Sunday, 06 October 2013
ELDER MUSIC: 1936
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.
WHAT HAPPENED IN 1936?
- Buddy Holly was born
- Olympic Games in Berlin. Jesse Owens won every event he was in
- The Spitfire flew for the first time
- Monopoly made its first appearance
- Hitler launched the "people's car" (or Volkswagen)
- My mum and dad were married (although they weren't mum and dad at the time)
- The film Reefer Madness was released
- Great Britain won the Davis Cup
- Collingwood were premiers
I'll start the year with BILLIE HOLIDAY.
Any year that begins that way can't be all bad. The song I have in mind was written by Eric Maschwitz and Jack Stachey who were both English. Eric, who wrote the words, had an affair with Anna May Wong while in America and he wrote this to evoke the memory of that. These Foolish Things.
Here is a country instrumental by BOB WILLS.
Of course, anything by Bob is not strictly wordless; he's noted for pretty much talking all the way through the tune. I often wish he wouldn't. You can hear him (and The Texas Playboys) on Steel Guitar Rag.
Here is a song that FATS WALLER didn't write.
It came from Billy Mayhew. However, Fats was the first recorded version but certainly not the last. The song is It's a Sin to Tell a Lie.
FRED ASTAIRE performed the next song in a film called Swing Time.
The song was sung to the character played by Ginger Rogers (now there's a surprise). She was washing her hair in the next room and didn't feel like being sung to. Oh well, the song won an academy award anyway. It's The Way You Look Tonight.
BING CROSBY played a singer in a film called Pennies From Heaven. Now there's a stretch for him.
In the film he was banged up (wrongly, of course, we can't have Bing playing a baddie) and that rather put his plans to become a gondolier in Venice on hold. When he got out, he performed on the streets (not Venice) as a busker to make money for an orphan girl and his old granddad.
They don't make films like that anymore. Oh, Louis Armstrong was in it too, but he probably wasn't thinking of being a gondolier. Bing sings the title song.
The Great Speckled Bird is a hymn written by Guy Smith and will be performed today by ROY ACUFF.
According to Wiki, it is an allegory referencing fundamentalist self-perception during the Fundamentalist-Modernist Controversy. Okey dokey.
Whatever it is, Roy doesn't do a bad job of it. Well, he was a fine fiddle player, shame about the words.
I've always preferred BENNY GOODMAN in his small groups.
However, this isn't bad, although taken a bit fast for me. Helen Ward is the vocalist on the track and she and Benny were very close at the time. Indeed, they nearly got married but Benny decided his career was more important. I guess that isn't The Glory of Love.
EDDY DUCHIN started out as a pharmacist.
He began his musical career as pianist with Leo Reisman's orchestra even though he had no musical training. That didn't stop him from leading his own group either, although some of his musicians were a little frustrated at times.
He found considerable success before the war but couldn't duplicate that afterwards as musical tastes had changed. He died far too young of acute leukemia. This is Take My Heart with Jerry Cooper singing.
ROBERT JOHNSON made very few records during his short time with us.
Every one of those records, though, is a masterpiece of blues. He was destined to be a superstar of the genre before he was murdered. Of course, he achieved that posthumously, not the way he'd have preferred, I'd imagine.
Here is Kindhearted Woman Blues.
What a great name for a group, ANDY KIRK & HIS TWELVE CLOUDS OF JOY.
Andy was a saxophonist and tubist (if there is such a word – he played tuba) and the band had Mary Lou Williams on piano and as arranger. That's Pha Terrell singing (he's a bloke, it's hard to tell from his name).
Pha goes into Tiny Tim mode towards the end of this song,
1937 will appear in two weeks' time.