Friday, March 02, 2007

Conflict-centered mythmaking and identity formation in popular music

The song "Young Ned of the Hill," by The Pogues (a punk rock band from Ireland), released in 1989 on the album Peace and Love, exemplifies the mythmaking that Appleby discusses in chapter 5 of The Ambivalence of the Sacred. Click to play.

Here are the lyrics. A "rapparee" is an outlaw, more or less. Oliver Cromwell, commander of the New Model Army, invaded and conquered Ireland (with legendary brutality) on behalf of the English Parliament in 1649.

Have you ever walked the lonesome hills
And heard the curlews cry
Or seen the raven black as night
Upon a windswept sky
To walk the purple heather
And hear the westwind cry
To know that's where the rapparee must die

Since Cromwell pushed us westward
To live our lowly lives
There's some of us have deemed to fight
From Tipperary mountains high
Noble men with wills of iron
Who are not afraid to die
Who'll fight with gaelic honour held on high

A curse upon you Oliver Cromwell
You who raped our Motherland
I hope you're rotting down in hell
For the horrors that you sent
To our misfortunate forefathers
Whom you robbed of their birthright
"To hell or Connaught" may you burn in hell tonight

Of one such man I'd like to speak
A rapparee by name and deed
His family dispossessed and slaughtered
They put a price upon his head
His name is know in song and story
His deeds are legends still
And murdered for blood money
Was young Ned of the hill

You have robbed our homes and fortunes
Even drove us from our land
You tried to break our spirit
But you'll never understand
The love of dear old Ireland
That will forge an iron will
As long as there are gallant men
Like young Ned of the hill

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