I always say that if you are going to cover a song, you need to do something different with it. Staying too faithful to the original begs questions such as, are you really bringing anything new to table, do you really think that you can better such a well-known song and even, aren’t you just taking the easy route? Thankfully, Love Ghost seem to think along similar lines and so their rendering of the traditional Irish folk anthem, Danny Boy, is dragged kicking and screaming into their own alt-rock world rather than them visiting its folky pastures.
The original version is a sweet, heart-aching and love-lorn affair, but where Love Ghost draw their power from in this rendition is the bleakness which oozes out of the music. The vocals are imploring and raw, the dynamic range of searing highs and emotion soaked lows, the beats pounding yet spacious, guitars build walls of noise and the viola does its best to slash its way through these cascading, cavernous sonic structures.
The video was the work of Jhon Doria and seeks to shine a light on issues of immigration in America today by using this song to remind us of the plight of the Irish immigrants centuries earlier, Danny Boy having become an anthem for the Irish, the troubles and forced exodus from that island to North America. Also of note is the fact that the video was created entirely on his phone, including all filming, mixing and post-production effects.
It’s a powerful musical statement, one which eschews the softness and sentiment of the traditional delivery and instead rips at the song, exposing the wounds and scars that lie under its soft outer skin. Couple that with the stark images and information that race across the screen and you have a great reworking of this much loved song. It’s a timely delivery as well. As the world seems set on becoming a more divided and less tolerant place, as the dark clouds seem to be gathering and division and fear seem the norm, it is worth remembering that people have always travelled, or been forced to travel, from one country to another and they have always met opposition. Learning from history seems to be the answer but clearly it isn’t something that we as a race are very good at.