Poor But Happy At 53 reel

Also known as Bocht Agus Sona, Bocht Agus Sona Ag 53, Michael Tennyson’s, Poor But Happy.

There are 10 recordings of a tune by this name.

Poor But Happy At 53 has been added to 4 tune sets.

Poor But Happy At 53 has been added to 145 tunebooks.

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Nine settings

X: 1
T: Poor But Happy At 53
R: reel
M: 4/4
L: 1/8
K: Emin
|:EFGA BE E2|BcAc BE E2|DEFG AD D2|ABGB AFGF|
EFGA Be ^df|edBG ABGA|BGDB AFDF|GAFG E2-ED:|
|:edBA Bdef|g2 eg fd Bd|e2-ef g2-ga|gfed e2 ef|
gefd edBA|BGGF GFED|BGDB AFDF|GAFG E4:|
X: 2
T: Poor But Happy At 53
R: reel
M: 4/4
L: 1/8
K: Emin
|: D |EFGA BE ~E2 | BcAc BE ~E2 | DEFG AFDF | AAGB AGFD |
EFGA Beed | edBA BBGA | BEGB ADFA | GEDF ~E3 :|
|: e |edBA BBef | gfed BA B/c/d | edef gbaf | gefd ~e3 f |
eBBA BGEG | BGAF GEGA | BEGB ADFA | GEDF ~E3 :|
X: 3
T: Poor But Happy At 53
R: reel
M: 4/4
L: 1/8
K: Dmix
D3 B AGAB|dGBG AGEG|DEGB AGAB|cA~A2 BG~G2:|
d2 de d4|dBde gedB|cABG AGEG|1(3Bcd ed BAGe:|2(3Bcd ed BAGE||
# Added by Avery .
X: 4
T: Poor But Happy At 53
R: reel
M: 4/4
L: 1/8
K: Emin
|: B, |EFGA BE E/E/E | BcAc BEGE | DEFG AFDF | A/A/A GB AGFD |
EFGA Beed | edBA B/c/B GA | BEGB AD F/G/A | GEDF E^DE :|
|: e |edBA B/c/B ef | gfed BA B/c/d | edef gbaf | gfed e3 f |
eBBA BGEG | BG A/G/F GFEG | BEGB ADFA | GEDF E3 :|
X: 5
T: Poor But Happy At 53
R: reel
M: 4/4
L: 1/8
K: Emin
|:EFGA BE E2|c2 Bc BE E2|DEFG AD D2|ADBD A2 GF|
EFGA B2 ed|edBG A2 GA|BAGB AF F2|GEFD E2 E2:|
|:edBA B2 ef|gfed BA (3Bcd |e3f g3e|f3d e2 ef|
(3gfe fd edBA|BGAF GE E2|BAGB AF F2|GEFD E4:|
# Added by JACKB .
X: 6
T: Poor But Happy At 53
R: reel
M: 4/4
L: 1/8
K: Emin
|:EFGA BE {A/}E2|c2 Bc BE ~E2|DEFG AD {A/}D2|!slide!ADBD AD {A/}GD|
EFGA B2 ed|{a/}edBG {c/}A2 GA|BAGB AF ~F2|{A/}GE{A/}FD E2 E2:|
|:{a/}edBA B2 ef|{a/}gfed BA (3Bcd |{a/}edefg2ze|~f3d ~e3 f|
(3gfe (3fed edBA|{c/}AG{A/}GF GE {A/}E2|BAGB AF ~F2|{A/}GEFD E4:|
X: 7
T: Poor But Happy At 53
R: reel
M: 4/4
L: 1/8
K: Gmin
|:GABc dG G2|e2 de dG G2|FGAB cF F2|cFdF c2 BA|
GABc d2 gf|gfdB c2 Bc|dcBd cA A2|BGAF G2 G2:|
|:gfdc d2 ga|bagf dc (3def |g3a b3g|a3f g2 ga|
(3bag af gfdc|dBcA BG G2|dcBd cA A2|BGAF G4:|
# Added by JACKB .
X: 8
T: Poor But Happy At 53
R: reel
M: 4/4
L: 1/8
K: Emin
R: hornpipe
|: [B,/D/] |E>FG>A B>E^D>E | (3BcB A>c B<E (3GFE | D>EF>G (3ABA D>F | (3ABA ^G>B A<=GF>D |
E2 (3FGA B>ee>^d | e>dB>^A (3BcB G>=A | B<EG>E A<DF>D | G>ED<F E2- E3/ :|
|: e/ |e>dB>^A (3BcB e>f | g>fe>d B>A (3Bcd | e>^de>f g<ba>f | g<fe>^d e2- e>f |
e>BB>^A B>E (3FG=A | B>GA>F G<FE>G | B2 G>B (3ABA F>A | G<EF<D E2- E3/ :|
X: 9
T: Poor But Happy At 53
R: reel
M: 4/4
L: 1/8
K: Emin
EFGA BE3 | B2Ac BAGE | DEFG AD3 | A2BG AGFD |
EFGA Beed | edBA BBGA | B2GB AGFA | (3GFE FD EFGF |
EFGA B2BA | (3Bcd Ac BAGE | DEFG AEE2 | A2BG AGFD |
EFGA B2ed | edBA B2GA | B2 GB AGFA | (3GFE FD E4 ||
edBA (3Bcd ef | e2ef edBA | (3Bcd ef g3a | gfed e3f |
g2fg edBA | B2GB ABcA | B2GB AGFA | (3GFE FD E4 |
edBA (3Bcd ef | e2ef edB2 | (3Bcd ef gabg | agfa geef |
g2fg edBA | BBGB ABcA | B2BG AGFA | (3GFE FD DE3 ||

Thirty-seven comments

On the album "Fonnchaoi", Verena Commins says she learned this tune from Michael Tennyson in Leeds. Goes beautifully in the middle of Fly Fishing Reel and John Burke’s (as first track of Fonnchaoi).

Zina

According to Darach de Brun (thanks to Susan Songer), written by Paidi Ban O’Broin, a flute player from Martin’s Grove, Blackhorse Avenue, in Dublin. He died in 1994.

Michael Tennyson

He is probably the best known musician from Leeds, West Yorkshire. He plays piano accordion and keyboards, and is quite young among other active musicians in the city.

Everyone admires his mighty playing and enormously rich repertoire. Not only the standard version of the very popular session tunes, he also knows very uncommon versions of well-known tunes, and even very old-fashioned tunes which we would never come across through any recording.

He’s, of course, an excellent session player but also plays an important role in the ceili band. Definitely a star in the local music scene.

Here, Here!! I’d like to concur with what’s been said about Michael, a regular visitor to Fleadh Nua in Ennis where many of us have had the opportunity to join him in session. Must be something about the water in Leeds as I can immediately think of another two great piano accordion players (Peter Duffy and John Ferguson) although I think both have now moved to Ireland!

“Poor But Happy at 53”

This is the title we had for this in the 70s, in Dublin, learned originally as a ‘slow reel’ but played both slow and fast ~

tune by Paddy Bawn O’Brien / Paidi Ban O’Broin

Here are the notes as given to me way back when, I think from a session with Paddy Bawn O’Brien (melodeon) and Sean Potts (ex-Chieftain), in Dublin. This is given, in respect, unchanged by any take I might have on this fine tune. The only change is the updating of the ABCs from the way some wrote it back then, myself included. Notes as given to me, unchanged by any take I have on the tune:

K: e minor
|: D |
EFGA B ~E3 | BcAc BE ~E | DEFG AFDF | AAGB AGFD |
EFGA Beed | edBA BBGA | BEGB ADFA | GEDF ~E3 :|
|: e |
edBA BBef | gfed BA (3Bcd | edef gbaf | gefd ~e3 f |
eBBA BGEG | BGAF GEGA | BEGB ADFA | GEDF ~E3 :|

I can’t find my original notes, but beileve from how my memory is weaving this that Paddy wasn’t playing the melodeon this time but was giving the tune to us via flute. There were a few others present, including, if memory serves me right, Paddy’s son, also on flute. But, I could be scrambling things a little, time has passed between now and then… There were around five or six of us present. We took it at roughly around 110 bpm…

Paddy O’Brien has been a big influence on piano accordion players in Leeds. Michael surely plays in Paddy’s style.

Just met Michael last night

He borrowed my accordion and played a couple of great reels. Nice player!

“Poor But Happy at 53” ~ composed by Paddy Bawn O’Brien

Just so the confusions seasoning the comments above don’t leak into the facts. The Paddy Bawn O’Brien who composed this tune as "Poor But Happy at 53" played a B/C box, not piano accordion. To some folks reckoning he was the main person, or at least one of the main squeezers, behind bring in and promoting that tuning ~ B/C. Paddy also played flute beautifully and was a damn nice man, generous with his time and humour.

If that’s the title, why didn’t you submit it as an alternate title?

Donogh Henessy’s Version

Here is how Donogh Hennessy plays it on "Masters of the Irish Guitar." He has changed it to Dmix. He also plays it as a single reel.

X: 1
T: Poor But Happy at 53
M: 4/4
L: 1/8
R: reel
K: Dmix
D3 B AGAB|dGBG AGEG|DEGB AGAB|cA~A2 BG~G2:|
d2 de d4|dBde gedB|cABG AGEG|1(3Bcd ed BAGe:|2(3Bcd ed BAGE||

Posted by .

On second thought, he plays it in Ddor.

Posted by .

Um, Avery, surely you’ve misplaced this? Your abcs bear no resemblance at all to the tune Zina posted here.

Posted .

Weird isn’t it?

That is what Donogh calls it and this is the only tune listed here by this name. The two versions are very differnet. After another listen I think Donogh changed the key to G major, but ends it with a D which is why I am so confused about the mode. The tune is similar, but mine is major, listen to the midis of both. I think I am going to post this as a seperate tune.

Posted by .

What, he call’s it Michaeil Tennyson’s? Then all the more reason to acknowledge it as a different tune. Zina’s original post is actually called Poor But Happy at 53. Verena Commins called it after Tennyson because she learned it from his playing. My guess is Donogh has done the same, but with an entirely different reel.

Posted .

Unseen, it’s a different tune, and very nice one! Yeah, post it as a separate tune. I believe it’s in G.

By the way, when I met Michael and had a few tunes with him last month in Leeds, he told me he sometimes checks this website. He’ll be delighted to find these comments. Be sure to listen to his mighty playing clicking the link I posted above. The banjo player is also a good friend of mine.

Slainte, I tried posting it as a seperate tune but got one of those special messages from Jermey. I may have to try again and indicate in the comments that it is a seperate tune.

Posted by .

“Poor But Happy at 53”

Sorry ‘phantom toggler’, but I thought I had posted the alternate title? That’s the sort of thing I usually do first and then come back later for a comment or two. It is possible in my usual confusion that this time I may have missed doing that, but it is there, and it may or may not have been me that did it?

Paddy was a gentleman and a gentle man, a lovely person, and I think this tune says that too, and the way we had with it, well, that was laid back and relaxed and with humour…

“Poor But Happy at 53” ~ Oh yeah, putting it ‘straight’ ~

The name for this tune is

"Poor But Happy at 53"

~ credit and respect to the composer…

~ and that other slip or mere association, "Michael Tennyson’s", however good a player or nice a person he is ~

~ that ain’t the title!
~ So, if anything, that’s the ‘alternate title’…

“Poor But Happy at 53” ~

I do play this slightly different from the notation I was given, and as offered above. I’ll make some time to notate it out and add it here later…

“Poor But Happy at 53” by Paddy Bawn O’Brien

K: e minor
|: B, |
EFGA BE (3EEE | BcAc BEGE | DEFG AFDF | (3AAA GB AGFD |
EFGA Beed | edBA (3BcB GA | BEGB AD (3FGA | GEDF E^DE :|
|: e |
edBA (3BcB ef | gfed BA (3Bcd | edef gbaf | gfed e3 f |
eBBA BGEG | BG (3AGF GFEG | BEGB ADFA | GEDF E3 :|

Just a few slight alterations…

Not The Raven’s Wing

I disagree, ceol… it’s a different tune. It’s similar, and starts the same, but not close enough to my ears to be the same tune.

Yup, it is amazing what bad memory will do to a tune half remembered…

That’s ok… I only have half a wit.

As is usual, it is the B-part that strays the furthest away… But I take you note. I also consider it a different tune as a result of that, which is why I only give it as a comparison of where things can go over time. I haven’t called it ‘exactly the same tune’, or suggested that, and there’s no way I’d put the title of O’Brien’s tune as an alternate to the "Raven’s Wing"…

Bocht Agus Sona

I learnt this tune from Dublin Piper Martin Nolan in the early 90s. It’s a fantastic tune but Martin’s setting is different again to the one’s given above.
X: 1
T: Bocht Agus Sona
M: 4/4
L: 1/8
R: reel
K: Emin
|:EFGA BE E2|c2 Bc BE E2|DEFG AD D2|ADBD A2 GF|
EFGA B2 ed|edBG A2 GA|BAGB AF F2|GEFD E2 E2:|
|:edBA B2 ef|gfed BA (3Bcd |e3f g3e|f3d e2 ef|
(3gfe fd edBA|BGAF GE E2|BAGB AF F2|GEFD E4:|

Posted by .

Poor but Happy, marching on

Not quite a reel, not quite a hornpipe: More like a march played at tramping tempo? The name of this tune -and the story that goes with it- remind me of Jim Phelan’s description of ‘the tramping gait’ in the opening chapter(s) of his autobiographic novel: The Name’s Phelan.

No…

It’s a reel.

Posted by .

Poor but Happy in 1353?

I like this one a lot; it has a nice "early music" kind of turn to it, despite its modern origins. I can definitely hear it played with shawms, lutes and rebecs.

Personally, I prefer it on the upper end of slow reel tempo, but not quite at a fast/standard reel clip.

Posted by .

By the way…

if you try plugging ceolachan’s June 19th 2005 version in Concertina (and, perhaps, other converters) be sure to change the key to E minor (a lower case e gives you, for some reason, E flat major!).

Posted by .

Bocht Agus Sona

Martin Nolan’s version transcribed from this CD.

X: 5
T: Poor But Happy At 53
R: reel
M: 4/4
L: 1/8
K: Emin
|:EFGA BE {A/}E2|c2 Bc BE ~E2|DEFG AD {A/}D2|!slide!ADBD AD {A/}GD|
EFGA B2 ed|{a/}edBG {c/}A2 GA|BAGB AF ~F2|{A/}GE{A/}FD E2 E2:|
|:{a/}edBA B2 ef|{a/}gfed BA (3Bcd |{a/}edefg2ze|~f3d ~e3 f|
(3gfe (3fed edBA|{c/}AG{A/}GF GE {A/}E2|BAGB AF ~F2|{A/}GEFD E4:|

X: 8 “Poor But Happy At 53”

I avoided admitting and submitting that I am often tempted to swing this, and even throw in an occasional snap. I still love it, as I still do the memory of the great character behind it. I so wish we’d had more time together, including the offer to learn a few steps. I so wish I’d recorded it all now, but then part of my attention would be in part distracted to that.

Thanks for all the music!

Poor But Happy At 53, X:9

Setting 9 is from the playing of Michel Sikiotakis on the video, 1st round