Tommy Sands: Let the Circle Be Wide
Let the Circle Be Wide
Tommy Sands is a musician whose ideas are rooted and grounded in his home in County Down, Northern Ireland.He’s a man whose vision, shaped by the beauty and the community of his native place as wellas by its location in politically troubled borderlands, includes the value of connection, both personal and global. His latest album, Let the Circle Be Wide, celebrates all parts of this vision.
On the intimate level, it celebrates connections of family, which has been important to Sands since he began his musical life performing with his brothers and sisters in the 1960s. His daughter Moya and son Fionán join him here, with both adding their singing and Fionán playing banjo and mandolin, Moya adding fiddle , whistle, and bodhran. Moya’s interest in the history of the sometimes overdone song Danny Boy led back through the history of the melody known as the Derry Air to an earlier song in Irish, called The Young Man's Dream, Aisling an Oigfhir, which has to do with dreaming a new reality. Sands took this as a starting point to translate and recreate the song,which he uses to open the recording. There’s another song based in family which will resonate with anyone who has lost someone young. Sands’ brother, Dino, was killed in an auto accident, and You’ll Never Grow Old is, Sands says, a song which took him thirty years to write.
Time for Asking Why is likely to be the most controversial song on the recording. It was written in the wake of September 11th, and it is, Sands says, "not a song against America. It’s a song for America.” The song Rovers of Wonder brings in international connection through melody and harmony, as several Mongolian throat singers and fiddlers Sands met on his travels join in. There's the familiar song A Stor Mo Chroi, and a funny song about Sean Maguire, a fiddler whose music is celebrated amdist the murals of poltiics along the Falls Road in Belfast. There’s a thought provoking song about the changes warand discord may bring home, in Fields of Daises, and a celebration of coming home, Carlingford Bay.
There are two songs President Obama might like, too, as he begins his work. One is the title song, Let the Circle Be Wide. Sands’ own words are the best description. “It’s a song of welcome I have sing all over the world,” he says. The other is called Make Those Dreams Come True, with nods to past, present and possibilities, and a chorus that resonates into the new year
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