Back to Yellow Tinker
YELLOW TINKER. Irish, Reel. A Mixolydian (Moylan): G Major/Mixolydian (Feldman & O’Doherty, Miller, Mulvihill). Standard tuning (fiddle). ABC (O’Malley): AA’BC (Miller, Moylan): AABBCC’ (Mulvihill). Cliff Abrams believes the ‘Yellow’ of the title refers to the Tinker’s being a gypsy (as in the song “Seven Yellow Gypsies”). Paddy Ryan (Treoir) says the tune has been a favorite session tune, especially among button accordion players, over many years. It was first recorded in January, 1954, by accordion great Paddy O’Brien (Portroe, County Tipperary) on the then-new B/C system. O'Brien used 'F' naturals in his version, which was widely imitated, although piper Leo Rowesome recorded the tune with 'F' sharps. The note at the Internet Archive says: "A two part Galway version in A mixolydian mode is also sometimes heard. Galway box player Kevin Keegan called this the "Old Yellow Tinker"; Kevin Burke and Jackie Daly called it the Drunken Tinker on Burke's "If the Cap Fits LP"."
See also the related “Tinker’s Occupation" and the first strain of "Drunken Tinker (The).”
Sources for notated versions: accordion player Johnny O’Leary (Sliabh Luachra region of the Cork-Kerry border), recorded at Na Píobairí Uilleann, October, 1984 [Moylan]; fiddler Sean Ryan, recorded in 1959 (County Tipperary) [Mulvihill]; fiddler Simon Doherty (County Donegal) [Feldman & O’Doherty]; Bronx fiddler Martin Mulvihill [O’Malley].
Printed sources: Bulmer & Sharpley (Music from Ireland vol. 1), 1974; No. 18. Feldman & O’Doherty (The Northern Fiddler), 1979; p. 106 (appears as “Untitled Reel”). Miller (Fiddler’s Throne), 2004; No. 271, p. 162. Mitchell (Dance Music of Willie Clancy), 1983; 100. Moylan (Johnny O’Leary of Sliabh Luachra), 1994; No. 153, p. 89. Mulvihill (1st Collection), 1986; No. 201, p. 54. O’Malley (Luke O’Malley’s Collection of Irish Music, vol. 1), 1976; No. 15, p. 8. Treoir, vol. 33, No. 1, 2001; p. 28.
Recorded sources: Columbia CAL506-1 (78 RPM), Paddy O’Brien (1954). Comhaltas Ceoltoiri Eireann CL40, Paddy O'Brien, Seamus Connolly & Charlie Lennon - "The Banks of the Shannon." Compass 7 4287 2, Cathal McConnell – “Long Expectant Comes at Last” (2000. Learned from accordion player Joe Burke). Green Linnet SIF 1109, Altan "The Red Crow" (1990). Rounder CD 11661-7033-2, Natalie MacMaster – “My Roots are Showing” (2000. Ed Reavy’s version). Shanachie 79064, Matt Molloy – “Heathery Breeze” (1999). Bill McComiskey (et al) – “The Big Squeeze.”
See also listing at:
Alan Snyder’s Cape Breton Fiddle Recording Index 
Jane Keefer’s Folk Music Index: An Index to Recorded Sources 
Alan Ng’s Irishtune.info 
Hear Bobby Casey & Sean O'Shea play the tune at the Comhaltas Archive 
Hear Paddy Canny, Martin Mulhaire & Fr. Lyons play the tune at the Comhaltas Archive 
Hear Paddy O'Brien play the tune at the Comhalas Archive 
Hear piper Leo Rowesome's version at the Internet Archive