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.
Just the other day I played a song for Norma, the Assistant Musicologist, to see what she thought of it. She’s a big fan of Simon and Garfunkel and I’m a fan of Willie Nelson. This was Willie performing Bridge Over Troubled Water. She liked it a lot.
Okay, she likes Willie too. We both thought that it probably needs Art’s wonderful high voice to add to the last verse, but it was damn fine nonetheless.
That of course got us thinking: There’s probably a column of bridge songs. That reminded me that Melbourne has a history of bridges that fall down. Fortunately, none has done so lately but some of us of a certain age hold our breath when we drive over a couple of the famous ones.
Since I’ve mentioned Willie’s version and everyone knows the original, he gets the guernsey for this particular song. Besides, Simon and Garfunkel are present with something else.
So, WILLIE NELSON and Bridge Over Troubled Water. Of course there are many versions of the song, from Elvis to Glen Campbell and Johnny Cash, but we’re ignoring them.
One of the more famous bridge songs from the sixties was by BOBBIE GENTRY.
Here’s one I bet you haven’t thought about for a lot of years. What was it that she and Billie Joe McAllister up on Choctaw Ridge threw off Tallahatchie Bridge? I guess we’ll never know.
It wasn’t really made clear either whether Billie Joe had carked it or not. For all I know he may have just gone in for a bit of a swim. Or perhaps not: I’ve just googled the bridge and found that the river has very sharp rocks that could damage a person somewhat. Also, the bridge was burnt down in 1972 by vandals.
The song, of course, is Ode to Billie Joe.
The previous bridge being burnt down is an obvious lead in to the next song by JACK SCOTT.
I remember Jack's hit with this song when I was in high school and associate it with a girl friend who became a non-girl friend. I imagine that was not uncommon at that point in our lives. Only the songs varied. Jack performs Burning Bridges.
A tune simply called The Bridge by the JOHN YOUNG TRIO is next. A touch of jazz in amongst all the rest, although I could have done without that drum solo.
John was a mainstay of the Chicago jazz scene and played with everyone important who visited that city. He founded his own trio in the sixties. He died in 2008 at age 86.
There are many versions of this next song but I’ve always liked old Dino, perhaps because he didn’t take himself too seriously. I’m talking of DEAN MARTIN, of course.
Paris has a whole bunch of bridges, some of which I've crossed. Because of its geography, I've been under a few as well. So has Dino as he sings Under the Bridges of Paris.
Speaking of SIMON AND GARFUNKEL, which we were up above, they have another bridge song.
Many people know this song under a different name, but on my record it's called The 59th Street Bridge Song, and that's good enough for me.
Another New York bridge, this time by the inimitable MEL TORMÉ.
This is without a doubt the most famous bridge in New York, The Brooklyn Bridge.
The A.M. will never miss a chance to suggest ALBERT KING in one of these columns. I’m happy to go along with her.
Albert wasn’t related to the other great blues guitarist Kings (his birth name was Nelson), however, he, B.B. and Freddie were often mentioned together as the “Three Kings of Blues Guitar”.
His style was greatly admired and copied by rock guitarists (as were the other two, if it comes to that). Albert sings and plays Don't Burn Down the Bridge ('Cause You Might Want to Come Back Across).
PATTI PAGE does her usual sterling job today.
The song was yet another of her hits from the fifties, Cross Over The Bridge. Nothing else needs to be said.
I had trouble with the final song in this category, only because I had too many choices. The ones above pretty much chose themselves (I wish they did that for more of my columns rather than having me search for them). Anyway, I finally decided on THE REVELATORS.
The Revelators are yet another group put together by a musical national treasure, Joe Camilleri (the nation being Australia). The first two groups that Joe led, Jo Jo Zep and the Falcons and The Black Sorrows, are the stuff of legend in Oz.
He starts new groups when he wants to go in another musical direction (while keeping the previous ones going as well). The Revelators perform Floating Bridge.
Here is a late bonus, a song from the DEZURIK SISTERS.
I’m sure if the A.M. knew about this one beforehand, she’d be all for yanking it out of the column. She knows I like these quirky songs, and seriously wonders about that.
The sisters sing My Honeymoon Bridge Broke Down, which runs for a minute and six seconds. I played it for the A.M. and she thought it was about a minute too long.