Friday, August 28, 2009

One of Senator Kennedy's Favorite Songs

As noted in an earlier post, a favorite poem of Senator Edward Kennedy's was Tennyson's "Ulysses." Today I discovered in an online article from Time that one of the senator's favorite songs was, yes, an Irish one, but no, not "Danny Boy":

'Speaking on Wednesday, former Irish Prime Minister Bertie Ahern, an old friend of Kennedy's, revealed that one of the late Senator's favorite songs was "The Town I Loved so Well". The lyrics lament the decline of the city of Derry during Northern Ireland's 25-year sectarian conflict from a place of "happy days in so many, many ways" to a town "brought to its knees by the armored cars and bombed out bars." It was an apt choice of song for Kennedy, whose dealings with Northern Ireland were often linked to the city.'

(One may easily find the rest of the article online through the usual googlistic means, and I do hope you like that new adjective.)

When I taught in Sweden many moons ago, I met an Irish scholar who liked to sing a comic song called, "Burlington Bertie"; the reference to Prime Minister Ahern helped exhume that memory. The only line I remember is "I'm Burlington Bertie--I rise at four-thirty," meaning the man-of-leisure Bertie sleeps until late afternoon, I reckon.

From my youth, I seem to remember that one of John F. Kennedy's favorite songs was "Greensleeves." I wonder whether George Bush, President Obama, Dick Cheney, and Sarah Palin have favorite songs, and if so, what they are, and yes, I know I've just set up the stand-up comedians out there with some easy potential jokes.

I assume that politicians would have to think politically when selecting a favorite song to declare--rather like President's Obama's having to select a beer for the beer-summit with Professor Gates and the policeman. He made the safe choice, politically: Budweiser. One assumes he didn't become president by being a fool.

If asked about my favorite song, I'd first get boringly professorial and demand to know the categories, etc., and so forth, and yadda yadda. But if I answered straight from the shoulder, I'd say "Folsom Prison Blues" (or "I Don't Like It But I Guess Things Happen That Way") by Johnny Cash, and especially the former would not be a wise political choice. Nor, I presume, would "Bring on the Funk" by George Clinton and Parliament, but "Parliament" has to be one of the great band-names.
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