Soundtrack Of A Photograph, The Christmas Editions, Part 14

Tune-The Piper In The Meadow Straying


To start off this blog I would like you to play the clip first, as the photographic theme of this edition is ‘decorations’. See if you can spot the well known Christmas song this almost turns into about half way through and perhaps the reason I use the  word ‘decorations’ will become clearer.

I also chose this today because being of Irish ancestry, I thought a little Christmas tune might be nice at this point in the season as a break from the usual sort of  holiday music. Tunes such as this have no known author, and though some people like to lay claim to them being Irish, Scottish, or Northumbrian tunes for example, the reality is that traditional tunes, just like with traditional songs traveled far and wide throughout Ireland and Britain. I have written about my love of traditional folk music in some of the regular blogs and as I became more immersed in it, the history of it has been perhaps my favorite aspect. There are cases of songs travelling from Eastern Europe and beyond to Britain, where they become altered and fitted to each particular stop along the way. In this light it is not known why The Piper In The Meadow Straying sounds so familiar to that certain well known Christmas tune, but they are considered to be separate entities. The one thing that is certain in this particular case is that this version comes from the great Irish folk-rock band Horslips. Immensely popular in Ireland and throughout the world in the 1970’s they eventually called it a day in 1980. Starting about 10 years ago they began performing again to large and appreciative crowds. I myself was lucky enough to see them perform at Fairport Convention’s Cropredy Festival (see Part 10). Their music is equal parts traditional folk, folk-rock, with a healthy dose of prog-rock thrown in as well. The Piper In The Meadow Straying comes from their 1975 album ‘Drive The Cold Winter Away, which is a collection of Christmas and winter themed songs.

All of which has very little to do with the word I used at the start-decorations. But lets see if you could place that Christmas song that is similar to The Piper In The Meadow Straying. It has been well noted by many to bear a striking resemblance to ‘Deck The Halls’ which is how I am able to link it myself to the theme of decorating. ‘Deck The Halls’ has been another one of those favorite festive songs of mine, and it is an old one, dating back to the 16th century in Wales.  I have already touched base in these Christmas blogs on trees, lights, store windows and stockings. On Friday in discussing the song That Christmasy Feeling by Tommy and Johnny Cash I also mentioned how it did not truly feel like Christmas until all those decorations were up. This post is a continuation of that in a way because there is one decoration that I always enjoy seeing come out of the box in our apartment every year at Christmas. It is of a nutcracker with a bagpipe in its hands. Just a simple decoration with no emotional attachment to it. No family heirloom passed down or anything like that, just one more decoration that comes out of the boxes of decorations, but one that I am always happy to see once again. But when our small apartment hall is decked (in the loosest possible terms!) I think about Deck The Halls as the transformation happens. Then I see the pipes in that nutcracker’s  wooden hands and I remember The Piper In The Meadow Straying as being a nice little Christmas tune, and a nice choice for something different as today’s Soundtrack Of A Photograph.

The Piper In The Meadow Straying-Traditional, arranged by Horslips


All photographs by Robert P Doyle All images in this blog are available in limited supply for purchase as unframed prints. Sizes may vary. Contact via for details.

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