Song of the Day: Martin Carthy and Dave Swarbrick ... Byker Hill
George NcNally: hail baby Unthank but spare him black and white stripes

Song of the Day: Mary Black ... The Dimming of the Day

It was
only a matter of time. And, of course, choice.

Mary Black is one of Ireland's treasures. There a few better voices to have come out of that country or, arguably, any other. If that raises suspicion that I'm a fan, I can live with that.

The easy, obvious selection would have been Song for Ireland.

Mary once sang it, unaccompanied, when the band was winding down in the hotel bar after a concert in Wales. An American wandered over and told her: "You know, with a voice like that, you really should be recording."

I decided against yet another outing for the song, but drew inspiration from another "winding down" occasion.

It was in Belfast. I happened to be there for work but had not been able to get to the concert. Mary, who I had interviewed previously, invited me to join her and the lads for drinks afterwards.

Inevitably, the music started. Everyone had their favourite Mary Black songs; to unexpected general approval, I suggested The Dimming of the Day, a sensationally good Richard Thompson song I had heard Mary sing with two others (Bonnie Raitt? Dolores Keane? Maura O'Connell? Emmylou Harris? Thompson himself? Memory fails me on that one).

Needless to say, the late-night rendition was perfection. Thanks for that, Mary, and for so many priceless musical moments.

The clip is taken, appropriately enough, from a performance in Belfast, the Ulster Hall in 1992, probably a few years before the meeting I have described. Enjoy the sight and sound of a magnificent performer, who also happens to be a lovely person, at the top of her art.

Babesinthewood * Buy Mary Black's Babes in the Wood, which contains The Dimming of the Day, and any other albums featuring songs from this series at Salut! Live's Amazon link. Incidentally, I did once mention to Mary's long time collaborator Declan Sinnott how much I enjoyed her version and he expressed a preference for Linda Thompson's. That was indeed outstanding, but I will choose another song from her repertoire.


Ian Evans

I have to say that my favourite version of the song is probably that of Bonnie Raitt


What a fabulous site this is!!!!!!
Magnificent! Quality!!

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