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Last Night's Fun: In and Out of Time with Irish Music
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Last Night's Fun: In and Out of Time with Irish Music

4.31  ·  Rating details ·  153 ratings  ·  18 reviews
Ciaran Carson's "Last Night's Fun" is a sparkling celebration of Irish music and life that is itself a literary performance of the highest order. Each chapter takes the title of a traditional tune, and as in a session played by brilliant improvising musicians, each tune leads into another, melodies and variations weaving in and out in a haze of talk and memory. Carson's in ...more
Paperback, 208 pages
Published March 17th 1998 by North Point Press (first published 1996)
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Average rating 4.31  · 
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 ·  153 ratings  ·  18 reviews

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Aug 19, 2007 rated it it was amazing
Recommends it for: people who don't get Irish music--doesn't it all sound the same?
Ciarán Carson is a strange one. A novelist, poet, flute player and ex-chairman of the Arts Council of Northern Ireland, he was raised speaking Irish as his native language in Belfast in the 1950s---long before speaking Irish in Belfast was at all cool. Despite this, he shares a surname with Edward Carson, perhaps the most important figure in 20th century Loyalism. Like many people from Northern Ireland, he is a bundle of contradictions.

This is a book primarily about Irish traditional music, and
Brian Wilson
Jul 26, 2011 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Ciaran Carson manages to evoke a rich interest in a variety of topics I would never have considered myself curious about. He has such a passion for Irish music and such a beautiful writing style that I was not only captivated the whole way through, but felt a sort of sadness that there's a whole lifestyle I'll never be a part of. Having been taught Creative Writing by Carson for a year, throughout the book I was reminded of a few stories/jokes he told us over the course of that time. I was unsur ...more
Paul Foxton
May 17, 2016 rated it it was amazing
This book is a fun read. It captures something of the feeling of being at a good session, whilst introducing fascinating historical tidbits about older Irish traditional musicians, mixed up with ideas from all kinds of sources - poetry, the authors own life, technical details of instrument construction.

All this is wrapped up in a free-flowing, at times almost stream-of-consciousness style of writing which rarely gets unfocused enough to become dull.

The chapters are short and snappy, often humoro
James Oden
Mar 29, 2015 rated it really liked it
Shelves: music
As a musician and one who has entered the world of Irish session music from time to time, I could totally relate to this book and relate to the authors passion for the tunes. I don't think I have heard any one articulate the nuances of a what a tune actually is and isn't quite so well as Ciaran Carson. Frankly even the organization of the book felt like the movement of a session, where for some time you're playing a set of reels and then we're doing a slow march, and who knows a ballad might be ...more
Jul 05, 2015 rated it really liked it
Last Night's Fun is a collection of memoirs/essays about Irish folk music, smoking while playing Irish folk music and after, drinking while playing Irish folk music and before and after, eating before or after playing Irish folk music, growing up in Northern Ireland in the 50s and 60s, and the general carrying-on that makes up a large portion of why people get up out of bed. Carson's descriptions are precise and vivid, and he gets at some of the power of folk music as a river of expression that ...more
May 28, 2011 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
When Ciaran Carson plays the flute or listens to other musicians, as he tells it, his mind wanders among the turnings of the ever-new variations on the tunes, and also rambles among the memories of other times the music evokes. He's written a rambling book, here, woven of memory and reflection. It does have structure, though, and repetitions, in a canny evocation of the form of traditional music and narrative. The prose is incantatory, often brilliant. I lingered over many pages in sheer pleasur ...more
Don Sullivan
May 07, 2017 rated it really liked it
An excellently woven tail about traditional Irish music and the lifestyle it ensues. Since I'm a mutt, some of the concepts were a little foreign to me, but the heart of a tradition passed down from master to apprentice is still interesting to learn about. The author really has a way of making the experience tactile. I would recommend it if you like traditional Irish fiddle music and like to read about culture.
Aug 13, 2007 rated it really liked it
Recommends it for: anyone interested in Irish music and culture
I loved this book. If you play Irish music, it captures so many moments you have had in sessions. Hilariously poignant and true. Rekindles love of the music and makes you feel like you are in the midst of it again.
Sep 11, 2012 rated it liked it
Shelves: 1990s
Started this book back in school. Finally finished it.
Lovely musings on being a musician. The loves shows through in every little essay.
Strangely, the one about making fried eggs seems the most memorable.
Ronan O'Driscoll
Aug 27, 2018 rated it it was amazing
Best book about Irish trad ever
Susan Csikos
Sep 21, 2012 rated it it was amazing
This is the first book of Irish session, if an event where words mean so little can have a book. To read this is to sit where I sit in my mind, at dining tables with friends after a long night's playing; in circles, head down, ear cocked to hear the lead instrument, striving to hear everything and your own instrument in relation to it; leaning against the phonograph speaker as a child, one hand on the needle, trying to interpret lyrics; the storytelling; the partaking of the wonderfully original ...more
Steve McCarthy
Apr 19, 2013 rated it it was amazing
Recommends it for: everyone!
MY GOD I LOVE THIS BOOK! I keep it in my car so anytime I'm stuck somewhere, I can pull it out and read from it. It's pace, it's rhythms, its texture are pure genius! You don't need to know or care about Irish music or indeed Ireland to love this! He descriptive skills are beyond compare. "Coin shaped sounds" for the music of a flute! BRILLIANT!
Jan 03, 2010 rated it it was amazing
writing with texture and flavor from by an authentic traditional musician. this book is full of drink, smoke, and the best of tunes. breakfast is strongly considered early on in the book, so i was hooked.
Feb 27, 2010 rated it it was amazing
A wonderful look into Irish Music. It reads like a set of jigs with a few reels and maybe a barn dance thrown in. Absolutely delightful.
Dearg Glas
Aug 12, 2010 rated it it was amazing
Shelves: music, favorites
Absolutely brilliant, poetic essays on Irish traditional music. Highly recommended.
Jan 17, 2017 rated it really liked it
Lovely book capturing the essence of irish session-playing in vivid, poetic language.
Dennis Maney
Dec 03, 2012 rated it it was amazing
Shelves: irish-memoirs
This book was a great adventure into traditional Irish music. The author gave us vip tour inside the tradition.
Liam Guilar
Nov 05, 2011 rated it it was amazing
The best book I've ever (re) read about playing music.
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Ciaran Gerard Carson was born in 1948 in Belfast and educated at The Queen’s University, Belfast. He knows intimately not only the urban Belfast in which he was raised as a native Irish speaker, but also the traditions of rural Ireland. A traditional musician and a scholar of the Irish oral traditional, Carson was long the Traditional Arts Officer of the Arts Council of Northern Ireland, and is a ...more