Thursday, March 17, 2011

Gone Up Home: A Displaced Hillbilly Girl Ruminates on St. Patrick's Day

Unfortunately, I attend the former number one party school in the nation. I think we've slipped a few places since then, but the point is alcohol is a primary concern for the majority of the population here. So, as you can guess, St. Patrick's Day is insane in this town. Bars open at 6 am and sell green beer for very little. Half the student population is wandering around with bar wristbands, half-sloshed. I, on the other hand, could care less. If I do have Irish blood, it's so little and so diluted that I don't think it even counts anymore. Half the time, I don't even think about wearing green. So why am I blogging?

The first people to settle the Appalachian mountains from Virginia all the way down into Alabama were from Ireland, England, and Scotland. They were drawn there because it reminded them of the mountains back home. My grandmother's family is from the rural hills of north central Alabama, and I know from experience that certain tales, songs, traditions, and linguistic elements survived from their homelands in modern speech and traditions. Case in point, my great aunt Lainie used to sing me a song called "Fair and Tender Ladies," which as it turns out is a traditional Irish and English ballad as well as a traditional Appalachian tune. So I made my very first video with a version of this song and pictures taken back home in honor of Aunt Lainie...and St. Patrick's Day. The song is taken from a locally made CD named Off the Porch Strong with several Alabama musicians; "Fair and Tender Ladies" on this album is sung by Amanda Smothers. Enjoy!

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