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Bagpipes On "Tonight You're Mine"


Drupelet

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I had the pleasure of speaking with Carmine Appice a few months ago and he talked about touring Japan and recording with you. Nice guy.

That got me thinking... I always wondered why you chose (or somebody chose) to put bagpipe on "Tonight You're Mine?" Don't get me wrong, I like 'em, they definitely work, but it was a very unusual choice.

Was that before or after Big Country tried, and momentarily succeeded, to popularize the sound of pipes in rock music?

How did it all go down?

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Yeah, there are a few considerations here. Bagpipes are not the easiest instrument to work into an arrangement. They'll only work on songs of a certain harmonic 'space' or only in certain sections of songs.

It was a bold move and the last thing I'd ever expect from an Eric Carmen record - that is to say that I am unaware of any Scottish heritage in the Carmen clan (I may be wrong) and there's nothing particularly Scottish about the music or lyrics of the song.

Let's see if he comments for those of us who don't have the book.

Drupy

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I've always loved the sound of bagpipes. Somewhere in my classical past, I seem to recall hearing a piece, it might have been by Franz Liszt and it might have been a "Hungarian Dance". In any case, the string arrangement was all done in fourths and fifths, without any of the thirds being used. The sound that was created gave the piece a sort of drone, not unlike the drone of bagpipes. So, when I was writing "Tonight You're Mine," I was thinking about the sound of that "Hungarian Dance" and I decided it would be interesting to have some bagpipes on the record.

I hired four pipers in L.A., and when they came in to do the session I explained what I was looking for, and I told them the song was in the key of "D", to which they politely explained that bagpipes only play in "B" flat. That created a bit of a problem.

So, I thought about it for a minute and realized the only way to make it work was to VSO the track down to "B" flat to record them, and then bring it back up to regular speed afterwards. And that's what we did.

I recorded that album in 1979, so I think it probably pre-dates Big Country by a few years. I think Rod Stewart may have used some bagpipes later on, as well.

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Eric Carmen said:

I recorded that album in 1979, so I think it probably pre-dates Big Country by a few years. I think Rod Stewart may have used some bagpipes later on, as well.

House of Pain had a hit song around 1992 named "Jump Around" which featured bagpipes...but it was a cheesy hip-hop dance number with very little melody. EC's use of bagpipes in a hard-driving rocker, with Carmine banging away on the skins...is incredible.

John

BTW..I think Rod Stewart might have DATED some bagpipes back in the day.

:D:lol:

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Thanks for the insight Eric! I appreciate it immensely!

Being a Scot myself, I've always loved the pipes—never committed to learning them though!

I take it you were a Byrds fan, (or was that just Wally?) I mention them because they used lots of British and Scots folk songs and harmonies in much of their work.

Check out '5D (Fifth Dimension)' from their album of the same name. Also on the same record is Wild Mountain Thyme, I Come and Stand at Every Door and John Riley. All feature the fourth prominently.

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I learned to play the bagpipes when I was nine in a local band. I continued to play until I was about seventeen or until other teenage interests came up. I have my own set they are of genuine ivory, etched silver, and African Blackwood. My father picked them up in an antique store in Boston in the 70's. I played them all those years. Recently, I joined another band and my poor old pipes had to be retired because they won't tune up with the rest of the band and everyones newer pipes. I just recieved my new set about two weeks ago direct from Scotland and they are beautiful! And so easy to play. My old ones are of great sentimental value to me and will probably be put in a case on display. :)

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Thanks for the heads up LC!

Oh, wow. EC: "In 1965, I liked The Beatles and I really liked The Rolling Stones, but I freakin' LOVED The Byrds!"

OK, that explains some things!

I've always been a major Byrds fan, too!

there are bagpipes on "Jump Around?" How'd I miss that?

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missy, that's very cool! Back in the 80s I lived in Kearny, NJ, home of Satriali's and many other Sopranos locations. It also happend to be the largest concentration of Scots in the US! Back then and before there were pipers everywhere.

If you went to a local park on a nice day, there was always a piper practicing. Often, in the evenings you would hear the sound of pipes wafting on the breeze from the next block.

There used to be 5 or 6 Fish & Chips shops in this little town! There are still a couple, (go to the Argyle or the Thistle) but the demographic has changed.

Got any links to your pipe band?

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Take this with a grain of salt because it's from Wikipedia, but here is a partial list of songs that used bagpipes, pre-dating "Tonight You're Mine."

1. The Animals - featured Highland bagpipes on their 1968 anti-war song "Sky Pilot"

2. The Sensational Alex Harvey Band - featured the instrument in their 1974 single "Anthem."

3. Wizzard - featured bagpipes on their 1974 single "Are You Ready to Rock."

4. The Jeff Beck Group with Rod Stewart - used bagpipes on their version of Tim Rose's "Morning Dew" (1968).

5. AC/DC - bagpipes on their 1975 song "It's a Long Way to the Top (If You Wanna Rock 'n' Roll)"; H

6. Paul McCartney - "Mull of Kintyre" (1977), made strong use of bagpipes for a characteristically Scottish sound.

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Not too many, but I bet there must be more than that. When you consider that it's a traditional instrument in throughout the British Isles and so much rock music came from there...

Great research Marvin!

I mentioned the Big Country connection because it was the same era as Tonight You're Mine, but it seems to be just a coincidence.

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Drupelet said:

Not too many, but I bet there must be more than that. When you consider that it's a traditional instrument in throughout the British Isles and so much rock music came from there...

This is only a partial list. I pulled off some of the songs / artists that I thought would be familiar to people.

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Hi Drupelet,

Sorry I am late to this string, but

from one Scot to another......

I was 10 in '76 and my family had just moved from Scotland to California. This began my love of AC/DC!!! On another note, there was no opening band for Journey last night, and this song was playing as we walked into the arena in Honolulu. PERFECT!!

Aloha

Laura

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