Category: music

One Eileen to Rule Them All: 30 Different Versions of Come On Eileen

A friend posted about a polka version of Come On Eileen yesterday on Facebook, and suddenly it reminded me of my personal favorite version (the ska cover by Save Ferris.) And so of course I had to look it up on YouTube, which led me to poke around to see what other covers of the song were done. A different friend does a yearly Christmas carol bracket challenge, where she posts about 30-40 different versions of the same carol. They’re paired up one by one, and people vote to determine which is the best version. She’s done it for years, and I always am entertained to see the sheer variety of versions out there.

And that made me wonder. “Just how many different versions of Come On Eileen are out there?” We’re talking significantly different. People who aren’t just playing the song like a cover, but who really added their own flavor to it. Thankfully, the internet was invented so I could answer this sort of question quickly and easily. And because I personally found it fascinating, I’m here today to share those results with you. I don’t think I’ll set up a whole bracket or anything (because that’s seriously a huge endeavor), but I’d like to do a poll to see which version you like the most. One vote per person. Vote on here, Twitter, or Facebook, but only vote once.

Before we begin, a warning. There are sooooooo many versions of Come On Eileen out there. Seriously. The farther I went, the more versions popped up. This is the tip of the iceberg, folks. It makes me wonder how many covers there are of other quintessential 80s songs out there, but I’m afraid to go looking. For today’s post, we’re just looking at this one, and just the ones I found that stood out to me the most.

Ready?

First off, of course, we have the original. Recorded in 1982 by the Dexys Midnight Runners, it was all over the 80s. It sets the stage for everything that comes after, and I still think it’s one of the best versions out there. How can you go wrong with the original?

The cover song I’d already heard and preferred heading into this deep dive was the one by Save Ferris:

But then I came across this one by Ala’SKA, and it really impressed me as well:

And I’d be remiss to omit the version that started me down this rabbit hole. Polkadelphia’s polka arrangement:

But what if you don’t like 80s music? What if you’re in the mood for something a little more . . . heavy? There’s this version by The Venetia Fair:

BluePearl made a rock version:

Texas decided to take that edge off and add more of . . . something else:

There are also more independent efforts out there, brought to us by the wonders of YouTube. How about this broken down synth/guitar version? I really like the groove it gets into.

Then again, what do a synthesizer and a guitar have when they’re up against two guitars, a snare drum, and . . . an accordion? Schank has this almost unseen version from what appears to be a sports bar in Bonn.

There are also version that jettison instruments completely. Here’s a standard a capella group approach by Streetcorner Symphony:

Then again, maybe you liked that version, but thought what it really needed was skateboards? No problem. The X-Factor has your back.

We can do the reverse, of course. Ditch the singing and focus on just an instrument. Like, say, a guitar:

The only problem is . . . I’ve got a fever. And the only prescription, is more mandolin. (Seriously. Way more.)

Or was it more brass?

No. It was definitely more cellos. (Included for Daniela’s listening pleasure.)

Speaking of banjos, this version was one that actually really impressed me.

This one deserves a mention, because who can’t get behind a sports arena organ?

The more I searched–the deeper I dove–the more convinced I became that there’s pretty much a Come On Eileen version done in any style you could imagine. How about . . . harp?

Chamber quartet?

Then there’s this one, that . . . I have a hard time putting into words. Slow down the song, take out most of the instruments, and add a lot more breathiness:

What about people who are huge Minecraft fans? Isn’t there a place for them in all this Eileen madness? Of course there is!

How about Atari, instead?

Then again, I know there are some people out there who listened to Mambo No. 5 and decided they wanted more Lou Bega. He heard their call:

What about fans of Sugarland and Sara Bareilles? Yup. They’ve covered it too:

But perhaps you heard the original, and you thought it was way too edgy. You wanted to make it something . . . more appropriate. I have a hard time describing what Michael English did to the song . . .

Don’t you love the violin at the beginning of the original? Doesn’t it give you serious Irish music vibes? Well, what if we swapped it with a penny whistle and translated the song into Irish Gaelic? Wish granted!

Or maybe you don’t care for music that much, but what you really like is England soccer? The band 4-4-2 adapted the song into an anthem for England in the European Championships in 2004. It generally follows the original, but has completely new words.

There are other straight up spoofs out there. I mean, what do you do when you realize COVID-19 matches up exactly with “Come On, Eileen”?

But that can’t be the only spoof, can it? Of course not. There are more spoofs out there (so many more). Even the Count gets in on the action:

I’m going to spare you from the rest of them. Instead, let’s bring this full circle. The original band (now named just Dexys) was still performing and touring through the mid-2010’s at least. (They released their fifth album then, even.) And here they are in 2012 performing live.

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Like what you’ve read? Please consider supporting me on Patreon. Thanks to all my Patrons who support me! It only takes a minute or two, and then it’s automatic from there on out. I’ve posted the entirety of my book ICHABOD in installments, and I’m now putting up chapters from PAWN OF THE DEAD, another of my unreleased books. Where else are you going to get the undead and muppets all in the same YA package? Check it out.

If you’d rather not sign up for Patreon, you can also support the site by clicking the MEMORY THIEF Amazon link on the right of the page. That will take you to Amazon, where you can buy my books or anything else. During that visit, a portion of your purchase will go to me. It won’t cost you anything extra.

Mid-Maine Youth Orchestra

Back in . . . September? October? I can no longer keep my dates straight. In any case, back in the fall, Tomas and Daniela decided that they’d like to try out of the Mid-Maine Youth Orchestra, on the off chance that the group would actually be able to do something this year. It’s a regional ensemble that Tomas had tried out for once before, but this time they had more time, and they figured they could put more work into the audition pieces.

After much practice and recording of their auditions, they were accepted into the group around December, as I recall. And in January, it was decided they could actually get the group together, though this year it would only be strings who could play. (Sorry, woodwinds.) Now, two months of weekly practices later, they’re set for their one performance, which will happen tonight at 7pm Eastern time on Facebook. (You can watch it here, if you’re so inclined.)

I’m glad they were able to do something, and I’m looking forward to watching and hearing how it all comes together. They had to follow COVID guidelines for Maine, which meant fewer than 50 people in the space at any one time, six feet apart, and lots of cleaning. But it’s been wonderful to have something approaching normalcy (and amazing to realize just how little it takes for that to qualify these days). I believe they’ve enjoyed it as well. At the very least, it’s given them something to do that’s not skiing, and it’s not like they can ski all day every day (no matter how much Denisa and they might wish that were otherwise.)

Anyway. Just thought I’d spread the word. Tune in with me tonight and watch for Tomas on violin and Daniela on cello. Great job, guys!

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Like what you’ve read? Please consider supporting me on Patreon. Thanks to all my Patrons who support me! It only takes a minute or two, and then it’s automatic from there on out. I’ve posted the entirety of my book ICHABOD in installments, and I’m now putting up chapters from PAWN OF THE DEAD, another of my unreleased books. Where else are you going to get the undead and muppets all in the same YA package? Check it out.

If you’d rather not sign up for Patreon, you can also support the site by clicking the MEMORY THIEF Amazon link on the right of the page. That will take you to Amazon, where you can buy my books or anything else. During that visit, a portion of your purchase will go to me. It won’t cost you anything extra.

Performing in Church

Tomas and DC were asked to perform yesterday for our local congregation’s Christmas program. Well, I suppose it would read better if I wrote “Tomas and DC were volunteered by me to perform,” because I sort of readily threw them under the bus. It’s just they’d done such a good job last time, I thought it would be great for them to have another shot, especially with more months of lessons under their belt. The piece this time was “The First Noel.” The arrangement in our hymnbook turned out to be too tricky in some spots for DC, and I needed to have them do something to spice up the second verse, so I once again dipped my toe into arranging the music myself.

(Side note: the tool I used this time was Muse Score, and I was really impressed with how easy it was to use and compose in it. I have pretty much no composition background. I don’t really get chords at all. I just listen to music, and I can tell when I like something. That’s about it. Muse Score let me listen to the music as I arranged it, and that was a life saver. Then it let me print out specific parts, and tweak as needed. All for free. It was wonderful.)

I didn’t arrange anything too flashy. The basic idea was have the violin play the melody and the cello the bass part, and then for the second verse flip those around, with the violin playing backup to the cello. The trick was that some of the bass part was too much for both Tomas and DC, at least to handle with the short practice time we had left. So I basically asked them what notes and transitions they could comfortably handle, and then I made changes as needed.

However, I felt kind of guilty as I printed off the music and had them play it for the first time. Yes, I was doing some work, but I was making them do something they might not really want to do. So then I decided I might play with them. I still have my tenor sax, but something told me a violin, cello, and tenor saxophone trio . . . might not exactly be a perfect pairing. On the other hand, I also still have the recorder I got in 2nd grade, and the fingers on the recorder are pretty close to the fingerings on a saxophone. And a recorder has a nice renaissance-y flair when it’s paired with the stringed instruments.

So I added a part and made it a trio. We practiced it through a few times, and it ended up going quite well. (Once I realized I had been consistently using the wrong fingering for a note I kept thinking DC was playing sharp. I was playing it flat. Whoops.) The last time I’d performed on the recorder in public was probably my second grade(?) concert in elementary school. A shout out to Mr. Potter, my music teacher back then. He did a wonderful job getting kids excited about music. (Well, at least he did a wonderful job with me. I suppose I can’t vouch for the rest of the kids. I was in second grade . . .)

Anyway, it was fun to perform again, and I’m glad I’ve got kids who are game for it. Maybe we’ll do it again sometime. Merry Christmas, everyone!

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Like what you’ve read? Please consider supporting me on Patreon. Thanks to all my Patrons who support me! It only takes a minute or two, and then it’s automatic from there on out. I’ve posted the entirety of my book ICHABOD in installments, and I’m now putting up chapters from PAWN OF THE DEAD, another of my unreleased books. Where else are you going to get the undead and muppets all in the same YA package? Check it out.

If you’d rather not sign up for Patreon, you can also support the site by clicking the MEMORY THIEF Amazon link on the right of the page. That will take you to Amazon, where you can buy my books or anything else. During that visit, a portion of your purchase will go to me. It won’t cost you anything extra.

An Evening with the Fiddlers and Fàrsan

Franklin County Fiddlers season is ramping up, and last night we got to go watch the Fiddlers perform, followed by a performance by a touring Celtic group: Fàrsan. They’d come and done a workshop with the Fiddlers before the performance, and I was really impressed with the show they all put on.

I’ve said it before, and I’ll say it again: I did not grow up a fan of fiddle music. My musical background is way more centered in jazz and orchestra. Fiddle music, to a person used to improv and complex orchestration, often comes across to me as repetitive. Same with Celtic music. If it weren’t for the enthusiasm Mr. Muise (Tomas’s teacher) has for the genre, I don’t think there’s a way I would have normally come to like it.

And yet somehow I find myself really enjoying it and beginning to appreciate the nuances of it. It’s a big testament to how infectious a true love of something can be, as well as how much it helps to become familiar with something before you dismiss it off hand. Too often, I think we end up missing out on opportunities to love something just because the first impression wasn’t the best, or because we judge it before we have a chance to truly pay attention to it.

Fàrsan was a fantastic group, for example. It’s a quartet: vocalist, flute/bagpipes, pianist, and a fiddler. They played for around an hour, covering songs from lullabyes to jigs, and they were all amazing. We were in a fairly small auditorium, and Denisa and I were on the front row, so it felt like we were right there in the thick of things. The songs were all sung in Gaelic (I think?), and the group did a great job giving the context for the music. What it meant, where it came from, etc.

And the more I go to these concerts and listen to fiddle music, the more I’m able to appreciate the skill level that goes into it. It was fun this year to see Tomas be so much more at ease with the performance aspect of it all, a contrast that was easy to see since there were some members of Fiddlers who were performing for just the second time. Once you can get to the point that you’re not just playing a series of connected notes, but playing actual music with meaning and feelings, it’s such a step up. Now that I’ve been to more performances in this genre, I’m able to get into it much more.

Anyway, I wanted to thank Fàrsan for stopping by our high school as part of their first American tour. I thoroughly enjoyed their set, and I encourage you to give them a listen. Here’s a link to their bandcamp page, and a YouTube video they did not too long ago.

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Like what you’ve read? Please consider supporting me on Patreon. Thanks to all my Patrons who support me! It only takes a minute or two, and then it’s automatic from there on out. I’ve posted the entirety of my book ICHABOD in installments, and I’m now putting up chapters from PAWN OF THE DEAD, another of my unreleased books. Where else are you going to get the undead and muppets all in the same YA package? Check it out.

If you’d rather not sign up for Patreon, you can also support the site by clicking the MEMORY THIEF Amazon link on the right of the page. That will take you to Amazon, where you can buy my books or anything else. During that visit, a portion of your purchase will go to me. It won’t cost you anything extra.

Does the Audience Matter at a Performance?

Denisa and I had the chance to go to a live performance of Beethoven’s Fifth and Sixth symphonies here on campus on Saturday, part of the New Commons programming that’s been running here since fall. It was a great performance, and I was so happy to have it here. (I’ve been a huge fan of the New Commons project, even though I haven’t been able to go to nearly as much of the programming as I’d have liked. Pesky work meetings keep getting in the way.)

But as I was listening to the performance, I couldn’t help thinking of other things. (Too much going on in my life at the moment, and a brain too easily distracted sometimes.) One of the things that occurred to me is how much different a live performance is from a recorded one.

There’s a spectrum when it comes to performance. On the one hand, you have the totally packaged offerings of Hollywood. Things that have been spliced and edited together to the point that they remove pretty much any of the original “live” nature. On the other, you have 100% live performances. In between, there are broadcasts of live performances, where you watch something as it’s literally happening elsewhere, and there are also recordings of live broadcasts, where you watch it after the fact.

I personally prefer live performances, but sometimes I wonder why that is. I’m even still willing to pay money to see movies in the theater, despite having a sweet home theater set up. And when I see things with an audience, there’s always a chance I’m stuck next to someone who’s noisy or annoying through the film or performance. (We had a guy next to us who started singing along to some of the performance on Saturday. I kid you not. Thankfully, he stopped.)

So wouldn’t it make sense to just watch everything at home? To buy the finest recordings and view them all on a great sound system?

I don’t think it would.

As I sat there enjoying the performance, it occurred to me that the audience is an integral part of that performance. Part of this insight came as I watched the bass trombone player sitting through most of the symphonies, doing absolutely nothing other than listening, since he had no part to play except every now and then. Did his not-playing add to the performance? Obviously, since he could have grabbed his instrument and started wailing away whenever he wanted to, and that would have ruined it all, just like the guy sitting next to me might have ruined things for me if he’d chosen to sing through the whole performance.

Watching a movie with a throng of people who are also loving the movie adds to my enjoyment of the movie. (Conversely, watching something with a group of people who are all NOT enjoying the movie detracts from my enjoyment considerably.) Watching a sports event live in a stadium heightens the emotions, whether it’s the thrill of victory or the agony of defeat.

There’s just something you get by that collective shared experience that you can’t capture in a recording. Watching it live, remotely, can have some of it, but it’s not the same thing.

Which leads me to the inevitable conclusion that humans connect with each other in so many ways that aren’t immediately observable. Sitting there with so many people all intent on the same goal (more or less), you pool all that focus. In the concert, there were other sounds in the room than the symphony itself. The noise of people shifting in their seats. The beeping from watches in the audience at the top of the hour. The breathing of the conductor. Sometimes it’s the absence of sound. People NOT talking or unwrapping candies or applauding after a movement. It all adds to the experience.

Watching the Fifth Symphony live, I noticed for the first time how important that eighth note rest is to the theme. Dun dun dun dunnnnnnn is actually {rest} dun dun dun dunnnnnnn. And you’d see the conductor jab out with his baton, meeting nothing but silence until an eighth note later. I’m having a hard time describing it, but to me it was like he was stabbing a knife, and the theme was the result of that initial stab.

I love going to geek movies on opening night. Watching them with a throng of like-minded people. The laughs, the gasps, the responses in general. The applause at the end. It all makes that experience more impactful.

When I walk into a room where people are bickering, I can sense it. Maybe it’s the body language or the facial expressions. I don’t know. I often feel like I can tell when someone’s fighting even in the same house as me. It’s hard for me to describe, though it’s enough that it makes me believe there’s something to auras, whether it’s a spiritual explanation or something else.

Anyway. I’ve gone on long enough now, and captured some of what I was trying to say, so I’m going to call that a win and move on. I hope some of you were able to go to the performance. It’s not something that happens locally very often. Many thanks to the New Commons folks for making it a reality.

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Like what you’ve read? Please consider supporting me on Patreon. Thanks to all my Patrons who support me! It only takes a minute or two, and then it’s automatic from there on out. I’ve been posting my book ICHABOD in installments, as well as chapters from UTOPIA. Check it out.

If you’d rather not sign up for Patreon, you can also support the site by clicking the MEMORY THIEF Amazon link on the right of the page. That will take you to Amazon, where you can buy my books or anything else. During that visit, a portion of your purchase will go to me. It won’t cost you anything extra.

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