Sunday, 15 June 2014
ELDER MUSIC: Greyhound Bus
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.
The Greyhound Bus Company turns 100 years old this month and as their buses are mentioned in many songs, Norma, the Assistant Musicologist, and I thought there could be a column in that.
First, honorable mentions to Chuck Berry's Promised Land, Simon and Garfunkel's America and The Drifters' On Broadway.
These were the first three songs we thought of but because I have used them recently, or will use them soon (depending on the timing of these things) I decided to omit them as there are enough other good songs.
To begin, the A.M. insisted on this song being present - not just present but leading off. After all, the protagonist "was born in the back seat of a Greyhound bus" so it deserves the prime spot. I'm talking about the ALLMAN BROTHERS BAND.
I assume they weren't all born in the backseat, maybe just Dickey Betts, who wrote the song, sang it and played guitar on the record. The A.M. says that this song is the world champion steering-wheel thumper. It's Ramblin' Man.
Next, a song described by the A.M. as the offspring of Promised Land and Johnny B. Goode: Bye Bye Johnny. Of course, the father of them all is CHUCK BERRY.
It continues the adventures of Johnny B. Goode as a grown man trying to restart his career.
For something completely different from the first couple of tracks, and some decades earlier, here are the DINNING SISTERS.
These were real sisters (not all brothers and sister acts in show biz are actually related, you might be surprised to learn). They were Lou, Jean and Ginger. There was also a younger brother named Mark who was a bit of a pop star in the late fifties, early sixties.
The sisters were signed by Capitol records as an answer to the Andrews Sisters. As you know, they didn't eclipse the Andrews but they had several charting records. This isn't one of them, Love on a Greyhound Bus.
One that surprised me is by ROD STEWART.
It's one that Rod wrote about a friend of his (and The Faces, his group at the time). It surprised me because I'd forgotten about the Greyhound reference. This is The Killing Of Georgie (Parts 1 & 2).
Musicians of all genres are probably familiar with Greyhound buses. Here's a country take on our subject by THE LOUVIN BROTHERS.
The Louvins were a dichotomous duo (certainly in their personal life, but we won't go there today). They wrote some exasperatingly self-righteous songs and then some of the finest country songs around. Fortunately, today's is of the latter kind, Cash on the Barrelhead.
SAM COOKE wrote and recorded Somebody Have Mercy.
It made the lower ranks of the charts and is not remembered as amongst his best but anything that Sam performed is worth a listen from my point of view. See if you agree.
ERIC CLAPTON's Greyhound Bus was not on the original release of the album “Slowhand,” his biggest selling record.
However, when the album was rereleased recently, there it was along with a whole bunch of other tunes that hadn't seen light of day before. As with Sam, it's far from his best work but anything from Eric deserves your attention also.
Here THE LOVIN' SPOONFUL, after their driving force and main man, John Sebastian, had left for a solo career, perform Never Going Back.
There doesn't seem to be any pictures of them as a threesome, so ignore that person on the left. At this stage, they weren't far away from disintegrating completely but were performing as a trio. The vocals on this track were sung by the drummer, Joe Butler.
JOE SOUTH is probably best remembered for a bunch of hits in the late sixties.
However, there was more to him than that. He was a skilled songwriter and a much in demand session guitarist – he played on Bob Dylan's "Blonde on Blonde" album as well as backing Aretha Franklin, Simon and Garfunkel and many others.
His Greyhound song, Don't It Make You Want To Go Home, is one of those hits mentioned earlier.
CREEDENCE CLEARWATER REVIVAL are represented by one of their best songs.
That song is Lodi. It came out as a single before the album from which it was taken was released. It was the B-side. On the flip was Bad Moon Rising - you got your money's worth on that record.
Originally on the list, but missing the final cut are Robert Johnson's Me and the Devil (a contender for the earliest Greyhound bus song) and Billy Joel's New York State of Mind. Many others as well, but those others weren't serious contenders.
The Australian Greyhound Bus Company, which is entirely separate from the American one, is older.