Canada has a strong tradition of Singer / Songwriters. Gordon Lightfoot, Stan Rogers, Ian and Sylvia, Murray McLauglin, James Keelaghan, Fred Eaglesmith, and Ron Hynes are just few that can be mentioned. If he isn’t already there then David Francy should be added to the list . He is the recipient of three Juno Awards and three Canadian Folk Music awards. Francey was born in Ayrshire, Scotland in 1954 and immigrated to Canada with his family at age 12. In his selection of subject material, use of language, imagery and melody he demonstrates evidence of his Scottish heritage, all the while he is telling Canadian stories. He has worked as a rail yard worker and a carpenter for 20 years and , of course, this has informed his music. At age 45, he began a career in folk music, finding success on the folk festival circuit. His debut album, Torn Screen Door, was released in 1999. The title track of Torn Screen Door is a fine narrative song that Francy delivered in an unaccompanied “hands in the pocket” style that pretty well set the pattern for the numerous cover versions that are out there.
In much the same way the Australian Celtic group Co-cheòl offers an unaccompanied version.
Similarly, the Canadian Folk / Harmony group The Good Lovelies, consisting of Caroline Brooks, Kerri Ough and Sue Passmore perform the song in an accompanied style.
Canadian, and Australian songs, have a habit of crossing the water to Scotland and Ireland. I once heard Stan Roger’s song Field Behind the Plough over the PA system in a shop in Dublin. As time goes by good songs have a habit of evolving, sometimes in unexpected ways. Here is a version by the Irish Singer Ger O’Donnell. The tempo has been stepped up with some driving instrumental accompaniments on guitar and Irish Bouzouki.This would be my favorite version. I don’t know the name of the Irish Bouzouki player.
Last, but not least the Irish / Scottish / German Celtic band CARA gives the song the full on driving Celtic treatment with Button accordion, flute, fiddle, bodhran, guitar and Uilleann pipes.
There you have it. Torn Screen Door in various shades of Canadian Green.
Post Script: David Francy’s disography
- Torn Screen Door (1999)
- Far End of Summer (2001)
- Skating Rink (2003)
- The Waking Hour (2004) with Kevin Welch, Kieran Kane and Fats Kaplin
- The First Set (2006)
- Carols for a Christmas Eve (2006)
- Right of Passage (2007)
- Seaway (2009)
- Late Edition (2011)
- So Say We All (2013)
- Empty Train (2016)
- The Broken Heart of Everything (2018)