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.
Quite a lot of music is written especially for dancing, and more reference dancing. I thought that might make an interesting column but when I started looking for music I was overwhelmed by choice.
So, rather than throw good songs away, I created four columns (and there were even more good songs, but I went with what I thought were the best). I’ve had to cull so much that I imagine some of you might mention some in the comments. Take your partners…
I’ll start with my favorite dance song by MIKE MCCLELLAN.
Mike is one of the finest singer/songwriters in Australia. Had he been born in America he’d be a superstar. To us in Oz he is. His song is Saturday Dance.
BOBBY FREEMAN is generally considered San Francisco’s first rock star.
He started out in a Doowop group while he was still at school and they actually made a record. He was in a couple more groups before he went solo and recorded the biggest hit of his career, Do You Wanna Dance? Many people have covered this one over the years, but his is still the best version.
The Drifters were the only competition THE PLATTERS had as finest vocal group of the fifties.
The Platters had many hits during the decade thanks to their fine lead singer Tony Williams. Their dancing song isn’t in the first rank of their songs but it’s one we have: I'm Just a Dancing Partner.
KEITH JARRETT recorded a couple of albums with the late great jazz bass player CHARLIE HADEN.
One of those was called “Last Dance”, an appropriate title for our column. From that album we have Dance of the Infidels, a tune written and made famous by Bud Powell.
Of the half dozen albums that could be considered as the best ever, Moondance is in the mix. It was recorded by VAN MORRISON.
He’d have a couple of others in consideration as well (along with some by The Band). The title song is the one we have today.
Way back at the beginning of his career, JIMMY BUFFETT gave us a really fine album called “A White Sport Coat and a Pink Crustacean”. Fans of Marty Robbins (of which I’m one) appreciated the joke.
The songs on that one were all terrific and ranged from serious to poignant to silly. That really is the basis of Jimmy’s career. The song we’re interested in is They Don't Dance Like Carmen No More.
Of all the long-lived bands, the NITTY GRITTY DIRT BAND seems to fly under the radar.
I don’t understand this as there is not a better band around that started in the sixties that is still producing great (and new) music. I may be biased (of course I am) but I’ve been a fan of their music from way back. From somewhere in the middle of their career is Dance Little Jean.
You probably all know about the DAVE BRUBECK QUARTET’s most famous album (and possibly the biggest selling jazz album in history). This is from their next album called “Time Further Out” which also sold pretty well.
The tune from that one is called Unsquare Dance. I’m sure that that was a hip reference from the time it was released. To my ears Paul Desmond seems to be missing from the track, unless that was him clapping along.
BILLY BLAND started out in a group called The Bees.
He went out as a solo artist and one day while in the studio he heard another singer (Titus Turner) trying to record the song, Let The Little Girl Dance and he demonstrated (with the studio musicians along for the ride) how it should be done.
Fortunately, the tapes were rolling and his was the version that was released and became quite a decent sized hit.
I had half a dozen or more contenders for the next song. When you know what it is, I’m sure you’ll know quite a few of them. In the end I settled for ROSEMARY CLOONEY.
So, Nat, Susannah, Ella, Willie and Frank missed the cut (along with lesser contenders). The song is the column’s title: Let's Face the Music and Dance.
More dancing next week.