The Songs Behind ‘Unspoken’ by Gerry Stembridge

An early chapter of UNSPOKEN takes places during a party on New Year’s Eve 1961, a proper Irish singsong party with Noble Calls. I wanted to capture the atmosphere and rhythm of such a night and in particular I was anxious to offer a sense of the unusual range of musical and cultural influences on display.

We are all familiar with the kind of polite middle class musical evenings which we associate with Joyce’s Dublin. This is a different kind of evening and I think many readers of a certain age will remember similar versions of the family and friends gathering I create. Younger and non-Irish readers will be introduced to a kind of freeform eclectic entertainment now largely disappeared. (Though not from Listowel festival club I’m glad to say)

It occurred to me that in the spirit of new media this blog offers the opportunity to allow readers the chance to do the one thing a novel cannot do – let you hear the songs. So, culled from a variety of youtube sources, the links below are to the nine songs featured in the chapter in the order they are sung at the party.

You don’t have to read UNSPOKEN to enjoy this. if you have half an hour to spare sit back, play these and maybe find yourself back in some smoke-filled parlour or kitchen, glass in one hand, sandwich or cigarette in the other, joining in.

1. Richard Tauber – Girls Were Made to Love and Kiss

2. Jeanette MacDonald & Nelson Eddy – Maytime Sweetheart

3. Brenda O’Dowda – Are You Right There Michael

4. The Mikado – Flowers That Bloom in the Spring

5. Two Sweethearts (An Irish Song)

6. Vaughn De Leath – Stay in Your Own Back Yard

7. The Ballad of Sean South of Garryowan

8. Tino Rossi – Catari! Catari!

9. Billy Merson – The Spaniard That Blighted My Life

Gerry Stembridge will be reading with Kevin barry on Thursday, June 2nd at 5pm in The Plaza Centre. Click here for details of how to book.

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