The old ones are the best

The old ones are the best

I’ve given the internet a bit of a rest over the Christmas (and hope to God that you all had a very happy time over the festive season), but today finds me in contemplative mood after a few tunes last night with P____ and B___, two very old friends of mine. Concertina and flute respectively.

So, we’re in P____’s front room. All done out for the time of year. Holly. The tree. So on. A glass of the boyo to hand for each of us and a bottle of beer or stout to wash it down.

"Give us a tune, there, Seamie."

Now, I’ve been in the type of session from time to time where such a request would entail a degree of racking the brain for some obscurity. Such would be the nature of the thing.

But in this company, no such need to impress.

I started playing Rolling In The Rye Grass. A tune that would have many a player rolling his or her eyes. But P____ grined like a cat. "By God, Seamie, that’s the medicine, boy. Keep her nice and easy." And in he chimed and then B____.

And in to The Sally Gardens. "You’re taking me back, there, Seamie."

We were smiling by the end of it - and you know how it goes when you’re in that sort of company. You wouldnt want to just play the tunes twice or three times but six or seven or eight times round.

"Do you mind them tunes Barney McKenna used to play, Seamie? The Fermoy Lasses and that other one after it. Do you know them? Will we give them a lash?"

And then B____ says "What about a few oul’ jigs?"

And she starts The Ships In Full Sail. "God, I love that tune." And then into The Humours of Ennistymon.

And so the night went. All old standard tunes. The type that some players might sniff at. But grand, grand tunes and grand playing. Easy and steady. "Sure, you could dance to that and not break sweat." "Nor get out of puff."

The old ones, sometimes, in the right company, are the best. We all like to learn a new tune now and again. But when you’re with old friends, the old tunes are like old friends themselves.

A very happy New Year to you all and may you have tunes in abundance in the year and years ahead.

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That’s a lovely story, Seamie, I enjoyed every word of it.

A happy New Year to you too and of course to all who are reading this.

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I should imagine that in the old days - and no doubt for some players today - the tunes were a kind of therapy - massage - armchair for players to relax into at leisure after a gruelling day’s labouring. And why not?

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On behalf of everyone else here of a certain age may I express my grateful thanks for the sentiments in the title of this thread.

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nicholas is right- for me, at least, I’m sure playing music has saved my insurance company, myself and the medical community in general, the cost of heavy anti depressants and intensive therapy.

As far as the ‘old ones’go, I believe that there’s a reason they survive-they’re good tunes!

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Im with you on this one shanty ,and the ones that did not survive were not so good .
Any one for intellergent design ?

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Intelligence? What intelligence?
Beam me up, Mr. Scott. There is no intelligent life here.

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Nice tale, I feel the same about the older tunes. Some of the new ones will have to get played and ‘kicked about a bit’ before they can claim to be traditional, even if they are in the idiom.
Cheers to everyone for the season of the year!

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Yes, the old ones are the best - as are the new ones and the tunes of indeterminable middle age. As with everything else, it is the player’s attitude that sets it apart from other tired and uninspired offerings. Thanks for another great post Seamie.

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I completely relate to your story Seamie. I really enjoy playing the old standards with simple melodies. You can treat them in lovely little way with nice variations ~ just a note, here or there. And there is so much room for self expression in them. Sometimes tunes can be too complicated to put your own twist on. The old ones aren’t like that.

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Seamie, you certainly are a good storyteller. And amen to your sentiments—the important thing is to have fun with the music, and often, the old favorite tunes are the most fun to play.

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It’s more than just that. Liz Carroll sometimes taps into a vein of pure treasure when she comes up with a new tune.
Cheers, Seamie!

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~

I don’t think a day passes I do not play "The Irish Washerwoman"
One of my all time favourites.

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What? You don’t care for those 14 part syncopated reels in Q minor that someone just cooked up last week?

Yeah, neither do I.

Nice writing too Seamie, keep ‘em coming, please.

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LOL, SWFL Fiddler.

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I am mindful of the fact that some of the stuff I posted on the session.org a few weeks back was, unintendedly, controversial.

I mentioned this to B____ while we were having the few tunes I was talking about above. Apart from the fact that she couldn’t quite believe that I had got the hang of the internet (Silver Surfer), she couldn’t believe that there were websites for people from all over the world who wanted to talk about Irish music.

Anyway, I told her what had happpened. That I’d visited a few sessions and made a few comments about the music. she shook her. "Seamie", says she, "You’re no end of an eejit. People can play what they want to play and however the hell they want to play it. If you dont like it, then that’s your problem, not theirs. Sure isn’t there a power of sessions in the London or any place else for that matter, and you’ll always find tunes you like somewhere."

But she didnt like the tone of some of the replies. Well, she knows me well from back in the days when we were mere waifs and she knows that there’s not a malicious bone in my body. But knows full well too that I’m the sort of amadawn that thinks everyone is like myself, willing to take part in some chat and banter and give their opinion. And, God alone knows, I’ve made mistakes from time to time and got the raw end of somebody’s tongue for my pains.You’d think I’d learn, big enough and ugly enough as I am.

But that sort of learning comes hard to me. As my da, God rest him, used to say, "If you cower before bad manners once, you’ll rue the day, for you’ll allow bad manners to get the better of you from then on. Say your piece, in good faith, and stand your ground, but don’t take nor give any oul’ lip or back-cheek."

And that, may God be good to him, was the way that that fine, upstanding and very civil man lived his life. He tolfd it as it was, good or bad and without fear or favour. And never a better-liked man.

But anyway, seeing as I have caused ill-feeling recently and since discretion is the better part of valour, I’d just like to point out that although I’ve said the old ones are the best, that’s not to condemn the new ones. People can play whatever the hell they like and fair play to them. If it works for you, then off you go, with Seamie Lyons’ blessing, whatever that’s worth (I suspect very little).

A very Happy and a very tuneful New Year to all of you.

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Jeremy has already slapped me on the wrist for trying to post a new discussion on this, but, in the spirit of the heading to this discussion, might I mention that Francis Rossi and Rick Parfit of Status Quo have been awarded OBEs in the New Years Honours List.

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Oh, I also concur completely with the spirit of the original posting; despite the mission statement of this Forum, it is also the playing of the old, and the familiar, and the re-remembered, that makes sessions great.

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the old tunes are so popular because they are catchy…fun to play and easy for the untutored to listen to.

Hey Pete….where is that mission statement to be found?

I’m off to play some old chestnuts tonight…..Happy New Year everybody and long may the mustard pages rage in all their brilliant madness.

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It’s the bit on Home which begins "It’s the exchange of tunes…."

“Welcome to The Session”

"The exchange of tunes is what keeps traditional Irish music alive. This website is one way of passing on jigs, reels and other dance tunes."

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