The Parting Glass

Well, 2020 has come to a close…

How are you feeling?

How about a beloved Scottish/Irish song which — I have read — is often sung at the end of a gathering of friends (in the player at the beginning of this blog post)?

That’s what the WordPress blogging community has felt like to me this year — a much-needed and much-appreciated gathering of friends.

I toast you one and all!

Looking back on the past year, I see that my response to Covid-19 entering our lives has been two-fold.

Both involved connecting with other human beings via music and stories.

My first response was to lead nightly half-hour sing-alongs via Facebook Live (which I had reluctantly learned how to use for my Music Together classes).

These sing-alongs lasted for several months and consisted of one Broadway song, one Beatles song, one original song, and a few favorites from the pop/rock/folk canon per night.

I also looked up the history of each song and shared a brief story about how they each came to be written.

A small community of singers/listeners — for whom I am very grateful — developed around these nightly sing-alongs.

I was also very grateful to have a daily musical goal — selecting, researching and practicing a short set of songs to share each evening.

Since all of my public gigs at libraries, retirement communities, synagogues, coffee houses, etc. were cancelled, these nightly sing-alongs gave my life some structure and meaning — and an uplifting sense of connection with other human beings.

Thank you to all of my Facebook sing-along friends and relations!

Then it was time for my summer camping sojourn on Cape Cod — which is also when I focus on writing new songs.

The sing-alongs stopped, and when I returned from the Cape, I shifted my focus to learning how to release music via digital music platforms… and to blogging.

I hadn’t written a blog post since March — but began again in September.

Like the sing-alongs, blogging is a way to connect with other music-loving human beings while sharing some of my thoughts and feelings about what is happening here on planet earth.

Thank you to anyone and everyone who devoted a precious few minutes of their lives to reading one of my blog posts this year.

And thank you to those who composed their thoughts and wrote a comment, too!

I have been honored to see the total numbers of visitors and page views continue to rise each month.

Pianist Doug Hammer and I recorded “The Parting Glass” a couple of years ago when I was learning a bunch of Irish-related songs for an hour-long musical program in honor of St. Patrick’s Day.

It uses the same tune as another song called “Sweet Coothill Town,” which is about emigrating from Ireland to America.

Doug and I have been excavating the past 20+ years of our musical collaboration — almost all of which was recorded so that I could have piano tracks with which to practice/learn new songs — in order to find music gems we can polish and share.

I am very grateful for Doug’s gifts at the piano keyboard as well as his gifts as an engineer and audio archivist.

Let us hum along in honor of the end of 2020 and all that we have lost — which may include friends, family, and other beloved members of our community as well as many ways of being in the world (going to the movies, eating in a restaurant, attending a sports event, etc. etc. etc.) which we might have previously taken for granted…

Deep breath in.

Deep breath out.

I look at our human response to the challenge of Covid-19 as a preview of our human response to the even more enormous, profound, and far-reaching challenge of climate change.

Who will listen to our scientific community?

Who will remain in denial?

Who will be willing to change DEEPLY ingrained assumptions and habits and hopes and dreams — about how often we travel, about how large our houses can be, about how many cars we own, about how fast and far we can drive, about what we eat, about how we use water, about how much electricity we use to write and read blog posts, and on and on and on — in the days and weeks and months and years ahead?

As the father of one of my friends used to say, “The jury is still out…”

Deep breath in.

Deep breath out.

Thank you to Doug Hammer for his ongoing presence in my musical life here on planet earth.

Thank you to the wonderful photographers at Pixabay for their beautiful images.

And thank YOU for reading and listening to my last blog post of 2020.

May continued hand-washing, continued mask-wearing, continued social distancing, and much-needed vaccines allow us to return to some sort of new, post-pandemic way of life in 2021.

If you are curious to hear more music, I’ve released a couple of songs in the past week.

You can click here to listen to the Frank Loesser classic — “What Are You Doing New Year’s Eve?”

And you can click here to listen to Irving Berlin’s beloved “Count Your Blessings.”

Now I will end with a lovely dog-themed image that I found on Pixabay.

Deep breath in.

Deep breath out.

A happy and healthy new year to you and yours!!!

59 thoughts on “The Parting Glass

  1. I am listening to your recording of “The Parting Glass”, and enjoying it very much. Thank you for sharing that beautiful song!

    The Pacific Northwest has been home to me for the last 17 years, but Cape Cod is one of those places from back east I miss very much. I’ve gone from sunrise on the Atlantic to sunset on the Pacific.

    Wishing you a bright and beautiful New Year. It’s almost here! 🙂

    • You are very welcome, Lavinia! Thank YOU for reading and listening and commenting. Cape Cod remains a magical place for me, but I like the idea of sunset over the Pacific ocean, too… And I agree, here’s to a bright and beautiful New Year!

  2. Enjoyed your sentiments as this year ends. And especially the parting glass song….things Scottish have been more meaningful to me since i got involved with the Outlander books and videos. I hope you have a healthy and pleasant year, notably while the days are short and dark. We are nearer to spring than we were!!! 💕💕Mary Evelyn

    • What a treat to get a message from you , dear ME! Yes, the days are getting longer and spring inches closer… I look forward to seeing — and gently hugging — you in 2021!

  3. Thank you, Will, for sharing such a beautiful post. Each time I hear The Parting Glass it evokes different emotions. I didn’t know of the alternative version to the tune but the song reminds me of my late parents r.i.p and many more Irish emigrants to U.S.A and England. I will look it up on you tube thanks.
    A happy and healthy new year to you and yours 🙂

    • You are very, very welcome, Margaret. Thank you for reading and listening and commenting. One of my great grandfathers grew up in an orphanage in Dublin — where he learned to play many different instruments. At some point he made it (possibly jumping ship illegally in Boston…) to the USA. He settled down in Yonkers, NY, and made his living playing in bands and teaching music. I sometimes wonder if my love of music can be traced back to him… and that Irish orphanage. A healthy and happy and peaceful and loving New Year to you and yours!

  4. This wonderful song really summed up the pathos of this topsey-turvey year. Reading your blog as the song played just layered the emotions more thickly. For a variety of reasons, political, social, and scientific, I hope the 2021 will be a much better year.

  5. Thank you Will for another heartfelt post and beautiful song. I love this song with your clear voice and Doug’s peaceful piano melody. May we continue to grow in our willingness to live in loving ways for the good of all.

  6. Will, I enjoy listening to you and Doug’s musical offerings and reading your posts and sentiments. Hoping you have a wonderful New Years Eve and then onward to a joyous 2021 of enriching the lives of those around you.

  7. One of my favorite tunes. Thanks, Will! A lovely transitioning piece, beautifully rendered. Peace and love to you and yours in the new year.

    • Thank you for your positive feedback! I first sang this song in a four-part arrangement at a weekend retreat. It embodies the bittersweet truth at the heart of human existence — that love and loss are endlessly intertwined — so gracefully… I hope 2021 proves to be a surprisingly good year for you, too. And for all of the living beings here on planet earth.

  8. I so enjoyed your 2020 journey, and how you tackled changes one by one. Very inspiring, Will. You’re good at that! As long as there are music, stories, and friendship, we can face 2021 together. Irving Berlin’s “Count Your Blessings” is just perfect. It will be better! Happy New Year, Will.

    • Thank you, dear Jennie. I accept your warm feedback with an open heart — especially since it comes from someone whose posts inspire so many of us! Lots more changes and challenges in 2021… which certainly promises to be kinder and more respectful. A healthy and happy and musical and playful new year to you!!!

      • Your words are just like music, they fill me up. Here’s to you Will, and to a hopeful new year filled with good health and happiness.

    • Yes. “Auld Lang Syne” can carry a lot of emotional baggage and associations… I think Wikipedia noted that “Auld Lang Syne” did end up replacing “The Parting Glass” in many people’s lives and rituals. James Taylor, bless him, made a lovely recording of “Auld Lang Syne” which inspired me to love it again. Thank you for reading and listening to yet ANOTHER one of my blog posts!!!!

  9. Thank you, Will, for singing ‘The Parting Glass’. I had not heard it before and I love it. It is also a joy to hear you sing ‘Counting my Blessings’. ❤ Happy New Year to you and your loved ones and I am wishing you all flowing love, abundance and peace in the coming year. ❤ Xx

    • It is a lovely song, isn’t it? It echoes afterwards in my mind/soul/heart… as it has probably echoed in the minds/souls/hearts of thousands if not millions of people in generations past. THANK YOU for reading and listening and commenting on another one of my blog posts! And also listening to “Count Your Blessings.” A healthy and happy and musical and abundant and peaceful and loving new year to you and yours, too!!! Deep breath in. Deep breath out.

    • You are very welcome! It is hard to know how much of my genetic background might trace to Scotland since I had a couple of great grandfathers who were orphans. But I AM a ginger, and I have a lot of curiosity about Scotland (and now about two whippets who live there with their Haiku-creating human!) I breathe in your glad tidings of joy and blessings in 2021 while wondering if democracy is imploding here in the USA…

  10. Happy New Year, Will. It has been a strange start to 2021. We, as a society, forget how fragile democracy is. I hope our shame and disbelief will bring us together – Germany did it after WWII.

    • Yes. Many of us have been taking democracy here in the USA for granted for decades… The last two election cycles (+ runoff in GA), however, have certainly sparked a new engagement with our political process in my life. Right now I am listening hungrily to anything that African-American folks (including many super-articulate college history professors) are willing to share which will help a white guy like me to understand/appreciate the deep, often horrific historical roots of today’s challenges. Deep breath in. Deep breath out. I will continue to make and share music, too (hoping that it adds in some positive way to the overall equations/balances of power and justice here on planet earth). Germany and South Africa and other countries may be able to offer us some examples and inspiration regarding our next steps… Thank you for listening to AND reading AND commenting on yet another one of my blog posts!

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