This Sunday Elder Music column was launched in December of 2008. By May of the following year, one commenter, Peter Tibbles, had added so much knowledge and value to my poor attempts at musical presentations that I asked him to take over the column. He's been here each week ever since delighting us with his astonishing grasp of just about everything musical, his humor and sense of fun. You can read Peter's bio here and find links to all his columns here.
It’s time for another variation on a single song. As the heading suggests, this is Don’t Get Around Much Anymore.
The tune was written by Duke Ellington and he called it Never No Lament. His band recorded it and had a bit of a hit with it in 1940.
Bob Russell wrote words to it and changed the name. Duke’s group rerecorded it and it made the charts once again a couple of years later along with several other vocal versions, at least one of which will be included today.
I’ll start with that original version. This is the DUKE ELLINGTON band with Don't Get Around Much Anymore or Never No Lament. Take your pick.
No matter what it’s called, it’s very definitely the tune we know.
One of those versions that made the charts at the same time as Duke was by the INK SPOTS.
The Ink Spots were as big as they come in 1943 when they made number 2 on the charts with their version (didn’t quite hit that top spot with this song, but they did with several others).
The membership of the group was rather fluid about this time due to members joining the army and the like. Later it was fluid due to ructions within the group and general attrition. Here they are at their peak.
B.B. KING pulls out all the stops with his version of the song.
I’m used to hearing B.B. in a more stripped backed musical setting; this is an interesting variation on his usual style. I admit to preferring the smaller group that he mostly uses but here is something different for you.
Nat King Cole is missing from today’s column, but MOSE ALLISON is here to fill his spot.
Mose started his career playing with Stan Getz, Gerry Mulligan, Zoot Sims and others. That’s not a bad start. He’s a hugely influential artist and many rock and blues performers consider him a major influence.
About ten years ago, he said that he wasn’t going to record any more albums, however, a couple of years ago a new one popped out. Let’s hope there are still more to come. This is Mose’s interpretation of the song.
LOUIS ARMSTRONG’s version is interesting.
It begins with his great trumpet playing, then his distinctive singing (with some fine clarinet playing backing him). After that, there’s some piano playing that is closer to modern jazz than Louis’s usual style. Then there’s that trumpet again.
Of course, it was rather superfluous my telling you that as you can hear it for yourselves.
WILLIE NELSON has made a point of recording all these great old songs over the years so it’s no surprise that the one we’re interested in today is among them.
Willie is, of course, a great jazz singer and pretty good jazz guitarist. I know people will say, “Come on, he’s a country singer.” My retort is to listen carefully. This is his interpretation of the song.
It surprised me that the closest I came to a big band today was the version by SAM COOKE.
Although Sam is mostly known for gospel, pop and soul tunes he, like many of his contemporaries, recorded songs from the previous era of music – tunes from the thirties and forties. It was generally expected of them back then.
JOE PASS is one of the great jazz guitarists.
His work with Ella Fitzgerald made Ella worth listening to (Oooo, that’ll get the Ella fans offside with me). Anyway, this is purely instrumental and a lovely laid-back piece.
For a complete change of pace here’s DR JOHN (Mac Rebennack to his folks). This is the least traditional version we have today.
It is New Orleans rock & roll, blues, whatever. The sort of things for which he is renowned.