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.
Take your partners, here is the last dance. We all know that this is the one where you try to grab the gal that you want to walk home and maybe have a bit of a cuddle on the way. Well, that’s the way it was back at my school socials.
It wasn’t just from where I came from either, judging from our first song. When Ben E King was the lead singer for THE DRIFTERS, there was not a band on the planet that came close to matching them.
His stay with the group was brief, under a year, but while he was there they produced some of the finest records in history. One of those, and you all know this one as it relates to our category, was Save the Last Dance for Me.
Georgia Gibbs made a career of covering songs originally recorded by ETTA JAMES.
Naturally, I think that Etta did them better. One of those was Dance With Me Henry, a much grittier version than Georgia’s.
One of the many answers Bob Dylan gave over the years when asked how he saw himself was Song and Dance Man. He wasn’t alone; another who thought the same way was MIKE MCCLELLAN.
From the album from the seventies that established him as a force on the music scene, "Ask Any Dancer", very apt for the topic today, we have Song and Danceman.
SONNY CLARK was a jazz pianist who was in demand for recording by just about everyone who played in the fifties and early sixties. He also made nearly a dozen of his own albums.
Unfortunately, he died far too young, at 31, of a heart attack, but drugs may have been involved. Today though, he is Dancing in the Dark.
During the great folk music scare of the early sixties, before Bob, TOM PAXTON was the first to regularly write and perform his own songs.
These turned into instant classics that have stood the test of time and are still considered some of the finest songs around. The song today is from later in his career and it may last just as long, although maybe not. It’s called Dance in the Kitchen.
LARRY WILLIAMS was one of the first rock & rollers and he wrote and performed some of the classic songs from the period.
However, you really wouldn’t have wanted to know him. He seriously dabbled in drugs (dealing and otherwise) and violence and he was shot dead in mysterious, and still unsolved, circumstances. One of his lesser known songs is High School Dance.
I’ve followed the career of ELIZA GILKYSON since I first heard her in Albuquerque back when she went by the name Lisa Gilkyson.
Her albums have always been interesting and I was looking for a final song for these columns and when I heard this one it was an automatic choice. Even if I’d filled my quota, something else would have been bumped for it. She supplies the name of the column, Last Dance.
I’ve always preferred BENNY GOODMAN in his small group, but I guess this big band of his really got toes a’tapping.
The bands from that time were really all about getting people up dancing, and I imagine if you’re not up dancing, at least you’ll be jiggling around in your chair to this one. The tune is Let's Dance.
J.J. CALE was one of the most influential guitarists in the last 50 years. Everyone from Eric Clapton on down has acknowledged him.
He was also a songwriter of considerable facility and his laidback singing style was emulated by many. His song is Fancy Dancer.
I’ll end this series with the most appropriate song I could think of on the topic. It’s by HARRY CHAPIN.
Okay, we’ve danced the days and nights away and now we’re going down with the ship because we were too busy dancing to see the iceberg. Dance Band on the Titanic.