“M” is for “Murphy’s Law” and “Music”

Murphy’s Law says “anything that can go wrong will go wrong.” So says Merriam-Webster.  Other dictionaries contain similar definitions, but not all agree with the actual words. The Wikipedia article gives a convoluted history of similar sayings dating back to 1866. OK, so there’s no agreement on the actual words; surely, someone named Murphy originated it. The same Wikipedia article (tl;dr) doesn’t bring a “Murphy” into this history until circa 1949.

In a nutshell, Edward Murphy developed devices to measure human tolerance for g-forces during testing of rapid deceleration at what is now Edwards Air Force Base. The devices failed, and Murphy allegedly tried to deflect blame onto an assistant, claiming “if that guy has any way of making a mistake, he will.” Others on the project mocked Murphy’s excuse, eventually calling it “Murphy’s Law,” using words other than Murphy’s or Webster’s. Murphy, of course, and his son on his behalf denied ever mouthing those words. Both Murphys, however, agreed that the saying did originate with Murphy’s blaming his assistant for his failure. Ironically, the words they put into Murphy’s mouth are essentially a long-winded version of “Murphy’s Law.”

For sh*ts and giggles, and if you have a lot of time for a rabbit hole, visit the Murphy’s Laws website for a plethora of Murphy’s Law trivia, mostly tongue-in-cheek. According to Wikipedia’s “disambiguation” page, Murphy’s Law has been used as the title of television series (British and American), a novel, a film, a punk band, several albums and songs, and a 2016 Disney XD series. (Whatever an XD series is, that’s one rabbit hole I’m not going down.)

My favorite Murphy’s Law is none of the above. It’s a 2020 video I stumbled across on YouTube called, you guessed it, “Murphy’s Law.” This one has an actual Murphy — Irish singer-songwriter/record producer Roisin Murphy. This Murphy has been active on the UK/Irish/European music scene in one capacity or another since 1999. Her style is electropop/disco/hip-hop/dance club/art-pop type music. It’s hard for me to describe, but if you know anything about some of the idiosyncratic performers she credits as influences — Iggy Pop, Siouxie Sioux, Grace Jones, Bjork — you can get a sense of her style. Here’s the video:

 

 

 

 

 

 

Song Lyric Sunday — “Run” — Snow Patrol and Leona Lewis

Jim Adams’ challenge for this week’s Song Lyric Sunday is one word song titles. There are so many to choose from. The one that has been on my radar lately is “Run.” With lyrics by Gary Lightbody and music composed along with his bandmates Iain Archer, Jonathan Quinn, Mark McClelland, and Nathan Connolly, the Northern Irish band Snow Patrol released the song in 2004. It peaked on the Irish Singles Chart at 25 and on the UK Singles Chart at 5.

“Run” has been covered by multiple diverse performers, most notably English singer Leona Lewis, who first performed it on a live BBC Radio show in late 2007. She recorded and released it as a digital single in 2008 after she won the UK’s singing competition television show “X Factor.” Lewis’s version shot to number 1, becoming UK’s fastest selling digital release ever, with 69,244 downloads in the first two days. Following her success with the song, Snow Patrol’s original re-entered the UK Singles Chart at number 28.

The videos following the lyrics listed below are live versions recorded circa Snow Patrol’s and Leona Lewis’s original release dates.

Run

I’ll sing it one last time for you
Then we really have to go
You’ve been the only thing that’s right
In all I’ve done

And I can barely look at you
But every single time I do
I know we’ll make it anywhere
Away from here

Light up, light up
As if you have a choice
Even if you cannot hear my voice
I’ll be right beside you dear

Louder louder
And we’ll run for our lives
I can hardly speak I understand
Why you can’t raise your voice to say

To think I might not see those eyes
Makes it so hard not to cry
And as we say our long goodbye
I nearly do

Light up, light up
As if you have a choice
Even if you cannot hear my voice
I’ll be right beside you dear

Louder louder
And we’ll run for our lives
I can hardly speak I understand
Why you can’t raise your voice to say

Slower slower
We don’t have time for that
All I want’s to find an easy way
To get out of our little heads

Have heart, my dear
We’re bound to be afraid
Even if it’s just for a few days
Making up for all this mess

Light up, light up
As if you have a choice
Even if you cannot hear my voice
I’ll be right beside you dear

 

 

“I” is for “Ireland”

Ireland is in my blood, literally, confirmed by DNA testing. Originally lumping Ireland and Scotland together as 58% of my DNA, the current refined Ancestry.com algorithm reports my Irish and Scots DNA separately as 48% and 26%, respectively. Despite this heritage, although I have spent a bone-chilling weekend in Edinburgh, I have yet to set foot in Ireland. What courses through my veins is their common language — poetry, folklore, and, especially, music.

On “C” day of this A to Z Challenge, I wrote about Scotland’s unofficial anthem, “Caledonia.” Today, I’m thinking of what some consider Ireland’s unofficial anthem, “Ireland’s Call.” Written by Northern Irish Derryman Phil Coulter, “Ireland’s Call” was intended to unify Ireland’s rugby fans.

The Irish Rugby Football Union (IRFU) commissioned the song for the 1995 World Cup, where teams are introduced and honored by the singing of their national anthems. The IRFU team represented the entire island of Ireland, and some Northern Irish IRFU members understandably objected to using the Republic of Ireland’s national anthem, “Amhrán na bhFiann” (Irish) or “the Soldier’s Song” (English). I say “understandably” because “Amhrán na bhFiann” is a “rebel song” which became a rallying cry for the Irish Volunteers during the War for Independence from England. That War ultimately resulted in the creation of the Irish Free State (now the Republic of Ireland), with Northern Ireland remaining as part of Great Britain.

Although I know nothing about rugby, “Ireland’s Call” stirs my blood. I first heard it when Celtic Thunder’s then-music-director, Phil Coulter, revised and added it to their setlist. Ironically, CT’s only Scotsman, George Donaldson, led CT onto the stage while singing the first words. It quickly became a fan favorite, especially after it evolved into a performance full of swirling kilts.

The first of the following two “Ireland’s Call” videos shows the entire lyrics as written for the IRFU. The second shows Celtic Thunder’s original performance before the theatrical addition of kilts.

The third video is a freebie: Luke Kelly and the Dubliners’ “Song for Ireland.”

 

 

“C” is for “Caledonia”

Caledonia is the name the Romans gave to the northern part of what was then called Britannia. Although that land is now officially Scotland, Caledonia is still used in a poetic, sentimental sense. When I think of Caledonia, I am engulfed by emotion. I think of my Scottish grandmother, who passed away when my mother was only 13. I think of singer-songwriter Dougie McLean’s beautiful song “Caledonia,” written in his early 20s when he was living in France and homesick for Scotland. The first notes of the song always bring tears for other reasons as well.

I first heard “Caledonia” when the Irish group, Celtic Thunder, first appeared on PBS early in 2008. My husband found them when channel surfing one night, and we were hooked. We saw them live for the first time later that year and at least once every year until my husband passed in 2012. A staple of their show, “Caledonia” was a fan favorite both for the kilts and because the only Scotsman in the group, George Donaldson, was beloved by all. Naturally, he had a central role whenever Celtic Thunder performed it. George tragically passed away suddenly in 2014 at the age of 46, leaving his wife and young daughter.

In the first video that follows, Dougie McLean performs the song that some consider to be Scotland’s unofficial national anthem. The second is George Donaldson performing a solo acoustic version of “Caledonia.” Enjoy!