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James Joyce at the Piano in Paris, 1939 James Joyce: Music in the Novels and Poems
CD #2 Song List
Artwork for CD #2 cover

James Joyce Quote
Are you a god or a doggone clod?
James Joyce Unquote

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The Lass That Loves a Sailor

Words and music by Charles Dibdin

Liner Notes

"Eveline" (from Dubliners)

Music makes its first, silent appearance in the short story "Eveline" through mention of her family's broken harmonium, an instrument associated with aspiring lower middle-class domesticity and poor-parish religion. The useless reed organ, an ikon of Eveline's present circumstances, is given an appropriate contrast by the most important musical allusion in the story: Charles Dibdin's The Lass That Loves a Sailor.

As a sketch of the character Frank, the song presents a musical bona fide that he is exactly what he seems to be — cheerful, manly, and loving. Additionally, its images of blowing winds, sailing ships, and loyalty — of motion, change, and connection — embody the enticing future he offers and the means by which it might be achieved — if only Eveline chooses.

Typical of Joyce's use of music in Dubliners, the title is mentioned in passing; to draw on the insights to character and plot it provides, one must be familiar with the song itself. Dibdin (1745-1814) was the acknowledged lyric-poet laureate of Britain's Navy during the Napoleonic wars. His charming vignettes of bluff Jack Tars drinking heartily, fighting victoriously, loving chastely, and dropping sentimental tears should be contrasted with the Citizen's blasphemous (but far more truthful) appreciation of life 'tween-decks in Nelson's day (Ulysses 328:36-329:29).

The literary beachcomber will note other bits of Napoleonic naval flotsam washed up on Joyce's shore — such as the one-handled adulterer's pillar and the Martello tower itself, one of a series of fortifications built to defend England and Ireland if the Royal Navy should fail to do so.
[CD liner notes by Kevin McDermott]

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