Sunday, 16 February 2014
ELDER MUSIC: 1945
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.
1945 was a significant year – the war ended and I was born (in that order). I was a "Dad's home from the war for Christmas" baby (the previous year, obviously) as I popped out in the middle of September.
This is the year where we really started getting some interesting music – BeBop, Rhythm & Blues and so on. My kind of music. There will be others featured as well for those who prefer the older style.
What happened in 1945?
- Jessye Norman was born
- United Nations founded in San Francisco
- Franklin Roosevelt died with victory in sight
- John Curtin (Australia's Prime Minister) died with victory in sight
- Winston Churchill was defeated in general election
- The Lost Weekend was released.
- Carlton were premiers.
BeBop has begun and the two main purveyors of the style are DIZZY GILLESPIE and CHARLIE PARKER.
The tune, Salt Peanuts, was composed by Diz with a little help from drummer Kenny Clarke. That's Diz performing the "vocals" for want of a better word. Naturally, he plays the trumpet as well and Bird is on alto sax.
There's still some old style music around, in this case it's THE ANDREWS SISTERS.
The original music of Rum and Coca Cola was written by Lionel Belasco for a song called L'Année Passée. Later, Lord Invader (Rupert Grant to his folks) and Lionel Belasco wrote the new words and turned it into a calypso tune.
Morey Amsterdam copyrighted the song in America after he heard it on a visit to Trinidad. It became a huge hit for the Andrews. Later, the true credits were restored after a plagiarism lawsuit.
Caldonia Blues was written by LOUIS JORDAN.
However, Louis' wife at the time, Fleecie Moore, is credited with writing it. He did that so he could use a separate publishing house. Unfortunately, when the song became a big hit they had divorced and Louis was rather miffed as Fleecie was getting all the moulah.
It's Only a Paper Moon was written by Harold Arlen, E. Y. Harburg and Billy Rose. It was intended for a Broadway play called "The Great Magoo.” This play bombed, but the song lives on. The version today is by ELLA FITZGERALD.
Ella is assisted by the Delta Rhythm Boys who were sort of Mills Brothers, Ink Spots clones. They don't do a bad job though.
JOE LIGGINS performs The Honeydripper Parts 1 & 2.
Back when it was released it had Parts 1 and 2 on either sides of the record. These days you can hear them both without going to the trouble of flipping it over.
Joe had written the song a couple of years earlier and it was so successful he named his group after the song (without the Parts 1 and 2, of course).
Nancy (With the Laughing Face) was written by Jimmy Van Heusen and Phil Silvers (yes, that Phil Silvers). It was originally called Bessie (With the Laughing Face) after a friend's wife who was having a birthday. They changed the name each time they sang it for different women's birthdays.
When they sang it for little Nancy Sinatra, Frank broke down as he thought it was written especially for her. They didn't correct him. Here is FRANK SINATRA with Nancy (With the Laughing Face).
Lover Man (Oh, Where Can You Be?) was written especially for BILLIE HOLIDAY by Jimmy Davis, Ram Ramirez and James Sherman.
Others have performed it, of course, but no one has done it better.
BIG MACEO MERRIWEATHER was a blues pianist and singer, although there are no vocals on the track we have today.
Maceo was originally from Atlanta but moved to Detroit while quite young to play in the clubs there. Once established, he moved to Chicago so he could record and stayed there for the rest of his life which wasn't too long as he drank a bit.
Here he plays Chicago Breakdown.
You Belong to My Heart was written by Augustin Lara, a Mexican songwriter, and was originally called Solamente Una Vez. The English words were written by Ray Gilbert and we have BING CROSBY to sing it.
To finish we have JAY MCSHANN and His Blues Men with Confessin' the Blues.
Jay played both blues and BeBop jazz in the early forties. Several well known musicians played in his band, most notably Charlie Parker and Ben Webster. This track is more blues oriented and has Jimmy Witherspoon on vocals.
1946 will appear in two weeks' time.