Monday, March 17, 2014

James McCool - The Low Back'd Car

For St. Patrick's Day, here's an early hit record of an Irish song.  James McCool  recorded "The Low Back'd Car" for Victor on April 20, 1905, and it sold well enough to stay in print until 1919, when he recorded a new version.  That recording, in turn, stayed in print until 1926.

"The Low Back'd Car" was composed by Samuel Lover, who also wrote "The Girl I Left Behind Me," in 1851 or so.  It's old enough to have been given "traditional" status among Irish musicians, who still sometimes perform it.  It almost immediately inspired Irish composer William Vincent Wallace to write a Fantasie on "The Low Back'd Car" for piano.  James Joyce quotes the song in both Ulysses and Finnegans Wake.  The success of McCool's record spurred many other recordings of the song, including a 1913 Victor Red Seal issue by John McCormack.

McCool recorded 15 or so sides for Victor, but "The Low Back'd Car" remains his best-known record.  My copy is an original one-sided pressing; based on the label style, it dates from 1905 or 1906.  A later pressing would probably sound better, since Victor's surfaces improved steadily throughout the first decade of the 20th century, but I love having an original.  Here it is:

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