Saturday, February 17, 2007

Feel the BEAT of the Tambourine

It’s Saturday and we’re working away in the warehouse surrounded by an excessive amount of men’s 70’s fashion, sorting through boxes of new, old 1970’s unworn deadstock items that just arrived here from Europe. Extraordinarily delighted with the new treasure and simultaneously listening to TOTALLY SEVENTIES on Sirius Radio, and fully caffeinated with Italian Illy coffee beans to the point that we are verified Illians.

Dancing Queen by Abba… comes on the radio and we crank it UP.

…where they sing repeatedly… “feel the beat of the tambourine.”

Many 60’s and 70’s bands indeed had a tambourine involved in their music making. Remember My Green Tambourine by the Lemon Pipers? Stevie Nicks on stage jamming with her tambourine? Davy Jones of the Monkees? Roger Daltry of the Who? Mama Cass?

Yep. Abba’s Dancing Queen started us thinking and yakking away. We started to wonder, “whatever happened to the tambourine?” And, “does a tambourine by itself really have a verifiable beat?”

Bass drums have a beat. Most of us don’t think of a tambourine as having a danceable beat on its own…, no matter what Abba claims so sweetly in that Dancing Queen song. Small western tambourines have more of a jingle jangle, shaking up the silverware drawer sound. Plus, there is not ONE famous tambourine soloist in the world. Because if there was, someone would hurt them.

Lately the only person we’ve seen seriously shaking up a tambourine is Natalie Maines of the Dixie Chicks, and she can shake it, baby! But it seems the vast majority of tambourines today have become relegated to grade school rhythm bands of children, who aren’t actually playing them, but use them as a lure to get families to school events and see their child on stage. “Look, there’s Little Johnny right there with the tambourine.”

That same kid at home banging around a tambourine for more than 10 minutes is soon sitting in the naughty corner, with the tambourine hidden in an unreachable location. Those embarrassing tambourine pictures on stage will one day come back to haunt him.

One of our staff members said that as a kid, they were quite ticked off to be handed the tambourine percussion instrument in school band, but… not as completely pissed off as when they had been given the triangle and stick to play. You can be sure THAT little tidbit of information will surely be added to the Christmas gift list for 2007.

“Hey. Mister Tambourine man, play a song for me…”

...yeah right. Try playing a song by hand on the tambourine - by itself. One we can recognize.


The tambourine is actually an ancient instrument and can be traced back to most ancient civilizations. If you’d like to read up on the History of the Tambourine, go here.

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