The Creative “I” ~ Variations on a Theme

For this second Creative “I” assignment, I chose to rewrite “Danny Boy”.

My revised lyrics are below:

Oh, Mrs Lee, the notes, the notes are playing.
From sea to sea, your love has touched us all.
But now you’re gone, and many hearts are crying.
But your name will be left on a wall.

Because it’s you, who gave us everything you had
We learned from you the music of the heart
So that is why your passing made us very sad.
Oh, Mrs. Lee, your soul’s a work of art.

“Danny Boy” is a ballad that is usually set to the tune called “Londonderry Air”. I chose this song to revise because my beloved high school band teacher, mentor, and friend passed away on October 16, 2013, four months after retiring. One of the last songs she had conducted prior to her retirement is “Irish Tune from County Derry” at the Far East Music Conference in April 2013.

After her untimely passing, I spent two days listening to songs I associated with her. “Irish Tune from County Derry” and “Danny Boy” began to stick in my head, and I was suddenly “inspired” to re-write its lyrics, instead of finishing up a different song I had already started. Doing this re-writing ended up being a very cathartic experience for me, and something I am glad I did as a mini-tribute to Mrs. Lee.

This entire exercise shows how a single song came from multiple sources. “Danny Boy” was written by Frederic Weatherly, and it was combined with an Irish folk tune from County Derry, a song that was later picked up by composer Percy Grainger, who arranged it into the song, “Irish Tune from County Derry”. Meanwhile, “Danny Boy” has been recorded multiple times, with one version being the 1955 Judy Garland version posted above. One song churned out multiple versions and renditions, and even conductors like Mrs. Lee interpreted the song in her own way.

Throughout history, many themes in creative works are shown to be repeated, but with a twist from the creator. Look at Romeo and Juliet and West Side Story. Look at how a melody from Gustav Holst’s “Jupiter: The Bringer of Jollity” was turned into the song, “I Vow to Thee, My Country” and to a Japanese pop song called “Jupiter“. These works are similar with each other, but at the same time are still different because the creator, the artist themselves, put some of their own knowledge and experience in the creative process.

One quote from Henriksen, Mishra, and the Deep-Play Research Group (n.d.) that has struck me is this:

People with a wider range of knowledge and experience have richer concepts to build on, and hence the potential to see more knobs or possibilities than those with narrower foundations.

Tara and her many interests!  Drawn by a dear friend, H.

Tara and her many interests! Drawn by a dear friend, H.

That makes complete sense to me. As a writer, I try to write what I know. What I know are: English literature, classical music, Japanese animes, video games, technology, and many other things that all come into my fanworks creation. When I write about sadness and depression, I think of my own sad memories and put myself into that state, which helps me find the appropriate words. Same thing for happiness — I think of the happiest times of my life, and bring those abstract concepts into words. To me, knowledge and experience are power, and that is why I read and watch what I can because the plot and characters I see in books, video games, and other medium gives me new ideas. I partake in doing new experiences like trying new cuisine and going to new places because what I do only empowers my creative process, and like a tool, it helps me create new stories and ideas mixed with what I know and feel and my perceptions. That’s what my fanfics do, it tells a familiar story using familiar characters, but with a twist of my own contributions.

And I will continue to read new things and go on new adventure. I want to always expand on what I know since there are infinite number of things out in the world I can learn and consume to my own pleasure. Japan is my happy place, but I’ve only been to Tokyo, so I will remedy that one day by visiting other parts of Japan like Osaka and Kyoto. There are plenty of food I’ve been wanting to try and will do so when the opportunity comes. There are always new books, games, movies, and shows for me to consume, and there will always be new stories for me to try and tell. All of this is a neverending cycle, a cycle I will encourage with the children and youth I work with. I enjoy introducing them to new things and encouraging them to try new skills. And as an adult mentor, I will continue to encourage ways to expand on their creativity and will always work on expanding my own creative process, too.

Reference: Henriksen, D., Mishra, P., & The Deep-Play Research Group. (n.d.) Twisting knobs and connecting things: Rethinking technology & creativity in the 21st century. Retrieved from