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.
Santa Fe is the oldest capital in the United States (founded in 1610), but you all knew that - I just threw it in for something to say.
After California and Massachusetts, I've spent more time in New Mexico than any other American state. Indeed, I've spent more time there than any Australian state except Victoria.
Naturally, having spent all that time there, I've visited Santa Fe a number of times. Santa Fe is known for its arts and crafts and it was in there I first discovered the art work of R.C. Gorman, Georgia O'Keeffe and John Axton. John was the only one of those whose work I could afford.
An interesting insight into the geography of the two countries is that Santa Fe is higher above sea level than the tip of the highest mountain in Australia (Mount Kosciuszko). So, let's go with songs about Santa Fe (or ones that mention the city).
I first discovered ELIZA GILKYSON when I was in New Mexico quite some time ago. Eliza was living there at the time.
That was through a very early album of hers called "Love From the Heart" (and she was calling herself Lisa Gilkyson back then). I still have that one (on vinyl); I'm not getting rid of if it as I've never seen it on CD (or any other format).
From later in her career she sings Lights of Santa Fe.
THE SONS OF THE PIONEERS had several songs that were contenders. I guess they like Santa Fe.
The two most famous members of the group were Roy Rogers (who doesn't appear in the song today) and Bob Nolan. Bob wrote many of their songs, but not this one.
After playing them, including two different versions of the one I chose, I decided on Along the Santa Fe Trail. This one they recorded in 1947.
ARTHUR CRUDUP is probably best known these days for writing That's All Right Mama, the first song with which Elvis made the charts. He recorded several others of Arthur's as well.
Arthur is one of the most important links between rhythm and blues (and straight blues) and rock & roll. Many early (and not so early) rockers have covered his songs. The one we're interested in today is Mean Old Santa Fe.
I find it amusing that probably the most famous railway in America, the Atchison Topeka and Santa Fe doesn't get to Santa Fe (and never has). I guess, because of that, technically, the song On the Atchison Topeka and the Santa Fe isn't about our city.
That doesn't stop me though. There are a bunch of versions of this song and I'm going for the one I like best by BING CROSBY.
You don't need me to tell you about Bing, I'll just play the song. That's Six Hits and a Miss supplying backing vocals.
After his motor cycle accident in 1966, BOB DYLAN went to Woodstock (in New York state) to rest and recuperate.
Coincidently (or perhaps not), the members of the band who backed him on that famous first electric tour were living just down the road. They were The Hawks but later became better known as The Band.
Naturally they couldn't help themselves and they started playing music together (in the big pink house a couple of The Band were renting).
They recorded a lot of these sessions as demos of new songs for other artists. This music made its way out to the general public and was later officially released as "The Basement Tapes". From that album Bob and The Band perform Santa-Fe.
JIMMIE DALE GILMORE has two musical careers: as a solo artist and as a member of The Flatlanders with Joe Ely and Butch Hancock.
He's also a bit of an actor and has appeared in a number of films. However, we're interested in his music, and in particular, the song Santa Fe Thief.
PAUL SIMON doesn't actually mention Santa Fe in his song.
However, he does reference the Sangre de Cristo Mountains that are a backdrop to the city and that's good enough for me. The song is Hearts and Bones for the album of the same name.
That one is rather neglected in Paul's canon but I think it's a really fine and worth being in your collection if you like Paul's music.
Although not a tribute band, THE SONS OF THE SAN JOAQUIN somewhat channel The Sons of the Pioneers.
Like their predecessors, they sing of life as cowboys (although they certainly didn't earn a living doing that).
These Sons are brothers Joe and Jack Hannah and Joe's son Lon. They have that sibling, or perhaps familial more to the point, harmony down pat, they make beautiful music together. Here they are with Santa Fe Lights.
The Sons, just above, first came to notice singing backing on one of MICHAEL MARTIN MURPHEY's "Cowboy Songs" albums. He was so impressed he got them a recording contract.
Michael has a few songs that could be considered today. I originally had him inked in performing Santa Fe Trail. However, going back over the others, I decided that I preferred Sante Fe Cantina, so that's the one you have today.
VAN MORRISON is an unlikely contender today, but I'll use any excuse to include him.
Van's song is really two for the price of one. They are Santa Fé and Beautiful Obsession.