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Banter III Songs and Tunes

A bit of Banter: 36- A Nation Once Again

a-muso-imageThere’s no fool like an old fool, they say, so what happens when a bunch of oul’ coots gather together to make music? The next series of posts may enlighten you as to the question just posed and may also, perhaps, enrage or entertain. Anything’s better than a yawn, I guess. These songs were the result of a few sessions around a table laden with alcoholic beverages of various kinds. Plonked in the centre of the table was a laptop with built-in mic that somehow survived the knocks and spillages that were part and parcel of the sessions. 

Song 36: A Nation Once Again– Thomas Davis, one of the main shapers of Irish identity, wrote this stirring ballad in the 1840s, making it one of the early Irish folk songs. He believed that songs were more effective than political harangues. It is notable for its classical references: for example, the 300 men  of the song’s first verse recalls the valiant Spartans at the battle of Thermopylae in 480 BC who, while losing their lives in defence ofthomas_davis_young_irelander ancient Greece, laid the foundations of the classical period and all its glories- of which we are the fortunate beneficiaries. While some of the references may be alien to listeners in the 21st Century, the meaning (and emotion) of the song contained in the choruses is unmistakable.

 

A Nation Once Again
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Banter III Songs and Tunes

A bit of Banter: 35- The Irish Rover

a-muso-imageThere’s no fool like an old fool, they say, so what happens when a bunch of oul’ coots gather together to make music? The next series of posts may enlighten you as to the question just posed and may also, perhaps, enrage or entertain. Anything’s better than a yawn, I guess. These songs were the result of a few sessions around a table laden with alcoholic beverages of various kinds. Plonked in the centre of the table was a laptop with built-in mic that somehow survived the knocks and spillages that were part and parcel of the sessions. 

Song 35: The Irish Rover– A widely-known folk song: The Dubliners and Pogues produced a memorable version in 1987. I first heard it from an LP of the Clancy Brothers and Tommy Makem in the early 1960s. The cultural impact is widespread: a character from the song, Slugger O’Toole, (who was drunk, as a rule) is used by a political website in Northern Ireland that provides a lively platform for diverse views on matters local and international. A successful group used the song , pluralised, to give themselves a musical identity. Covers220px-the_irish_rover of the song stretch across more than fifty years and, I would imagine, will continue into the future. As part of that musical stream, we offer this version from one of our sessions here in Sydney.

 

The Irish Rover
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Banter III Songs and Tunes

A bit of Banter: 34- Begleys

a-muso-imageThere’s no fool like an old fool, they say, so what happens when a bunch of oul’ coots gather together to make music? The next series of posts may enlighten you as to the question just posed and may also, perhaps, enrage or entertain. Anything’s better than a yawn, I guess. These songs were the result of a few sessions around a table laden with alcoholic beverages of various kinds. Plonked in the centre of the table was a laptop with built-in mic that somehow survived the knocks and spillages that were part and parcel of the sessions. 

Song 34: Begleys Went into the radio station today to co-host our regular fortnightly show, A Touch of Ireland. Drove there because of a phone call the night before from my partner in radio-crime that he was entertaining seven Irish backpackers from Bondi and that it may be advisable, nay, prudent, to vary our wonted routine and for me to pick him up. We always start with an instrumental- and to my surprise he started with this- a tunebegleys2 we had recorded around the table a few years back. And, indeed, it was one we resurrected just last week as part of our reconstituted sessions.

 

Begleys
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Banter III Songs and Tunes

A Bit of Banter: 33- Figuring out tunes…

a-muso-imageThere’s no fool like an old fool, they say, so what happens when a bunch of oul’ coots gather together to make music? The next series of posts may enlighten you as to the question just posed and may also, perhaps, enrage or entertain. Anything’s better than a yawn, I guess. These songs were the result of a few sessions around a table laden with alcoholic beverages of various kinds. Plonked in the centre of the table was a laptop with built-in mic that somehow survived the knocks and spillages that were part and parcel of the sessions. 

Song 33- Figuring out tunes…Just for aficianados of process- this track shows the group re-discovering tunes we used to play in the past and listeners can get the flavour of the rather chaotic methodology used to get stuff in some sort of order. The wonder is- how does anything whole ever get recorded? figuring-out-tunesHowever,  we generally reach a consensus as to what constitutes a Banter tune or song and this is the hallmark of a true group. I read about groups where a “leader” tells the others what to do, etc. but that isn’t a true group, it’s something ( not-really-Irish) else.

Figuring Out Tunes
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Banter III Songs and Tunes

A bit of Banter: 32- Whiskey in the Jar

a-muso-imageThere’s no fool like an old fool, they say, so what happens when a bunch of oul’ coots gather together to make music? The next series of posts may enlighten you as to the question just posed and may also, perhaps, enrage or entertain. Anything’s better than a yawn, I guess. These songs were the result of a few sessions around a table laden with alcoholic beverages of various kinds. Plonked in the centre of the table was a laptop with built-in mic that somehow survived the knocks and spillages that were part and parcel of the sessions. 

Song 32: Whiskey in the Jar– Rock groups seem to like this one (Thin Lizzy, Metallica, et al). There’s something about the shape of the melody that appeals widely. This would be another song that is/was much requested when we play/played. The idea of the overlooked or inconsequential person sticking it to the Establishment has been a trope since Adam was a lad, I’ll wager. It appeals to Banter and, to be topical for a moment, it appealed towhiskey2 many millions of Americans when they voted for the outsider in the election a couple of days ago. Who will get stuck with the more dire consequences, if any, following this result, one muses?

Whiskey in the Jar
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Banter III Songs and Tunes

A bit of Banter: 31- Sonny

a-muso-imageThere’s no fool like an old fool, they say, so what happens when a bunch of oul’ coots gather together to make music? The next series of posts may enlighten you as to the question just posed and may also, perhaps, enrage or entertain. Anything’s better than a yawn, I guess. These songs were the result of a few sessions around a table laden with alcoholic beverages of various kinds. Plonked in the centre of the table was a laptop with built-in mic that somehow survived the knocks and spillages that were part and parcel of the sessions. 

Song 31: Sonny– Another disputed song- I have come across several versions of the song and how it came to be written. (Ron Hynes, Newfoundland folksinger, is, of course, thehi-ron-hynes-852 originator.) The good thing about being in a knockabout Irish folk band is that you can leave the wrangling to others. If you don’t care about commercial gain and prefer to gather at whim and sing and play just what you want, then the rest is just noise. All you have to do is try to create a version of the song that appeals- if only to yourselves.

 

Sonny
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Banter III Songs and Tunes

A bit of Banter: 30- Deportees

a-muso-imageThere’s no fool like an old fool, they say, so what happens when a bunch of oul’ coots gather together to make music? The next series of posts may enlighten you as to the question just posed and may also, perhaps, enrage or entertain. Anything’s better than a yawn, I guess. These songs were the result of a few sessions around a table laden with alcoholic beverages of various kinds. Plonked in the centre of the table was a laptop with built-in mic that somehow survived the knocks and spillages that were part and parcel of the sessions. 

Song 30: Deportees– I first played this song as a student in Belfast in 1969 at at a impromptu folk session on the beach at Bangor, County Down. From memory, I first heard the song from the singing of Judy Collins in the mid-60s. (Of course, the great Woody Guthrie wrote it originally)guthriePerspective is a funny thing: the song commemorates a plane crash in 1948-a year before I was born. And still the drama plays out as I type this. Deportees in the 21st Century will be able to look down on the “wonderful Wall” promised by President Trump as they fly southwards to Mexico.

Deportees (Lockdown version 2020)
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Banter III Songs and Tunes

A bit of Banter: 29- Working Man

a-muso-imageThere’s no fool like an old fool, they say, so what happens when a bunch of oul’ coots gather together to make music? The next series of posts may enlighten you as to the question just posed and may also, perhaps, enrage or entertain. Anything’s better than a yawn, I guess. These songs were the result of a few sessions around a table laden with alcoholic beverages of various kinds. Plonked in the centre of the table was a laptop with built-in mic that somehow survived the knocks and spillages that were part and parcel of the sessions. 

Song 29: Working Man– Another song from another era. First heard this sung in the 1990s by a singer from the Blue Mountains, west of Sydney, NSW, who looked and sounded like the writer and populariser of the song, Rita McNeil. It’s power is undeniable and, do you know something?: I can’t see any significant singer-songwriter penning a ballad about the ritamcneilltrials and travails of ping-pong playing employees of Silicon Valley entrepreneurs as they struggle with code that will displace yet more workers and line the pockets of another generation of industrialists. But who knows? As someone once observed, prediction is very difficult, especially with regard to the future.

 

Working Man
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Banter III Songs and Tunes

A bit of Banter: 28- The Monaghan Twig

a-muso-imageThere’s no fool like an old fool, they say, so what happens when a bunch of oul’ coots gather together to make music? The next series of posts may enlighten you as to the question just posed and may also, perhaps, enrage or entertain. Anything’s better than a yawn, I guess. These songs were the result of a few sessions around a table laden with alcoholic beverages of various kinds. Plonked in the centre of the table was a laptop with built-in mic that somehow survived the knocks and spillages that were part and parcel of the sessions. 

Song 28: The Monaghan TwigThis is an unadorned and brief essay during one of our sessions where the fiddle player and bodhran player had a bit of a go in one of the many refreshment breaks taken by the others in the group. These, although convivial in thebodhran-and-fiddle extreme, militated against the most effective use of time for group practice. Still, who do we really have to please apart from ourselves?

 

The Monaghan Twig
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Banter III Songs and Tunes

A bit of Banter: 27- Denis Murphy’s/Rathlin Bog

a-muso-imageThere’s no fool like an old fool, they say, so what happens when a bunch of oul’ coots gather together to make music? The next series of posts may enlighten you as to the question just posed and may also, perhaps, enrage or entertain. Anything’s better than a yawn, I guess. These songs were the result of a few sessions around a table laden with alcoholic beverages of various kinds. Plonked in the centre of the table was a laptop with built-in mic that somehow survived the knocks and spillages that were part and parcel of the sessions. 

Song 27: Denis Murphy’s (or Jim’s Da’s Polka)/The Rathlin Bog An Irish traditional fiddle tune passed down by the fiddler’s grandfather and mandolin-player’s father. We insert in the middle of this polka, an instrumental version of the song, The Rathlin Bog. When we wererathlin last practising, the fiddler’s five year-old son was there bopping to the music. And I guess that’s tradition- the passing on of a musical culture.

 

Denis Murphy’s/Rathlin Bog
Categories
Banter III Songs and Tunes

A bit of Banter: Song 26- When the Boys Go Rolling Home

a-muso-imageThere’s no fool like an old fool, they say, so what happens when a bunch of oul’ coots gather together to make music? The next series of posts may enlighten you as to the question just posed and may also, perhaps, enrage or entertain. Anything’s better than a yawn, I guess. These songs were the result of a few sessions around a table laden with alcoholic beverages of various kinds. Plonked in the centre of the table was a laptop with built-in mic that somehow survived the knocks and spillages that were part and parcel of the sessions. 

Song 26: When the Boys Go Rolling Home– This song, I first heard from the singing of Geraldine Doyle, I think. It is rather more light-hearted about homecoming than, say, Johnny, I Hardly Knew Ye. Or , indeed, that magnificent Bruce Dawe poem about the Vietnam War entitled, Homecoming. Not that the writer of the song, one Tommy Sands, is incapable of writing poignantly- I urge you to listen to There Were Roses, a brilliant song about the sectarian killings that blighted Northern Ireland for far too long. And there are fears that the dark times may come back again as a part of the unintended consequences of Brexitboysrollinghome

 

When the Boys Go Rolling Home
Categories
Banter III Songs and Tunes

A bit of Banter: 25- Don’t Get Married Girls

a-muso-imageThere’s no fool like an old fool, they say, so what happens when a bunch of oul’ coots gather together to make music? The next series of posts may enlighten you as to the question just posed and may also, perhaps, enrage or entertain. Anything’s better than a yawn, I guess. These songs were the result of a few sessions around a table laden with alcoholic beverages of various kinds. Plonked in the centre of the table was a laptop with built-in mic that somehow survived the knocks and spillages that were part and parcel of the sessions. 

Song 25: Don’t Get Married Girls– What a great song! Written by Leon Rosselson who has been around in the folk scene from the early 1960s. He is in his mid eighties now and still active and an activist. He is one of the characters I see as a role-model. It would be great to be still doing the rounds and playing in sessions at that age. Most of us in this little folk group have been married for decades, now. I’m just glad the song was not current when I was courting. We have beendont-get-married told on more than one occasion, after we have performed this satire, how lucky we are that the sentiments expressed here had not been articulated so compellingly way back then. “Why didn’t you bloody well sing this to me when we first met?”…  “I might look stupid, but I’m really  not!” is our invariably unarticulated riposte.

 

Don’t Get Married Girls