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 1951?
- Bob Geldof was born
- Australia celebrated its 50th birthday as an independent country by shrugging its collective shoulders
- The Catcher in the Rye was published
- Elizabeth Taylor obtained her first divorce
- Strangers on a Train was released
- Geelong were premiers
Irving Gordon wrote Mister and Mississippi which was a big success for PATTI PAGE.
Because of its popularity, Irv decided to write more songs based on states' names the most successful of which was the pun-filled Delaware, a hit for Perry Como.
It's the Mississippi we have today though.
CHARLES BROWN would certainly be considered the smoothest blues singer around.
Although he was too mellow a performer to survive the rock & roll surge, paradoxically, he was a great influence on Chuck Berry whose earliest records were quite similar in style to those of Charles.
In the eighties and nineties he made a comeback and produced some fine albums. His song is Seven Long Days.
Another pianist, but quite a different one, BUD POWELL.
He was influenced by Thelonious Monk, who became a friend of his, and he became a key figure in the development of BeBop. Unfortunately, he suffered from schizophrenia and he was in and out of mental institutions all his life. It's probably this that has stopped him gaining the recognition he deserves.
This is his own composition, Un Poco Loco.
EDDIE FISHER makes his first appearance here but not yet in Elizabeth Taylor's life.
Eddie gained a degree of local stardom singing around his native Philadelphia. He was discovered there and gained some success elsewhere until he was drafted.
After his stint, his star rose nationally and he had a number of hits in the first half of the fifties. This is one of them, Turn Back the Hands of Time.
Thankfully, LOUIS ARMSTRONG is still around in 1951.
This tune didn't change jazz history, as many of his past tunes did, but it's a really nice one, A Kiss to Build a Dream On.
ELMORE JAMES was one of the best slide guitarists ever. He also liked to pump up his amplifier as far as it could go. You could say he pretty much invented heavy metal.
Brian Jones was a big fan of his and emulated his slide style on the early Stones' records. Dust My Broom was written either by Elmore or Robert Johnson, nobody is really sure. Probably neither of them, like most blues songs it evolved over time.
What is certain is that it's been recorded by more musicians than we have all had hot breakfasts.
JO STAFFORD has the unenviable task of following Elmore.
Shrimp Boats was written by Paul Howard and Paul Weston. The latter Paul was married to Jo so she had first call on the song. There are other versions but this is the one with which I'm familiar.
BILLY ECKSTINE had one of the smoothest voices around.
In the forties, Billy formed his own band and, my goodness, did he ever nurture some talent. Dizzy Gillespie, Dexter Gordon, Miles Davis, Art Blakey and Charlie Parker have all had gigs in his band.
He's most remembered these days for his singing, and what a singer. This is I Apologize.
Now we go to the other extreme with HOWLIN WOLF.
The Wolf was another favorite of The Stones, they even covered his song, The Red Rooster. That's for another day, though, today it's How Many More Years.
CHARLES TRENET has written a song about writing songs.
The song is L'Ame Des Poètes (Longtemps, Longtemps, Longtemps) which pretty much means The Poets’ Soul (for a long time). It's about how a song can have a life independent of its creator, or even of his original intention.
We see that all the time but it's seldom expressed so beautifully.
You can find more music from 1951 here.
1952 will appear in two weeks' time.