Mudcat Café message #3774711 The Mudcat Café TM
Thread #159284   Message #3774711
Posted By: Virginia Blankenhorn
24-Feb-16 - 09:10 AM
Thread Name: Joe Heaney - any personal memories?
Subject: RE: Joe Heaney - any personal memories?
Thanks once again, Brian -- I am indeed aware of the MacColl interviews with Joe Heaney, and the very interesting and perceptive introduction to that material supplied by the late Fred McCormick. Both the interviews and McCormick's comments are referenced and quoted from extensively in the commentary and notes I myself provided for the Joe Heaney website.

But as I asked (and will keep asking), I am looking for additional material, specifically, for PERSONAL MEMORIES of people who may have met JH at some time, or observed him in performance, and who may have some stories that have not already been told elsewhere. I realise that I am wandering about in a well-tilled field, and most of the stone-age artifacts may already have been spotted and collected by others. Nonetheless, hope springs eternal.

Jim, thanks very much for your comments. The interviews you mention are fascinating -- not only for the insights they offer in response to the questions asked, but also for the sometimes hilarious cross-purposes unintentionally revealed during the conversations. In the case of Ewan's interviews with Joe, while I know that both men had great regard for each other, they 'spoke different languages' when it came to talking about the subject they had in common.

To me, Joe most clearly reveals himself as something like a first-year university student, bamboozled by terminology and behind in the reading, who nonetheless wants to make a positive impression on the lecturer, and resorts to the sort of pseudo-academic sleight-of-hand that he thinks will mask his ignorance and give him time to think. The fact that he picked up some useful theory and vocabulary from Ewan is reflected in much of what he later uses when dealing with academics (and students) in the United States. Absolutely fascinating. As for what Ewan may have learned from Joe, I do think his questions reveal a good deal about his own particular filter and indeed about some preconceptions he had about Joe's singing.

Finally, just to correct an insignificant point: I don't believe that Joe was related to Johnny Joe Phaitsín (Seán 'ac Dhonncha); and Joe's relationship to Colm Ó Caodháin (Colm Keane) was more distant than Joe wanted to acknowledge. Although Joe often referred to Colm as his 'uncle', he was actually a second-cousin of Joe's. Joe was very keen to emphasize this relationship, I believe, not only because Colm commanded a huge repertoire that Joe admired, but also because Colm had been extensively recorded by Seamus Ennis for both the Irish Folklore Commission and the BBC, and because some of his songs had been included on Alan Lomax's early recording, the Columbia World Library of Folk and Primitive Music. I have argued elsewhere that this recording was an extremely important marker for Joe, who does not appear on it because he was living in Scotland by the time Alan Lomax was ushered through the Gaeltacht by Ennis; nonetheless JH made his business to learn most of the songs on the recording -- regardless of where in Ireland they come from -- and they turn up later as part of his own repertoire in one way or other.