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 1948?
- Jackson Browne was born
- FX Holden released (that's for the Australians reading)
- The long playing record (33⅓) invented
- Olympic Games held in London
- Key Largo was released
- America won the Davis Cup
- Melbourne and Essendon played a draw in the Grand Final
- Melbourne were premiers in the replay
Nature Boy is a bit of a strange song written by a bit of a strange songwriter – eden ahbez (he used the lower case).
He was born George Arbele in Brooklyn and was later adopted by a family in Kansas where he went by the name George McGrew. Later, he grew his hair long, had a beard and wore sandals and white robes.
He may have been the first hippie. He lived with his family in the woods under the first L of the Hollywood sign. They lived on fruit and nuts (appropriate) and vegetables.
He got the song to NAT KING COLE who was mightily impressed with it and recorded it. It became a big hit.
PAULA WATSON recorded A Little Bird Told Me and it started to make a mark on the charts.
A big record company, Decca, had Evelyn Knight record the song. She did that and it was virtually identical to Paula's version – vocals, backing instruments, the lot, such that many people couldn't tell them apart. Yet another example of white artists ripping off the black originals.
Paula's record company sued. Unfortunately, they lost; the judge said that arrangements aren't copyrightable. Hmm. Anyway, here's the original by Paula.
Speaking of black originals, here's one of a kind JOHN LEE HOOKER.
The tune today was John Lee's first release and it's been called "the riff that launched a million songs.”
It inspired, and was used in, countless blues and rock tunes. It's amazing how far you can get on a single chord. The song is Boogie Chillen'.
Yet another great blues artist, the great MUDDY WATERS made a musical dent this year.
Muddy recorded this song for the Aristocrat label, the forerunner of Chess records. He created it from two of his previous songs, ones that Alan Lomax recorded when Muddy was still on a plantation in Mississippi.
This was the song that broke Muddy to a wider audience, I Can't Be Satisfied.
EDDY ARNOLD was born on a farm in Tennessee.
His father played the fiddle and his mother the guitar so he had a good head start on this music caper. He started singing on radio stations in the area and then further afield.
He caught the eye and ear of "Colonel" Tom Parker (now, where have I heard that name before?) who got him a record deal with RCA. Eddy's song today is Anytime, a song that's been recorded by quite a few people over the years.
If you think rock & roll didn't begin until the fifties, point your ears at this next song by WILD BILL MOORE.
All I need to do is say that the title is We're Gonna Rock, We're Gonna Roll.
In 1948, NELLIE LUTCHER had a string of hits on the R&B charts.
Nellie was a jazz and R&B singer and also played piano. She was a major influence on Nina Simone.
Nellie was from Louisiana, one of 15 kids. Her parents both played instruments (I'm surprised they had time) and young Nellie received piano lessons. At 12, she played piano for Ma Rainey and at 14 she joined her dad's jazz band.
She later moved to Los Angeles where she became friends with Nat King Cole. They duetted on several records of Nat's over the years. Her song today is probably her most successful, Fine Brown Frame.
ARTHUR SMITH is a pretty mean guitar picker.
He first played cornet and later switched to banjo and guitar. In 1955, he wrote and recorded a tune called Feudin' Banjoes. This was later renamed Dueling Banjoes and used memorably in the film Deliverance (it wasn't his version that was used though).
The tune today is called Boomerang and for the life of me I can't see any connection to Australia in it.
THE ORIOLES were one of the first DooWop groups to become successful.
They were lucky in having Sonny Til as lead tenor. Indeed, the group later became known as Sonny Til and The Orioles. They were originally called The Vibra-Naires (I'm glad that one didn't last) and about that time Deborah Chessler became their manager. She was also a songwriter of some skill and wrote the song, It's Too Soon to Know.
THE INK SPOTS turn their hand to a song written by William Faber and Fred Meadows called You Were Only Fooling.
Like a lot of songs around this time, there were several versions all of which made the charts. The Ink Spots were the ones who made the highest rung.
1949 will appear in two weeks' time.