Friday, April 20, 2012

Mary Margaret O'Hara and "Dark Dear Heart"

Mary Margaret O'Hara at her prettiest.

Long ago, when I was teenager, and a young adult, I had a fairly substantial  interest in music and recordings.  My tastes in music  usually leaned to pop music, ABBA, the Beatles, Fleetwood Mac, Top 40 in general, but I did have a few more esoteric interests, especially in women singers. In the  1970's and 1980's  I was especially  interested  in singers  like the Roches, Kate Bush, Jane Siberry, the Pretenders, Sandy Denny, The Bangles and the 10,000 Manics (before the latter two  were popular).

Well in recent years,'s unusual that I have the experience of discovering (as it were) new talents. In fact, I find it easier to go back in time, and learn about artists from the past who are well regarded  and see what the fuss was all about. A few weeks ago, it was the fairly obscure, but well admired, Canadian singer/songwriter , Mary Margaret O'Hara.  Mary is the younger, prettier sister of SCTV /Home Alone  actress, Catherine O'Hara. Mary released a critically acclaimed solo album called Miss America in 1988. It is  the only album with her name on it, to date.  She  has also worked with other artists and recorded a movie soundtrack album.   For more about her career go to  Ectophiles Guide -Mary Margaret O'Hara .

M2OH (as she is known)  is regarded as a talented but mannered  singer with  an eccentric stage manner.  Her angelic voice seems to be almost a cross  between Doris Day and Bjork.  I am not sure I have really  loved much of what  I heard from her, but I did find one song she wrote  particularly touching. The song  is  called " Dark Dear Heart", she performed the song at the funeral of the legendary actor ,  John Candy in 1994.  She seems to be channeling Patsy Cline on this performance , and she was  so overcome with emotion that she lost her voice.  (That's the video above)   She had  originally recorded the song with The Henry's and did an excellent live version with them on  Canadian TV. (That's the video below which  keeps being removed from YouTube-so you might not see it.)

The Henry's version can also be found here....Dark Dear Heart
Another article about this song and Mary Margaret O'Hara.
Shannon Tharp's Blog

This article was originally posted April 2012.


  1. Though I like M2OH, and I usually find her "style excentricities" brilliant, she can get a little tiresome to me sometimes. However, the unfinished version of "Dark dear heart" that she struggled to sing on JC's funeral (the one shown in the first video) moves me like few other performances I've heard. The song is gorgeous, and I love how timeless the arrangements and the singing are, how she clearly restrains herself and keeps the singing "traditional". In the comments section of youtube, a guy writes that she sings it like a female Elvis; This is how it sounds to me too, and while, I quite dislike this style on male singers, somehow it works perfectly for me here. So you can imagine how frustrated I am to know that I'm never going to hear the whole song performed this way: I love the sofisticated performance shown in the second video, I already know the decent Holly Cole cover and I've heard the 10sec. sample of the original recording (with The Henrys), but none of them quite have the same effect on me... So, if anyone knows of any available similar version of the song, please post about it.


  2. You said this far better than I did.

    Yeah, Often, singers do live or TV performances where their not even complete, and yet there much better, than whatever was officially put out.

  3. Ei, Thanks for your nice reply!

    It looks like we'll have to wait until another noted canadian dies (which we don't want to happen!!). Don't tell anybody but I seem to have a thing about weeping singers: this scene also gets me everytime (and it is not even real here).

    Seriously now, if I ever find a similar cover I'll let it be known. At least I've discovered Patsy Cline (she's not big in Spain, believe me).

    Nice blog man, I'll be reading.



    1. I just ran across this song for the very first time in the movie "Museum Hours". She has the lead in the movie and sings this song to a cousin who is dying in a hospital but can not hear her. It was a great scene and prompted me to come search for it.
      The movie is worth seeing....slow paced but says a lot about art and the random connections we make in life.
      Here's the trailer:

    2. Thank you very much!! I hadn’t checked this post for a reply for some time, and I’ve just read yours. I’m going to look for this movie immediately. It looks sad, but I’m sure it is worth watching, as you say. Well, I guess you can really count on the “kindness of strangers” after all! Thanks again, whoever you are (I hope you read this), and also thanks to mr. Felpin for hosting this conversation.

      Two more quick things:

      -The original youtube clip for the song has disappeared, but fortunately I had made a copy, so I have re-uploaded it. You can find it in my channel:

      -I feel a little embarrassed now about my second message in this post: Of course I don’t want anybody to die so I can hear the whole song (and Canadians are just the kindest people on earth), and I didn’t mean to trivialize anybody’s pain or mock “weeping singers” at all, specially being myself a “weeping listener” (getting worse with age), and a “weeping awful performer”: yup, this has happened to me while playing Tom Waits’ “Martha” and Jerome Kern’s “The way you look tonight”, and it would probably happen again if I ever try “Dark, dear heart”. Now it all sounds childish and frivolous. I hope nobody is offended.