Friday, February 11, 2011

Sonny's Dream

Sonny's Dream is a folk song written by Newfoundlander Ron Hynes in 1976. It was recorded by him on "Living in a Fog" by the Wonder Grace Band, which was founded by Hynes, in 1981.  

The song was heard by Hamish Imlach, a Scottish folksinger, while on a trip to Canada, who modified it somewhat and played it in folk-clubs in Britain. There it was heard by popular Irish folksinger Christy Moore. He recorded it and passed it on to other artists in Ireland.

Hamish Imlach & Christy Moore
Though the song was written with the far northern Atlantic Island of Newfoundland in the mind of it's author, the songs descriptive verse is reminiscent of life along the Irish coast.
I first heard this song and like many listeners assumed it was about a boy who wasted his life taking care of his mother, after his father abandoned the family.  

Jean Redpath
I recall listening to Jeane Redpath sang it in the mid 1980's on Prairie Home Companion and was backed up by Chet Atkins, famous Texas swing fiddle player Johnny Gimble, mandolin player and songwriter Peter Ostroushko, and back up singer Prudence Johnson.  I thought the melody was as haunting as the lyrics.  The rolling 4/4 rhythm added to the songs appeal, making one think of the waves rolling soft against the piers.

Gimble * Atkins  * Ostroushko  * Johnson
Later recordings that I have come across play it too slow or too fast.
I love to learn the meanings behind the music.  This song is deceptive until you scratch beneath the surface.

Ron Hynes wrote this song about his autistic son.  It's not about boy wasting his life, but about the mother who has devoted her life to caring for her son.

Here is the songs author playing Sonny's Dream in Gander, Newfoundland.

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