I’ve decided to share what I’ve learned.
Ian Davison wrote My Joy of You to mark his twenty-fifth wedding anniversary. I have chosen to analyse this piece because it seems to incorporate everything that is intrinsic to Davison’s music.
My Joy of You is a traditional Scottish-style love song. Like many Scottish songs, it has a very simple chord progression – using only chords 1, 4 and 5.
Recorded on 29th April, 1989, the recording on the website was an entry in the Girvan Folk Festival song-writing competition. Although Davison often accompanies himself on the acoustic guitar when he’s performing or recording his songs, this version of My Joy of You is sung a cappella by fellow Scottish Folk revivalist, Ann Neilson. The last line of each verse repeats the line that came before, making it easier for the audience to participate. It’s interesting to hear how the audience’s confidence grows as the song progresses – from a tentative mumble in the first verse, some members even harmonise the final line.
Another noteworthy aspect of the song is the Scottish accent and dialect that shines throughout. Neilson quite often rolls her Rs in a very lowland Scottish manner – it is noticeably different from the dialects found further north in places such as Inverness or Aberdeen. This Scottish dialect incorporation can be seen even more in the refrain of Room For Us A’ In The Dance:
With Phil on the box and Ali on the fiddle we burl [pronounced ‘bir-rul’] at the top [pronounced ‘tap’] and danced down the middle and what she sees in him is a riddle and there’s room for us a’ in the dance.
One of the marked things about My Joy of You is that, while undeniably a love song, it isn’t sentimental. It doesn’t hide from the gritty reality of life – “a life is never free from pain and care; and many give themselves to cold despair” – it accepts that things are hard, but it rejoices in the love Davison has for his wife – a love that will get him through anything that life has to throw at him. This style of music is clearly a lot deeper and honest than many modern pop songs. (Think Justin Bieber’s “Baby, baby, baby, oh”.)
The music was collected by Dr Margaret Bennett: a Gaelic singer, folklorist, writer, lecturer, and storyteller. She is also a member of the Scottish Folk Revivalists; there seems to be a big push in Scotland at the moment to attempt to preserve Scottish traditions and culture.