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Geriatric Fun.

Stephen Hawkins

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Over the last few months, Brenda and I have taken on a number of new engagements. Our little ensemble now plays in a number of Care Homes, as well as at public/private initiatives for dementia sufferers. In total, this now adds up to nine public performances every month, and other organisations are knocking at the door.

We have tried very hard not to over commit, but it is difficult to refuse requests from organisations which are committed to bringing relief to the elderly people in our community. Don't misunderstand me, we enjoy bringing a bit of joy into the lives of elderly people, but we are quite elderly ourselves.

Anyway, I am not asking for suggestions for tunes to expand my repertoire, merely seeing what you think of the six "new" tunes I have selected. They are as follows:

1) "Sailor" (stop your roaming) A 1961 hit for both Petula Clark & Anne Shelton. Originally a 1959 German language song "Seemann" (diene heimat ist das meer)

2) "Ramona" was a 1964 hit for The Bachelors, though it was written as the title song for the 1928 adventure/romance film "Ramona."

3) "Are You Lonesome Tonight" was written in 1926 by Roy Turk & Lou Handman, and recorded by Pressley in 1960.

4) "If Paradise Is Half As Nice" (as heaven that you take me to) was a 1969 hit for the Welsh band, Amen Corner.

5) Following the break up of Amen Corner, Andy Fairweather-Low enjoyed a number of solo hits. The most memorable of these was his 1975 Xmas hit "Wide Eyed And Legless."

6) "Norwegian Wood" was released by The Beatles in 1965. I have always liked the tune, and sincerely hope that I may soon be able to play it.

I have a number of other tunes in my head for future inclusion, but I think that the above will do for now. Please tell me what you think about my selection.

Kind Regards,

Stephen.
 

Blanik

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I like your selection because most people will have an idea of how those tunes went. Maybe not the words, but the tune will be in their heads. Numbers 4 and 5 I am not familiar with, but will look them up for curiosity. I usually confine my repetoir to tunes that I remember from years back, (I was 80 y.o.a. a week ago), and as most of my audiences are about my age, they will also remember the tunes that I remember.
 

jozz

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I think this is an excellent way to perform and the choices seem ok to me, although no.4 seems hard to arrange for accordion.

I can't really judge because this would be a completely different list in senior homes in Holland.
 

Corsaire

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Bravo for your initiative, Stephen - I expect your oldies are thrilled to bits to hear your music, even if some are unable to express their pleasure. Music seems to reach people when nothing else can.

It's an interesting list, and a far cry from the type of music we used to play for old folk some 25 years ago. Songs that were popular during the First World War are hardly what they want to hear today ! Your selection is much more up to date and people like tunes they can hum along to even if they don't know the words.
 
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maugein96

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Stephen,

If they keep putting up the retirement age here in the UK the care homes will need to close down, as everybody will be working until theyre 95.

As others have indicated, numbers 4 and 5 might be a challenge to arrange. I had a look to see if any Italian players had a go at number 4 (Paradiso), as it was a big hit there under that title, but no joy.

I recently posted a Glasgow version of Norwegian Wood on The Pub board, featuring a local high class opera singer, Matt McGinn, but there was no accordion in it. When mothers wanted their children to go out and play they used to put Matts records on the gramophone, as his singing voice terrified them.

My favourite is number 1, and it seems You Tube is full of clones of me. I could bring my guitar and play this version, whilst you played the accordion as backing, as youll hear in the clip. My guitars are red, surf blue, and sunburst, and my hair is the same colour as the Belgian guitar players in the clip. I could get a black guitar if it was absolutely necessary, for about a tenth of the cost of an accordion.


Or maybe I could just turn up wearing my old oilskins like my other brother in this one, as we discussed previously. Ill just stand there reeking of old fish, oil, and pipe tobacco, in the name of authenticity, while you play for the oldies. We had to make sure the boat was home for Christmas as I was obliged to double up as Santa Claus!


When my mother was in a care home, she never recognised me in the latter stages, but knew I played the guitar. She would address me by whatever first name came into her head, but always made the motion of playing a guitar when she saw me.

Any sort of music at all on any instrument brightens up their day, and if your selection is for their entertainment then I dont reckon theyll worry too much what the titles are. There will always be one or two who wont be happy with anything you play, and I guess if my turn ever comes Ill be a member of that one or two.

When I was a child I used to think that Geriatric was a term that you English types used for a German hat trick, but now I know it refers to people who are a few days older than I am.

Just play away for all youre worth for those old folks. I know I couldnt do it, as Ive spent 12 years of my life visiting relatives in care homes, and never enjoyed the atmosphere in any of them at all.
 

Stephen Hawkins

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Hi Blanik,

Firstly, and most importantly, belated birthday wishes.

I'm pleased that you like my selection, and hope that you can find them on YouTube. It would take too long to explain how I arrived at this selection, except to say that they mesh very nicely with tunes I already play.

One of the Care Homes I visit houses a few people who are actually younger than myself.

Kind Regards & Birthday Wishes,

Stephen.
 

Stephen Hawkins

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Hi Jozz,

Not a bad selection, I feel. The ones you think may be difficult to arrange can be safely left with a great friend of mine. He will make it happen, even if that means simplifying them a bit.

Kind Regards,

Stephen.
 

Stephen Hawkins

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Hello Sally,

One of our little ensemble plays a few wartime songs, including the Gracie Fields song about the girl who makes the thing that oils the ring, etc. That usually gets them rocking.

My list may at first appear fairly random, but it compliments and expands on the sort of music I already play. I throw a few good old folk tunes into the mix, and a jolly time is had by all.

Brenda (my better half) prints out dozens of song sheets prior to our visits, and I have been pleasantly surprised by the very positive responses they have engendered.

Jenny (who sings the Gracie Fields stuff) is a good guitarist with a very sweet voice, and her Mother, Shelagh, is a Saxophonist.

Jen is probably the best musician in our group, but we all do our best.

Kind Regards,

Stephen.
 

Stephen Hawkins

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Hi John,

It comes as no surprise to me that you favour No:1. As a former Sailor and old Sea Dog yourself, I would have bet money on you choosing that song.

Parrots, wooden legs and pieces of eight aside, "Sailor" is a very pleasant tune. As it was popular in 1961, I imagine that most people between the ages of 70 & 90 will remember it. You youngsters of 65 may not have so vivid a memory of it, but you just might.

Kind Regards,

Stephen.
 
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maugein96

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Stephen,

I'm sure the late Dermot O'Brien played a version of it, but I don't think he ever recorded it. Never had a parrot, a wooden leg, or a single piece of eight. We used another Spanish coin, the Doubloon.

When I worked on the buses I was amazed by the number of people from the Irish Republic who tried to pay their fare in Euros. On one journey out of Edinburgh for Carlisle I had notes from Guernsey, Jersey, The Isle of Man, Northern Ireland, the three Scottish banks, as well as the good old English Pound. I even had five £1 Scottish notes tendered by an Indian chap, who also gave me all the other "island" notes to pay for his family to go to Carlisle. He asked me if they were OK, and I said "This is Scotland, so all notes from any UK "country" or island are accepted, but you won't get away with it in England."

A few days later I got the whole family again heading back to Scotland, and they paid with English notes. However, the driver who relieved me at Hawick was approached by the guy who still had four States of Jersey £5 notes, having failed to get rid of them in England. He asked that as he was now in Scotland would the driver change the notes for an English £20? The driver explained that he only had Scottish £20 notes, so the Indian guy declined the transaction!

That guy would have had no chance of being a sailor. In some ports we just paid for things with whatever currency we had and they accepted it (in those days).
 

Corsaire

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I've just listened to "Sailor" and recognised it toot sweet. It's sung here as "Marin" and is one of the songs our sea shanty group sing. It still seems to be well-liked.
 

wirralaccordion

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Hi Stephen,
I guess that your choice of songs has a lot to do with whether you are playing solo or in a group. I would say that these songs will be great for playing in a group, such as you are, but would probably not go down too well played as solo accordion. I say that because they are generally slow songs and would need "filling out" to make them more interesting ( musically ). I do like Norwegian Wood - never heard of it before!
I find that for songs with words to be sung to, the printed score is not always in the best key and it often helps to bring the key down by something like a tone and a half.
Also the printed music for some songs can be pretty weird and I doubt if most will stick to it. Have you seen "All you need is love" by the Beatles with it's several time signature changes?
Anyway, best wishes with your endeavours.
Phil
 

Stephen Hawkins

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Hi John,

Should you ever again come across people who want to get rid of currency, please tell them to bring it to my house in a wheelbarrow. I will gladly relieve them of it, no questions asked.

You Navy types !!! Splashing your cash around in foreign ports with not a care in the World.

Cheers John,

Stephen.
 

Stephen Hawkins

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Hi Sally,

Yes, I read somewhere that there was a French version, though I haven't actually heard it.

Anyway, it is very tuneful, and that is what the oldies like.

Take Good Care,

Stephen.
 

Stephen Hawkins

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Hi Phil,

Though I refer to our little group as an ensemble, I now realise that this may be (unintentionally) misleading. We actually play as individuals, taking turns to entertain our audiences. Of course, we all join in with the communal singing, but that is the extent of our musical collaboration.

We do hope to bring our instruments together on a few tunes, but busy lives make the necessary practice difficult. It all works very well.

Kind Regards,

Stephen.
 
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I also go to play in care homes; what fun! I love it.

I take a real mix of stuff; a bit of folk, songs of the war, pop songs 40s to 70s, some jazz, TV and film themes, songs from shows. I also take a hymn book, because in one or two of the homes, there are people who might ask for a hymn. Every home is different; some like the silly songs, I've got a lovely bunch of coconuts and Knees up Mother Brown, some hate that kind of thing.
 

Stephen Hawkins

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Hi Kim,

Thank you for your comment, and for all the effort you put into entertaining our senior citizens (of which I am one.)

My repertoire is very similar to that of your own, though Knees Up Mother Brown does not feature in my performances. "La Vie en Rose" always goes down a storm, as does "The River" & "Love Me With All Of Your Heart." "The Wild Rover" & "Wild Mountain Thyme" are also very well received.

Truthfully, I think that the residents are just happy that somebody cares enough to play for them.

Kind Regards,

Stephen.
 

Corsaire

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A tune that always went down well for us with the old folks was "Waves of the Danube" which was also known as the Anniversary Song, not to be confused with the "Anniversary Waltz" ! It was a popular song in 1947 sung by Al Jolson. It sounds good on the accordion !
 

Stephen Hawkins

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Hi Sally,

My very eclectic musical tastes include Al Jolson. I have two or three CD's of his music, and the song you mention is featured on two of them. He wrote it for his parents, or so I have been told.

Perhaps I should tag it onto the end of my list of tunes to learn.

All The Best, Sally.

Stephen.
 

Corsaire

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Hi Stephen

I've always been a sucker for music in a minor key - sad, romantic, sentimental and tugs at the heart strings. The music was composed by Ion or Iosif Ivanovici in 1880 and may be one of the most famous pieces of music to come from Romania.
I found it was a tune that many older folk seemed to be very moved by. That may well be because it's music that has been played by so many and has become timeless. If you do play it, Stephen, I would be very interested to hear how it goes down.
 

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