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STRANGLIN’ ROAD Dubliners legend John Sheahan claims Ed Sheeran 'murdered' Raglan Road

But the legendary trad fiddle player has offered superstar Sheeran a chance to record the classic tune as it was meant to be heard

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John Sheahan offered to accompany Ed Sheeran on fiddle if he records a proper version of the song

John Sheahan offered to accompany Ed Sheeran on fiddle if he records a proper version of the song

John Sheahan offered to accompany Ed Sheeran on fiddle if he records a proper version of the song

Dubliners legend John Sheahan has invited Ed Sheeran to record Raglan Road with him - claiming that the pop superstar "murdered" the classic Irish folk song on Jools Holland's New Year's Eve show.

Sheeran and newcomer Joy Crookes suffered a backlash after performing a duet of Raglan Road on the BBC's annual Hootenanny TV show. The song, written by poet Patrick Kavanagh, was originally made famous by the late Luke Kelly of The Dubliners.

"I saw people saying afterwards that Ed Sheeran murdered Raglan Road and I have to agree," John Sheahan tells the Sunday World.

"I wasn't impressed, and I'm sure Patrick Kavanagh or Luke weren't impressed either. Ed Sheeran has a beautiful voice and he's a very talented man, but I was disappointed with his interpretation of Raglan Road.

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John Sheahan admires Sheeran’s voice, but not how he sang the song

John Sheahan admires Sheeran’s voice, but not how he sang the song

John Sheahan admires Sheeran’s voice, but not how he sang the song

 

"I particularly didn't like how Joy Crookes treated the song. Some singers don't seem to be able to resist the temptation to treat some of these old melodies like jazz songs, and they're improvising like scat singers and totally distorting the original melody. I just don't know why they try to do that.

"To totally distort the melody is not acceptable. I think it's an insult to Kavanagh and Luke Kelly, and to one of the greatest love songs ever written.

"Even on the first verse, Ed Sheeran didn't stick to the melody. It's a very simple ancient melody and I think it should be left in its own natural perfection.

"I think there are certain things in life that shouldn't be interfered with or tried to be improved on. I mean, you wouldn't try to improvise or improve on The Lord's Prayer. It's like getting a Rembrandt or a Picasso and trying to improve on that with daubs of paint.

"Certain things should be left alone in their own natural, simple perfection and Raglan Road is one of those."

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John Sheahan in action with fellow Dubliner, the late Luke Kelly

John Sheahan in action with fellow Dubliner, the late Luke Kelly

John Sheahan in action with fellow Dubliner, the late Luke Kelly

 

Fiddle player and poet Sheahan, who is the last surviving member of The Dubliners, recalled how it was Patrick Kavanagh who first approached Luke Kelly with the idea of recording the song in the 1960s.

"Patrick met Luke in (Dublin pub) The Bailey and said, 'Why don't you sing my song, Raglan Road.' And he gave him the piece of paper with the hand-written lyrics on it and said, 'The air is The Dawning of the Day'.

"They were the total instructions from Kavanagh to Luke. 'There's the words and the air is The Dawning of the Day, you're the man to sing it'. He gave him his imprimatur, if you like."

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Sheahan paid tribute to Irish singers Glen Hansard and Declan O'Rourke for their renditions of Raglan Road in recent times.

"I did a gig for my 80th birthday in Vicar Street two years ago and Raglan Road was one of the songs we did, with verses shared between Declan O'Rourke and Glen Hansard, and it was just absolutely beautiful and very close to the way Luke would have sung it," John says.

"Glen and Declan probably took their inspiration from Luke. There was none of this scat singing or jazzing up the whole thing. It was sung plain and simple the way Patrick Kavanagh gave instructions to Luke to sing it."

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Ed Sheeran and Joy Crookes with Jools Holand on his New Year’s Eves how

Ed Sheeran and Joy Crookes with Jools Holand on his New Year’s Eves how

Ed Sheeran and Joy Crookes with Jools Holand on his New Year’s Eves how

 

Despite blasting his Raglan Road performance, Sheahan says he admires what Sheeran, who will play Croke Park and several other Irish stadiums this year, has achieved as an artist.

"I've been generally aware of Ed Sheeran over the last number of years," John says. "What he does…his performances are phenomenal. Just one man with a guitar and playback stuff and over-dubbing stuff… it is quite amazing.

"And I know he has Irish connections and all of that. He has a wonderful voice and if he sang that song just straight in the same way that Luke Kelly sang it I think it would be beautiful.

"Somebody was suggesting that, as an apology, Ed Sheeran should go into a studio and record Raglan Road properly. If he wants to come into the studio and sing it like Luke Kelly, I'll play the fiddle on it for him, no bother."

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