Earworms! Yes – lets have a month of them!
This week then, the much recorded Music for a Found Harmonium. This catchy piece was written by Simon Jeffes and released in 1984 on Broadcasting from Home, the fourth album by the Penguin Cafe Orchestra.
The story of the writing of this tune bears retelling (from the Penguin Cafe Orchestra’s website): “In early 1982, they went to Japan, a country which held a particular fascination for Simon Jeffes, not least because it was the home of Zen Buddhism, his religion of choice. After the tour ended he stayed on in Tokyo working with the composer Ryuichi Sakamoto, then went to the ancient city of Kyoto where serendipity intervened again to inspire one of his best known pieces. “Walking one evening I found a harmonium on top of other bits of scrap wood apparently discarded in the street. On contacting the owner who was indifferent to its future. I took possession.” Music For A Found Harmonium was the outcome a few weeks later, since which time the tune has taken on a life of its own. Now a firm favourite in Celtic folk circles, it remains the Penguins’ most convincing example of “imaginary folklore.””
It is indeed a firm favourite in Celtic folk circles having been recorded by Sharon Shannon, De Dannan, Kevin Burke and Patrick Street to name but a few. The version I have and am posting today is by Patrick Street and comes from their album Live from Patrick Street recorded during their 1998 tour of Britain and Ireland.
I hope that this tune worms its way into your ears, just as it has in mine!
Finally whilst talking of earworms, I see that, in 2006, The Guardian listed Tight Fit’s The Lion Sleeps Tonight – a version of Mbube by Solomon Linda’s Original Evening Birds – as a top ten earworm. I know which version of this song I’d rather have buzzing around in between my ears!
A quick post this week as I’ve been busy with family visitations and celebrations.
I don’t have a version of Happy Birthday to You in my collection and so I’m going with a theme of Happy Music. And as Sharon Shannon was on Transatlantic Sessions on Friday and her music fits the theme well, I’m posting Bungee Jumpers from her 1994 CD Out the Gap.
This track is in fact a medley of a traditional American tune, The Fisherman’s Lilt, a French Canadian tune Delicato and a tune written by American fiddler, Rodney Miller.
I’ve seen Sharon Shannon in concert just the once and she was great. The venue was a rather staid concert hall but the music and the personalities in the band soon livened things up. I’m not saying that it was exactly as a crowded Irish pub but as near to it as the venue would allow.
If you get a chance to see Sharon Shannon in concert, I would certainly recommend it. Unfortunately, for the next month or two, this advice is only useful to residents of, or travellers, to Ireland and Australia.
On Friday night, we watched, on BBC Four, “So Hard to Beat – The story of Northern Ireland’s rock and pop over the last four decades – featuring exclusive interviews with Van Morrison, Snow Patrol, Gary Moore, Stiff Little Fingers, The Undertones and many more.”Great fun!
After that, and before I dragged myself off to bed I watched again (some of) “BBC Four Sessions Van Morrison – Van Morrison plays live at St Luke’s in London, backed by a full band.” (I like that “ … backed by a full band”.)
Van Morrison is a thread running through my musical life from watching Them’s “Here Comes the Night” on Top of the Pops, through blasting out “Moondance”, “Astral Weeks”, “Too Late to Stop Now” etc at the least opportunity, to watching a balding, sixty-something year old have the audience eating out of his hand at the St Lukes venue.
The London Gypsy Orchestra album launch was a huge success. We attended the Family Concert and the Ceilidh and Jam Session. Both were well attended and appreciated by the audience / participants.
It was fun to watch the small children at the concert. Lots of them danced and lots of them just stood really close to the musicians and stared. The photo here gives you some idea – but most of the time there were far more children on their feet in front of the orchestra.
I was surprised how well the Ceilidh and Jam Session went. I had my doubts about how it would work, teaching musicians to play the tunes and dancers to dance to them at the same time. But it worked surprisingly well. I even broke my lifetime rule and took to the dance floor. I was absolutely rubbish but enjoyed myself anyway!
My sources in the London Gypsy Orchestra tell me that the Evening Concert was a tremendous success too. It was sold out, the audience loved the music and the dance floor was full. Congratulations to all concerned, all the work leading up to the day and on the day itself must have seemed well rewarded.
If your appetite has been whetted the next two concerts are the Notting Hill Mayfest on Sunday May 24 and a concert at Blackheath Halls on Friday June 19. See here for details.
I’m not a great Waterboys fan, truth to tell I don’t know a whole lot about the group or their music but I do love this album.
I got to know it when I sold all my LPs and bought a CD player. The children were young at the time, we did not have very much money and CD players (and CDs) were quite costly then. But in a life laundry moment; I sold all my albums, bought a CD player and pledged that I would, over time, repurchase all the albums that were important to me on CD.
Now having forked out for the player, I couldn’t afford to buy many CDs straight away, so I bought a couple of cheapies to test out the technology and then hit the local libraries to borrow their CDs till I could build my collection up again.
One of the first CDs I borrowed was Room to Roam by the Waterboys. I loved it straight away, it seemed to convey the time and the place in which it was recorded. No track represents that feeling better than Song From The End Of The World. You can hear the “furious music”and “the sound of feet beating on a stone floor” and you can see all this magic happening through the “open door” of a farmhouse in Ireland. Well, I can and I hope you can too.