Thursday, April 4, 2024

Bleak is the Pampa, Irish folk Song in Argentina

The lyrics to "Bleak is the Pampa" were written by an exiled Irishman in Buenos Aires in 1873. The songs words were published in the corner of a random page of a provincial newspaper in Buenos Aires and then soon forgotten. Unlike many of the other Irish songs scattered among the pages of "El Monitor de la Campaña," Bleak is the Pampa had no obvious melody. That is, the music itself is newly composed. There are illusions to the island of Hy Brasil in its verses, "had he ne'er quitted his own island dwelling, in search of a phantom in lands far away." In 2022 I was approached after a concert at the Universidad del Salvador by Miguel Guarrnochea. Migue had just heard me sing another song from his home town "The Trackless Wild."In the following weeks he furnished me with all the digital archives of the newspaper "El Monitor de la Campaña." Here began a year and a half of going through those pages, lifting out gems like this song.

Last week I did some filming on the pampa wild. I found a beautiful bit of untouched wilderness outside of a little town called "Las Garcitas." Tripping over bones, turkeys, dodging mosquitos and downing rakes of water to keep our motors from combusting, we filmed a sweet three minute video that I hope gives an idea of the vast pampa that is every present in these 19th century Irish Argentine songs of old.


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