This review of the music from "The Quiet Man" was posted four years ago, and has been expanded periodically since then. As St. Patrick's Day 2010 approaches, it seems appropriate to post this again, with all the updates.
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Music for the 1952 motion picture “The Quiet Man” was arranged beautifully by Victor Young, who transformed John Ford’s movie into a musical celebration of Ireland.
The music runs through 54 percent of the film, which even has a singing part for each of its five principal actors: John Wayne, Maureen O’Hara, Barry Fitzgerald, Ward Bond and Victor McLaglen.
Two years earlier, Young arranged the soundtrack to Ford’s Western “Rio Grande.” If you compare the music in “The Quiet Man” and “Rio Grande,” you’ll find striking similarities.
Irish at heart. But in “The Quiet Man,” Young gave us his finest hour and 10 minutes. With this film, he identified forever the sound of a nation.
“The Quiet Man” is a masterpiece of a motion picture. Its exterior scenes were filmed almost entirely in Ireland. The movie won Ford the Academy Award for best director. (The 1952 best picture Oscar went to “The Greatest Show on Earth”; the best music award went to “High Noon.”) A few years later, Young won his own Oscar for his music in “Around the World in Eighty Days.”
For “The Quiet Man,” Young opened with a musical fanfare, and quickly set the mood with the romantic “The Isle of Innisfree” and a bit of “The Rakes of Mallow.” On Sean Thornton’s ride to Inisfree, we hear what may be a variation on “The Kerry Dance,” an upbeat welcome. (This could be another tune. If you know, please pass the information along to me.) The music to Sean’s first sight of his old home White O’Morn and the music to his first sight Mary Kate Danaher magically return to “The Isle of Innisfree” theme.
Recurring melodies. The audience eventually discovers that “The Quiet Man” soundtrack has three principal melodies, “The Isle of Innisfree,” “The Kerry Dance” and “The Rakes of Mallow.” It has much more music, too, including six songs sung aloud.
A CD of “The Quiet Man” soundtrack is widely available. It includes all the principal instrumental tunes and many of the songs. It’s done well, but it isn’t the original score. I assume this is because the original recording was lost, and the engineers couldn’t separate the music from the movie’s other sounds.
“The Isle of Innisfree” is music from a song by Dick Farrelly. The movie does not use Farrelly’s lyrics, which begin this way:
The Isle of Innisfree
I’ve met some folk who say that I’m a dreamer
And I’ve no doubt there’s truth in what they say
But sure a body’s bound to be a dreamer
When all the things he loves are far away.
And precious things are dreams unto an exile
They take him o’er the land across the sea
Especially when it happens he’s an exile
From that dear lovely Isle of Innisfree.
Oh, Inisfree, my island, I’m returning
From wasted years across the wintry sea.
And when I come back to my own dear Ireland,
I’ll rest a while beside you, gradh mochroidhe.
[The last two words in Irish, which sound like “grah macree,” mean “love of my heart.”]
Faint harp. When Sean (John Wayne) sees White O’Morn for the first time in the film, a harp gently plays “The Isle of Innisfree” and Sean recalls his late mother’s words:
“Don’t you remember, Seaneen, and how it was? The road led up past the chapel and it wound and it wound. And there was the field where Dan Tobin’s bullock chased you. It was a lovely little house, Seaneen. And the roses! Well, your father used to tease me about them. But he was that proud of them, too.”
It’s an important moment in the movie.
A face of a saint. We hear “The Isle of Innisfree” again as Sean admires Mary Kate in the field with the Danaher sheep. And in case you didn’t notice, that’s “The Isle of Innisfree” once more when Sean tells Mary Kate that “some things a man doesn’t get over so easily.”
Sean: “Like the sight of a girl coming through the fields, with the sun on her hair, kneeling in church, with a face like a saint.”
Mary Kate: “Saint indeed.”
Sean: “And now, coming to a man’s house to clean it for him.”
Mary Kate: “But that was just my way of bein’ a good Christian act.”
Sean: “I know it was, Mary Kate Danaher, and it was nice of you.”
Mary Kate: “Not at all.”
Kerry variations. In “The Quiet Man,” Young gives us several variations of “The Kerry Dance.” In just the scenes of Sean courting Mary Kate, the melody changes from soothing (as they ride in Flynn’s buggy) to halting (as they walk) to bouncing (as they bicycle) to enchanting (as they explore the Irish hills). From these scenes, Victor Young leads “The Kerry Dance” back to “The Isle of Innisfree.”
In the film, “The Kerry Dance” is strictly instrumental. For a sense of the lyrics that go with the tune, here’s the first verse of “The Kerry Dance” (not in the movie):
Oh, the days of the Kerry dancing
Oh, the ring of the piper’s tune
Oh, for one of those hours of gladness
Gone, alas, like our youth, too soon!
When the boys began to gather
In the glen of a summer’s night
And the Kerry piper’s tuning
Made us long with wild delight!
Oh, to think of it
Oh, to dream of it
Fills my heart with tears!
‘Dum da, dum da, dum da, diddle didda.’ “The Rakes of Mallow” is another of the film’s recurring tunes. This is the bouncing reel that accompanies Sean’s dragging of Mary Kate from the railroad station, just before the epic fight between Sean Thornton and Will Danaher. Think “dum da, dum da, dum da, diddle didda,” and the tune should come to you. It’s a melody that “Quiet Man” viewers never seem to get out of their heads.
“The Rakes of Mallow” isn’t sung in the movie, but it is a real song about rakes -- rowdies -- in the town of Mallow. That “dum da, dum da, dum da, diddle didda; dum da, dum da, dum da, diddle didda” corresponds to “Beauing, belling, dancing, drinking; Breaking windows, cursing, sinking,” as the song describes the troublemakers.
Here is the beginning of “The Rakes of Mallow” lyrics (not in the movie):
Beauing, belling, dancing, drinking,
Breaking windows, cursing, sinking
Ever raking, never thinking,
Live the Rakes of Mallow,
Spending faster than it comes,
Beating waiter’s bailiffs, duns,
Bacchus’ true begotten sons,
Live the Rakes of Mallow.
The night, my dear. In the movie, O’Hara sings, in addition to her short version of “The Isle of Innisfree,” “The Young May Moon.” Here are the lyrics:
The Young May Moon
The young May moon is beaming, love,
The glow-worm’s lamp is gleaming, love;
How sweet to rove
Through Morna’s grove,
While the drowsy world is dreaming, love!
[The song is interrupted in the movie while Mary Kate (O’Hara) talks with Michaleen Oge Flynn (Barry Fitzgerald). Mary Kate finally says, “Well, you can tell him from me that … that I go for it.” The next four lines of the song are skipped.]
[Then awake! -- the heavens look bright, my dear,
’Tis never too late for delight, my dear;
And the best of all ways
To lengthen our days]
Is to steal a few hours from the night, my dear!
Violins, bagpipes. Violinists must have had a grand time playing Victor Young’s scores. The horse race music is exciting, though it is kept low in the background. The fistfight score is powerful, too. For both the race and the fight, the music is influenced by the familiar Irish jig, “The Irish Washerwoman,” and yet the pieces are uniquely Young’s.
For the cheerful finale, the soundtrack is strong and lively, mixing “The Kerry Dance” and, with spirited bagpipes, “St. Patrick’s Day” (also known as “The Pulse of an Irishman”) as Will Danaher rides off with the Widow Sarah Tillane (Mildred Natwick), and Sean and Mary Kate wave and run. (“The Pulse of an Irishman,” adapted from the traditional “St. Patrick’s Day,” is part of Beethoven’s “12 Irische Lieder.”)
In the film, just before the horse race, bagpipes do fine performances of “The Wearin’ of the Green,” “The Kerry Dance” and “Believe Me, If All Those Endearing Young Charms.” “Those Endearing Young Charms” is repeated later, on harpsichord, as Will Danaher (Victor McLaglen) presents Mary Kate’s money and Hugh Forbes gives the toast at Sean and Mary Kate’s wedding reception.
St. Patrick’s Day mystery. I had a hard time finding out what the tune “St. Patrick’s Day” is. One online version of “St. Patrick’s Day” sounds like Beethoven’s “The Pulse of an Irishman,” and that puzzled me. Pat Higgins, a commenter here, has cleared up the mystery. Apparently, “St. Patrick’s Day,” the tune, came first. Then Beethoven altered it slightly for his “The Pulse of an Irishman.” So they’re practically the same.
The movie also gives us the songs, “The Wild Colonial Boy” and “Galway Bay”:
The Wild Colonial Boy
There was a wild colonial boy,
Jack Doogan was his name.
He was born and bred in Ireland
in a town called Castlemaine.
He was his father’s only son,
His mother’s pride and joy.
And dearly did his parents love
The wild colonial boy.
At the early age of sixteen years
He left his native home,
And to Australia’s sunny shores
He was inclined to roam.
He robbed the wealthy squireen.
All arms he did destroy.
A terror to Australia was
The wild colonial boy.
[These next verses are not in the movie.]
One morning on the prairie
as Jack he rode along
A listening to the mockingbird
a singing a cheerful song
Out stepped a band of troopers,
Kelly, Davis and Fitzroy
They all set out to capture him,
the wild colonial boy.
“Surrender now, Jack Doogan,
for you see we’re three to one
Surrender in the Queen's high name
for you're a plundering son.”
Jack pulled two pistols from his belt
and he proudly waved them high
“I’ll fight, but not surrender,”
said the wild colonial boy.
He fired a shot at Kelly,
which brought him to the ground
And turning ’round to Davis,
he received a fatal wound
A bullet pierced his proud young heart
from the pistol of Fitzroy
And that was how they captured him,
the wild colonial boy.
Town called Castlemaine. The first stanza of “The Wild Colonial Boy” is sung three times in “The Quiet Man.” The third time, after the big fight, John Wayne and Victor McLaglen sing it together and change the words “in a town called Castlemaine” to “in a place called Castlemaine.” I have the feeling “town” is associated with “Castlemaine” to make us think of the movie’s Castletown (or perhaps the other way around).
In the pub, Ken Curtis leads the singing of “The Wild Colonial Boy.” Curtis, a tenor with the Sons of the Pioneers, also had sung “I’ll Take You Home Again, Kathleen” in John Ford’s “Rio Grande.” In “The Quiet Man,” a harp plays a short refrain from “I’ll Take You Home Again, Kathleen” just before Mary Kate Danaher says, “Ever since I was a little girl, I’ve dreamed of havin’ my own things about me.”
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If you ever go across the sea to Ireland,
Then maybe at the closing of your day,
You will sit and watch the moon rise over Claddagh,
And see the sun go down on Galway Bay.
[These last verses are not in the movie, because Sean Thornton (John Wayne) interrupts the pub singers with a demand to talk with Will Danaher (Victor McLaglen).]
Just to hear again the ripple of the trout stream,
The women in the meadow making hay.
Just to sit beside a turf fire in the cabin,
And watch the barefoot gosoons at their play.
For the breezes blowin’ o’er the sea from Ireland
Are perfumed by the heather as they blow
And the women in the uplands diggin’ praties
Speak a language that the strangers do not know.
Yet the strangers came and tried to teach us their way.
They scorned us just for bein’ what we are.
But they might as well go chasing after moon beams,
Or light a penny candle from a star.
And if there’s is going to be a life hereafter,
And somehow I am sure there’s going to be,
I will ask my God to let me make my heaven,
In that dear land across the Irish sea.
Tail of me coat. The “Mush Mush” song is a lovely bouncing waltz:
It was there that I learned all me courtin’
Many lessons I took in the art
Till Cupid, the blackguard, while sportin’
An arrow drove straight through me
Mush, mush, mush, tural-i-addy
Me mush, mush, mush, tural-i-ay
So I lathered him with me shillelagh
For he trod on the tail of me
Mush, mush, mush, tural-i-addy.
And just like the Dingle for gold,
I lathered him with me shillelagh
For he trod on the tail of me coat.
And by popular demand, here are the words to the “Quiet Man” wedding song, “The Humour is On Me Now”:
The Humour is On Me Now
Oh, as I went out one mornin’,
It being the month of May
A farmer and his daughter
I spied upon me way.
And the girl sat down quite calmly
to the milkin’ of her cow
Sayin’ I will an’ I must get married,
for the humour is on me now.
Oh, the humour is on me now,
Oh, the humour is on me now
Sayin’ I will an’ I must get married,
for the humour is on me now.
[Father Lonergan (Ward Bond) takes over at the harpsichord.]
So at last the daughter married,
she married well-to-do
And loved her darlin’ husband
a month, a year or two.
But Sean was all a tyrant
and she quickly rued her vow
Sayin’ I’m sorry I ever got married,
for the humour is off me now.
Oh, humour is off me now,
Oh, humour is off me now.
Sayin’ I’m sorry I ever got married,
for the humour is off me now.
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Village of Cong. By the way, there is no town in Ireland called Inisfree, but there is an uninhabited island in Lough Gill (a lake) with the name Innisfree, in County Sligo. (William Butler Yeats wrote his poem, “The Lake Isle of Innisfree,” about this tiny island.) Most of the movie was filmed in the summer of 1951 in a village called Cong -- much of it on the grounds of Ashford Castle hotel and golf course. The movie locations straddle County Mayo and County Galway.
“The Quiet Man” soundtrack is a monument to the genius of Victor Young. The brilliance of his work is all the more obvious in the recent CD soundtrack because, for context, the recording includes a few extended versions of the Irish tunes that Young drew from. You can hear what he used, and more interestingly, you can hear the weak pieces he was wise enough to leave out.
Young was Polish and American, but his music for “The Quiet Man” helped define the Irish spirit. His many movie scores exhibited a skill and intelligence rivaled by few. Unfortunately, he won his only Academy Award shortly after his death in 1956. That was for “Around the World in Eighty Days.”
A beating heart. In “The Quiet Man,” Inisfree is a populated and charmingly real place. Wayne, O’Hara and a fine supporting cast are its soul. Victor Young’s music is its pounding Irish heart.
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A question for "The Quiet Man" fans: What is the name of the music playing on the church organ near the beginning of the movie? This is during the Mass in which Father Lonergan would have said a special prayer for Sean Thornton's mother. Answer, April 12, 2009: “Soul of My Savior” is the tune played in church. Thanks, Ellen!
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Click here to see the whole script of the movie.
Maureen O’Hara’s address is:
P.O. Box 27428
Tempe, AZ 85282
She lives in St. Croix, in the Virgin Islands.
If you have corrections or other information to add on “The Quiet Man” soundtrack, please click on Comments and leave a message.
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THE QUIET MAN MUSIC: MINUTE BY MINUTE
Complete list musical pieces from “The Quiet Man.”
The movie is 2 hours, 9 minutes and 10 seconds (2:09:10), with the 7-second lead included in the DVD.
In its 2:09:10 running time, the movie has 1 hour, 9 minutes and 57 seconds of music. That’s 54.15 percent music. It’s practically a musical. Victor Young arranged a symphonic masterpiece. All the lead characters, John Wayne, Maureen O’Hara, Barry Fitzgerald, Ward Bond and Victor McLaglen, sing at one point or another. Six songs are sung aloud. At only two points in the film do more than 5 minutes go by without music.
Here is a list of each musical piece in the film. Please let me know if you see errors, or if you know the true title to pieces I have not identified. The segments listed as “Original by Young” could be derived from other tunes, or possibly tunes I simply am unaware of. Please, if you know more about this soundtrack, let me know.
0:00-0:07: Blank lead.
0:07-0:21: Fanfare by Victor Young. (14 seconds.)
0:21-0:28: “Rakes of Mallow.”
0:28-1:23: “Isle of Innisfree” (credits). (55 seconds.)
1:23-1:48: “Rakes of Mallow.”
1:48-4:08: No music. (2 minutes, 20 seconds.)
4:08-5:00: “Kerry Dance” or Original by Young? What is this tune?
5:00-5:41: Original by Young?
5:41-6:38: “Isle of Innisfree.”
6:38-6:54: “Kerry Dance.”
6:54-7:39: “Isle of Innisfree.”
7:39-8:08: Original by Young.
8:08-8:58: No music. (50 seconds.)
8:58-10:00: “Isle of Innisfree.”
10:00-10:43: “Isle of Innisfree.”
10:43-11:30: “Kerry Dance.”
11:30-11:42: Church bells.
11:42-12:56: “Soul of My Savior.”
12:56-13:23: No music. (27 seconds.)
13:23-13:51: “Isle of Innisfree.”
13:51-14:11: Original by Young.
14:11-15:00: No music. (49 seconds.)
No music for 5 minutes. (Mrs. Tillane sells cottage, Sean goes to pub.)
20:00-21:15: No music. (1 minute, 15 seconds.)
(Total of three preceding consecutive “no music” segments: 7 minutes, 4 seconds.)
21:15-23:14: “Wild Colonial Boy” sung aloud.
23:14-24:36: No music. (1 minute, 22 seconds.)
24:36-25:00: Original by Young (accordion).
25:00-25:39: Original by Young (accordion).
25:39-27:15: No music. (1 minute, 36 seconds.)
27:15-27:49: “Wild Colonial Boy” sung aloud.
27:49-29:00: “Wild Colonial Boy” instrumental.
29:00-29:50: Original by Young.
29:50-30:00: No music. (10 seconds.)
30:00-31:23: No music (the kiss). (1 minute, 23 seconds.)
31:23-32:27: “Isle of Innisfree.”
32:27-33:03: Original by Young.
33:03-35:00: No music. (1 minute, 57 seconds.)
35:00-35:16: No music. (16 seconds.)
35:16-35:21: Original by Young.
35:21-36:02: “Kerry Dance.”
36:02-40:00: No music. (3 minutes, 58 seconds.)
40:00-40:39: No music. (39 seconds.)
40:39-41:24: “Young May Moon” sung aloud.
41:24-41:37: No music. (13 seconds.)
41:37-41:50: “Young May Moon” sung aloud.
41:50-41:55: No music. (5 seconds.)
41:55-42:16: “Kerry Dance.”
42:16-42:24: “Isle of Innisfree.”
42:24-42:37: Original by Young.
42:37-45:00: No music. (2 minutes, 23 seconds.)
45:00-45:31: No music. (31 seconds.)
45:31-46:57: “Isle of Innisfree.”
46:57-48:12: “Isle of Innisfree.”
48:12-48:50: “Wearin’ of the Green.”
48:50-48:59: No music. (9 seconds.)
48:59-49:33: “Kerry Dance”? “St. Patrick’s Day”?
49:33-49:50: No music. (17 seconds.)
49:50-50:00: “Irish Washerwoman.”
50:00-50:23: “Irish Washerwoman.”
50:23-52:10: No music. (1 minute, 47 seconds.)
52:10-53:59: “Those Endearing Young Charms.”
53:59-54:04: No music. (5 seconds.)
54:04-55:00: Original by Young (The race).
55:00-57:24: Original by Young (The race).
57:24-58:06: No music. (42 seconds.)
58:06-58:41: “Kerry Dance” (pipes).
58:41-59:09: Original by Young.
59:09-1:00:00: No music. (51 seconds.)
1:00:00-1:00:32: No music. (32 seconds.)
1:00:32-1:05:00: “Kerry Dance” (courting).
1:05:00-1:07:50: “Kerry Dance” (bicycling).
1:07:50-1:09:54: “Isle of Innisfree” (rainstorm).
1:09:54-1:10:00: No music. (6 seconds.)
1:10:00-1:10:04: No music. (4 seconds.)
1:10:04-1:11:00: “Humor is on Me Now” (Father Lonergan) sung aloud. 56 seconds.
1:11:00-1:11:07: No music. (7 seconds.)
1:11:07-1:12:19: “Those Endearing Young Charms” (toast).
1:12:19-1:15:00: No music. (2 minutes, 41 seconds.)
1:15:00-1:15:36: No music. (36 seconds.)
1:15:36-1:16:57: Original by Young (boxing death).
1:16:57-1:17:19: No music. (22 seconds.)
1:17:19-1:17:41: “I’ll Take You Home Again, Kathleen.”
1:17:41-1:20:00: No music. (2 minutes, 19 seconds.)
1:20:00-1:20:22: No music. (22 seconds.)
1:20:22-1:20:57: Original by Young.
1:20:57-1:21:20: No music. (23 seconds.)
1:21:20-1:22:42: “Mush Mush Mush” sung aloud.
1:22:42-1:24:07: No music. (1 minute, 25 seconds.)
1:24:07-1:25:00: “Wild Colonial Boy” (accordion alone).
1:25:00-1:25:03: “Wild Colonial Boy” (accordion alone).
1:25:03-1:25:20: No music. (17 seconds.)
1:25:20-1:26:10: “Isle of Innisfree” (Mary Kate) sung aloud. 50 seconds.
1:26:10-1:28:37: “Isle of Innisfree.”
1:28:37-1:30:00: “Kerry Dance.”
1:30:00-1:30:49: “Kerry Dance.”
1:30:49-1:32:03: No music. (1 minute, 14 seconds.)
1:32:03-1:32:56: “Rakes of Mallow.”
1:32:56-1:33:00: “Kerry Dance.”
1:33:00-1:33:29: Original by Young.
1:33:29-1:35:00: No music. (1 minute, 31 seconds.)
1:35:00-1:35:57: No music. (57 seconds.)
1:35:57-1:36:33: “Rakes of Mallow.”
1:36:33-1:37:22: “Galway Bay” sung aloud.
1:37:22-1:40:00: No music. (Sean talks to Danaher.) (2 minutes, 38 seconds.)
1:40:00-1:43:55: No music. (Sean sees Rev. Playfair.) (3 minutes, 55 seconds.)
1:43:55-1:45:00: Original by Young (violin).
1:45:00-1:45:25: Original by Young (violin).
1:45:25-1:46:20: “Isle of Innisfree.”
1:46-20-1:47:41: No music. (1 minute, 21 seconds.)
1:47:41-1:47:48: “Rakes of Mallow” (Flynn: “dum da, dum da, dum da, diddle didda”) sung aloud.
1:47:48-1:48:08: “Rakes of Mallow.”
1:48:08-1:49:11: No music. (1 minute, 3 seconds.)
1:49:11-1:49:40: Original by Young (train station).
1:49:40-1:50:00: “Rakes of Mallow.”
1:50:00-1:50:28: “Rakes of Mallow.”
1:50:28-1:51:08: No music. (40 seconds.)
1:51:08-1:52:44: “Rakes of Mallow.”
1:52:44-1:53:10: “Rakes of Mallow” (accordion).
1:53:10-154:23: “Rakes of Mallow.”
1:54:23-1:55:00: No music. (37 seconds.)
1:55:00-1:56:09: No music. (1 minute, 9 seconds.)
1:56:09-1:56:30: “Rakes of Mallow” (harp).
1:56:30-1:57:52: Original by Young (fight).
1:57:52-1:58:39: No music. (47 seconds.)
1:58:39-1:59:31: Original by Young (fight).
1:59:31-1:59:58: No music. (27 seconds.)
1:59:58-2:00:00: Original by Young (fight).
2:00:00-2:00:21: Original by Young (fight).
2:00:21-2:00:38: Church music (Tobin dying).
2:00:38-2:01:04: Original by Young (fight).
2:01:04-2:01:24: No music. (20 seconds.)
2:01:24-2:02-12: Original by Young (fight).
2:02:12-2:02:20: No music. (8 seconds.)
2:02:20-2:02:25: Original by Young (fight).
2:02:25-2:02:42: Original by Young (betting).
2:02:42-2:04:36: No music. (1 minute, 54 seconds.)
2:04:36-2:04:48: Bells (Danaher knocked out).
2:04:48-2:05:00: Original by Young.
2:05:00-2:05:22: Original by Young.
2:05:22-2:05:56: “Wild Colonial Boy” (Sean and Will) sung aloud.
2:05:56-2:07:09: No music (Bishop coming). (1 minute, 13 seconds.)
2:07:09-2:07:39: Original by Young.
2:07:39-2:07:49: “Kerry Dance.”
2:07:49-2:07:51: “Rakes of Mallow.”
2:07:51-2:08:09: “Kerry Dance.”
2:08:09-2:09:10: “St. Patrick’s Day.” (also called “Pulse of an Irishman”) (1 minute, 1 second.)
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