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Give us a song there will ya

GUEST 22 Nov 19 - 10:27 AM
GUEST,HiLo 22 Nov 19 - 12:13 PM
Joe Offer 22 Nov 19 - 02:08 PM
StephenH 22 Nov 19 - 02:13 PM
GUEST,jim bainbridge 23 Nov 19 - 06:05 AM
Mo the caller 23 Nov 19 - 06:54 AM
Mo the caller 23 Nov 19 - 06:58 AM
GUEST 05 Mar 21 - 06:28 AM
Steve Gardham 05 Mar 21 - 08:27 AM
Charmion 05 Mar 21 - 10:31 AM
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Subject: Give us a song there will ya
From: GUEST
Date: 22 Nov 19 - 10:27 AM

Give us a song there will ya. An order or a request?

It struck me while reading the thread about the current state of folk, that I don't seem to remember reading here at mudcat about people singing at home, at parties and family gatherings etc., when they were growing up.

My parents were from Ireland, mother from Galway City and father from 10-12 miles outside. They came over here in the 50s and settled down in the south east of England and raised a family of 5. Most of my relations were in Ireland and we did not get to see them that often in our early years but whenever we did, at some point in the evening people would be singing. It was nearly always unaccompanied singing, older songs not necessarily folk songs.

Not everyone would sing. Not everyone would listen either. At family gatherings you would be catching up with those you had not seen in a while, plus of course the drink would be flowing. I can remember one time after a wedding, an aunt of mine turning around to me and my cousin to say she wish she had some raw spuds to shove in our mouths to shut us up.

My sister would be asked to sing. She often said that people might request a song but then only listen to the first couple of verses. But people did sing, they did listen, but not all the time and the songs added to the enjoyment of the gathering.

I am sure that others here would have had the same sort of experience.


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Subject: RE: Give us a song there will ya
From: GUEST,HiLo
Date: 22 Nov 19 - 12:13 PM

That was very common in our very large and extended family, also Irish on My Fathers Side. We sang a lot, sometimes to an old, out of tune upright piano. I recall many of the songs, Rose of Tralee, The Minstrel Boy, Star of The County Down...also lots of Stephen Foster songs, Hard Times, Gentle Annie, camptown Races , yes, very good times. And many world war 11 songs, especially Vera Lyn. People would often recite a poem, Yeats or Stevenson, I had an uncle who did an annual recitation of The Battle of Lepanto, kept us all on the edge of seats even though we'd heard it dozens of times and, my mum did Fred Franakopan and the Biggest Aspidastra in the world. I wonder if people still recite stories and poems ?
Anyway, thanks for starting this, it should be a pleasant thread, hope others take it up.


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Subject: RE: Give us a song there will ya
From: Joe Offer
Date: 22 Nov 19 - 02:08 PM

I don't remember singing before we moved to Wisconsin and I joined the Catholic school choir in fifth grade, at the age of 11...but I must have, because I've always known all the nursery rhymes and the melodies for them.

In school, we'd get out of class to sing for funerals - Gregorian chant, of course. I joined the Boy Scouts about the same time, and we did a lot of singing in Scouts. I loved Scout camp, especially singing.

My one sister was in choirs and then a camp counselor, and she claims to know every Girl Scout song there is. My other sister, the glamorous one, starred in high school musicals. My two brothers never sang much, but music has always been part of their lives. One plays guitar and worked for many years booking music acts. The other is a big fan, and introduced me to a number of good music acts. My dad would burst into song at any given moment, usually singing hymns or songs from the Great American Songbook. I knew all the beer commercial jingles, and we would serenade our parents with beer songs on long car trips.

I was in a Catholic seminary for 8 years, and we had music all the time, everywhere. We had folk groups and rock bands, and the usual choirs. I had music class every semester from kindergarten through graduation from college. My German professor also taught music, so we learned a lot of German songs. During college, I worked as a camp counselor. I paired up with another counselor named Joe McCarthy (he claimed to be related to the Senator), and we led the singing at campfires and did a Smothers Brothers act.

I was a Scout leader for about 20 years after college, and got to be known as "Crazy Joe, that guy that sings." I'd make up songs to annoy my kids, and I went to their classrooms to sing and tell stories and recruit Cub Scouts.

I found myself single again at the age of 44, and soon found the Sacramento Family Song Circle. I still sing with them one Friday a month. We sing from the Rise Up Singing Songbook, and it is rumored that I know every song in the book. Since 2014, I have worked as a volunteer for the editors of that songbook, and we now have two other books, Rise Again and a Pete Seeger songbook - I do the lyrics research. Oh, and I'm still in the church choir, and I'm now in three singaround groups and sing at nursing homes and such.

My passion is community singing, and I guess I've been known as a song leader since I was in college. It feels like community singing is a lost tradition, but I still sing every day and sing with groups a couple of times a week or more.

-Crazy Joe-


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Subject: RE: Give us a song there will ya
From: StephenH
Date: 22 Nov 19 - 02:13 PM

Both my Mother and her mam(who came to Canada with my parents
and lived with us) loved to sing.
They were born in Yorkshire and Northumberland, respectively.
They favoured hymns but also taught us a number of songs which I think must have been Music Hall-type songs. I don't remember the proper titles but they were the likes of "Down Went McGinty", "The Touree on His Bonnet", "Sweet Germany"
(The latter confused me as my grandmother sang: "Germany, sweet Germany,
the little 'Dootch' boy sang" I didn't understand why a Dutch boy was singing about Germany - of course it was her pronunciation of 'Deutsch')

We sang in the home but my favourite memories are of singing on car trips - even just the Sunday afternoon ones we took after Sunday dinner.
When Peter, Paul & Mary came along we learned a lot of the songs off their lps and sang those. (whatever one may think of them, they certainly had a style conducive to the easy transmission of those songs.)
The only songs I remember my father singing were the "Whiffenpoof Song"
and one which went:

"oh (Stephen's) a funny 'un
He's got a face like a pickled onion,
a nose like a squashed tomato,
and two legs like props"

Not a favourite of mine!

I agree that this is a nice idea for a thread. thanks.


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Subject: RE: Give us a song there will ya
From: GUEST,jim bainbridge
Date: 23 Nov 19 - 06:05 AM

This is a very healthy thread- we had regular musical family parties around the piano- my Uncle Tom was a pianist with the Boldon Banjo Band- 'As Time Goes' was his favourite- a great Trailer LP of the band with Bob Davenport exists!) They played every Tuesday at the 'Boldon Lad' pub in Boldon Colliery, where he worked.
My grandad's turn was 'Down the Road went Polly' and 'Wor Nanny's a Mazer- uncle Bob did the 'Spaniard who blighted my life' and the The Ballad of Bethnal Green'    (still in my repertoire!)- another uncle played the concertina & swung it about on the 'Bells of St Mary's' long before Alistair Anderson! Myself and two sisters had party pieces, but I can't recall what- it's over 60 years ago!
These parties were probably declining by the sixties, but with the start of the Marsden Folk Club in 1963, morphed into something different. Club guests often stayed with us & we three Bainbridges were into the 'revival' by then, so after the club, visiting guests like Fred Jordan, Bob Davenport, 'auld' Davy Stewart, Paddy Tunney, Christy Moore & Finbar & Eddie Furey were well able to contribute to a new version of a family party, aided by jokes & songs by my dad, who loved it all!
happy days- today's are OK as well, mind you!


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Subject: RE: Give us a song there will ya
From: Mo the caller
Date: 23 Nov 19 - 06:54 AM

I think singing round the piano was killed by people starting to watch tele. I remember cycling to visit an uncle who had just got one and we watched one programme after another. I suppose that would be mid/ late 50s.
I certainly can remember family parties where we went round the room and every one did a turn.
Uncle Alf sang 'Seated one day at the Organ' or recited 'The touch of the Masters Hand' (a poem about an old violin).
Uncle Cliff pretended that his performing flea had escaped (but when he finally caught it it wasn't his flea at all)
The aunts played songs for us to sing (it was the girls who had had piano lessons)
The children went outside and invented and rehearsed little plays.
At the tea table we sang a song for everyone there - K-k-k Katie for my mother, Hang on the bell Nellie, Little old lady passing by for my grandma etc.
The song that evokes those Christmases most is Loves Old Sweet Song.


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Subject: RE: Give us a song there will ya
From: Mo the caller
Date: 23 Nov 19 - 06:58 AM

Twenty years later I joined a Folk Dance Club, and twice a year we have a party where people do turns, a song, a tune or recitation. It brought back the atmosphere of those parties.


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Subject: RE: Give us a song there will ya
From: GUEST
Date: 05 Mar 21 - 06:28 AM

'one singer, one song' was often the cry to a noisy crowd by the unofficial organiser at lively Glasgow pub sing songs.

Another one, very gently asking for an end to sectarian songs, was

'c'mon boys, it's nice to be nice'


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Subject: RE: Give us a song there will ya
From: Steve Gardham
Date: 05 Mar 21 - 08:27 AM

I was aware of this sort of gathering very early in my life and by the 60s I was savvy enough to try to get as much recorded as possible even if all I could afford was the cheapest Phillips little reel to reel. All of that material is now cleaned up and deposited in the British Library Sound Archive for posterity. My maternal grandparents both sang mainly Music Hall from the 1890s and parodies, but the odd trad song like The Derby Ram as well. And we had the old upright in the front room so any excuse for a knees-up was taken up. My mother sang stuff she'd learnt as a child, 'Still I love him' 'I wish I was single again', and wartime songs and lullabies. My uncles who were in the Navy in the Korean War knew lots of trad stuff that was sung in the sods operas, 'Died for Love' etc. I filled notebooks with street rhymes, games and songs, and then when a little older filled more notebooks with rugby songs from playing rugby and being in the ATC.
This led me into investigating the singing pubs where I found old salts who had rounded Cape Horn and sang chanties, and from there out into the surrounding villages recording old traditional songs in rural areas.

Hull, Yorkshire.


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Subject: RE: Give us a song there will ya
From: Charmion
Date: 05 Mar 21 - 10:31 AM

My grandmother (born 1902) was a pianist of great talent and skill. She required both her daughters and all her grandchildren to sing, and she would tolerate our efforts to learn to play instruments that were not the piano.

When she got bored at parties, which was frequently, she would sit down at the piano (there was always a piano in those days) and start to play show tunes -- and not simple ones, either. Noel Coward, Jerome Kern, the Gershwins and Cole Porter were her favourites, and I remember leaning over her shoulder to turn pages and singing "Love For Sale" at an unsuitably early age. At a certain point she would summon somebody to the piano and strike up what she considered that person's party piece, not necessarily what that person particularly wanted to sing at that moment but what the hey, she was a force of Nature.

At Christmas, there was always at least an hour but often more of working through the Oxford Book of Carols, especially the more recherche items.

The net effect of this practice was that I have always been able to stand up and perform without qualm. I know about stage fright, but I have never experienced it; disappointing Grandma was a bad idea, so I learned to pin my ears back and sing.

On the whole, very valuable training.


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