- 07 Feb 19
The James Blake and Rosalía collaboration samples an old Irish folk song
It was recently discovered by RTÉ 2FM DJ Tara Stewart, that the collaborative song ‘Barefoot In The Park', by James Blake, heavily features a sample from an old Irish folk song.
Searching for the sample, Stewart received a text message from a listener who proceeded to let her know the track was an old Irish song called ‘Fil Fil a Run’, recorded by singer, Valerie Armstrong, in 1971. Shortly after, Stewart received an Instagram message from her close friend, named Adam, with a link to the recording - who turns out to be Armstrong’s nephew.
“I’m still pinching myself to be honest. Even though I’m older, I was already a James Blake fan and my kids are big fans too so they are beyond excited,” said Armstrong. “What amazes me is how he found it from an old YouTube clip when I was just 13 and after forty years and I had just started playing the harp again, so it’s a funny coincidence.
The song has always been a lucky one for Armstrong, who fondly recounts: “Working in Jury’s cabaret at a young age singing ‘Fil Fil a Run’ for years. I then won the Feis Ceoil with the song, and now James Blake has sampled it. On Friday, I went into the studio and re-recorded the exact same version, it will be on my new album which I’m absolutely going to send it to him."
Although it was more than forty years ago, Armstrong vividly remembers recording the song: “I was invited to a special programme shot by RTÉ in the Mansion House. I had to play it about 10-12 times because it was being recorded. All the people in the audience were actors and were told to look really sad and plaintive as the song is really sad - the story is about a mother begging her son not to leave the Catholic church and become a Protestant minister. At the time of course, it would have been a huge deal, but maybe not so much nowadays."
After receiving a message from Blake on Twitter, Armstrong says she: “Would love to go see him live or even better meet him. I see he is touring in America for the next few months so maybe he will come to Europe, I’d love to see him then. I’d even go to London or somewhere else in Europe to see him!”
Listen to ‘Barefoot In The park’ below.