Sunday, 16 March 2014
ELDER MUSIC: 1947
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 1947?
- Tim Buckley was born
- A Streetcar Named Desire premiered on Broadway
- Edwin Land demonstrated the Polaroid camera
- A weather balloon crashed at Roswell, New Mexico
- "The Paradine Case was released
- America won the Davis Cup
- Carlton were premiers.
ROY BROWN recorded Good Rockin' Tonight after offering it to Wynonie Harris who turned it down.
After Roy's version became a hit, Wynonie recorded it after all, making it more energetic. It became a bigger hit than Roy's but he didn't mind as he collected the royalties.
It was later memorably covered by Elvis and others including Pat Boone (cringe).
CHARLES TRENET didn't perform any songs he didn't write himself.
Fortunately, he was a prolific tunesmith, way over a thousand, so there were enough that he wouldn't have to wonder what to do next. Certainly the most famous of his songs in the English-speaking world is La Mer.
Now for the great T-BONE WALKER with his song, Call It Stormy Monday (But Tuesday Is Just As Bad).
That's the official title of the song. It's usually just called Stormy Monday but there are other songs with that title. Given all that, this is by far the best known of them so there's generally no confusion (unless we're playing one of the others).
Next up, FRANK SINATRA with one of his memorable songs. Okay, that doesn't narrow it down too much.
This is September Song, written by Kurt Weill and Maxwell Anderson supplied the lyrics. The song was written especially for Walter Huston, of all people, to sing in the film, Knickerbocker Holiday.
Frank recorded this song a couple more times, not counting live albums, of course, but here is the one recorded in 1947.
Now the man we have to thank/blame (take your pick) for rock & roll. Without him, it's possible it wouldn't have happened, certainly not the same way. I'm talking, of course, of BIG JOE TURNER.
Even in these songs of his from the forties we have a taste of what was to come. This is My Gal's a Jockey.
THE MILLS BROTHERS certainly kept on keeping on.
Although they started singing around the house earlier and at their father's barbershop (making them a barbershop quartet, I guess), they began professionally in 1926. Unfortunately, one brother (John) died 10 years later.
They contemplated breaking up but dad (also John) stepped in to take his place. After celebrating their 50th year in show biz, dad left due to various medical complications.
They carried on as a trio. Harry died in 1982 (that's 56 years by now) and Herbert and Donald kept going until Herbert died in 1989 (63 years in the business). At this stage John III, Donald's son, joined up.
They kept going until Donald died in 1999 (that brings us to 73 years performing). Young John continues the tradition going with a bit of outside help.
Here they are with Across the Alley from the Alamo.
American universities certainly indulge in some strange practices: in too many of them the overwhelming emphasis on sport rather than learning springs immediately to mind. Then there are fraternities and sororities. What are you thinking of?
That brings me to the Whiffenpoofs who at least seem to be just a choral group (at Yale). They have their own song, Whiffenpoof Song. Here's BING CROSBY to sing it.
Open the Door, Richard started out as a black vaudeville routine. The performer half spoke, half sang the refrain. It was turned into a song by Jack McVea who generally played saxophone.
It was such a runaway success that more than a dozen other versions were recorded, many of them were also hits. Here is one of them by LOUIS JORDAN.
Golden Earrings was a spy film from this year with Ray Milland. The song was sung in the film by Murvyn Vye, who is new to me. This was quite popular so folks were lining up to record it.
Bing was first out of the starting blocks, but the big hit was by PEGGY LEE.
At last, HANK WILLIAMS.
The song Move It on Over, Hank's first hit, like some other songs this year, presages rock & roll. It sounds like pure country but the structure is really that of a blues song.
The solo guitar would not sound out of place in any later rock song.
1948 will appear in two weeks' time.