Monday, November 30, 2015

Monday Music: A Soalin' (Peter, Paul & Mary)

The custom of soaling dates back to pre-Christian Celtic practices when soul cakes were baked and given to "soulers" who went from house to house singing and praying for the departed. It was done at the Celtic new year which coincided with the later Christian calendar of Halloween and All Souls day. Thus the practice influenced both "Trick or Treating" at Halloween, and caroling at Christmas (see more at wikipedia).

Peter, Paul & Mary took a traditional soul cake folk song, added strains of "Heigh Ho Nobody, Home," and "God Rest Ye Merry Gentlemen," and created a popular Christmas song, "A Soalin'," which they recorded in 1963. Though some curmudgeons see this as a corruption of an old song and an older tradition, PP&M managed to put the public in touch with some folk history that many would have otherwise been unaware of. Not to mention the fact that their lively instrumentation and vocals showcase their remarkable talent.

Here is a live version from a 1965 concert in France.


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