THE BIG NASHVILLE STAR WHO WAS AN IRISH KID FROM BROOKLYN!

Famous for a string of hits during the 1970’s and early 80’s proud Irish-American Eddie Rabbitt was one of the most popular Country singers of his era. Here Kevin Rooney introduces us to his life and music.
Eddie Rabbitt was a popular Irish-American Country singer best known for a string of hits in the late ‘70’s-early ‘80’s like ‘I Love A Rainy Night’, ‘Drivin’ My Life Away’, ‘Step By Step’, ‘Every Which Way But Loose’ from the movie of the same name starring Clint Eastwood and ‘You and I’ with Crystal Gayle.
Edward Thomas Rabbitt was born in Brooklyn, New York on 27 November 1941 to Irish immigrant parents. He was raised in East Orange, New Jersey. His father, Thomas Michael Rabbitt worked in an oil refinery in Newark, NJ. He and Eddie’s mother Mae (née Joyce) emigrated from Co. Galway in 1924. His father played fiddle and accordion in Irish dances in New York City. Eddie followed in his musical footsteps. Although his genre of choice was Country music, Eddie once said:
“There were a lot of Irish immigrants who came and settled in the South. My father played fiddle and the accordion. Irish music got mixed in with old- time gospel and New Orleans blues to make up what country is today. A lot of country tunes have that old Irish folksy sound.”
Eddie later moved to Nashville, Tennessee and wrote songs for Elvis, and Ronnie Milsap, among others. He recorded ‘Song Of Ireland’ for his Variations album in 1978. The song is his expression of his yearning and feeling for Ireland, where he had never been. The fiddle part in the song is played by his father.

EDDIE RABBITT – ‘Song Of Ireland’

 

I remember daddy playing on the violin,
Jigs and reels that he brought from Ireland.
And I’m the first born in America, my friend.
*
I have never been there but someday I’ll take a trip.
I’ll cross the ocean on a big long silver ship.
Hear them sing those songs I learned from Mama’s knee
*
I just close my eyes and I can almost see,
Those shamrock hills and those forty shades of green.
And the roots that tie me to a land I’ve never known
Are calling me home, are calling me home.
*
Sun shines through my window here in Tennessee.
God sure made this a pretty place to be.
But sometimes it just don’t feel like home to me.
*
So I close my eyes and I can almost see
Those shamrock hills and those forty shades of green.
And the roots that tie me to a land I’ve never known
Are calling me home.
Are calling me home.
Are calling me home.
Eddie Rabbitt died on May 7, 1998, in Nashville, tragically young from lung cancer at only 56. So proud was he of his Irish heritage that his headstone at Calvary Cemetery in Nashville  was emblazoned with a shamrock and a guitar.
Our thanks go out to Kevin Rooney for this fascinating article. You can hear more from Kevin over at the Irish History 1916 through to 1923 and Everything Irish Facebook pages where he is an admin. Kevin also contributed to the Happy Birthday Mr Bob book, a celebration of Bob Dylan’s 80th Birthday, with submissions from Irish poets, writers, singers, songwriters, artists, photographers and an eclectic mix of admirers! Kevin is an excellent writer and earlier in the year we published Irish Born And Irish Americans : Separated By Common Heritage? about the sometimes troublesome relationship between the two.

Tagged:

Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in:

WordPress.com Logo

You are commenting using your WordPress.com account. Log Out /  Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out /  Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out /  Change )

Connecting to %s

This site uses Akismet to reduce spam. Learn how your comment data is processed.

%d bloggers like this: