The Nervous Man reel

By Paddy O’Brien

There are 15 recordings of this tune.

This tune has been recorded together with

The Nervous Man appears in 1 other tune collection.

The Nervous Man has been added to 10 tune sets.

The Nervous Man has been added to 83 tunebooks.

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Three settings

X: 1
T: The Nervous Man
R: reel
M: 4/4
L: 1/8
K: Gmix
BdcA BG~G2|DGBd g^fde|=f2c_B AF~F2|CFAc fagf|
d2cA BG~G2|DGBd gdBd|cFAc fage|1 fdcA G3A:|2 fdcA G2 (3ABc||
K: Gmaj
|:dg~g2 fgaf|gfdc ABcA|dg~g2 fdfa|gbaf ~g3a|
gfdc AG~G2|AdcA GFDE|=FGAc fage|1 =fdcA G2 (3ABc:|2 =fdcA G3A||
X: 2
T: The Nervous Man
R: reel
M: 4/4
L: 1/8
K: Dmix
FAGE FD~D2|A,DFA d^cAB|c2G=F EC~C2|G,CEG cedc|
A2GE FD~D2|A,DFA dAFA|GCEG cedc|1 cAGE D2 AG:|2 cAGE D2 dc||
K: Dmaj
|:Ad~d2 cdec|d2AG EFGE|Ad~d2 cdec|d2ce defe|
d2AG EADA|EAGE DCA,B,|=C2EG cedc|1 =cAGE D2 d^c:|2 =cAGE D2 AG||
X: 3
T: The Nervous Man
R: reel
M: 4/4
L: 1/8
K: Gmaj
|:BdcA BG G2|DGBd gfde|f2cB AF F2|cFAc fagf|
d2cA BG G2|DGBd gdBd|cFAc fagf|1 fdcA G2 dc:|2 fdcA G2 gf||
|:dg g2 fgaf|g2dc ABcA|dg g2 fgaf|g2fa gaba|
g2dc AdGd|AdcA GFDE|=F2Ac ^fagf|1 fdcA G2 g^f:|2 fdcA G2 dc||
# Added by JACKB .

Twenty-three comments

The Nervous Man

By Paddy O‘Brien of Tipperary. Compare with “Bill McEvoy’s” by Sean Ryan: Watch the change to Gmaj (F#s) in the 2nd parts of both. This setting is a combination of the nicest bits of a few different versions, including those of Micheal O’Raghallaigh, Russell from the Blue Mountains (I know you’re lurking there somewhere, thanks for the tunes @ NFF Canberra 2003!), plus a few of my own.

Finally got round to sitting myself down and learning this with the help of CD/dots. I was always scared of it because the 1st part’s almost identical to the afore-mentioned Bill McEvoy’s. It’s going to take a lot of practice to be able to play both at will, especially for purposes of a session - *sigh*…

Chicken or egg?

Some people suspect one of these guys (O’Brien and Ryan) might have plagiarized the other. I think they knew each other. Anyone care to speculate?

According to Fiddler’s Companion, they knew each other and were related by marriage. I wonder whether the A-parts are similar because a) one heard the other’s composition and found himself playing it one day and thought he’d composed it himself, or b) after hearing the other’s composition, one thought “I can make a better job of writing a B-part to that”, or c) one learnt the other’s composition, went home and forgot the B-part, so wrote another himself so that he could still play the tune, and then other people picked up the new tune. I can’t think that it was deliberate plagiarism. Why would either of them do that as fantastic tune writers? I also wonder about the chicken or egg thing, as in which came first…

It was the egg, Dow, but it wasn’t deliberate.

I learned the Nervous Man first, and now I’m trying the other one. There’s a distinct departure point in the A part for me -- I think I’ll be able to keep them seperate. But I think I would only play the tunes early in the night before I down too many pints.

I went to a session at Cruises in Ennis that Tommy was hosting and he asked me for a tune. I suggested Kit O’Conner’s and he asked me what I like to play after it -- I shrugged -- so he suggested McFadden’s Handsome Daughter with a twinkle in his eye. Next time I see Tommy at a sesh and he asks me for a tune -- I know what I’ll play -- these two bloody tunes. I don’t know how to make my eyes twinkle though.

Jack, hang on, don’t learn the other one yet. I’m thinking I might have the mode wrong through hearing one of them at a session and confusing them. I read somewhere that the A-part of the Sean Ryan one is in Gdor with Bb’s. I’m not sure of this so I’ve ordered a load of books with the definitive versions in, and am waiting for them to arrive in the post. If I had it wrong I’ll post here and let you know as soon as I get them.

PS your eyes will have gone dull and twinkleless because you play anglo. Get an English and get that sparkle back 🙂

Oh brother… all you get when you play english system is tinkle in yer eyes. Hey Dow, which one do you like best? And did you compare this version to the one in Sean Ryan’s book -- there’s a few differences.

I can’t decide - I like them both. I haven’t got Sean Ryan’s book(s). I’m still waiting for them to arrive. Have you got them? Can you tell me where the differences are? I don’t think I can wait till I get the book! (Please? I promise never to say bad stuff about anglos ever again)


Will you finally give up that english mousetrap and get a real concertina?

I have a real concertina - my English.
I don’t like the look of this. I think you’re taking advantage.
Maybe I’ll just be happy to wait for the books to arrive than be seen to be begging favours from an anglo player.
I don’t know what came over me…

Hey you know what… I really like this McEvoy tune… especially the way Sean has it in his book. It fits the concertina like a glove. I think I like this tune better than The Nervous Man now… especially the B part.

Just remember you have an English concertina player to thank for drawing your attention to it enough to want to learn it!

It was Gearoid that brought my attention to it originally, and he plays ANGLO! hahahahahaha So I’ll post the abcs for the McEvoy’s No. 1 one that page then?

Yeah, suppose, if you can be bothered, or find it in your heart to do so.

There there Dow… things will be looking up as soon as you get your anglo. 😀

I wouldn’t stoop that low if I had a million dollars!

I’ve been thinking about these two tunes today and I have a theory that I might have been correct with scenario “a”, and that this tune came into existence before McEvoy’s. I have 2 main reasons for saying this: 1) although the B-parts of both tunes flow beautifully from the A-parts and are well-written, the B-part of Nervous Man seems to carry through some of the melodic and rhythmic ideas and atmosphere of the A-part more than McEvoy’s, e.g. that turn that goes BdcA or AdcA, and the fact that the endings match, and 2) there’s evidence to suggest that Sean Ryan may have done this type of thing before, e.g. The Dawn/Twilight In Portroe. What do people think?

Come to think of it maybe Sean Ryan’s tunes have more of a tendency to contain B-parts that differ completely in mood (The Abbeyleix springs to mind).

My experience

I first heard this tune on Micheal O‘Raghallaigh’s debut album of the same title. I never really took much notice of it until I heard it again on Trian’s album. I listened a lot to that album and the tune went into my subconscious. A few weeks or maybe months on, I got Tim Collins’ Dancing on Silver album and heard his rendition of Bill McEvoy’s and I was sure I’d heard this before. I couldn’t trace any other recordings I had of this tune so maybe I had it in a book or something, but no, I had confused it with The Nervous Man.

Up until this morning, neither tune was in my repertoire but I learnt Trian’s version of The Nervous Man earlier on. It’s a really nice tune on banjo (and probably more instruments.)

Bill McEvoy’s is nice too and, having read these comments, I think your guess is as good as mine on the chicken and egg situation. It is an interesting debate but unfortunately both composers are no longer with us. See what Eileen O’Brien has to say?

The Nervous Man

The nervous man was accordionist Willie Fogarty, a member of the Ormond Ceili Band.