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Thread: Mandolin flagship song?

  1. #1
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    Default Mandolin flagship song?

    I came from the banjo world (yes, I closed the door behind me lol) specifically the Scruggs style.
    In my experience, if you played the banjo, it was “expected” that you knew how to play Foggy Mountain Breakdown and Dueling Banjos. Not only that, you were to play them very well, and at the request of any and everybody that ever saw you with the banjo. Every time, and sometimes many times.
    I started to have nightmares about these songs (ok, not really) but definitely got sick and tired of hearing them let alone playing them. I played them well, and often, but I would be ok if I never did again. I traded my banjo in towards an Eastman 314, still awaiting delivery

    So, I don’t know. Does the mandolin have a “flagship” song? I got to thinking about that earlier, I can’t really think of one song that seems automatically associated with the mandolin. I know about the REM song, and Rod Stewart....

    What I am talking about, like above, is there 1 song that people always want to hear when you pull the mandolin out? Honestly, I am hoping the answer is no lol. But I’m curious...

    Disclaimer: this topic is partly started in fun, but interested as well.

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  3. #2

    Default Re: Mandolin flagship song?

    Jethro said in at least one show that his wife offered to pack his bags and cut him loose if she had to hear him teach one more student Sweet Georgia Brown.

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    Default Re: Mandolin flagship song?

    That’s funny stuff. I’ll admit, it’s on my “to learn list” but never would have thought it would be “the mandolin song”

    Look very forward to hearing more...

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    Default Re: Mandolin flagship song?

    Rawhide
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    Default Re: Mandolin flagship song?

    Quote Originally Posted by Medley12 View Post
    I came from the banjo world (yes, I closed the door behind me lol) specifically the Scruggs style.
    In my experience, if you played the banjo, it was “expected” that you knew how to play Foggy Mountain Breakdown and Dueling Banjos. Not only that, you were to play them very well, and at the request of any and everybody that ever saw you with the banjo. Every time, and sometimes many times.
    I started to have nightmares about these songs (ok, not really) but definitely got sick and tired of hearing them let alone playing them. I played them well, and often, but I would be ok if I never did again. I traded my banjo in towards an Eastman 314, still awaiting delivery

    So, I don’t know. Does the mandolin have a “flagship” song? I got to thinking about that earlier, I can’t really think of one song that seems automatically associated with the mandolin. I know about the REM song, and Rod Stewart....

    What I am talking about, like above, is there 1 song that people always want to hear when you pull the mandolin out? Honestly, I am hoping the answer is no lol. But I’m curious...

    Disclaimer: this topic is partly started in fun, but interested as well.
    I think for fiddle it would have to be Orange Blossom Special but I can't think of one for mandolin !

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    Default Re: Mandolin flagship song?

    Most folks, when they see me with my mandolin, ask if it's a banjo. I tell them yes and play Foggy Mountain Breakdown and Dueling Banjos.

    Other folks ask if it's a Ukelele. I tell them yes and strum out the chords to Somewhere Over the Rainbow. I'll sing too, sometimes.

    And Other folks know it's a Mandolin and ask me to play, and I quote "Italian kitchen music"

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    Default Re: Mandolin flagship song?

    Yankees1 I definitely agree about OBS on the fiddle, no doubt.

    Zach, that’s awesome. Still laughing.

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    Default Re: Mandolin flagship song?

    Depends on what genre of music you play on the mandolin as well - not all of us play Bluegrass, so a "must know" tune in that world wouldn't be the same for folks who play irish trad music (like meself), other types of folk music, classical, blues or jazz on their mandolins. Certainly in the irish trad world we have a lot of "old chestnuts" that folks know, likely because they're the tunes people learn first, but none that would be "mandolin" specific/strongly associated with the instrument as mandolin doesn't tend to feature as much in trad as other instruments do.
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    Default Re: Mandolin flagship song?

    Monroe Crossing do a great version of Duellin Banjos featuring the mandolin so you may never get away from that. (Just joking). Apart from the bluegrass world, you may find peope asking you to play Lara's Theme from Dr Zhivago or the haunting melody from The Godfather. I think one of my favourites is Russian Rag by the great mandolin virtuoso Dave Appollon (and several other modern versions of that tune). Not a solo piece I don't think mind. You need mandola, mandocello etc.

  15. #10

    Default Re: Mandolin flagship song?

    Maggie May?

    I think it is somewhat genre specific.

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    Default Re: Mandolin flagship song?

    If we're diving into classic rock, I think Battle Of Evermore is unavoidable.
    There's threads here on "Go-Tos" like Uncle Pen, Nine Pound Hammer, etc but I don't think a consensus was ever reached.

    We do steal an awful lot from fiddle tune territory. Speaking of Orange Blossom Special:
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    Default Re: Mandolin flagship song?

    Nope - not for the general populace anyway - most people will not know a mandolin when they see it, much less associate a specific song with it.

    I did say "most people" ... "Some people" I've met will associate the mandolin with Ricky Skaggs or with Bill Monroe and want to hear me play something that sounds like them, and "few people" I've met will associate the mandolin with tremolo-heavy Italian music in general. But most people have no idea of what it is.

    I play in Texas, so I run into people who know Johnny Gimble's playing if they are Bob Wills fans. They want to hear swing mandolin tunes.
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    Default Re: Mandolin flagship song?

    Quote Originally Posted by mitch stein View Post
    if we're diving into classic rock, i think battle of evermore is unavoidable.
    There's threads here on "go-tos" like uncle pen, nine pound hammer, etc but i don't think a consensus was ever reached.

    We do steal an awful lot from fiddle tune territory. Speaking of orange blossom special:
    wow !

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    Default Re: Mandolin flagship song?

    Like the OP I came up playing guitar first and added banjo about 40 years ago. I hated Dueling Banjos right from the start. Yeah knew how to play it, it really is pretty easy. But I would usually politely decline or say I didn't know it. Except for the time I was at a jam and some guy came up and said "I'll buy you a pitcher of beer if play Dueling Banjos." The kind of offer I couldn't refuse. Don't believe I've played it public since.
    I'll agree with Rawhide if you're playing in the Bluegrass genre. A great tune to let you show some chops. Don't forget learn and play the high part up the neck. It also allows the other instruments a chance to play a nice solo. Then back to mandolin for that great down beat ending. Now if I could get someone to buy me a pitcher of if I'd play it ......
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    Default Re: Mandolin flagship song?

    Oops, meant to agree with Dang about Rawhide.
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    Default Re: Mandolin flagship song?

    In my experience, they ask you for bluegrass, which is great and provides many options -- if you play bluegrass. However, for those of us who don't...
    Robert Johnson's mother, describing blues musicians:
    "I never did have no trouble with him until he got big enough to be round with bigger boys and off from home. Then he used to follow all these harp blowers, mandoleen (sic) and guitar players."
    Lomax, Alan, The Land where The Blues Began, NY: Pantheon, 1993, p.14.

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    Default Re: Mandolin flagship song?

    For me it would be "O Sole Mio". Maybe because it was one of my first learns, but it screams Mandolin to me.

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    Default Re: Mandolin flagship song?

    Quote Originally Posted by Jill McAuley View Post
    Depends on what genre of music you play on the mandolin as well
    So as one that is NOT primarily a BG player, songs that I am expected to play are:

    the most common wedding tarantella and all the other Italian restaurant gig chestnuts like Santa Lucia, Vieni Sul Mar, Ce la Luna, Arrivederci Roma, Oi Mari, Speranze Perdute, and so on

    music from "the Godfather"

    Lara's Theme from Dr. Zhivago

    Never on Sunday and Zorba

    and sometimes Klezmer/Jewish/Israeli stuff - like Hava Nagila

    etc.!

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    Default Re: Mandolin flagship song?

    Quote Originally Posted by DavidKOS View Post
    So as one that is NOT primarily a BG player, songs that I am expected to play are:

    the most common wedding tarantella and all the other Italian restaurant gig chestnuts like Santa Lucia, Vieni Sul Mar, Ce la Luna, Arrivederci Roma, Oi Mari, Speranze Perdute, and so on

    music from "the Godfather"

    Lara's Theme from Dr. Zhivago

    Never on Sunday and Zorba

    and sometimes Klezmer/Jewish/Israeli stuff - like Hava Nagila

    etc.!
    Lara's Theme is a very good one !

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    Default Re: Mandolin flagship song?

    Quote Originally Posted by Bob Gnann View Post
    Like the OP I came up playing guitar first and added banjo about 40 years ago. I hated Dueling Banjos right from the start. Yeah knew how to play it, it really is pretty easy. But I would usually politely decline or say I didn't know it. Except for the time I was at a jam and some guy came up and said "I'll buy you a pitcher of beer if play Dueling Banjos." The kind of offer I couldn't refuse. Don't believe I've played it public since.
    My brother sings and plays British Isles and Canadian traditional music. At one gig, a fellow kept requesting a well-known, overdone song that he'd dropped from his repertoire, a fairly complex ballad (in the old sense of a song that tells a story), I think "Pat Murphy's Wake." My brother told him, "I haven't played it in a long time; I can't really remember it anymore." As the evening went on and the drinks flowed, the fellow came over, during a break, slapped some bills on the table, and said, "I'll give you $75 to play that song." My brother said, "It was amazing how that money stimulated my memory."

    Another time, during a break, a woman asked his bandmate to play the greatly overdone "Will You Go, Lassie, Go." The bandmate said that they didn't know it, and gave her no more attention. My brother thought he'd better size up the situation, as you don't want the regulars complaining to the manager about your band. He asked her, "Are you a regular here?" She said, "No, I'm the owner." "Well," he told her, "we're planning to open the next set with 'Will You Go, Lassie, Go'."
    Last edited by Ranald; Jan-15-2021 at 2:09pm.
    Robert Johnson's mother, describing blues musicians:
    "I never did have no trouble with him until he got big enough to be round with bigger boys and off from home. Then he used to follow all these harp blowers, mandoleen (sic) and guitar players."
    Lomax, Alan, The Land where The Blues Began, NY: Pantheon, 1993, p.14.

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    Default Re: Mandolin flagship song?

    So it looks like the short answer is, "No."

    The long answer goes something like this:

    No, there really isn't. The main reason is the mandolin hasn't achieved the same kind of popular familiarity as fiddle and banjo. * Those instruments have a few widely popular tunes that many people associate with them, due to them having been heard a lot. But mandolin? Not so much. These days.

    But if you asked this question a while back, the answer would be clearer: "Maggie May" and "Friend of the Devil." You young'uns might not know this, but "Maggie May" was an enormous worldwide hit in its day. The mandolin lead played in the coda has been called the most-played mandolin riff ever (there's a blog entry here worth reading). And "Friend of the Devil" has often been cited as the first song people have heard which featured a mandolin. There was a long stretch of time that I couldn't bring out my mandolin without one or both of these being requested. It got so I would joke that if someone bought a mandolin in the 1970s, there was a clause in the fine print of the paperwork that the buyer had to learn these two songs, at least the riffs.

    This continues to this today, although perhaps to a lesser extent. Also with the addition of the "other" mandolin songs from those artists, "Mandolin Wind" and "Ripple." I tend to believe requests for the former are coming from people who actually want "Maggie May" but can't think of the name, and their minds get stuck on the word "mandolin" so that's what they request.

    So my vote would be for "Maggie May."

    * Historically-minded people will dispute this, citing the popularity of the mandolin during the late 1800s-early 1900s. That's true. But that occurred a long time ago in a galaxy far, far away.
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    Default Re: Mandolin flagship song?

    Guess I need to go look up Rawhide...lol
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    Default Re: Mandolin flagship song?

    Quote Originally Posted by withfoam View Post
    Guess I need to go look up Rawhide...lol
    I've only ever been asked once to play Rawhide at a jam. I don't know it either. Time to learn

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    Default Re: Mandolin flagship song?

    Why don't we shoot for Bluegrass Stomp as the mandolin feature? Since about 5 or 6 people can play Rawhide up to tempo.

  38. #25

    Default Re: Mandolin flagship song?

    Quote Originally Posted by withfoam View Post
    Guess I need to go look up Rawhide...lol
    Here's a nice laid-back version for you:

    "I play BG so that's what I can talk intelligently about." A line I loved and pirated from Mandoplumb

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