View Full Version : "Never On Sunday"-style picking

Walter Newton
Feb-15-2004, 1:27pm
On the Bruce Springsteen "Blood Brothers" documentary, Steve Van Zandt is playing mandolin on a song during a recording session. Afterwards, Bruce tells him he liked what he was playing except for the "Never on Sunday"-style picking, anyone know what he may have meant?

Feb-15-2004, 2:02pm
I may be wrong, it's been years since I heard it, but I think that in the song "Never on a Sunday"-from the movie of the same name, I believe- that there was a mandolin featured. It does seem to me that it was maybe a combo of tremolo and straight picking, but I could be wrong. The song was done as an instrumental by some other groups after it's initial release, possibly the Ventures? Pretty song as I recall.

Feb-15-2004, 3:29pm
I believe "Never on a Sunday" was the first musical to popularize Greek traditional music in the US. That song did employ a lot of double stop tremolos mixed with staccato straight notes, but somebody more well versed in Greek music could give you the real scoop.

Walter Newton
Feb-15-2004, 5:32pm
Thanks for the info folks, I hadn't heard of the movie before. I did a bit of searching and found the soundtrack on the amazon.com website, you can listen to some short clips of the music there...

Feb-15-2004, 9:04pm
I would consider it "Dave Apollon" style pickin' since
ole Dave recorded it in the 60's on his Coral LP.
But then again Dempsey Young did a pretty stirring bluegrass rendition of the song with Lost And Found.

Bob DeVellis
Feb-17-2004, 9:55am
I'd take a passing reference to "Never on Sunday" picking to refer to tremolo, but what do I know.

Paul Kotapish
Feb-18-2004, 2:25am
The soundtrack for Never on Sunday was composed by Manos Hadjidakis, and it featured contemporary taverna-style bouzouki music in the Rembetika tradition. I can't remember who the soloists were, but the main instruments were definitely bouzoukis.

Rembetika is often described as the Greek blues, and bouzoukis and baglamas (tiny bouzoukis) and guitars are the main instruments for soloing on dance tunes and accompanying songs. The music has its roots in Turkish and Smyrnaic music, and was often associated with the immigrants and roughnecks who habituated the hash dens and cafes in port cities. The art of the bouzouki developed to a very high degree of virtuosity from the 1920s through the early '50s. There are many different styles, ranging from very eastern-sounding approaches with lots of saz and Turkish influences to more pop styles influenced by Italian mandolin music. In general, though, most bouzouki music features rapid single-note phrases and occasional double-stop segments. Chords are usually handled by the baglama and the guitar (or piano or accordion in later years). The Never on Sunday theme begins with a fragment of an improvised taqsim and then go into a simple single-string melody in the first half and a rapid tremolo double-stop section in the second. It's not particularly flashy as bouzouki music goes, but it is catchy and memorable.

In the post-WWII years, Rembetika in general--and the bouzouki in particular--were considered trashy by the Greek elite, and Hadjidakis caught a lot of flack for incorporating such lowbrow elements into a mainstream film. The music was a perfect fit for the comedy about a prostitute who refuses to work on her day off, though, and the music and film sparked a rise in the Greek tourism industry.

Never on Sunday one of my favorite films, BTW, and well worth watching--and listening to. Very funny and sweet, and a neat--if highly romanticized--glimpse of the tail end of culture that flourished in the urban underground of the first half of the last century. It's pretty available at video rental places.

Rembetika is extremely cool music, and the virtuousi of the bouzouki will provide inspiration for any mandolinist.

There are some pretty good introductory compilations available on Rounder, and lots of reissues of the good early stuff if you want to dig a bit.

For a more complete history of the bouzouki, a discography, and some links to sites with sound clips, and more, check out my article in Acoustic Guitar magazine:

Ancient Tones: The Bouzouki's Long Journey from Rembetika to Rock 'n' Roll and Beyond (http://www.acousticguitar.com/issues/ag89/bouzouki.html)

Michael Lewis
Feb-18-2004, 3:01am
Hey, thanks Paul! That's great information, and definitely some great music.

Feb-18-2004, 8:42am
I have been looking for the music to this song for some time. does anyone have this?

John Rosett
Feb-18-2004, 9:12am
jethro breaks into a little "never on sunday" on one of h&j's live albums. homer says "never on sunday, very seldom on any other day"

Feb-19-2004, 12:22am
If someone would take the time to just record the Jethro
Mandolin licks found on the 32 Homer and Jethro LPs of
the 60's and 70's you would have one fine mandolin licks

Feb-22-2004, 10:19am
here's a site of andrew ruggiero. he plays the song an a mando.
its fun to listen. http://www.mandolincafe.net/iB_html/non-cgi/emoticons/laugh.gif

Feb-22-2004, 11:00am
Hmmm... the [QUOTE]" 'Never on Sunday'-style picking"... Could he mean the "double-stroke", common in traditional bouzouki/baglama-playing? You know what I mean: "filling in" a melodic line by striking each note twice, down-up, both strings of a course on the way down, one only on the way up, what Greek bouzouki-players call diplopenniá or what traditional, Neapolitan mandolinists call pennate doppie.

That, at least, is my guess. But, if so, that kind of pick-stroke is common to 1,000,001 rebetika, not just Never on Sunday. Besides, tremolo proper (in the mandolinistic sense) did not enter the bouzouki-world until after the rebetiko was effectively dead, i.e. with Manólis Hiótis in the '50's or so.

That's my only contribution to this thread: vague and confused/confusing as usual http://www.mandolincafe.net/iB_html/non-cgi/emoticons/rock.gif