Posted by: scribe9 | December 1, 2009

Our local

We’ve just returned from our usual Tuesday evening supper at the Irish pub. McMorrissey’s is our local, and we go on Tuesday because that’s
Traditional Music Night. Starting a bit after seven, guitarists, banjo players, fiddlers, penny whistlers, and drummers wander in to join the playing and singing.

Tonight there wasn’t a fiddler. We heard a lot of Irish instrumental music, with uillean pipes (bagpipes that use an underarm bellows rather than a mouthpiece). When the singing started, it was non-traditional. First was “Lord of the Dance,” which I like, but that’s an American hymn even if there is an Irish dance troupe called “Lord of the Dance”.

Next was “Brown-Eyed Girl” and okay, Van Morrison is Irish. That song always takes me back to the beanyards where I heard it ad infinitum in 1967. During the mid-sixties, picking beans was a way for middle-class kids in the Willamette Valley to both earn money and keep sane through the second half of summer vacation, and there were always radios playing AM Top Forty. (Don’t laugh–FM was quite minor back then.) To this day, when I hear the first few notes of a song from those summers, I think, “That’s a beanyard song.”  Beanpicking was a big deal; one year, before I was old enough to pick, school got put off a week because the harvest wasn’t in yet. The beanpicking era ended a few years later, except for a few specialty yards, because machines came along and because of the inflation caused when Lyndon Johnson decided that we could have both guns (for the Vietnam war) and butter. We earned three cents a pound, and by the late sixties that wasn’t buying much, so parents decided it wasn’t worth it.

Back to the Irish pub: after “Brown-Eyed Girl,” the band played “The Lion Sleeps Tonight,” which is South African. We decided to call it a night, and hope the band will be back to “Irish Rover” and “Londonderry Air” and the like next week.

I’m not a fan of malt beverages, and am glad there’s a good local cider and some nice wines available. But the pub does have my favorite Guinness poster: (Sorry I can just give you the link–for some reason I have yet to fathom, I can no longer put images into my blog proper.)


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