Mist Covered Mountains of Home

I first heard this tune on El McMeen’s CD, Playing Favorites. El’s music has been an inspiration to me ever since I discovered his playing. It began when I downloaded a sheet of hand-written tablature for a tune called My Mary of the Curling Hair from his web site. El plays a lot in the tuning CGDGAD and Mary was the first tune I learned in that tuning. I just loved the way it sounded and began to play more in CGDGAD.

I struck up an e-mail dialogue with El and found him to be the most approachable and helpful of players that one could hope to find. I ordered a CD of his (Dancing the Strings) and, after hearing it, ordered his entire back catalogue as a Christmas present to myself in 2003.

I did a couple of video lessons with El, where I would record a video of myself playing a tune, send it to him over the Internet and have him critique my playing. That worked quite well, but obviously was nothing like as good as the real thing.

In October 2004 I flew to the USA for my first Little Brother Jam and, since I was there, I decided to take a trip to El’s house in New Jersey for a lesson at his home. It was a great experience and one which I would very much like to repeat one day.

The Mist Covered Mountains of Home is a tricky tune to play and I’ve never played it live. In some ways it’s more difficult than the Humours of Ballyloughlin, also one of El’s arrangements in CGDGAD, as it really requires emotion. The Humours requires emotion too, of course, but the essential part of the Humours is the timing; you really have to get the groove of that one going and get the feet tapping.

I haven’t practised Mist for a while and I have a chance to play it out at the forthcoming 10th RMMGA UK gathering at Hargate Hall in March. February should be a relatively quiet month for me (translation deadline is end of Jan) so I plan to spend some time working on Mist and see if I can get it to a playable state. I know from experience that playing a tune in front of people is the baptism of fire method of discovering if you really have it down as well as you think you have.

Mist is one of those tunes that can really bring tears to my eyes, even my own playing of it, and that’s something that happens all too infrequently for me.

This video of it was recording some time ago, around November 2004 if my post on my Celtic Guitar Talk forum is to be believed.

The Mist Covered Mountains of Home


  1. [this is good] Nicely done, and I can see why it moves you so. 🙂 I’ve sent this link on to my guitar-playing Scot friend.

    A very nice person who knows me really well gave me Bruce Cockburn’s Speechless CD for Christmas – have you heard it? It is a compilation of many of his acoustic pieces. Great collection, and one can definitely trace a Celtic influence to his work.

  2. Thanks! I haven’t heard much Bruce Cockburn at all, if any. I’ll check it out and see what I think. Thanks for the rec!

  3. I just started working on this tune again on my new Santa Cruz Vintage Artist yesterday and it brought back immediatly both how beautiful a tune it as, and how hard it is to play well. I hope to have it in a performable state for the forthcoming RMMGA UK gathering next month. Just got to keep practising!