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.
I was once a multi-millionaire. Let me tell you about it.
Some time ago, quite some time ago, I was at the bank to deposit a cheque into my account. I handed over my passbook (that’s how long ago it was) and tap tap tappity tap tap tap.
"Uh oh?" I echoed.
"I entered the wrong amount," came the reply.
"Well," I suggested, "Just reverse it and start again." Mr Practical.
"It’s not that simple. I entered 20 million dollars."
It seems that government regulations, even then, said that they (the government) had to be notified whenever moolah of more than some amount or other was deposited. They especially had to be notified if that same amount was pretty much immediately removed from said account.
"This may take some time," she suggested. Forms to fill in, all that sort of thing.
"That’s okay," was my reply, "Take a couple of days, even a week or two. I promise not to touch the money."
I did a quick mental calculation of the daily interest (as the bank prided itself on calculating it daily). It was around about five and a half thousand bucks a day at the time.
It took about half an hour (not the many days I’d hoped for) but they gave me a coffee (a really good one – Melbourne is a great coffee city). Then I was back to my normal semi-pauper status.
Today’s column involves millions of all sorts.
I’ll begin with maybe the most famous million song, at least to readers of this column, and the singer is BING CROSBY.
Der Bingle needs no introduction from me (which is good as it saves me waffling on about things you already know). So, I’ll get straight into the music with I Found a Million Dollar Baby.
Now for something completely different, here are BOB DYLAN and THE BAND.
This is from the time after Bob had his motorcycle accident in 1966. He retired to Woodstock with the members of the band who supported him on his galvanic world tour, The Hawks (who later became The Band).
A couple of members of the group rented a big pink house (thus the name of their first album) which had a large basement that they used to play music in – old songs, new songs, made up bits, just about everything. They recorded much of these, mainly to see how they sounded.
In the way of things, some of these recordings reached the outside world and became some of the most famous bootleg albums ever. Some years later, a number of the tunes were released on an official album, “The Basement Tapes.” From that we have Million Dollar Bash.
THE FIVE SATINS had one of the great Doowop songs from the fifties, or ever really, with In the Still of the Night.
That’s not relevant to today’s topic; we’re going with one of their others. The Satins had a rather revolving bunch of singers but one was there for most of the time and he was Fred Parris. He started the group and was the lead singer. Their song is A Million to One.
THE INSECT TRUST was a really interesting band out of New York in the late sixties, early seventies.
They had a cult following which means they didn’t reach the mainstream with their concerts or album releases, one of which, “Hoboken Saturday Night,” was an underground classic. From that album we have Ragtime Millionaire.
HARRY ANGUS is the trumpeter, singer and songwriter for the fine band the Cat Empire.
I think of the Cats as a really good new band but they’ve been around for 15 years or so. How time flies.
All of its members came from the Melbourne jazz scene but that didn’t restrict them; they are proficient in rock & roll, ska, blues, funk and Latin music as well as jazz.
Harry recently released a really interesting solo album which pretty much consisted of him singing and playing acoustic guitar. All the songs were his. This one is Daddy's Millions.
TOM RUSH’s contribution was written by Jim Garland in the thirties.
Tom recorded it in the sixties but it was a song from the depression and is still relevant today, unfortunately. I could go into editorial mode, but all you need to do is listen to the lyrics. I Don't Want Your Millions Mister.
If I mention FRANK SINATRA in the context of today’s column you’ll probably think Who Wants to be a Millionaire? That was my initial selection as well but I’ve decided not to use it and have something completely different.
This is Frank with I Haven't Time To Be a Millionaire. A little touch of irony there.
THE PLATTERS were by far the best of the vocal groups from the fifties.
They had a considerable run of success with many fine records. This isn’t one I remember from back then but it’s the one for today. The song sounds to me a bit like The Great Pretender but if you’re going to steal one of your own songs, that’d be the one. One in a Million.
There was an interesting recent album that had various country artists performing some unreleased songs by Hank Williams. One of the tracks featured RODNEY CROWELL and VINCE GILL.
Rodney is one of my particular favorites and Vince is a pretty decent singer as well. The song they performed is unmistakably Hank Williams. It’s also a country song as it has talky bits in it. This is the way that Norma, the Assistant Musicologist, can pick country songs, she says.
That’s Rodney doing the talking and Vince most of the singing. Unfortunately, it’s far from the best song Hank ever wrote but it fits the category today. I Hope You Shed a Million Tears.
And speaking of not the best song, this one is far from ELVIS’s best but it has million in its title so it’s included.
Actually, the title is an appropriate way to end this column today, For The Millionth And The Last Time.
It should be noted that the million dollar bill at the top is not real. The United States government has never released a million dollar bill (nor has the Australian government). Of course, many countries have, due to hyper-inflation. Fortunately, we haven’t needed to do so.