Danny Boy page 2


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My mother loved the song so much that she named by brother Daniel because of it. It was used at John F. Kennedy's funeral. Elvis thought the song was written by an angel and requested it for his funeral.

Many police and firefighters who died at the World Trade Center were Irish-Americans, and Danny Boy was played at so many funerals, that the song is now almost the 9/11 theme song.

So what do the lyrics mean?

People have argued about this for over a century. The debate is almost like American Pie.

Many think it is a parent saying goodbye to a son going off to war, or perhaps to a son leaving for America, or a son who has died.

Or it may be a girl saying goodbye to a sweetheart going to war or leaving Ireland.

The phrase 'Danny Boy' was also a slang expression in a few parts of Ireland, as in "You're Danny Boy", as in "You're fucked" (or "You're screwed"). But I didn't find any evidence of use of this slang until after the song was written.

I'm not going to suggest an answer to this 'What does it mean?' question, except to tell you that Weatherly gave us a hint. I'll let you ponder it a while.

There is a footnote in the original sheet music.
The song title is indeed Danny Boy, and the lyrics use 'Danny Boy' when the song is sung by a woman - suggesting, of course, that it is a woman saying goodbye to a man.

But the footnote says that if the song is sung by a man, he is to substitute 'Elly Dear' for 'Danny Boy', converting the song into a man saying goodbye to a woman.

In all my years, I have never heard the song sung by a man, addressing the lyrics to Elly Dear instead of Danny Boy.

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