Earlier this year on St Patrick's Day afternoon, I had on my bright green cardigan, my voice was warmed up, and I was minutes away from leaving the house to perform on an outdoor stage in Brisbane's city centre.
The weather had begun to look...Irish. Silvery and mystical. The right type of weather to accompany Celtic music, in a city ordinarily blindingly sunny. Amid rushing around to leave, I checked my phone and saw that my fellow singer Susanna O'Leary had left me a message. Our gig was cancelled. Storms expected. Argh. And so began my denial for at least half an hour!
Susanna and I had been rehearsing for weeks for our first joint St Patrick's Day gig. We both love Celtic music, and individually write our own songs with a Celtic feel. Along with our originals, we'd prepared traditional Irish and Scottish songs and tunes.
We were also excited to sing a song which was neither Irish nor Scottish, but "sounded" like it was: You Will Be My Ain True Love, by Sting.
The first time I sung this with Susanna in rehearsal, I literally got teary. She's so good at singing dark songs, and she understands Celtic vocal ornamentation. It was too rewarding a collaboration to let all our preparation go to waste. So a few weeks later, we met in a rehearsal room at the Queensland Conservatorium, and I hit record on my phone.
The soaring melody of this song sounds like it could be an Irish air. And the word "ain" is an old Scottish word for "own". But if the country fiddle doesn't tip you off, the battle phrases like "You'll walk unscathed through musket fire" might. Sting wrote the song for the 2003 film Cold Mountain, a romantic drama set in the time of the American Civil War. In the original, the incomparable Alison Krauss sings the main melody, with Sting on vocal harmonies, and an accompanying string arrangement that turns my insides to melted chocolate.
Chills. I get chills!
There's also something spine-tingling about singing it right now, while the US is going through a tense time. It's a reminder of how dark things can get if we let them, yet a beautiful ode to the power of true love.
Speaking of beautiful, Susanna gave birth to a baby girl since filming this video. They are both happy and healthy. Congratulations to the O'Leary family!