Songs of Friendship
Music is a fine companion for good times and hard times. Friends are good and necessary companions for these sorts of times, too.
Listen as musicians explore varied aspects of friendship through tough times and happy moments and through lasting years.
Tish Hinojosa grew up in San Antonio, the youngest daughter of parents who had come from Mexico. As she began to make her own way in music, she began to explore twining strands of her heritage. She's written songs of the west, of family, of travel, of life on the border, loves songs, children's songs, songs of history, of joy, of heartbreak -- and this one, which could perhaps be described as an anthem for hope and connection. Hinojosa sings the verses first in Spanish and then in English. The song is called Bandera del Sol. She has recored it on her album Culture Swing.
Eddi Reader's life in music has spanned such things as busking in the streets of Paris, singing backup for rock stars, playing for the Queen, and having a top charting pop hit. "I never left the folk world, though," Reader says. "I'd go out after playing for the Queen or the Prince of Wales and go down to the folk club and have a bit of a jam." A native Scot, Reader enjoys singing the songs of Robert Burns, Scotland's national poet. Burns is well known of his love songs, and for a song you may have sung or heard at New Year celebrations, Auld Lang Syne. That song certainly calls friends to mind, and so does this one, which Burns wrote to celebrate his friend Willie Stewart. Eddi Reader sings it here, at a concert during the Celtic Connections Festival a few years back. Among those sharing the stage with her are Phil Cunningham on accordion and John McCusker on fiddle. Reader has recorded this song on her album Eddi Reader Sings the Songs of Robert Burns.
Friendship lasts through hard and challenging times, as well as celebration. Americana singer and songwriter Carrie Newcomer, who is from Indiana, illuminates an aspect of friendship not often seen found in music with her song You Can Do This Hard Thing. In poetic and economical words, Newcomer suggests varied sorts of changes and challenges one might face, and gives thanks for the encouragement of friendship in going through them. Both the giving and receiving such encouragement make the connections of friendship stronger. Newcomer has recorded this song on her album The Beautiful Not Yet.
Whether it's going across town or across the world, friendship comes with times of parting and missing each other. That, and the surety of meeting again, are the substance of Cathie Ryan's song So Here's to You. She sings it here at the Great Lakes Folk Festival, giving and receiving friendship to those who came to hear her in both the music and her comments. Ryan often uses this song to close her concerts, pairing it, as she does here, with the twist of humor in the song Johnny Be Fair followed by a fast paced set of tunes to send her audience out laughing and dancing into the evening. So Here's to You, which was written by Alan A. Bell, is on Ryan's album Somewhere Along the Road, and you will find the Johnny Be Fair set on her recording Through Wind and Rain. You may also want to look for Departures, the most recent album by the fiddle player featured in Ryan's set, Patrick Mangan.
May friendship in all its aspects prove a lasting value for you. May the music of these artists lift your spirits as you enjoy deepening and strengthening friendships.
Kerry Dexter is Music Editor at Wandering Educators. You may reach Kerry at music at wanderingeducators dot com.
You may find more of Kerry's work in National Geographic Traveler, Strings, Perceptive Travel, Journey to Scotland, Irish Fireside, and other places, as well as at her own site, Music Road.