One Christmas very long ago when I was a kid my grandmother gifted me a 45 recording of the classic Irish song Danny Boy . My family were unwrapping presents that Christmas Eve and , of course , someone got the record player so that we could all listen to the Danny Boy record . Wouldn’t that be nice !
My grandmother was born in Ireland and raised in Scotland . Her father, an Irish miner , died and her penniless mother had to put her in an orphanage for awhile until she remarried (to another miner) and they were able to take the girl back . I think the second husband died too, soon after that . My grandmother had a tough life , to say the least , and she never developed a good sense of humor as a result .
She was so proud of her present ! Someone set the record on the machine and switched the thing on . Even as a kid I could see the joy in her proud Irish eyes as she waited for an Irish tenor to sing the familiar old song . We were all waiting anxiously .
Sometimes life is just not fair.
Everything was fine for the first minute or two . The singer wasn’t much of the traditional type , though . Then the music kicked into high gear as the band reved up . I remember my grandmother at that moment , a distressed look on her face , complaining : ” That’s not it . That’s not it ! ”
It wasn’t it . It wasn’t at all the music that the woman had in mind when she so thoughtfully went out to buy her little grandson Danny a recording of Danny Boy . Maybe smoke was coming out of her ears as she listened . She was horrified . ” That’s not it ! ,” she protested again .
Conway Twitty sang on in his twang and his band played on until my mother managed to hurriedly take the record off of the record player . My poor grandmother had to be consoled . No doubt she thought that the Devil had had a hand in this . She used to say that the Devil lived in London , and when she said that the Devil lived in London she meant it ; but , now the Devil had travelled over to California during the Christmas season to torment my grandmother just a little more .
On Side B of the record was The Battle of New Orleans sung by Johnny Horton .I loved the song , so I thought it was a great present after all . I played The Battle of New Orleans over and over again . Ah , but the intention of the present was Danny Boy , and all the Irish pride stuff , and that in this case was all for naught .
The Conway Twitty version just didn’t sit well with my grandmother . She saw the whole episode as a nasty catastrophe and she didn’t have a sense of humor to resist the anguish . The Devil had stolen from her a sense of humor . No doubt about that .