INTERESTING STUFF – 3 June 2017
The Disease Begins to Come Into Focus

ELDER MUSIC: 1936 Again

Tibbles1SM100x130This 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.

* * *

I started this particular column only so I could include this first song. Norma, the Assistant Musicologist, and I were driving to Daylesford (north-west of Melbourne, famed for its restaurants) when we heard it on the radio.

"What is that?" we said, and "We have to include that in a column." And so it shall be. Fortunately, we got the name of the song but not the performer. I have since discovered that it is SOL K. BRIGHT & HIS HOLLYWAIIANS.

Sol Bright

That's Sol, third from the left. What a treat the song is, so for your delectation here is the Hawaiian Cowboy. I challenge you not to smile while listening.

♫ Sol K Bright - Hawaiian Cowboy


BILLIE HOLIDAY was in full swing around this time.

Billie Holiday

Naturally, I'll include Billie whenever I can. The song I've chosen was written by Jerome Kern and Dorothy Fields and first performed by Fred Astaire serenading Ginger Rogers in the film "Swing Time". It is The Way You Look Tonight.

♫ Billie Holiday - The Way You Look Tonight


Here is another unlikely cowboy. This time it's BING CROSBY.

Bing Crosby

At first I couldn't imagine Bing as a cowboy but after some research I found that he played one in the film "Rhythm on the Range" from 1936 – our chosen year, in fact.

Indeed, it was from that film that we get Bing's song I'm An Old Cowhand. There were about a dozen songs in the film which wouldn't have left much time for ridin', ropin' and rootin'.

♫ Bing Crosby - I'm An Old Cowhand


I could have included FRED ASTAIRE earlier, but I already had him for this next song.

Fred Astaire

Like the Billie's song, it was written by Jerome Kern and Dorothy Fields, and was also from the same film. Fred sings A Fine Romance.

♫ Fred Astaire - A Fine Romance


LOUIS ARMSTRONG could have been included several times this year, but I restrained myself.

Louis Armstrong

I also restrained myself from saying that he was the most important musician of the twentieth century. Oops, too late. Here is Lyin' To Myself.

♫ Louis Armstrong - Lyin' To Myself


While we're on the subject of important musicians, probably the most influential blues musician of the first half of the century had several songs on the chart this year. I'm talking about ROBERT JOHNSON, of course.

Robert Johnson

He didn't get around to recording any more songs (after the 40 or so he produced in his first recording session) as he was murdered a few months later. He was one of the earliest members of the "27 Club". One of his most covered songs is Sweet Home Chicago. Here is the original.

♫ Robert Johnson - Sweet Home Chicago


FATS WALLER is another who can bring a smile to your face, even when he's being serious.

Fats Waller

Fats wrote hundreds of songs that are attributed to him, and apparently many more. Early on, he had to sell them to earn a little money and for which he wasn't credited with the authorship. Alas, he died young, 39, of pneumonia on a train between Los Angeles and New York. Fats' song from this year is All My Life.

♫ Fats Waller - All My Life


THE BOSWELL SISTERS were the main competition to the Andrews Sisters around this time.

Boswell Sisters

Fats Waller was probably the first person to record and popularize the song I'm Going To Sit Right Down And Write Myself A Letter, however, he didn't write it. That was Fred Ahlert and Joe Young. Hot on Fats' heels, the Boswells had a go at it. They included parts of the song that aren't heard these days.

♫ Boswell Sisters - I'm Going To Sit Right Down And Write Myself A Letter


I'm sure that TAMPA RED had nothing but pure thoughts when he recorded Let's Get Drunk and Truck.

Tampa Red

Red started life as Hudson Woodbridge but from early on he was known as Hudson Whittaker. He was another influential blues man and was a master of the bottleneck guitar style. That's not evident on this song; piano and kazoo seem to be the dominant instruments.

♫ Tampa Red - Let's get drunk and truck


HAL KEMP played saxophone and clarinet and was a band leader in the thirties.

Hal Kemp

Unfortunately, he was killed in a car accident in 1940. BOB ALLEN was one of several singers who performed with Hal.

Bob Allen

Here they are with A Star Fell Out Of Heaven.

♫ Hal Kemp (Bob Allen vocal) - A Star Fell Out Of Heaven


Comments

Peter, I could hug you...I love, love, love this week's selection of clips. Starting my morning listening to "Hawaiian Cowboy" made me smile and giggle. I am a huge Bing Crosby fan, thanks for including his early song.

Thank-you!

Gives me a window into 1936 - my birth year .
Great music. Appreciate your choices. Thank you! Thank you!

Your selection this week instantly took me back to my early early ..as in toddler time.. childhood, Peter.
I was born in early 1943 - dad was in the Coast Guard stationed in Long Beach, CA. so he lived at home.
My parents loved music, especially blues jazz and Sinatra, Crosby, etc. so I was raised listening to exactly the songs you featured today.
I don't have this music in my personal downloads but just listening today, I could smell my childhood home, the candles my mom used, and the fried chicken she would make on Sundays.

THANK YOU FOR BRINGING BACK THESE MEMORIES

Elle Hayes. Oregon

Do you have "Jeanine I Dream of Lilac Time"? by Louis Armstrong? I had a sister named Jeanine and we wore that 78rpm record out, playing it over and over again...

No Teresa, I don't have that.

Hi Teresa. You can find "Jeannine ..." on YouTube. There are versions by a few other artists as well.

I don't know what happened to yesterday, but I missed this post. I'm glad I listened today because I was in my teens during this era and music was the biggest thing in my life. I love "Just the Way You Look Tonight" but, although Billie Holiday was definitely a favorite vocalist then I think there are different arrangements that make it a ballad instead of a jazzy swing song and that's the way I remember and prefer it.

Old Bingo did indeed play a cowboy, but the movie was a musical so his singing was better than his acting.

I remembered the lyrics to both of the above songs. It's odd how music stays with you and brings back memories like nothing else can.

If you happen to see this Teresa, I have a story for you. My daughter's name is Gail Janine and I sang that song to her as a lullaby until my husband objected saying that her name would be Jeanine if I didn't stop calling her that. I didn't stop. : - )

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