Some songs can’t be sung just like that and to me “The Ballad Of Claudy” by James Simmons is clearly one of that kind.
In the early days of our band The Doggy Dike we had regular gigs in a pub called “The Lowlander” in Bodegraven. It was at one of those gigs that I met Annemiek, a grownup woman who told me she had played the guitar and used to sing Irish songs when she was a girl. She lend me a precious old CD with her songs recorded as a 16 year old. The Ballad Of Claudy was the song that struck me most. I learned it and recorded it in 2008, but never sang it in public, because the 1972 events described are so explicit and horrific.
However, the Ballad Of Claudy never stayed away for some reason. Last year, on my way to the Inishowen Trad Singing Festival I pulled over at Claudy and stood still for a while a the little monument. I drank a half pint in the pub and had a chat with people in the bar, who confirmed the events.
Now, 2016, I heard the poem “Claudy” being read out in the RTÉ program “Rising to Reconciliation” and I found myself whispering along almost every word. This is Music From The Heart.
Here’s my not perfect 2008 home recording of the song.