"The problem with quotes on the internet, is everybody has one, and most of them are wrong."
~ Mark Twain
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As I see it, lots of people are familiar with the sound of a mandolin, but they don't know that the instrument making the sound they're hearing is called a mandolin, or what the instrument looks like.
If your question is "what are well-known songs/tunes featuring the sound of a mandolin for which most people know that what they're listening to is a mandolin," my reaction is much the same as others' responses given above: I can't think of any off the top of my head, other than generic "Italian" instrumentals.
Mandolin Rain - Bruce Hornsby.
There's a great song by Blue Rodeo called "Hasn't Hit me Yet," that is full of the mandolin from beginning to end. Try listening to different versions by the same band. I love this song!
Also please check out "Torno a Surriento in concerto di mandolini," on YouTube for a treat. I can't even count how many musicians are playing the mandolin for this song, maybe 2 dozen...?! Italian music is rich in this sound. Look up "tarantellas" for more.
Last edited by RsmySC; Apr-28-2012 at 1:45pm. Reason: spelling
Some songs had to go, as they are just not that well-known to non-mandolinists. I left in the two Led Zep songs, even though they are hardly their best-known songs. Of course there are a lot of bluegrass and Italian songs that could be included, but probably not that many that a mainstream listener would recognize by name. Rocky Top is an exception, but even that is probably better known for its vocal aspects than instrumental.
So, in some sort of proposed order reflecting my estimation of recognizability:
Maggie May - Rod Stewart
Losing My Religion - R.E.M.
Copperhead Road - Steve Earle
That's Amore - Dean Martin
Friend of The Devil - Grateful Dead
Ripple - Grateful Dead
Paul McCartney - Dance Tonight
Summer Breeze - Seals And Crofts
Diamond Girl - Seals And Crofts
Mandolin Rain - Bruce Hornsby
Piano Man - Billy Joel
Rag Mama Rag - The Band
Fat Man - Jethro Tull
Mandolin Wind - Rod Stewart
Battle of Evermore - Led Zeppelin
Going to California - Led Zeppelin
And We Danced - The Hooters
Love In Vain - The Rolling Stones
Saint Teresa - Joan Osborne
We're Not the Jet Set - George Jones and Tammy Wynette
It pains me to exclude such fine songs as Atlantic City - The Band and It Hasn't Hit Me Yet - Blue Rodeo, because though they are indeed wonderful examples of mandolin usage, they are not that well-known. By my estimation. YMMV. And off the list - It's Now Or Never - Elvis Presley - tremoloed guitar
Rocky Top - The Osborne Brothers
Blue Moon of Kentucky- Bill Monroe
O Sole Mio
Torn' a Sorrento
The Godfather Theme
Love Theme From The Godfather
off the list:
Never On Sunday - bouzouki
Somewhere My Love - balalaika
the theme from that movie about Captain Corelli - is a joke, yes? If you can't come up with the name of the movie, let alone the song, fuggedaboutit!
Never? Any? Well, well, well ... How sad. Well, you do see I have only two bluegrass songs, and removed Uncle Pen. Too inside. But I think some people might have heard Blue Moon Of Kentucky, some time in their lives, and you could see if mentioning it rang a bell. Anyway, this is by song not musician, so ... Besides, if out of the whole history of recorded music, there are all of 28 songs that might serve as an example of what a person unfamiliar with mandolins might recognize as having one ... well, it's just too sad to contemplate. I'm sorry, I can't go on. I'm a little verklempt. Talk amongst yourselves ...
It ain't rocket science. Never was, never will be. Ain't no scholarly treatise, either. Just fun. Maybe.
first time I heard Blue Moon of Kentucky was Boomhower singing it on King of the Hill. ok well I'd heard it before but I heard it on that show after getting a mandolin hehe
I have to google many songs to see if i'd heard them before. I guess it depends on the genre of music those "unmusical people" listen to.
I dunno .. I guess my line of thinking this time around is this is a pretty unscientific subject which is probably not going to respond well to scientific analysis, and is probably going to be served best by keeping it pretty unscientific. All I really wanted to do was organize what little had been presented so far. This is more of a chit-chat thread than a real analytical one, by my reckoning. I did go through the rock song thread and pulled out a few that I thought might ring a bell in a non-mandolinist's head, plus a few more, but that's about as far as I felt was worth doing. Even some of what we have here are pushing it a bit. But there may well be some others that have been overlooked. I know this thread is going to get a "So what?" from a bunch of people, but here we go anyway. As far as that goes, I say, "so what?"
Well, yeah, I mean, there's a reason why I put them on the top of the list. I am choosing to interpret that sentence to mean songs that, if a nonmusical person asked you for an example of a song with mandolin on it, they would recognize. To that end, some songs have been in the soundtrack of our lives that have mandolin, and people have probably heard it unknowingly. Otherwise, it IS a real short list.
This is a good point you bring up about the difference between popularity of a song, (ie how mainstream and recognized it is by a large majority of folks), compared to other really good mandolin rock songs that are every bit as well written, ( possibly even exceptional rock songs), that just haven't got either that much of a wide audience (yet), or that much acclaim, appreciation or recognition to this point. I say yet for all cases. I think some of this is regional and cultural differences too. We have laws in Canada that promote Canadian musicians so regular Canadian content is played on the radio. A lot of people know Blue Rodeo in Canada, and particularly the Toronto area, but that sound might not (yet!) translate to different countries, etc. I think when they went on Letterman that exposed them to a wider audience, but there is a lot of music out there in this world to choose from. I do love "Hasn't Hit me Yet," (ha ha yet, I just realized that), and find that the mandolin adds so much tonal quality and depth to that song and am starting to learn to play it. I can't imagine that song without the mandolin. I thought the starting chord was a D, but my instructor says it's an E. Oh, well, I'll know it one day!
I think I first heard the version Elvis did. I seem to have always known it, so probably my Dad sang it when I was a kid.
Well unmusical people, to my experience, do not strive to listen to anything in particular. They strive to avoid listening to things, or at least enjoying things that their peirs think uncool. They strive to avoid being Boomhower.I guess it depends on the genre of music those "unmusical people" listen to.
"Hey, thats Rod Stuart, isn't it?"
"Yea, Maggie May, thats one of Rod Stuarts tunes. You know that part at the end? Thats a mandolin. Listen, right here..."
"Thats a mandolin."
"A mandolin, that part is played on a mandolin."
"Cool. Hey do you like Styx? You know that song about a boat or something?"
Nah Jeff, they weren't dissing bluegrass at all. the funny part was you never can understand boomhower (other than Bob Dylan, who he chats with a few times) but he sings crystal clear and actually nails the song. it was more about grabbing the neighbour's classical trained violin player to become a fiddle star
Another Rod Stewart track is I was only joking
Ed...I so enjoyed watching that King of the Hill bit and Boomhauer singing 'Blue Moon of Kentucky'. I saw it as a reverent nod to the song and being presented with respect!