much better than I thought he would against this team.
How unfortunate they hit him. Altuve has been bad last 2 games
His ex Dodger teammate…Howie is who killed Kershaw on that grand slam.
Oh really wow
Congratulations Washington. Greatest comeback season since when?
This is something IF they hang on. In that small ballpark nothing is safe…I don’t get it Matt…why didn’t Houston use Cole when Grienke wore down?
Now it’s probably over
Washington are well deserving. Regarding not putting their ace in is another story. Bizarre but two days rest perhaps he wasn’t up to it.
They are one of the oldest teams as far as players ages…they probably won’t be back next year but this was their year no doubt. They did a great job.
It has got to be one of the one of greatest comeback seasons of all time
Yea they were thinking about selling players off before the trade deadline and firing the manager.
I am most familiar with this song -the Paul Brady version it is played fairly regularly on the Celtic Crush program I listen to. A great song.
Yes it is. The lyrics are wonderful. Dylan does a great job. I’ll look up the Celtic Crush program. Sounds interesting.