Most countries in the world have their own particular type of folk music but the Newfoundlanders are possibly the best when it comes to humour. I am playing regularly on Saturday nights with a Cree Indian, Cliff Umpherville in Brochet, Manitoba. I play all genres but have been introducing Cliff to “newfie music.” That got me thinking about which songs would make up a list of the best Newfie Music of all time and I came up with the following list.
I suggest that the top 3 are:
· I’s The B’y
This song is the only Newfoundland song to make the Canadian Song Hall of Fame. It has all the elements of humour that Newfoundlanders are famous for. The song is laced with the unique newfie dialect. Anybody who plays an accordion in Newfoundland likely plays this song and there are many accordion players. The song is about work, love, life and fun in rural Newfoundland. It is fast and the story moves quickly along with snippets of dancing, kissing and fun at a typical newfie “do” after the week’s work is done. This song would be a must on a list of Newfoundland drinking songs.
· Let Me Fish Off Cape St. Mary’s
A list of best newfie songs is not complete without a ballad and this one by Otto Kelland is as good as they get. It has always been a favorite of mine and is on my list of songs to record. With elements of traditional Irish and English folk songs, beautiful images of Newfoundland, the melody of “The Hills of Wyoming” and Kelland’s ability to put them all together – this is a great one. It is a long time staple of the Gerald S. Doyle Songbook.
· Sonny’s Dream
Ron Hynes is know in Newfoundland as “the man of a thousand songs.” I could pick several for my top three list but this one has universal appeal. The story of a young man who dreams of the world away from his home on the farm could be any farm, anywhere. He appears to be the only son, his father is a seaman and his mother needs him to run the farm. Ron tells the story of his trip to Ireland. After performing a set with “Sonny’s Dream”, he was approached by a member of the audience who complimented him on singing an Irish song. Ron was proud to share that the song was his and he was pleased to share it with the Irish.