When You and I Were Young, Maggie
Music : James Butterfield
Arr: Merv Rowley & Ruth Randle 2012
Our selection this month is a nostalgic story about the bittersweet reflections upon the early life and love of two elderly people as they grow old together. The lyrics talk about a real-life experience by the composer, whose wife died in the first year of their marriage, rather than sharing her golden years with him.
Johnson and his wife were
from Canada, where he was a school teacher by
profession; Maggie (Margaret Clark) was one of his students. They married
in 1864, the year of her graduation. She died less than
a year later. During her illness, Johnson wrote a poem that later became the lyrics for this song. He asked
a friend to write the music, which was completed in 1865.
Today, the poem and locale of its origin are marked by an engraved
plaque at the top of a glacial escarpment overhanging the Niagara River and looking down upon the
city of Hamilton, Ontario below.
This is one of the favorite pieces of music performed by
Barber Shop Quartet groups down through the years. Enjoy this old tune, now playable on the dulcimer.
Origin of the music: Some think this piece
of music was derived from an older one originating in
Ireland. Not so; this is indeed the original
composition, by Johnson and Butterfield from Canada.
From skool.ie, answers.com, and wikipedia:
The Irish playwright Sean O'Casey [1880-1964] substituted the name Nora for Maggie, and used George Washington Johnson's song in his 1926 anti-war play,
The Plough And The Stars, wherein Jack Clitheroe sings it to his wife Nora.
Your 1-3-5 Team
Thanks to Alf Bashore for helping
complete the TEF file this month.
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