Derry man’s song in Coen brothers’ film

Derry guitarist D�ith� Sproule.
Derry guitarist D�ith� Sproule.

A song by Derry traditional musician Dáithí Sproule is featured in the new film by Oscar-winning filmakers, the Coen brothers.

‘Inside Llewyn Davis’ tells the story of an aspiring young singer in the New York folk scene of the early 1960s and includes the song ‘The Death of Queen Jane’ which was written by the Derry guitarist more than 40 years ago.

The film stars Carey Mulligan, Oscar Isaac and Justin Timberlake and includes a soundtrack of folk standards recorded by the actors.

Mr Sproule wrote the melody for the ancient ballad in 1970 while playing with his band, Skara Brae.

It went on to become the most well-known version of the song and has been recorded by dozens of artists, including influential traditional group, The Bothy Band, who included it on their live album ‘After Hours.’

The Derry musician said he is delighted his song has been included in the film. “I composed the melody a long time ago, about 1970 of so, to go with the traditional words, which I got from a book. I sang the song with my group, Skara Brae, back then.

“I don’t know where the Coen brothers got it. But of course I’m delighted they are using my melody,” he said.

The song is used in a pivotal scene in the film when the eponymous singer performs it at an audition for a slot at an important folk club.

Mr Sproule has been a key figure on the Irish music scene since the early 1970s and continues to perform. He was one of the first guitarists to adapt the alternative DADGAD tuning to Irish music.

His contribution to the genre was acknowledged when the Rough Guide to Irish Music described him as “a seminal figure in Irish music.”

He is the uncle of Derry singer songwriter, Claire Sproule and his brother, Andy, is also a singer.

‘Inside Llewyn Davis’ will be released here in January.