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 ARCHIVED TOPIC: TOTW 2/5/2021 - Far From Home

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John D - Posted - 02/05/2021:  06:12:37

The TOTW for 2/5/2021 is Far From Home. It's a Trad reel, probably from the Shetland Islands. I first heard it and learned it (by ear) from a Boys of the Lough album in the 1980s. Unlike countless songs and tunes about the misery and despair of being far away from home (examples: Homeward Bound by Simon and Garfunkel, or Detroit City by Bobby Bare) I think this tune is, refreshingly, about the joy and relief of being far away from that God forsaken hellhole. Undoubtedly, in the first couple measures of the 2nd part, I can hear trace levels of homesickness, but the emotion is insignificant and therefore nothing much to, uh, write home about. This dinky despair is along the lines of "I'm so thrilled to be far from my home but I kind of miss my little goldfish." Or, "I certainly don't miss my dreadful wife but I kind of miss her strawberry cheesecake."
Lots of different versions of FFH on Youtube, but none done on CH banjo. Sheet music is on The Session. I don't know of any CH tabs.

I think Far From Home is a very versatile tune and I've used it in different settings over the years. I play Far From Home in the middle of "Queen," a modern love song recorded in 2007. Another version (with CH guitar) is from a Contra dance from way back. The last one I just recorded for TOTW.

John D, who is happy not to be Far From Home.

RG - Posted - 02/05/2021:  08:46:45

John what a great TOTW!!! All those versions are absolute gems, thanks for sharing this awesome tune!

Edited by - RG on 02/05/2021 08:48:19

dbrooks - Posted - 02/05/2021:  16:55:47

I had forgotten about this tune. Here's a version from a weekly contra dance in Louisville, KY, around 2010. The volunteer string band led be fiddler Mark Cannon play this tune. 


Matt Buckley - Posted - 02/05/2021:  16:59:31

When I'm not playing CH, my passion is playing Scottish traditional music on bellows pipes and fiddle. Back in the early-mid 1980s I first heard Far From Home recorded by the legendary Scottish band Ossian. The recording starts with the song Johnny Todd, and then at about 3:20 the tune Far From Home kicks in. Enjoy.



Edited by - Matt Buckley on 02/05/2021 17:01:51

JanetB - Posted - 02/05/2021:  17:43:45

A cheerful tune, as you say, John, except for those wistful two measures in the B part. Your contra dance band sounds great and your own solo has nice claw rhythm. David's recording makes for a lively dance. My arrangement from Boys of the Lough is melodic and played more slowly.

Hay-on-Wye - Posted - 02/06/2021:  00:10:39

What great versions from Janet, David and Jonh. I lovely tune.
A friend of mine and native Shetland islander living in Cunninsborough on the main island recorded a version of this in 2009. Notice the swing in his playing of the tune. Shetland tunes have their own distinctive sound, different from Scottish fiddle. The differences are getting less nowadays as people travel more but Bernard captures it perfectly.

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