371 posts categorized "Elder Music"

ELDER MUSIC: Australia's Classic 100 Opera Arias (10-1)

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.

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As I mentioned last week in the countdown from 20 to 11, Australia's ABC Classical station had a listeners' poll on their favorite opera arias. These are the big cheeses, so counting down from 10 to 1.

10. RICHARD STRAUSS - Der Rosenkavalier - Hab' mir's gelobt, ihm lieb zu haben

StraussR4

Rich isn't related to the Strauss family who wrote all those waltzes. He's probably best known for the tone poem Also sprach Zarathustra because the initial part of that was used at the beginning of the film "2001, A Space Odyssey.”

“Der Rosenkavalier” was wildly successful when it was premiered in 1911 and has remained popular ever since. The trio Hab mir (etc) is towards the end of the opera when the main bloke has to decide between the two women in his life (one of them saw the light and left him to the other).

Today we have ELISABETH SCHWARZKOPF, ANNELIESE ROTHENBERGER and SENA JURINAC playing those roles.

Elisabeth Schwarzkopf&Anneliese Rothenberger&Sena Jurinac1

♫ Richard Strauss - Der Rosenkavalier ~ Hab mir's gelobt, ihm lieb zu haben


9. CHRISTOPH GLUCK - Orfeo and Euridice - Che faro senza Euridice

Gluck1

“Orfeo and Euridice” belongs to the genre of the azione teatrale. Ah ha. Dr Google informs me that that means an opera on a mythological subject with choruses and dancing. Okey doke, it looks as if everything is covered there.

From that we have the contralto MAUREEN FORRESTER performing Che Faro Senza Euridice or What shall I do without Euridice?

What he does is to decide to top himself – a lot of that goes on in opera – but his mate Amore talks him out of it. In spite of Orfeo being a bloke, his part is usually sung by a woman. Strange things, operas.

MaureenForrester2

♫ Gluck - Orfeo and Euridice ~ Che Faro Senza Euridice


8. GIUSEPPE VERDI - Rigoletto - Bella figlia dell'amore (Act III quartet)

Verdi7

We have the big guns now, Giuseppe with the opera, and JOAN SUTHERLAND and LUCIANO PAVAROTTI as Gilda and the Duke. Sounds like a TV program from the eighties.

Luciano&Joan4

They perform Bella figlia dell'amore, which is called a quartet on the CD, but I don't know who the other two are.

♫ Verdi - Rigoletto ~ Bella figlia dell'amore


7. RICHARD WAGNER - Tristan and Isolde – Liebestod

Wagner2

Rules are meant to be broken and I'm about to break one of my own self-imposed rules that has held sway for the entire life of this column until now. That is, I wasn't ever going to play any Wagner. Oh well, the good burghers of Australia have ensured that that's gone by the wayside.

The only thing that has made this palatable to me is that I have the incomparable JESSYE NORMAN performing Liebestod from “Tristan and Isolde.”

Jessye Norman

♫ Wagner - Tristan and Isolde ~ Liebestod


6. GIACOMO PUCCINI - Madame Butterfly - Un bel dì (One fine day)

Puccini9

Just about every soprano worth her salt has had a crack at this one. I have quite a few versions of this particular aria but I'm rather fond of RENATA SCOTTO's version.

RenataScotto1

Okay, I'm rather fond of them all but Renata's is the one you're getting (just to vary the singers a bit).

It's mostly known as One Fine Day, or Un Bel Dì Vedremo in Italian. Cio-Cio San sings about how Pinkerton is going to return one day and take her back to America as his wife. Is she in for a surprise.

♫ Puccini - Madama Butterfly ~ Un Bel Dì Vedremo


5. HENRY PURCELL - Dido and Aeneas - Thy hand, Belinda… When I am laid in earth (Dido's Lament)

Purcell4

Dido and Aeneas was Henry's first opera and one of the first operas written in English. It was initially performed around 1688 at a girls' school in London.

It is based on Virgil's Aeneid (or part of that work, anyway). JESSYE NORMAN is on hand to sing Thy hand, Belinda, When I am laid in Earth.

Jessye13

♫ Purcell - Dido and Aeneas ~ Thy hand, Belinda - When I am laid in earth


4. WOLFGANG MOZART - Così fan tutte - Soave sia il vento

Mozart

My favorite operas of Wolfie's weren't selected but I can't quibble because any from him is worth listening to.

Actually, this aria is sublime and it's performed by MONTSERRAT CABALLÉ, JANET BAKER and RICHARD VAN ALLAN. It's Soave sia il vento (or May the wind be gentle).

Montserrat&Janet&Richard1

♫ Mozart - Così fan tutte ~ Soave sia il vento


3. LÉO DELIBES - Lakmé - Sous le dôme épais (Flower Duet)

Delibes2

This aria is hugely popular so it's no surprise that it came in at number three. It's been used in other settings – in films, TV and (alas) advertisements.

The opera is set in India and all the bigwigs go off to the temple to do whatever they do leaving Lakmé behind. She goes down to the river to gather flowers with her servant and they sing this as they collect them.

Performing those roles are ELINA GARANCA and ANNA NETREBKO who sing together quite a lot.

ElinaGaranca &AnnaNetrebko1

♫ Delibes - Lakmé ~ Sous le dôme épais


2. VERDI - Nabucco - Va, pensiero (Chorus of the Hebrew slaves)

Verdi4

Va, pensiero/dm (or Chorus of the Hebrew slaves) gives choral music a good name. It makes you want to sing along or conduct along as I was doing as I played this piece of music.

The choristers are the Ambrosian Opera Chorus. Be warned: there are three really loud chords about 30 seconds in.

♫ Verdi - Nabucco ~ Va pensiero


1. GEORGES BIZET - The Pearl Fishers - Au fond du temple saint

Bizet1

The voting public got this right. There are many duets in opera but none of them are better than this one.

Georges is better known as the creator of "Carmen" (which was a total flop when first performed) but I prefer “The Pearl Fishers” as does the listening public here in Oz it seems.

Again, I had several versions from which to choose, and settled on JUSSI BJÖRLING and ROBERT MERRILL performing Au fond du temple saint (or In the depths of the temple).

JussiBjörling&RobertMerrill3

♫ Bizet - The Pearl Fishers ~ Au fond du temple saint



ELDER MUSIC: Australia's Classic 100 Opera Arias (20-11)

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.

* * *

Once in a while Australia's ABC Classical music station (networked throughout the country) has a listeners' poll on the favorite pieces of music in various categories.

This time it was opera arias and that gives me a chance to play some terrific singers and not worry about which piece of music to include as the selection has been done for me.

We're doing the Top 20, the first half today and the rest next week. Here we go, counting down from 20 to 11.

I could very well rename this "The Puccini Column" as he makes six appearances. He's also in next week (but only once). I'll start with him and one of his lesser known operas “Gianni Schicchi,” but hardly a lesser known aria.

20. GIACOMO PUCCINI - Gianni Schicchi - O mio babbino caro

Puccini

This is one of a trio of one-act operas Gia released around 1917, is the only one of those regularly staged these days and that's probably only due to this aria which is more often performed as a concert piece.

Here is the wonderful RENÉE FLEMING performing O Mio Babbino Caro (or "Oh My Beloved Father").

Renee Fleming

Puccini - Gianni Schicchi ~ Mio Babbino Caro


19. PUCCINI - Madama Butterfly - The Humming Chorus

Puccini

Gia again with one of his famous pieces. Actually, all the ones included are famous because of the selection method. Just the chorus, no individual singers. The Humming Chorus or Coro A Bocca Chiusa.

♫ Puccini - Madama Butterfly ~ Coro A Bocca Chiusa


18. WOLFGANG MOZART - The Magic Flute - Der Hölle Rache

Mozart

Wolfie is sadly under-represented in these columns, only one today and one next week. If I were choosing... (yeah, yeah, yeah, I hear you say).

Wolfie wrote this originally for his sister-in-law (Josepha Hofer) to sing in the premiere. She must have been quite the performer because those who have tackled the role of Queen of the Night since have complained about its difficulty.

This is the Queen of the Night aria or Der Hölle Rache kocht in meinem Herzen, performed today by SIMONE KERMES.

Simone Kermes

♫ Mozart - The Magic Flute ~ Der Hölle Rache kocht in meinem Herzen


17. GAETANO DONIZETTI - Lucia di Lammermoor - Mad Scene

Donizetti

There are a number of mad scenes in opera, some of them even on the stage. This is the most famous of them.

JOAN SUTHERLAND made this one her own over the years; she performed it many times. It's Il dolce suono or just "the mad scene" from Lucia di Lammermoor.

Joan Sutherland

♫ Donizetti - Lucia di Lammermoor ~ Il dolce suono


16. PUCCINI - Madame Butterfly - Vogliatemi bene (Act I love duet)

Puccini

The love duet is performed early on in the opera by Cio-Cio San and the American Pinkerton expressing their undying love for each other. Poor old Cio-Cio is in for a big disappointment.

RENATA SCOTTO and CARLO BERGONZI play those roles today.

Renata Scotto & Carlo Bergonzi

♫ Puccini - Madama Butterfly ~ Vogliatemi Bene, Un Bene Piccolino


15. PUCCINI - La Bohème - Che gelida manina

Puccini

Now for two in a row from the same opera, La Bohème, one of the most famous in the repertoire and one of the most performed. First off it's the turn of LUCIANO PAVAROTTI who made a bit of a name for himself as a singer.

Luciano Pavarotti

He performs Che gelida manina (or "What a cold little hand").

Puccini - La Boheme ~ Che gelida manina


14. PUCCINI - La Bohème - O soave fanciulla

Puccini

There was a terrific production of this opera by the Australian Opera some years ago. Fortunately, it was preserved on DVD (and CD). The two singers are DAVID HOBSON and CHERYL BARKER.

Norma, the Assistant Musicologist selected the photo of David as she's a bit of a fan.

David Hobson

I chose the picture of Cheryl as the same applies for me with her.

Cheryl Barker

The aria is O soave fanciulla (or "Oh lovely girl", the famous love duet).

♫ Puccini - La Boheme ~ soave fancuilla


13. VINCENZO BELLINI - Norma - Casta diva

Bellini

“Norma” is the A.M.'s favorite opera and it's not just because of its name. Or so she says. It's all to do with that final act where the singing just builds and builds and just when you think they can't do any more they up the ante.

The selection today, though, is from early in the opera and we have the incomparable CECILIA BARTOLI performing Casta Diva.

Cecilia Bartoli

♫ Bellini - Norma ~ Casta Diva


12. PUCCINI - Turandot - Nessun dorma

Puccini

LUCIANO PAVAROTTI makes a return visit with almost certainly the most famous aria in opera, Nessun dorma ("None shall Sleep").

Luciano Pavarotti

He performed this as a stand-alone piece numerous times, however, here he is from a recording of the complete opera – that way we get all the extra background stuff usually missing when it's performed on its own.

Because of that, the ending is a bit abrupt as the opera continues without a break.

♫ Puccini - Turandot ~ Nessun dorma!


11. ANTONIN DVORÁK - Rusalka - Song to the Moon

Dvorák

Antonin is better known as a composer of instrumental music, especially symphonies, however, he wrote a few operas. Only one of these is regularly performed these days and it's this one.

From that we have the aria Měsíčku na nebi hlubokém (generally known as "Song to the Moon") performed by LUCIA POPP.

Lucia Popp

♫ Dvorák - Rusalka ~ Song to the Moon


The top 10 of Australia's Classic 100 Opera Arias will appear here next week.


ELDER MUSIC: 1951 Yet 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.

* * *

This year saw the debut of the song The Thrill Is Gone that B.B. King made his own over the years. However, he wasn't the first to record it. That honor goes to ROY HAWKINS who wrote the song with some help from Rick Darnell.

Roy Hawkins

Roy was a blues pianist and his breakthrough record was Why Do Everything Happen To Me? that he wrote after his arm was paralysed as a result of a car accident.

Many of his songs were covered by other artists, unfortunately for him, mostly after he died.

♫ Roy Hawkins - The Thrill Is Gone


JOHNNIE RAY's professional career began this year with a couple of crying songs, a genre that he used to great effect over the years. Cry was probably his most famous song but I've used that in previous versions of this year, so we have the other one, Little White Cloud That Cried.

Johnnie Ray

Like a number of his early records, he was backed on this one by The Four Lads who had their own successful career over the years.

♫ Johnnie Ray - Little White Cloud That Cried


You could pretty much count on DORIS DAY being on the charts around this time and 1951 was no exception.

Doris Day

This isn't one of her best known songs, but it's one I remember. It must have played on radio in the country town where I lived at the time for that to be so. The song is (Why Did I Tell You I Was Going to) Shanghai, a bit of a strange song.

Oh Doris, that's what you get for fibbing even if it was a little white lie. Why did you say you were going to Shanghai rather than just to the beach or somewhere? Now you regret it and he thinks you're on a slow boat to China or some such. What if he comes across you in the street? Cooked goose then.

♫ Doris Day - (Why Did I Tell You I Was Going to) Shanghai


JOE LIGGINS started his professional career as a member of Sammy Franklin's California Rhythm Rascals.

Joe Liggins

When Sammy refused to record Joe's song, The Honeydripper, Joe went out and started his own band (called The Honeydrippers). That song became a huge hit, one of the best selling R&B records ever, spending weeks at the top of the charts.

I don't think Joe went nyah nyah nyah nyah (or some such) - he was too much of a gentleman. This isn't that song, it's another of Joe's called Frankie Lee.

♫ Joe Liggins - Frankie Lee


Ahh, now we have one of the best songs from the entire decade. Many people recorded this one but none did it better than TOMMY EDWARDS.

Tommy Edwards

This is just a beautiful version of the song It's All In The Game. Nothing more needs to be said.

♫ Tommy Edwards - It's All In The Game


There were a bunch of "four" groups around this time. We had the Four Lads up there with Johnnie, now we have the FOUR ACES.

The Four Aces

I'd have put in the Four Preps and the Four Freshmen but they were just a little later. Hmm, could be a column in this. Anyway, the Aces had a bunch of hits in the fifties, including this one, Tell Me Why. A bit strident for my taste.

♫ The Four Aces - Tell Me Why


BILLY WARD AND HIS DOMINOES perform Sixty Minute Man.

Billy Ward & the Dominoes

The record was banned in a number of places at the time for its perceived naughtiness. Although graced with a couple of excellent lead singers over the years – Clyde McPhatter and Jackie Wilson – on this song, the lead is sung by their bass singer Bill Brown.

A few years later the group recorded a tongue in cheek response called Can't Do Sixty No More. Tell me about it.

♫ The Dominoes - Sixty Minute Man


PATTI PAGE had enough good songs that, although I've already used a couple of them in previous incarnations of this year, there are enough left over to feature her again. Besides, I really like Patti.

Patti Page

Detour was written in 1945 and a number of people had recorded it over the years. Patti gave it her trademark double tracking of her voice that she used successfully on a number of her hits.

♫ Patti Page - Detour


GUY MITCHELL is another singer who was really popular around this time.

<>Guy Mitchell

Guy's first half dozen or so records were flops and he was about to be dropped by his record company when Frank Sinatra decided not to record a couple of songs he had scheduled.

Guy was hastily substituted in the sessions and these became his first blockbusters. Not long after that, he recorded Sparrow in the Treetop.

♫ Guy Mitchell - Sparrow in the Treetop


With the on-going saga of what was the first rock & roll record, this next one often gets the nod. Of course, it was a slow evolutionary process and there's really no cut-off line – there were records before this one that could be considered as well, but people like tight categories.

Now I've got that off my chest I'm going to play JACKIE BRENSTON performing Rocket 88 because it's worthy of inclusion.

Actually Jackie's name is on the record pretty much because of the whim of Ike Turner whose record this really is. It was Ike's band that recorded the song, Jackie was the saxophone player and sang on this one.

Although this was released by Chess records, it was actually recorded by Sam Phillips in Memphis before he started Sun Records. Little Richard must have listened closely to Ike's piano intro to the song.

♫ Jackie Brenston - Rocket 88


ELDER MUSIC: Give My Regards to Broadway

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.

* * *

Broadway

I was collecting songs for a column on the Streets on New York and thought if I were short ,I could use Broadway songs. As it turned out, I had more than enough for that one and ample for a column on Broadway. Indeed, so many there could be another one.

Because of the embarrassment of riches, I could pick and choose and have a variety of styles of music today, from old time to funk to soul to jazz to country to pop and a couple of indeterminates. I like to mix things up a bit.

An obvious place to start is with the title of the column and the obvious presenter of that song is the man who wrote it, GEORGE M. COHAN.

George M Cohan

George could do, and did, everything in the theatre. He started in vaudeville as a kid with his parents and sister. He began writing musicals in 1904 with "Little Johnny Jones" in which this song appeared.

George directed the musical and appeared in it along with mum, dad and sis. So, remember me to Herald Square, and definitely Give My Regards to Broadway.

♫ George M. Cohan - Give My Regards to Broadway


A complete change of pace with WILSON PICKETT. I told you we'd be all over the place.

Wilson Pickett

Wilson was in the first rank of soul singers and could give James Brown a few lessons in the funk department. Here he is with Funky Broadway.

♫ Wilson Pickett - Funky Broadway


GERRY MULLIGAN gives us the first taste of jazz today.

Gerry Mulligan

Gerry was that rare player of the baritone sax. I'm not surprised others didn't play it as it looks pretty heavy to me. This is from his great early quartet and you can catch (rather briefly) Chet Baker player trumpet. The tune is simply called Broadway.

♫ Gerry Mulligan - Broadway


JOHN PHILLIPS was probably best known as Papa John from The Mamas and The Papas.

John Phillips

After that he made a couple of really good solo albums. The other members of the group were somewhat miffed as they thought he should have used the material for group albums.

From one of those John performs Black Broadway and it sounds as if he's trying to amalgamate all the musical styles present today in the one song.

♫ John Phillips - Black Broadway


Some more jazz with someone who wrote tunes about all sorts of places, so it's not unreasonable that Broadway would be in there somewhere. I'm talking about DAVE BRUBECK.

Dave Brubeck

This is from an album called "Jazz Impressions of New York" which was an extension of Dave's work for the TV program Mr Broadway (starring Craig Stevens who will always be Peter Gunn as far as I'm concerned).

The track is Theme from Mr. Broadway.

♫ Dave Brubeck - Theme from Mr. Broadway


I first discovered DICK POWELL playing Richard Diamond on radio and a bit later on the Dick Powell Theatre on TV.

Dick Powell

I always thought of him as a serious actor and had no knowledge of his earlier career as a song and dance man and light comedian. I was a bit stunned when I saw him in those early films on the box.

Anyway, here he is in his earlier incarnation singing Lullaby of Broadway.

♫ Dick Powell - Lullaby of Broadway


BOBBY WOMACK could do it all.

Bobby Womack

He was a gospel singer, a soul singer, rock & roll, DooWop and country as well. He played guitar so well that he was an in-demand session musician. He wrote songs that were covered by the Rolling Stones, George Benson, Patti LaBelle and others. He wrote movie soundtracks.

He also had his own career and made numerous records and appearances. Alas, he died recently. He performs Broadway Walk.

♫ Bobby Womack - Broadway Walk


HARRY NILSSON produced one of the shortest songs I've used in any of my columns and this is it.

Harry Nilsson

It's called Marchin' Down Broadway and that's all I need to say otherwise reading this will take longer than the song (I've probably blown that already).

♫ Harry Nilsson - Marchin' Down Broadway


ALISON KRAUSS is mostly thought of as a bluegrass fiddle player. She does something different here.

Alison Krauss

It could be folk, it could be country or pop. Whatever it is it's not too bad at all. This is another song simply called Broadway.

♫ Alison Krauss - Broadway


THE DRIFTERS put everything into perspective with one of their most famous songs, On Broadway.

The Drifters

The song had two of the best songwriting teams responsible for it – Barry Mann and Cynthia Weil and Jerry Leiber and Mike Stoller. Well, that four created a large percentage of the songs from around that time.

To add to that there is also Phil Spector playing lead guitar (but not producing – that was Jerry and Mike's task). It could have been top heavy, but they all produced a great record.

♫ The Drifters - On Broadway


ELDER MUSIC: Every Picture Tells a Story

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.

* * *

Here is a column of songs about pictures, mostly of the photographic kind but not exclusively. This was the idea of Norma, the Assistant Musicologist, who probably just wanted to get JIM CROCE into another column.

Jim Croce

In his brief performing lifetime ,Jim came up with some of the most beautiful songs of his time. Other types of songs as well. The one that fits in today is Photographs and Memories.

♫ Jim Croce - Photographs & Memories


RAY PRICE was a country singer whose band was a breeding ground for serious talent – Willie Nelson, Johnny Paycheck, Buddy Emmons and Roger Miller are just some who started their careers with him.

Ray Price

Willie, especially, became a lifetime friend and Ray performed many of Willie's songs. This isn't one of them, Kissing Your Picture (Is So Cold).

♫ Ray Price - Kissing Your Picture (Is So Cold)


"You're going need some rock and roll," said the A.M., so here it is. I played this for her and she said, "I don't remember him taking so long to get to the point.” The point being the name of the song, and it took nearly five minutes before it got sung.

We had to have the song, though, as it supplies the title of the column: Every Picture Tells a Story, by ROD STEWART.

Rod Stewart

♫ Rod Stewart - Every Picture Tells A Story


I was pleased to see that MARTY ROBBINS had a contender for the column.

Marty Robbins

If Marty is a possibility, I'll usually include him. This was a song I wasn't familiar with when I first noticed it but I am now, due to repeated listening to it to see if it deserved a place. That's my excuse; I really just wanted to listen to Marty sing Only a Picture Stops Time.

♫ Marty Robbins - Only A Picture Stops Time


The next was another suggestion by the A.M. For a while we couldn't think what it was called or who performed it but with various search criteria we found it. It is JOE BROWN AND THE BRUVVERS, and their song is A Picture of You.

Joe Brown & The Bruvvers

I initially found the Kalin Twins performing the song and thought that was the one and stopped looking, but the A.M. assured me that there was another hit version from our younger days. So it proved, and here it is.

♫ Joe Brown & The Bruvvers - A Picture Of You


WILLIE NELSON recorded an album with Kimmie Rhodes called “Picture in a Frame.” They sang a song of that name on the album, not surprisingly.

Willie Nelson

It wasn't the first time Willie had recorded the song; it was also on an album of his called "It Always Will Be.” I've gone for that version rather than the one with Kimmie, as I didn't think the duet added anything to the original.

♫ Willie Nelson - Picture In A Frame


In concert once, JACKSON BROWNE introduced the song Fountain of Sorrow saying it was about an ex-girl friend. He'd taken some photos of her and some time later he pulled them out and wondered why they'd ever split up. Then he wrote the song.

We've all been there, except for the writing a great song part of it.

Jackson Browne

♫ Jackson Browne - Fountain of Sorrow


THE DILLARDS have always been an under-rated band.

The Dillards

They almost certainly created country rock years before all the others who are generally credited. Besides writing their own songs, they recorded some excellent covers, probably the best covers of Beatles' songs for a start.

There's some lovely harmony singing on this track, Pictures.

♫ The Dillards - Pictures


Before rock & roll hit us all, to my young brain there were only a few interesting singers. One of those was GUY MITCHELL.

Guy Mitchell

Of course, as I got older I came to appreciate all the others but back then it was a different matter. Guy's song is I've Got a Frame Without a Picture.

♫ Guy Mitchell - I've Got A Frame Without A Picture


The next was a mandatory inclusion. It's GUY CLARK with the song My Favorite Picture of You, the title song from a recent album.

Guy Clark

The "you" in this case is his wife Susanna who died not long before the album was recorded and he wrote the song, and named the album, as a dedication to her.

The story of the song is that Susanna had been away for a weekend and returned to find Guy and fellow singer/songwriter Townes Van Zandt drunk (again).

She packed her bags and was going to leave. When she came out of the house, someone took that picture. She didn't leave, but things were a bit tense at the time.

♫ Guy Clark - My Favorite Picture of You


Here's an extra. I filled my quota but I decided this one had to be present so I've included it as a bonus. Don't say I never do anything extra for you.

I wanted it as I believe it's the highlight of today's column. Here's TINY TIM with the old classic, If I Had a Talking Picture Of You.

Tiny Tim

Tiny Tim - If I Had A Talking Picture Of You



Ray's Music Exchange

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.

* * *

Ray's Music Exchange

Movie buffs will possibly recognise the name of today's column; others can take it at face value. The above picture might give the game away.

It's an impossible job to do justice to RAY CHARLES in a single column or two so I won't even try. The column is really just to demonstrate the many different styles of music Ray made his own.

Ray Charles

Ray started out emulating his hero Nat King Cole and he didn't do a bad job of it as you will hear in Roll With My Baby.

♫ Roll With My Baby


Ray Charles

It didn't take him long to develop his own voice and style. Ray was on the road listening to some gospel music and he was taken by one song he heard and he got together with his trumpet player, Renald Richard. Together they came up with the song I Got A Woman. The song turned out to be a pretty big hit, Ray's first, and here it is.

♫ I Got A Woman


RayCharles19

Ray was also recording instrumental albums around this time. One of those was called "The Great Ray Charles." It was released later on CD as "The Genius After Hours.” I have problems with the word genius, it's thrown around far too much for my liking. Okay, enough raving from me.

One tune that wasn't on the original album but surfaced on the later release is Hornful Soul.

♫ Hornful Soul


Ray Charles

A completely different direction came in the early sixties when Ray recorded a country music album called "Modern Sounds in Country and Western Music.” To my mind and ears, this really showed the country music establishment how their music should be performed.

They took no notice of me but Ray's album was very successful and he recorded a sequel (and others in the same vein later on). From that first one is You Don't Know Me.

♫ You Don't Know Me


DAVID (FATHEAD) NEWMAN played tenor (and occasionally alto) sax and he began his performing career in Ray's band.

Ray Charles & David Newman

He later went out on his own playing both jazz and rhythm and blues, equally adept at both styles.

From an album, rather clumsily named "Fathead, Ray Charles Presents David 'Fathead' Newman" comes the tune Sweet Eyes. It has Ray playing piano and it's in the jazz mode.

♫ Sweet Eyes (David Newman)


Ray Charles

The first (and better) Blues Brothers film featured Ray performing Shake Your Tailfeather. Here is the original studio version of that song, rather than the one from the film soundtrack.

♫ Shake Your Tailfeather


Some more jazz from Ray, with a stellar lineup including Milt Jackson, Connie Kay, Oscar Pettiford and Kenny Burrell. In spite of its name, Soul Meeting, this is straight ahead jazz.

That's Ray with Milt Jackson in the picture.

Ray Charles & Milt Jackson

♫ Soul Meeting (with Milt Jackson)


Ray Charles

Here's some more country music, and somewhat later than the earlier one. Ray took John Denver's Take Me Home, Country Roads and put his own stamp on it. Well, maybe not completely his own. It strikes me that he had a close listen to Toots Hibbert's interesting reggae version of the song.

♫ Take Me Home, Country Roads


Ray Charles

Losing Hand is an atmospheric song from early in Ray's career, and his voice hadn't yet taken on its distinctive timbre. The song is pretty much straight ahead blues. Of course, Ray can perform in any style of music he set his mind to. That's the point of the column, after all.

♫ Losing Hand


Ray Charles

The great success of What'd I Say earned Ray larger royalties for his records and eventual ownership of all his record masters, a hugely lucrative deal in the long run.

Here is that song that set him up financially, and there's no better way to end the column.

♫ What'd I Say



ELDER MUSIC: Toes Up for the Second Half of 2015

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.

* * *

Oh my goodness, what a year it's been. In the past we usually had two columns on consecutive days. This year there were so many notable musicians who died early on that we had an interim Toes Up half way through the year, so if you think there was someone important missing from this column it'll be there (I hope).

Ronnie Gilbert


RONNIE GILBERT had a long career as a solo artist but at least to we readers of a certain age, she'll always be associated with The Weavers.

This group did more than any other to bring folk music to a world-wide audience. In doing so, they topped the charts and were blacklisted in the U.S. for their political views (but we welcomed them here in Australia and elsewhere).

After The Weavers, she continued singing, both solo and with others, notably with Holly Near. Here, with The Weavers, is Hard, Ain't It Hard. (She was 88)

♫ The Weavers - Hard, Ain't It Hard


JOHN RENBOURN was an influential person in Britain's folk revival in the sixties both as a solo performer and as a member of Pentangle, a group that also included jazz and blues elements.

He made a number of solo albums but his best work was in collaboration with fellow guitarist Bert Jansch. He also loved teaching guitar to anyone who wanted to learn. (70)


OLEG BRYJAK was a bass-baritone from Kazakhstan. He was renowned for his Wagner roles, particularly that of Alberich in the Ring Cycle. He also sang the works of Beethoven, Mozart, Donizetti and Verdi to considerable acclaim. (54)


JIMMY GREENSPOON was the keyboard player for the rock group Three Dog Night. He also played with Jimi Hendrix, Eric Clapton, the Beach Boys and others. (67)


Ornette Coleman

ORNETTE COLEMAN was one of the most innovative jazz musicians ever. He put the cat among the jazz pigeons when he put aside rhythmic and harmonic ideas and created an avant-garde approach to playing, becoming a leader of the free jazz movement.

His influence on jazz playing was enormous and it spilled over into other genres including rock – Jerry Garcia played on several of Ornette's records. He won many awards through the years, including a Pulitzer Prize for his music. Ornette plays Una Muy Bonita. (85)

♫ Ornette Coleman - Una Muy Bonita


LITTLE JIMMY DICKENS was, as his name suggests, quite diminutive. He was a country music performer whose career spanned from before the war to the present day. He also helped establish others including song writers Felice and Boudleaux Bryant and singer Marty Robbins. He continued performing until days before he died. (94)

Fans of British comedy series may remember NICHOLAS SMITH as Mr Rumbold in the comedy Are You Being Served? Besides being a character actor of considerable facility, he was also a musician of note. He was a singer, appearing in Gilbert and Sullivan works and straight opera.

Besides that, he was an accomplished pianist, guitarist and trumpeter and wrote music – he has more than a dozen string quartets to his name and many more works for voice and strings. (81)


KIM FOWLEY was a songwriter, record producer and manager who, early on, was associated with novelty records - Alley-Oop, Nut Rocker, Papa-Oom-Mow-Mow and the like. Later he was instrumental in getting the careers of Van Halen, The Runaways, Joan Jett, The Soft Machine and Traffic off the ground. He also ensured that Jimi Hendrix got a record contract. (75)


KURT MASUR was one of the most respected conductors in the world. He was associated with many of the top orchestras, but famously with the New York Philharmonic to which he brought new vigor after they'd become somewhat slack. He was also largely instrumental in the somewhat peaceful transition of East Germany (where he lived at the time) to a united country. His reputation was such that the protesters listened to his advice to avoid provocation and the government listened when he said they shouldn't shoot or otherwise harm the protesters. (88)

LEW SOLOFF was a jazz trumpeter who reached a wider audience as a member of the group Blood Sweat and Tears. He crossed many genres - he had no time for restrictive categories - and was a session musician for such artists as Barbra Streisand, Frank Sinatra and Lou Reed. He also performed with Gil Evans, Paul Simon and Dizzy Gillespie as well, and he played classical music at the Lincoln Centre. (71)


P.F. Sloan

P.F. SLOAN was a singer-songwriter who had a little success as such in the sixties but whose songs became hits for others. He was associated with Dunhill Records early in his career as a songwriter and also as a musician and singer – it's him singing with Jan Berry on The Little Old Lady from Pasadena, not Dean Torrance.

Besides Jan and Dean, he wrote songs for Herman's Hermits, Johnny Rivers, Ann-Margaret, The Turtles and others. He was also a session musician associated with the Wrecking Crew who performed on Phil Spector's productions, as well as the Beach Boys and many others – his guitar work is featured on several Mamas and Papas' songs.

His biggest chart success was Barry McGuire's cover of his song Eve of Destruction. This is P.F.'s version. (70)

♫ P.F. Sloan - Eve of Destruction


SAMUEL CHARTERS was an American musical historian particularly in blues, folk and jazz. He, along with Alan Lomax and Harry Smith, brought to the general public the extraordinary array of talent in these fields, particularly Robert Johnson and Blind Willie McTell.

He and his wife Ann, another renowned author, were later involved in civil rights and anti-Vietnam war campaigns. (85)


JULIE WILSON performed on Broadway in such musicals as "Kiss Me Kate" but she was best known as a cabaret performer who could perform with equal facility such composers as Kurt Weill, Stephen Sondheim, Jerome Kern, Rodgers and Hart, the Gershwins and Cole Porter. (90)


MICHAEL MASSER was a songwriter who pretty much launched the career of Whitney Houston. He also wrote successful songs for Diana Ross, Roberta Flack, George Benson, Barbra Streisand and Crystal Gayle. He received early encouragement and support from his idol Johnny Mercer. (74)


Jack Ely

JACK ELY didn't write the song Louie Louie (that was Richard Berry) but he took it to the top of the charts singing it in the group The Kingsmen.

His version became so notorious that the F.B.I. took time (and no doubt spent a lot of money) analyzing it in case it was subversive or naughty or something (who can know the thought processes of this organization?) They came to the conclusion that it was incomprehensible.

See if you can do better than the Feds. (71)

♫ The Kingsmen - Louie, Louie


GUNTHER SCHULLER was an American classical composer and musician who worked with many jazz greats, particularly John Lewis, Ornette Coleman, Charles Mingus and Dizzy Gillespie, to produce an interesting hybrid. Fans of both forms of music were too narrow in their appreciation and hated it. He also wrote about music and for children as well. (89)


ERROL BROWN was born in Jamaica and moved to England when he was 12 years old. It was in that country where he first recorded some covers of John Lennon's songs. He gained worldwide fame in the group Hot Chocolate who had several huge hits with disco-styled songs. (71)


Left Banke

MICHAEL BROWN was classically trained but found fame playing keyboards in the sixties rock group the Left Banke (that's him second from the left).

He was also a songwriter and produced their most famous songs Pretty Ballerina and most especially Walk Away Renee about the girl friend of another band member.

He brought classical instruments into the group, particularly the harpsichord and clavinet, generally unheard of in such a group (except occasionally in The Crickets' songs). (65)


GUY CARAWAN was a folk singer who had a bit of a hand in writing the song We Shall Overcome and also helped popularize it. (87)


Mattiwilda Dobbs

MATTIWILDA DOBBS was the third African-American singer to appear at the Metropolitan Opera, New York (after Marian Anderson and Robert McFerrin). She made her debut in “Rigoletto” and later sang many coloratura soprano parts.

Even early on, during her operatic career, she performed recitals. Mattiwilda travelled extensively, pretty much all over Europe and to Australia and countries nearby. She was a champion of civil rights and refused to sing before segregated audiences, so many cities missed her (that was their bad luck).

Mattiwilda sings Caro Nome from Verdi's “Rigoletto.”

♫ Mattiwilda Dobbs - Caro nome


BOBBY IRWIN was a studio and touring drummer particularly associated with Nick Lowe and Van Morrison. He also graced albums by Bryan Ferry, Carlene Carter and Lene Lovich. (62)


Jean Ritchie

JEAN RITCHIE was a giant of the American folk music scene who influenced pretty much everyone who followed in her wake – Bob Dylan, Joni Mitchell, Mimi Fariña, Johnny Cash, Emmylou Harris, Judy Collins and on and on.

Her instrument of choice was the dulcimer, not heard much these days but it has a distinctive sound. She was the recipient of a Fulbright scholarship and used that to research songs in various parts of Britain and Ireland which set her (and many others) up for material. (92)


MARTY NAPOLEON was a jazz pianist who was a long-time member of Louis Armstrong's All Stars. He also appeared in groups lead by Chico Marx, Joe Venuti, Charlie Barnet and Gene Krupa. Marty had a prolific recording career with, amongst others, Coleman Hawkins, Red Allen and Charlie Shavers as well as his own groups. (93)


LOUIS JOHNSON was a bass player who added punch to records of artists such as Quincy Jones, Michael Jackson, Aretha Franklin, Earl Klugh, and Grover Washington, Jr. He was also in a band with his brothers called, not too surprisingly, the Johnson Brothers Band. (60)


Jim Ed Brown

JIM ED BROWN was the middle sibling, along with sisters Maxine and Bonnie, in the group The Browns. They were quite a success in the fifties with their smooth country-like sound. They later performed folk music in the same manner.

The three of them were good friends with Elvis before he was famous and used to hang around with him and give him singing tips. Later Jim Ed had a considerable solo career and The Browns would often get back together and perform.

Here is the group, with Jim Ed singing lead, with their biggest hit, The Three Bells. (81)

♫ The Browns - The Three Bells


CHRIS SQUIRE was the bass player and co-founder of the prog-rock group, Yes. He was the one constant in that group whose personnel kept turning over. Not just a bass player, he was the singer and main composer as well. He was considered by his peers as one of the finest bass player in rock & roll. (67)


JAMES HORNER was a film score composer who won an Oscar for Titanic and was nominated many times for other films such as A Beautiful Mind, Braveheart and Avatar. (61)


VAL DOONICAN was an Irish singer and guitarist who specialised in folk style material and was hugely successful on British TV as a presenter and singer. (88)


WILL HOLT wrote a number of musicals that appeared on Broadway, sometimes collaborating with Kurt Weill. As well as that, he was a successful folk singer in a duo with his first wife, Dolly Jonah. He also wrote folk style songs, the most famous of which was Lemon Tree, a huge hit for Peter, Paul and Mary (and others as well). (86)

The GRATEFUL DEAD played their last concert in 2015. Some say they went toes up when Jerry died. (50)


BRUCE ROWLAND was a session drummer who for a time was also a member of the Grease Band who were Joe Cocker's backing band. He was in the group when Joe played at Woodstock and redefined the song, With a Little Help From My Friends. After Joe, Bruce joined the folk-rock group Fairport Convention. (76)


THEODORE BIKEL was a singer, actor, political activist and much more. He played the original role of Captain Von Trapp in the Broadway premiere of The Sound of Music, and was the quintessential Zoltan Karpathy in the film version of My Fair Lady.

He played southern sheriffs, Russian officers, rabbis and pretty much everything else. He helped start the Newport Folk Festival and introduced Bob Dylan to the world, both there and on TV. He championed human rights everywhere and was on the board of Amnesty International. (91)


Jon Vickers

JON VICKERS was a Canadian opera singer, a tenor, who had a huge voice and brought intensity to every role he performed. Most notably, he performed Wagner, Verdi and Britten roles to universal acclaim (except for Benjamin Britten who didn't like his interpretation of Peter Grimes).

He also recorded definitive versions of works by Handel and Schubert. As an example of his voice here he is playing Don José in Bizet's “Carmen” singing the aria La fleur que tu m'avais jetée. (88)

♫ Jon Vickers - La fleur que tu m'avais jetée (Carmen)


I beg your pardon, LYNN ANDERSON never promised you a Rose Garden. This song, written by Joe South, became a massive hit for her. She didn't want to record it, she thought it was a "man's song" but she was prevailed upon and the rest is history.

The song set her up to be a successful country performer. Her personal life wasn't as successful. (67)


DOTTIE DILLARD was a backup singer and a member of the Anita Kerr singers. She appeared on about half the country records made in the fifties and sixties and a substantial proportion of the pop records as well. The group also toured with many famous country musicians, Jim Reeves, Bobby Bare, Chet Atkins and so on. (91)


LUDMILA DVORAKOVA was a Czech soprano who specialised in Wagner roles. Besides these, she liked to perform works by such composers as Smetana, Janacek, Martinu and Dvorak. Ludmila performed in all the great opera houses and with every conductor who twiddled a baton in that field. (92)


JOHNNY MEEKS became the lead guitarist in Gene Vincent's band when the previous one had become too exuberant in his personal life. He also wrote songs for Gene. After that he was a member of the group The Champs. Later he worked with Michael Nesmith and Merle Haggard. (78)


PHIL WOODS was a jazz saxophone player, one of the next generation following, and hugely influenced by, Charlie Parker. In fact one of his earliest gigs was in Dizzy Gillespie's band taking the role Charlie once performed. He also played with Clark Terry, Quincy Jones, Billy Joel, Paul Simon and many others. Later he formed his own group. (83)


Cilla Black

CILLA BLACK started at the Cavern Club which spawned The Beatles. Indeed, they occasionally were her backing band at that venue and later wrote songs for her. She had hits all over the world and later became the youngest female entertainer to host her own TV program in Britain.

She was a natural for the medium and made a career on the box. She also kept singing. Here is one of her big hits, You're My World. (72)

♫ Cilla Black - You're My World


The CHEQUERBOARD LOUNGE in Chicago was started by guitarist Buddy Guy and over the years featured the finest blues musicians, from Muddy Waters and Buddy himself to the Rolling Stones and Eric Clapton. (44)


BEN CAULEY was a trumpeter who famously played in the band the Bar-Kays and he was in the plane that crashed killing Otis Redding and the rest of the band. Ben was the only one who survived.

He later worked as a session musician at Stax Records and toured with Isaac Hayes, Aretha Franklin, the Doobie Brothers and many others. (67)


LADY BO, or Peggy Jones, to her mum and dad, was a pioneering electric guitar player who played on many of Bo Diddley's most famous records. She toured with Bo and her guitar playing inspired many young people in England (and elsewhere) to play the instrument. She later toured with James Brown and Sam & Dave as well. (75)


ROGER SMALLEY was born in Britain and was a classical composer and a leading figure in the avant-garde. Not surprisingly, he was a long term pupil of Karlheinz Stockhausen who pretty much started all that sort of thing.

Besides composing, Roger was a fine pianist who played not only modern compositions but the great Romantic era works as well. He later moved to Australia where he changed his composing style to create considerably more accessible works. (72)


Frankie Ford

FRANKIE FORD had one really big hit called Sea Cruise. It seems that Huey "Piano" Smith had recorded the song with Bobby Marchan singing. However, Bobby left Huey's group as he was planning a solo career. Huey scrubbed the vocals and got Frankie to sing instead.

It became a world wide hit and the song has been covered by hundreds of performers over the years. Later Frankie owned, and performed in, his own club in New Orleans and made occasional records. Here he is with the big hit. (76)

♫ Frankie Ford - Sea Cruise


CYNTHIA ROBINSON was a trumpeter who was a founder member of the group Sly and the Family Stone. She was one of the few in the group who weren't part of the family, although she and Sly had a daughter together. She also worked with George Clinton, Grand Funk Railroad and Prince. (71)


If you wanted a steel guitar on your records, the go-to man was BUDDY EMMONS. He started out on a six string lap steel guitar and it was a natural progression to the pedal steel instrument.

Early on he played with Little Jimmy Dickens, Ernest Tubb and Ray Price. Roger Miller asked him to join his band and he was instrumental in getting Buddy into studio work. Buddy also designed his own instruments and set up a company to sell these with considerable success. (78)


MASABUMI KIKUCHI was a jazz pianist who was born in Tokyo just before the war. He was educated there and caught the ear of Lionel Hampton whilst touring the country. He joined his band and relocated to New York.

Over the years he made his own records and played, or collaborated, with Gil Evans, Miles Davis, Gary Peacock and others. He was a key figure in the avant guard jazz scene. (75)


AL ABRAMS was Motown Records first publicity man. He was instrumental in getting their music heard and appreciated all around the world. It could be said that the Motown legacy is as much Al’s as his lifetime friend Berry Gordy's. (74)


GAIL ZAPPA was Frank's wife as well as his muse and manager. After he died, she took charge of his considerable recorded legacy and ensured that the music was released properly and not exploited as had happened to others. (70)


BILLY SHERRILL was a songwriter and producer who was probably the most influential man in country music for several decades. He was responsible for making Charlie Rich and Tammy Wynette household names. He produced albums by George Jones, Tanya Tucker, Janie Fricke, Lacy J Dalton, Barbara Mandrell and many other performers.

Besides the country musicians, he produced albums for Cliff Richard, Elvis Costello and Ray Charles. (78)


Mark Murphy

MARK MURPHY was an original jazz singer whose improvisational skills made him a cult favorite with jazz fans (including Norma, the Assistant Musicologist). He was from New York but spent a lot of time in London and San Francisco. He was admired by the cream of jazz musicians – Duke Ellington and Ella Fitzgerald at the top of those.

He also brought the works of Jack Kerouac to the jazz canon (before Jack did so himself). He won Downbeat's poll of the best jazz singer many years. From his Kerouac album, this is Be Bop Lives. (83)

♫ Mark Murphy - Be Bop Lives (Boplicity)


BILLY JOE ROYAL, while still in his teens, became friends with songwriters and singers Joe South, Jerry Reed and Ray Stevens. This set him in good stead in later years as they sent songs his way, the most famous of those were Down in the Boondocks and Hush, both written by Joe South. (73)


ANDY WHITE was a session drummer who worked with Burt Bacharach, Anthony Newley, Eddie Cochran, Gene Vincent, Tom Jones, Chuck Berry and others. He also had his own rock group when younger.

However, his main claim to fame is that it was he who played the drums on The Beatles' first three singles – the record producers didn't think Ringo was up to the task. (85)


BRYN MERRICK was the bass player for the punk bank The Damned. At the same time, he played in other bands under assumed names. He died from neck cancer rather than as a result of fast living which is how he spent his life. (56)


Allen Toussaint

ALLEN TOUSSAINT was arguably the most important music person from New Orleans in the last 50 years. He was a record producer, songwriter, pianist, singer and more besides. He wrote so many songs that became famous for others that it would astound you if I listed them all.

Besides performing on his own and with The Meters, "his band," he collaborated with artists as diverse as the Rolling Stones, Herb Alpert, Elvis Costello, The Band, Robert Palmer, Paul McCartney, Glenn Campbell as well as the cream of New Orleans musicians.

After Katrina, he was one of the first to return as an example to others to do the same. I understated the first sentence – he was one of the most important music persons in the world.

He had a heart attack after a concert, so he was performing right to the end. Here he performs one of his own songs, Working in the Coalmine, that Lee Dorsey took to the top of the charts (several times). (77)

♫ Allen Toussaint - Working In The Coalmine



ELDER MUSIC: Christmas 2015

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.

* * *

ChristmasOz20

Well, here it is again (deep sigh). Christmas. Bah humbug is too mild a phrase for what I'm thinking so I'd better stop and get on with the tasteful music I have in mind.

In the spirit of the season, this is LOUDON WAINWRIGHT III who really does get into the Christmas spirit with his song.

Loudon Wainwright III

It's a cheerful little ditty called I'll Be Killing You This Christmas. I thought I'd throw that one in just to make your Christmas complete. It certainly did mine.

♫ Loudon Wainwright III - I'll Be Killing You This Christmas


In contrast, ROOSEVELT SYKES certainly doesn't want to off his baby, as Loudon seems intent on doing.

Roosevelt Sykes

Roosevelt was a blues pianist and he always thought that his music was for chasing away the blues and his records and live playing certainly did that. I'm sure he was chasing away the blues with Let Me Hang Your Stockings in Your Christmas Tree.

♫ Roosevelt Sykes - Let Me Hang Your Stockings In Your Christmas Tree


Now a tune that we in Australia would naturally call Summer Wonderland:

...Later on we'll perspire
As the temperature gets higher
We're living in a summer wonderland

ChristmasOz

However, for some reason best known to CHET BAKER, he calls it Winter Wonderland. I've heard others call it that as well. I shake my head.

Chet Baker

♫ Chet Baker - Winter Wonderland


Soul singer and songwriter MACK RICE started his career in a group called The Falcons.

Mack Rice

Also in that band were another couple of handy performers: Eddie Floyd and Wilson Pickett. Mack's songs have been covered by pretty much every soul and blues performer around (particularly Wilson).

Mack suggests that Santa Claus Wants Some Lovin'. Well, it looks as if Shemekia (down below) is willing to give him some.

♫ Mack Rice - Santa Claus Wants Some Lovin'


JULIA LEE specialised in singing "the songs my mother taught me not to sing.”

Julia Lee

See if you think that her song Christmas Spirit fits into that category.

♫ Julia Lee - Christmas Spirit


CHIP TAYLOR is a songwriter of some repute – he wrote Angel of the Morning and Wild Thing.

Chip Taylor & Carrie Rodriguez

Besides that ,he is the brother of the actor Jon Voight (and thus Angelina Jolie's uncle). On this track, as on several of his recent albums, Chip has the help of CARRIE RODRIGUEZ. The song is Merry F'n Christmas. I can't imagine what he means by that.

♫ Chip Taylor - Merry F'n Christmas


ChristmasOz

KANSAS CITY KITTY was a name used by several women recording in the early thirties. No one knows exactly who sang on any particular record under that name. A few are thought to be possibilities – Victoria Spivey, her sister Addie Spivey and Mozelle Alderson are generally considered the front runners.

Whoever it is, she's a real blues singer because she "woke up Christmas morning." The song is Christmas Morning Blues.

♫ Kansas City Kitty - Christmas Morning Blues


A song that will date us, those who can remember when this seemed like a good idea, is I Want Eddie Fisher for Christmas and the singer BETTY JOHNSON.

Betty Johnson

The song has been used over the years referencing various other singers, but Betty's was the first and the best. Okay "best" is an interesting word for what we have here today. Make up your own mind on that.

♫ Betty Johnson - I Want Eddie Fisher for Christmas (1954)


SHEMEKIA COPELAND wants the big man to hang around for a while and with all that loot in his sack, who can blame her?

Shemekia Copeland

Shemekia is the daughter of the great bluesman Johnny Copeland - however, she doesn't need nepotism; she's a terrific performer in her own right. Here's Shemekia with Stay A Little Longer, Santa.

♫ Shemekia Copeland - Stay A Little Longer, Santa


For your moment of Christmas couth we have CRISTOFORO CARESANA.

Cristoforo Caresana

Cris had been pretty much written out of music history until he was rediscovered only a couple of decades ago. He lived back in the 17th century, was born in Venice and the family moved to Naples when he was a teenager (we think, his birth year is a bit uncertain).

It was there he developed his music skills, singing and playing the organ initially and then turning to composition. This is Coronati viatori from "L'Adoratione de' Maggi."

♫ Caresana - L'Adoratione de' Maggi - Coronati viatori


ChristmasOz


ELDER MUSIC: Variations on Take Five and Moanin'

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've done several columns devoted to a single song and there are more in the pipeline. I started this one and, although I had enough for a complete column, half of them were too similar to be of interest.

I kept the other half and introduced another tune that had half a column's worth of interesting versions as well. This second one was at the suggestion of Norma, the Assistant Musicologist.

The first tune I thought of is the great jazz classic written by Paul Desmond. It's the largest selling jazz single in history, and most of you will know Take Five.

My favorite version of the tune, apart from the original, was recorded by bluesman JIMMY JOHNSON.

Jimmy Johnson

This is on a pretty good album of his called "Johnson's Whacks" (ho ho). Jimmy didn't release his first album until he was 50; he worked as a welder before that.

He was inspired to become a professional musician after his younger brother Syl had a successful career as a soul singer. Jimmy and Syl have made a couple of records together. Take Five is all Jimmy though.

♫ Jimmy Johnson - Take Five


Somewhere along the way, the tune gained some words - as far as I know also written by Paul Desmond. I'm sure someone will correct me if this is not so. The first vocal version I remember is by CARMEN MCRAE.

Carmen McRae

Carmen recorded the song with the Dave Brubeck Quartet – well, who could perform it better. Here they all are.

♫ Carmen McRae - Take Five


I expected GEORGE BENSON to produce a tasteful guitar offering of our tune.

George Benson

He does that, accompanied by a drummer for about half the record then a full band charges in and takes over. I could have done without that but the first half is pretty nice.

♫ George Benson - Take Five


AL JARREAU has an interesting scat (as I call it) or vocalese (as the A.M. calls it) version of the song.

Al Jarreau

Besides singing the standard jazz repertoire, Al also performs songs written by soul singers like Bill Withers and Al Green. However, today we're interested in Take Five. The song has become a staple of his live performances and here he is from one of those.

♫ Al Jarreau - Take Five


The tune started out as some solo drumming by Joe Morello and Dave suggested to Paul that he come up with a tune to go with it. With a little help from Dave, Paul did just that and produced the tune in the unusual time signature of 5/4 (thus the title).

It was included of the best selling album "Time Out" where all the tunes were in unusual, and different, time signatures. Here's the original and the best by the DAVE BRUBECK QUARTET.

Dave Brubeck

Paul specified in his will that proceeds from the tune, which are considerable, would go to the Red Cross.

♫ Dave Brubeck - Take Five


Now to the tune suggested by the A.M., Moanin', written by Bobby Timmons (the tune) and Jon Hendricks (the words).

Speaking of Jon Hendricks, first up we have LAMBERT, HENDRICKS & ROSS.

Lambert, Hendricks and Ross

The tune had been around for a while before Jon added words and recorded it with the others. It became a hit and made the already quite popular tune even more so.

♫ Lambert, Hendricks and Ross - Moanin'


I was unfamiliar with ART FARMER's take on Moanin' before I started searching my collection.

Art Farmer

I had a pleasant surprise when I played it. There's some big band sounding brass, arranged by Benny Golson, some Miles-sounding trumpet playing by Art and Bobby Timmons, who wrote the tune of course, having a guest spot playing piano.

♫ Art Farmer - Moanin'


As with the previous tune, we have a blues take on it. This time by BUDDY GUY.

Buddy Guy

Given the words, it's well suited to the blues, however Buddy doesn't sing on this, just plays his guitar. The A.M. says that's just fine as he's one of the best blues guitarists around.

♫ Buddy Guy - Moanin'


GREGORY PORTER was part of a record called "Great Voices of Harlem."

Gregory Porter

The band is Paul Zauner’s Blue Brass and there are some fine soloists evident in the song – Paul on trombone, some nice trumpet by Barney Girlinger and Martin Reiter playing piano. This really is a fine version, and does it swing.

♫ Gregory Porter etc - Moanin


Going back to the first appearance of the tune on record which was by ART BLAKEY'S JAZZ MESSENGERS.

Art Blakey

As mentioned above, the tune was written by Bobby Timmons, the pianist in the Messengers who was noodling around a bit with the opening bars when Benny Golson who played tenor sax encouraged him to add a bridge to complete the tune.

This version goes here, there and everywhere and stretches out for nine and a half minutes before it returns to where it started.

♫ Art Blakey & the Jazz Messengers - Moanin'



ELDER MUSIC: Willy DeVille

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.

* * *

Willy DeVille

In spite of his music suggesting a New Orleans origin, Willy DeVille was born as William Borsey in Stamford, Connecticut. He said he was “A little of this and a little of that; a real street dog,” having Basque, Irish and Pequot among his ancestors.

He eventually relocated to New Orleans for a time where he found a musical home.

Willy DeVille

Willy’s most famous band before he went solo was Mink DeVille. Willy formed this band in San Francisco from the remnants of other groups. They used to play in leather bars on Folsom Street for a while as Billy de Sade and the Marquis.

They changed their name to Mink DeVille and hightailed it to New York where they took up residency at CBGBs, a club that featured punk bands. I’ve always been a bit wary of this categorization. Okay, The Ramones would fit in but I don’t see Blondie as a punk band. Neither was Mink DeVille as far as I’m concerned.

They were the most interesting group who came out of the club and were the house band there for several years. Later Willy had a somewhat successful solo career but he had more of a cult following than general popularity.

Unfortunately Willy died in 2009 just a few days short of turning 59, thus he didn’t even rate as a real elder musician. He died from pancreatic cancer.

Willy DeVille

Willy was taken with the R&B sound of the fifties, particularly groups like The Drifters. He would later write songs with Doc Pomus who wrote a lot of the songs from the time.

An example of this style is the early MINK DEVILLE track, Just To Walk That Little Girl Home.

♫ Just to Walk That Little Girl Home


Two hits brought Willy some public recognition with Mink DeVille, particularly in Europe.

Willy DeVille

The first of these is Spanish Stroll, where they seem to be channeling the Velvet Underground, if the Velvets performed in Spanish.

♫ Spanish Stroll


Willy DeVille

The second hit was Cadillac Walk.

♫ Cadillac Walk


Willy DeVille

Apart from Willy, the members of Mink DeVille kept turning over. Eventually he just recorded under his own name.

As I mentioned earlier, his style seemed to suggest he'd be happy in New Orleans and so it proved. With soulful singing with Latin rhythms mixed with New Orleans R&B style, he was one of a kind.

He recorded several albums in the city. For the first of them, "Victory Mixture," he recruited the artists who put the city's R&B style of music on the map. Such musicians as Earl King, Dr John, Eddie Bo and Allen Toussaint. Here they all are with Every Dog Has Its Day.

♫ Every Dog Has Its Day


Willy DeVille

This next song is the most blatant paean to drugs, heroin in particular, I think I've heard in a popular song except maybe Lou Reed's song about the drug.

It was written by Champion Jack Dupree and you can hear Jack's version in Elder Music 1941 but Willy took it several steps further on. He knew a thing or two about what he was singing. The song is Junker's Blues.

♫ Junker's Blues


Willy DeVille

For a complete contrast to the previous song, we have another from one of his New Orleans' sessions. This one is Who Shot the La-La.

♫ Who Shot the La-La


From the final album as Mink Deville ("Sportin' Life") we get the song Something Beautiful Dying. Willy wrote several songs (including this one) with legendary songwriter Doc Pomus, who had become a good friend by this stage.

The album was recorded at the famed Muscle Shoals studio and Willy used the great session musicians attached to that studio rather than his band. That probably contributed to the demise of the band.

♫ Something Beautiful Dying


Back to nearly the beginning, from the second album from Mink DeVille, we have I Broke That Promise.

Willy DeVille

This was the last album that featured the original members of the band. It was only their second album so the turn-over was considerable.

♫ I Broke That Promise


A rather unexpected singer turns up next to perform a duet with Willy, and she is BRENDA LEE.

Brenda Lee

Okay, when she recorded the song, Brenda was a bit older than she appears in that photo. I just threw that one in because I can. The song is You’ll Never Know, from his fine album, "Loup Garou.”

♫ You'll Never Know


Willy DeVille

From the album “Horse of a Different Color,” here’s his version of Across the Borderline. I think a column could be done using all the great versions of this song; when I’ve run out of other things to do maybe.

The song was written by John Hiatt, Ry Cooder and Jim Dickinson.

♫ Across the Borderline



ELDER MUSIC: 1910

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.

* * *

This was an interesting exercise. Could I fill a column with songs from 1910?

Well, that was easy, of course I could. The hard part was, could I fill a column with songs recorded in that year and have it sound acceptable to you? Well, as we have a column I imagine the answer to that question is obvious.

So, here are songs from back then and no one reading this would have heard them when they were first released. I hope you enjoy them; Norma, the Assistant Musicologist rather lacked enthusiasm for the whole idea, particularly after hearing the music.

The recording quality of some is a little problematic but remember these were laid down more than 100 years ago. It surprised me a little how many of these songs are still well known today. Of course, that could be due to my selection process.

GERALDINE FARRAR was an opera singer and movie actress.

Geraldine Farrar

She was good friend with Caruso and had a torrid affair for many years with renowned conductor Arturo Toscanini. Her marriage to film actor Lou Tellegen was torrid, ending in divorce and the suicide of her husband. Looks like the world of film and music hasn't changed in a hundred years.

Geraldine performed in opera until she was 40 and then performed recitals and sang on the radio. Here she is with the old Stephen Foster song, My Old Kentucky Home.

♫ Geraldine Farrar - My Old Kentucky Home


MANUEL ROMAIN was born in Massachusetts or Gibraltar or Spain.

Manuel Romain

Wherever he was born, he grew up in Boston where he initially sang in church but later branched out into the secular world singing on the concert stage. He also lent his hand (and voice) to minstrel shows but we'll just glide over that.

He wrote songs but I must admit I hadn't heard of any of them. Here he sings a song just about all of us would know, I Wonder Who's Kissing Her Now.

♫ Manuel Romain - I Wonder Who's Kissing Her Now


JOHN MCCORMACK's name is still quite well known today.

John McCormack

He was an Irish tenor who sang in opera as well as performing popular songs. He toured Australia (and elsewhere) with Nellie Melba around this time to great acclaim.

I noticed when I looked him up that he died on the day I was born. Alas, his singing talent didn't transfer to me. He sings Annie Laurie.

♫ John McCormack - Annie Laurie


NORA BAYES started her career as a teenager in vaudeville, criss-crossing America.

Nora Bayes

She became friendly with George M. Cohan and during the first great unpleasantness, George insisted that she was the first to record his song, Over There. It became a huge hit for her.

Before that, though, she recorded the rather famous song Has Anybody Here Seen Kelly.

♫ Nora Bayes - Has Anybody Here Seen Kelly


THE PEERLESS QUARTET must have had tickets on themselves, as we say in Australia. It just means they were a bit up themselves to come up with that name.

The Peerless Quartet

They began their career as the Columbia Male Quartet and started out recording on wax cylinders in the 1890s. They went through a couple of name changes and several members before they got to the group we have today (today being 1910, of course).

There were even more changes after this. They perform a song you'll all know, By the Light of the Silvery Moon.

♫ The Peerless Quartet - By the Light of the Silvery Moon


Now for someone who will be familiar to every reader, one of the most famous singers in history, ENRICO CARUSO.

Enrico Caruso

Caruso was the model for every famous (and not so famous) tenor in the twentieth century and beyond. It's impossible from this distance, and given the primitive recording equipment at the time, to judge the quality of his voice. From the evidence of this track I prefer Pavarotti, and more especially, Gedda.

However, Enrico is who we have singing Il Fior Che Avevi A Me Tu Dato (the Flower Song) from Bizet's “Carmen.”

♫ Enrico Caruso - Carmen ~ The Flower


LUCY ISABELLE MARSH was a soprano who made a living making records for the Victor Talking Machine company. Most of these were anonymous, but she also recorded under her own name.

HARRY MACDONOUGH was a Canadian tenor who started out making cylinders very early on. He later also made some records for Victor including duets with Lucy.

Lucy Isabelle Marsh & Harry MacDonough

One of those was the song, Every Little Movement.

♫ Harry Macdonough & Lucy Isabelle Marsh - Every Little Movement


BERT WILLIAMS was one of the biggest stars of vaudeville in his day.

Bert Williams

He was also the biggest selling black artist before the 1920s. He was described by W.C. Fields, with whom he shared a stage several times, as the funniest man he'd ever seen, but also the saddest. Bert performs Play That Barber-Shop Chord.

♫ Bert Williams - Play that barbershop chord


Irving Berlin died in 1989, not all that long ago. He's present in the column as the writer of the next songs. That slightly boggled my mind. The singer of the song is BOB ROBERTS.

Bob Roberts

Irving's song isn't one of his best known; I hadn't heard of it before I found it. It's called Sadie Salome (Go Home).

Bob started out touring in his father's troupe of performers. He's also responsible for The Woodchuck Song. You know, "How much wood would a woodchuck chuck if a woodchuck could chuck wood?" Deep sigh.

♫ Bob Roberts - Sadie Salome (Go Home)

When I first saw the name of this song, I thought it was the song Aba Daba Honeymoon under a different name. I was wrong, but I decided to include it anyway.

Besides, ARTHUR COLLINS AND BYRON G. HARLAN recorded that one too, and you'll be able to hear it in 1914 (if I ever get around to that year).

Collins & Harlan

The song from this year is called >On a Monkey Honeymoon.

♫ Collins and Harlan - On A Monkey Honeymoon


Whew, I made it. That was fun (for me, I don't know about you), but I don't think I'll be able to do any earlier years than this one; the recordings are really not worth listening to.


ELDER MUSIC: Songs within Songs

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.

* * *

Okay, that title is not strictly true. It should be songs that reference other songs. I wondered how many there'd be. More than enough for a column, I'm happy to say. I'm sure you know more of them, probably ones I omitted.

The first of them today is by THE AMAZING RHYTHM ACES.

Amazing Rhythm Aces

The Aces are one of the finest country rock bands, with the great singer and song writer Russell Smith who pretty much got the band together and keeps it going after all these years.

Their song is Amazing Grace Used to Be Her Favorite Song. I probably don't need to tell you which song they reference.

♫ The Amazing Rhythm Aces - Amazing Grace Used to Be Her Favorite Song


HARRY CHAPIN is mostly thought of as a bit of a folk singer. However, his song veers into the heart of rock & roll.

Harry Chapin

It's interesting that he'd do that as his song is set in 1912 and the song he mentions is Nearer My God to Thee. His song is Dance Band on the Titanic.

♫ Harry Chapin - Dance Band on the Titanic


I have used the next one a couple of times before in these columns but it's such a good 'un that I'm happy to use it again. I'm shameless that way.

The singer is RODNEY CROWELL.

Rodney Crowell

The song is I Walk the Line (Revisited). I think it's not too much of a stretch to figure out which song is referenced in that one either. He doesn't just reference it, it's pretty much played all the way through. So, this one really is a song within a song.

♫ Rodney Crowell - I Walk the Line (Revisited)


Another one I've used before is Sweet Soul Music. Indeed, I've written a whole column dedicated to it. The singer is ARTHUR CONLEY.

Arthur Conley

He mentions quite a few songs. I won't list them all, but one of these is Mustang Sally by Wilson Pickett. Any of the others would have been worth an attribution, but I'll let you pick them up.

♫ Arthur Conley - Sweet Soul Music


Right, here is a group of singers who got together in one of their garages and decided to form a band. They called themselves the TRAVELING WILBURYS.

Traveling Wilburys

I'd better tell you their names as they are a bunch of complete nonentities and they need the exposure. There are five of them and their names are Bob Dylan, George Harrison, Tom Petty, Roy Orbison and Jeff Lynne.

These music wannabes sing End of the Line and the song they mention is Purple Haze by Jimi Hendrix.

♫ The Traveling Wilburys - End of the Line


VAN MORRISON has mentioned several songs over the years. I could have pretty much filled the column with them.

Van Morrison

I restricted myself to just one. That one is Cleaning Windows where he mentions Rolling Stone by the great Muddy Waters. He also mentions a bunch of other performers as well.

For those who like a bit of trivia about the artists, before he became a professional musician, one of Van's jobs was cleaning windows.

♫ Van Morrison - Cleaning Windows


The next song contains a reference to one of my favorites. The referencing song is by JOHN FOGERTY.

John Fogerty

His is Centerfield from the album of the same name. The song reference is Chuck Berry's Brown Eyed Handsome Man.

♫ John Fogerty - Centerfield


After appearing in the Wilburys, BOB DYLAN turns up on his own next, in self-referential mode.

Bob Dylan

He wrote and performed this one about his first wife Sara Lownds and he called it Sara. In this one, he sings that he was "stayin' up for days in the Chelsea Hotel writin' Sad-Eyed Lady of the Lowlands for you.”

♫ Bob Dylan - Sara


DIRE STRAITS were another group happy to mention their influences.

Dire Straits

I had a choice of songs from them I could have used but settled on Walk of Life. There are a few songs in this one but I'll just mention Be-Bop-A-Lula by Gene Vincent as it's the first reference. I'll leave it to you to check out the rest.

♫ Dire Straits - Walk of Life


I'll end with the one I thought of first for this column and the singer is JOHNNY RIVERS.

Johnny Rivers

This is probably his best known song, Summer Rain. It refers to Sgt Pepper's Lonely Hearts Club Band. There are some who suggest that is really the album of the same name but even if it is, the song is on it so I'm happy with that.

♫ Johnny Rivers - Summer Rain



ELDER MUSIC: The Johnny Mercer Songbook

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.

* * *

Johnny Mercer was best known for writing the lyrics to songs but he composed tunes as well. Besides that, he sang quite well. He was also one of the three founders of Capitol Records.

After writing mostly stand-alone songs, in the fifties he began producing the words for songs in musicals – Seven Brides for Seven Brothers and Li'l Abner are the ones I found most notable.

There were also songs for films. He wrote the words to Moon River and Days of Wine and Roses (others as well, of course). I mention these as they're not in the column today. There were too many good songs to include everything.

Unusually for a white composer of his era, he listened carefully to black music of the time, jazz and blues. He brought elements of those styles into many of his songs.

That is evident in the first song today, Blues in the Night. Many people have tackled the song. I've decided to feature JESSE BELVIN.

Jesse Belvin

Jesse was a proto-soul singer who died far too young, probably murdered by members of the Klan or their supporters. No investigation was ever held. Besides singing soul-styled music, Jesse could perform jazz with the best of them.

♫ Jesse Belvin - Blues In The Night


Australian readers, and probably some others, will remember FRANK IFIELD's big hit, I Remember You.

Frank Ifield

As a youth, Frank used to practise singing by serenading the cows on his family's property in New South Wales. Then he went to Sydney and made it big on TV and records. Next to England where he made it bigger still. That's where he recorded this song.

♫ Frank Ifield - I Remember You


Capitol Records, mentioned above, was often called the house that Nat built. Nat, both as a solo artist, and as the NAT KING COLE TRIO had so many hits he pretty much kept the company afloat in its early days.

Nat King Cole Trio

To complete the circle, as it were, here's the trio ably assisted by Johnny Mercer himself with Save the Bones for Henry Jones.

♫ Nat King Cole Trio - Save The Bones For Henry Jones


Fools Rush In (Where Angels Fear to Tread) was written around about 1940 and a number of people recorded it. I'm too young to remember those, and the first time it impinged on my brain was when BROOK BENTON took it to somewhere near the top of the charts 20 years later.

Brook Benton

That's the one I'm using in spite of all those other fine versions.

♫ Brook Benton - Fools Rush In (Where Angels Fear To Tread)


I used the MILLS BROTHERS so often in the "years" columns that I've pretty much run out of things to say about them.

Mills Brothers

So I won't say anything. Most of you would be familiar with them anyway. I'll just play one of their most famous songs, Glow Worm.

♫ Mills Brothers - Glow Worm


That Old Black Magic has been performed by many people but the one I remember as the first I heard, and is thus imprinted on my brain, is by LOUIS PRIMA AND KEELY SMITH.

Louis Prima & Keely Smith

Louis and Keely performed together in the fifties and were married for a time until Louis' womanising became too blatant and they were divorced. Keely later performed with Frank Sinatra and as a solo artist.

♫ Louis Prima & Keely Smith - That Old Black Magic


Speaking of Frank Sinatra, he is most associated with the song One for My Baby (and One More for the Road) but his version is so well known I thought I'd do another instead.

Of course, when I noticed that BILLIE HOLIDAY was on the list I think I was justified in my choice.

Billie Holiday

Billie's version really gives Frank's a run for its money, something I can't imagine anyone else doing.

♫ Billie Holiday - One for My Baby (and One More for the Road)


In contrast to my thought process on the previous song, I've gone for the obvious. If you decide to include the song I Wanna Be Around, there's only one person that's in contention.

Everyone who knows this song will know of whom I speak; for the others it is TONY BENNETT.

Tony Bennett

Nothing more needs to be said.

♫ Tony Bennett - I Wanna Be Around


There was a time when the most famous Clooney in show business was ROSEMARY CLOONEY.

Rosemary Clooney

She was of course, the current famous one's aunt. Rosemary could perform pop and jazz with equal facility. Here she leans more towards jazz with Something's Got to Give.

♫ Rosemary Clooney - Something's Got To Give


I'll finish with the man himself, JOHNNY MERCER.

Johnny Mercer

Satin Doll is most associated with Duke Ellington and Billy Strayhorn who, of course, wrote the tune. Johnny put words to it.

He worked with many composers over his lifetime from Jerome Kern at the beginning to Henry Mancini at the end, with Duke and Billy in the middle. Johnny performs Satin Doll.

♫ Johnny Mercer - Satin Doll



ELDER MUSIC: 1980

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've said quite a few times (such that you must be getting sick of my saying it) that I pretty much stopped listening to new music after about 1975. This year though brought me up short (as it were); there were some really interesting tracks – some of which are covers of earlier songs, maybe that's the reason – enough so I might have to rethink my original premise.

Okay, there were a whole bunch of shockers too, a couple of which I might have included, depending on how you view these things.

ABBA were close to the end of their hugely successful run by 1980. Their personal relationships were falling apart as well.

ABBA

In spite of that, they came up with what I think is their finest song. It's more down in tone than most of their songs, rather world weary, sounding as if they knew things were drawing to a close. The Winner Takes It All.

♫ ABBA - The Winner Takes It All


The first of our covers is the song More Than I Can Say, written by Jerry Allison and Sonny Curtis who were both members of The Crickets.

They recorded it not long after Buddy Holly died. The first version I recall is by Bobby Vee. The one from this year is by LEO SAYER.

Leo Sayer

Leo really liked Australia as he toured often and eventually settled here. Not just that, he became a citizen of this wide, brown land.

♫ Leo Sayer - More than I can say


You really can't get much better than the NITTY GRITTY DIRT BAND and Linda Ronstadt.

The Nitty Gritty Dirt Band

This is close to a music buff's dream. All it needs is Emmylou and I'd be quivering on the floor. Okay, time out to gather myself and announce An American Dream, written by two other favorites of mine, Guy Clark and Rodney Crowell.

♫ Nitty Gritty Dirt Band - An American Dream


THE PRETENDERS were probably the most interesting new group for the year.

Pretenders

Alas, that original exciting lineup only lasted for a single album as two of the four died of drug overdoses before their next record. Fortunately for the music world, their main woman Chrissie Hynde keeps on keeping on.

From that excellent debut album, here is Brass in Pocket.

♫ Pretenders - Brass in Pocket


I didn't think anyone could do a better version of Crying than Roy Orbison, and I was right. However, DON MCLEAN made a pretty good fist of it.

Don McLean

Don was sensible in not trying just to copy Roy; he turned it into a Don McLean song. Well, nearly.

♫ Don McLean - Crying


Norma, the Assistant Musicologist is a big fan of QUEEN.

Queen

The group had been around for a while but were really flying high around this year and there were a couple of their songs I could have chosen. I didn't consult the A.M. on which one to include, I just made an executive decision for Crazy Little Thing Called Love.

♫ Queen - Crazy Little Thing Called Love


I don't know why BLONDIE were lumped into the punk category; they were much too musical for that. Probably because they played CBGBs quite a lot, that's the only reason I can think of.

Blondie

The song The Tide Is High isn't one of their own, it was originally a reggae song by The Paragons. Blondie did a fine job on it, probably better than the original.

♫ Blondie - The Tide is High


I said there could be some shockers today and here's one. This is without doubt the worst song of the year. I give you RUPERT HOLMES with Escape (The Pina Colada Song).

Rupert Holmes

I don't want to say anything else about it, just let you listen to it if you want to.

♫ Rupert Holmes - Escape (Pina Colada Song)


AIR SUPPLY have never had any respect, particularly not in their home country.

Air Supply

This Australian group consisting of Graham Russell and Russell Hitchcock (plus assorted hangers-on) sold a whole swag of records over the years. Perhaps that was the reason for the jealousy. Or maybe because they weren't punk or rock & roll or something. I don't know.

Lost in Love was one of their big hits.

♫ Air Supply - Lost In Love


Stolen Car is from BRUCE SPRINGSTEEN's album "The River" and what a fine album that one is.

Bruce Springsteen

It's a rather brooding sort of a song – Bruce is good at those. He's good at just about any sort of song really. This is a good way to end the year but don't go out and steal a car no matter how good Bruce is.

♫ Bruce Springsteen - Stolen Car



ELDER MUSIC: Songs About Cities: San Francisco

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.

* * *

SF1

That's one of my own photos.

San Francisco is the first city I visited outside Australia – that was in 1970. It may be because of that that I feel completely at home whenever I visit it, which is as often as I can.

I love this city as much as I love Melbourne (although we have better restaurants and coffee in Melbourne). After that statement, assured to get the residents of The City offside, let's go with the music.

San Francisco Bay Blues was written by Jesse Fuller. I could have used Jesse's version or any one of hundreds who have recorded the song (well, I may not have hundreds, but I've got quite a few). Out of all the possibilities I've chosen RICHIE HAVENS.

Richie Havens

It's one I really like and it's taken from his debut album "Mixed Bag," a record certainly worth searching out.

♫ Richie Havens - San Francisco Bay Blues


VIKKI CARR's song starts out as if it's going to turn into the famous song by Tony Bennett. Instead, it turns into another quite famous song.

Vikki Carr

She slows it down a lot which I think improves it. The song is simply called San Francisco.

♫ Vikki Carr - San Francisco


It's amazing what you find in your music collection when you do a search for something. Well, that's the case for me anyway. I hadn't realized that MARTY ROBBINS had performed a San Francisco song. Just goes to show.

Marty Robbins

It's not really clear why Marty's companion is leaving San Francisco but he's not too happy about it at all. Apparently there are a bunch of others who are similarly unhappy which raises some interesting questions in my mind about said companion.

Whatever, Marty has San Francisco Teardrops.

♫ Marty Robbins - San Francisco Teardrops


PEGGY LEE name checks just about every tourist attraction in the city.

Peggy Lee

That includes her baby painting the Golden Gate Bridge (on his own?). Anyway, Peggy has the San Francisco Blues.

♫ Peggy Lee - San Francisco Blues


American Trilogy would be the most famous work of MICKEY NEWBURY.

Mickey Newbury

However, he only arranged that, he didn't write the various parts. It was still a nice little earner for him thanks to Elvis. The most famous song of his that he wrote would have to be San Francisco Mabel Joy.

His original version gets a bit overwrought at the end with celestial choirs and whatnot. A more pleasing version is this one he performed at the Big Sur Festival back in 1971 with a little help from JOAN BAEZ.

Joan Baez

♫ Mickey Newbury & Joan Baez - San Francisco Mabel Joy


NANCY WILSON seems to suffer from my problem.

Nancy Wilson

Well, maybe a slight exaggeration. I notice that Nancy isn't the only one who has performed this song, but it's her version I like the best. I'm Always Drunk in San Francisco.

♫ Nancy Wilson - I'm Always Drunk in San Francisco (And I Don't Drink At All)


The next song starts out sounding as if it's a song about New York. It also sounds as if it's going to be someone else singing rather than MEL TORMÉ.

Mel Torme

However, things quickly settle down and Mel takes us on a tour of all the various tourist attractions of the city. The song is Got The Gate On The Golden Gate.

♫ Mel Tormé - Got The Gate On The Golden Gate


VAN MORRISON produced five of the finest albums of the rock & roll era in a row, a feat even The Band and The Beatles couldn't manage.

Van Morrison

Saint Dominic's Preview was the last of these and the title song is about San Francisco. Saint Dominic's is a church at Bush and Steiner and there are many other subtle references to the city in the song. Other places are mentioned as well, but we'll ignore them.

♫ Van Morrison - Saint Dominic's Preview


You knew this one had to be present so I won't disappoint you (unless you don't like the song, of course). All I need to say is TONY BENNETT.

Tony Bennett

Well, not quite all, I have to add I Left My Heart in San Francisco.

♫ Tony Bennett - I Left My Heart In San Francisco


The writer JACK KEROUAC made a couple of albums where he recited his prose or poems to a jazz backing. The most famous of these is one he made with Steve Allen playing piano, which Norma, the Assistant Musicologist, has and it's rather interesting.

Jack Kerouac

What I have today isn't from that album. In this case, it's Jack performing San Francisco backed by Miles Davis performing Flamenco Sketches from his great album "Kind of Blue.” This could almost be called spoken jazz.

♫ Jack Kerouac - San Francisco

I hope you appreciate that I resisted the temptation of including Starship's We Built This City.



ELDER MUSIC: Playing with Mr B

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.

* * *

BILLY ECKSTINE first came to public attention when he joined the Earl Hines band as a singer and trumpet player. He stayed with him for a while and then went out and formed his own group.

He hired the cream of the crop and everyone featured today began their professional career playing in Billy's band. They all went on to change the face of jazz and are some of the most important musicians in the development of the art.

I'll start today with a song from the EARL HINES Band with Billy's unmistakable voice singing Stormy Monday Blues, a different song from the one that T-Bone Walker wrote and performed.

Earl Hines

♫ Earl Hines - Stormy Monday Blues


Norma, the Assistant Musicologist, is a big fan of Billy Eckstine, so I'll play another song of his, just for her.

Billy Eckstine

This is definitely from his big band period. It's called Mr. B's Blues.

♫ Billy Eckstine - Mr. B's Blues


Right, to Billy's band. First up we have DIZZY GILLESPIE. Diz said in his autobiography,

"There was no band that sounded like Billy Eckstine's. Our attack was strong, and we were playing bebop, the modern style. No other band like this one existed in the world."

With the talent he had, I'm not surprised.

Diz plays the tune Leap Frog with the assistance of his long time playing partner, who also came from Billy's band, Charlie Parker.

Dizzy Gillespie & Charlie Parker

♫ Dizzy Gillespie - Leap Frog


DEXTER GORDON was actually in a couple of other bands before he joined Billy's.

Dexter Gordon

However, it was while he was there that he was instrumental in the development of bebop (along with the others, of course). He had a big influence on the playing of John Coltrane. Here Dex performs Clear the Dex.

♫ Dexter Gordon - Clear the Dex


SARAH VAUGHAN won a singing contest at the Zeus Theater in Harlem; the prize was a week's gig at the famous Apollo.

Sarah Vaughan

After a bit of shilly shallying and messing around, she managed to get her gig. While she was there, and here things get a bit confused, she was spotted by either Earl Hines or Billy Eckstine – accounts differ. Whoever saw her, she was signed up to Earl's band.

When Billy left, she went with him. Here from later in her career with Clifford Brown, Sarah sings, You're Not the Kind.

♫ Sarah Vaughan - You're Not The Kind


The great players kept coming along and now one of the greatest of them all, MILES DAVIS.

Miles Davis

Miles' stay in the band was brief. He was just 18 when the group visited East St Louis where Miles still lived with his parents. One of the trumpet players was ill (not Diz) and word around town was that Miles could fill in.

He was impressed with the playing of Diz and Bird and that solidified his plans to play jazz for a living (rather than the classical music his parents wanted). Miles plays Ah-Leu-Cha, with some help from Coltrane who is present on this tune.

♫ Miles Davis - Ah-Leu-Cha


As mentioned above, we also have the great CHARLIE PARKER.

Charlie Parker

Every saxophone player who came after him has been influenced by his playing. Much has been said and written about Bird and I really can't add anything useful. Let's just hear him in a rather unusual mode playing with the Erroll Garner Trio, with vocalist Earl Coleman, and Dark Shadows.

♫ Charlie Parker - Dark Shadows


ART BLAKEY was the drummer of choice for many jazz musicians.

Art Blakey

Diz, Bird, Monk, Miles, Bud all used him at times. Besides that, his group The Jazz Messengers was a breeding ground for the next generation of great players, a column for another day. Art plays Little Hughie.

♫ Art Blakey - Little Hughie


I had a song penciled in here and the A.M. suggested that a duet by Billy Eckstine and Sarah Vaughan would be appropriate. Even if it isn't appropriate, she'd like it nonetheless.

Billy Eckstine & Sarah Vaughan

So, the song we have, and we had a reasonable number from which to choose, is Passing Strangers. It was a unanimous choice from both of us.

♫ Billy Eckstine & Sarah Vaughan - Passing Strangers


Going right back to the beginning with Earl Hines and what sounds to me like a pedal steel guitar playing along there, not something you normally associated with this style of music. Here is a song Billy wrote and recorded with Earl, Jelly Jelly.

Earl Hines

♫ Earl Hines - Jelly Jelly



ELDER MUSIC: Don Gibson

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.

* * *

Don Gibson

Here is a column where you can cry in your beer (or cry in my pinot noir in my case). I present the writer and singer of the lonesome-est songs known to man- and woman-kind.

Don Gibson liked to think of himself as a songwriter who sang a bit rather than a singer who wrote songs. He was a particularly modest man who was very shy and didn't like performing. In spite of his reticence he really was a fine songwriter and terrific singer.

Don's father died when Don was just two and Don left school after second grade, something he regretted later that led to a lifetime of assiduous reading. Don acquired a guitar when he was 14 and taught himself by listening to guitarists on the radio and watching them perform and copied what they were doing.

He also made a bit of a living as a pool shark in his hometown.

Eventually he teamed up with a couple of others and formed a country band that had some local success. When the others left for a better playing gig, Don managed to get a regular spot on a local radio program.

He started writing songs around this time and a friend of his took some of them to a song publisher who was impressed And suggested that Don record some of them. Other singers also recorded his songs and he was on his way.

I'll start with the song that, when I mentioned to Norma, the Assistant Musicologist, that I was doing DON GIBSON, she started singing immediately.

We were in the car heading for South Melbourne Market to do some huntin' n gatherin' at the time. It's amazing how much we remembered (all of it - we even sang the woh woh woh's). Fortunately, there was no one else in the car.

The song we performed is Sea Of Heartbreak. It goes without saying that Don did it better than we did, however, I was surprised to learn that it wasn't one he wrote. It was by Hal David (who normally collaborated with Burt Bacharach) and Paul Hampton.

Don Gibson

♫ Don Gibson - Sea Of Heartbreak


At the same time as (well, just after) Sea of Heartbreak (released only as a single), the record company released a song from an album of Don's.

Don Gibson

It was also a big hit and continued the theme of loneliness (as if I need to tell you that – you could tell from the title) called Lonesome Number One.

♫ Don Gibson - Lonesome Number One


Some years before the previous two songs, the first of his to make the charts was Sweet Dreams. It was recorded by PATSY CLINE who took it to the top of the charts.

Patsy Cline

I'll find any excuse to include Patsy in a column and her singing one of Don's songs takes some beating.

♫ Patsy Cline - Sweet Dreams


RAY CHARLES was innovative throughout his career.

Ray Charles

One such innovation was his recording an album of country music in 1962 called "Modern Sounds in Country and Western Music" giving it the Ray treatment. It was so successful he recorded volume two later that same year.

He wasn't the first to do such a thing - Solomon Burke had done the same some years earlier but only with a few songs, not an entire album.

Coming from the other direction, a few country singers have recorded in a soulful vein. However, Ray showed them all what could be achieved. Of course, there were some of Don's songs in the mix, including almost certainly the best cover ever of one of his songs, I Can't Stop Loving You.

♫ Ray Charles - I Can't Stop Loving You


After Sea of Heartbreak, probably the best known of Don's recordings is Oh Lonesome Me.

Don Gibson

This was one of the first he recorded and it shot to number one on the country charts and made top ten in the pop charts. It helped that he had the great Chet Atkins producing the record. It had Don's version of I Can't Stop Loving You on the flip side. Great value.

♫ Don Gibson - Oh Lonesome Me


ROY ORBISON was so impressed with the quality of the songwriting, he recorded a whole album of Don's songs.

Roy Orbison

I think that if Roy is impressed with the songwriting, it must be good. One of the songs from the album is Too Soon to Know.

♫ Roy Orbison - Too Soon to Know


Another song Don recorded that he didn't write himself is I'm Crying Inside. The scribblers in this case were Charles and George McCormick.

Don Gibson

Rather surprisingly, this one didn't make the charts anywhere that I can discover. It continues in the same vein as the rest and has the added benefit of the distinctive sound of Floyd Cramer playing piano. I'm Crying Inside.

♫ Don Gibson - I'm Crying Inside


Two of the finest guitar pickers in history joined forces to record an album. They are MARK KNOPFLER and CHET ATKINS.

MarkKnopfler & ChetAtkins

Mark, of course, was the songwriter, singer and lead guitarist for Dire Straits. I really liked them when they were a simple quartet who produced excellent songs rather than the bombastic group they later became (which made them rich, so good on them).

He is teamed with Chet Atkins who besides being a great guitarist was also one of the best record producers who ever positioned a microphone. They play and sing (although I think that's only Mark singing) Just One Time.

♫ Mark Knopfler & Chet Atkins - Just one time


As DJ Stan Rofe used to say on radio 3KZ back in the day here in Melbourne, "It was so nice, I'll play it twice." Well, not quite.

I will play CHET ATKINS performing the same tune but in this case, just as an instrumental. As they say, the fingers never leave the hands but in Chet's case I'm not so sure about that. Just One Time.

Chet Atkins

♫ Chet Atkins - Just One Time


I'll end with an early one from Don.

Don Gibson

This stayed on the country charts for more than six months. The song is Blue, Blue Day, one you'll probably know if you were listening to music in the fifties.

♫ Don Gibson - Blue, Blue Day



ELDER MUSIC: 1934

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 know that when I finished my second lot of "years" I said that if I should ever contemplate doing any more of them you should take me out and shoot me.

Fortunately, I modified that and suggested that you should ply me with fine pinot noir so that my fingers would be unable to type any of more of these.

Fortunately, nobody has shot me, but alas, no one has fed me fine pinot either.

You should never take what I say seriously as I'm going to do more of these "years" but they won't be like the previous ones; they'll be intermittent and published when we feel like it, or more to the point, when I write them.

Also they won't be in any order, just what I happen to have finished on the day, or what music takes my fancy. So, let's get started with a year that occurred before I was born so I know nothing about it. At least, not first-hand.

When I was growing up, one of the big hits of the time seemed to be called MoonglowandthethemefromPicnic, or that's how it sounded to me. Before the film Picnic was released, that tune was just called Moonglow. This has been recorded numerous times, but the one we're interested for this year was by BENNY GOODMAN.

Benny Goodman

Benny did a terrific job of it, few have bettered it. It has the unmistakable sound of Lionel Hampton on vibes as well as Teddy Wilson playing piano.

♫ Benny Goodman - Moonglow


There have been quite a few good versions of Miss Otis Regrets over the years. The one for 1934 is by JIMMIE LUNCEFORD.

Jimmie Lunceford

Jimmie was born in Mississippi but the family moved to Ohio when he was very young. They then moved to Denver where Jimmie went to school and he studied music under Paul Whiteman's father. He learned several instruments but concentrated on alto saxophone.

He later led his own band and it's in that guise we have today's song.

♫ Jimmie Lunceford - Miss Otis regrets


TED FIO RITO sounds as if he could have come from Hawaii and his song My Little Grass Shack in Kealakekua, Hawaii would add credence to that.

Ted Fio Rito

However, Ted was born Theodore Salvatore Fiorito in New Jersey. So much for that theory. He spent much of his working life in Chicago. Here he is with his orchestra and the song. The vocal chorus is by Muzzy Marcellino.

♫ Ted Fio Rito & His Orchestra - My Little Grass Shack In Kealakekua, Hawaii


My mum was a big fan of GRACE MOORE, so this is for my old mum.

Grace Moore

That's Grace in the picture, not mum. I remembered Elvis performing a song called One Night of Love (or a very similar titled song). This one is very different from that one (which was based on an even more risqué blues song). I'm sure Grace wouldn't have anything to do with that sort of thing.

♫ Grace Moore - One Night of Love


Someone who would have something to do with that sort of thing is LOUIS PRIMA.

Louis Prima

I first knew about Louis when he was teemed with Keely Smith, his wife at the time, but he was active (in all sorts of ways) before that, and after as well. This is from before, Jamaica Shout.

♫ Louis Prima - Jamaica Shout


Unlike a lot of his tunes, DUKE ELLINGTON didn't have a hand in writing Cocktails for Two. The tune is the work of Arthur Johnston and Sam Coslow.

Duke Ellington

The song made its debut in a film called Murder at the Vanities. Duke's version was the first committed to vinyl (or shellac, or whatever it was back then).

♫ Duke Ellington - Cocktails for Two


Around this time it was hard to escape BING CROSBY so I won't try.

Bing Crosby

My dad was a big fan of Bing's so I have both parents represented here today. I could have chosen a dozen or more of Bing's songs for this year, it was just a matter of which appealed to me on the day. That one was Two Cigarettes in the Dark, a tale of woe.

♫ Bing Crosby - Two Cigarettes In the Dark


I remember as a young thing the great version of Smoke Gets in Your Eyes by The Platters. I knew it wasn't a new song at the time as the disk jockeys kept insisting on informing me.

The song was written by Jerome Kern and Otto Harbach in 1933 for a musical called Roberta. It was first recorded by Gertrude Nielsen with an orchestra conducted by Ray Sinatra who was some sort of cousin to a slightly better known person with the same surname.

The version we want, though is LEO REISMAN AND HIS ORCHESTRA who recorded it in 1933, but it became a hit in this year.

Leo Reisman

The vocal refrain, as they used to say back then, is by Sally Singer.

♫ Leo Reisman and His Orchestra - Smoke Gets In Your Eyes


LUCIENNE BOYER was a French diseuse (I had to put that in, it just means talker, or more poetically, story teller) and singer.

Lucienne Boyer

In this song she's singing, not diseuse-ing (sorry, I'll stop now). It's her most famous recording, Parlez-Moi D'amour or Speak to Me of Love.

♫ Lucienne Boyer - Parlez Moi D'amour [Speak To Me Of Love]


THE SONS OF THE PIONEERS had a really good lead singer by the name of Leonard Slye. Old Len is better known to us as Roy Rogers.

Sons Of The Pioneers

Roy joined the Pioneers and had a music career before he went into films. He also sang in those flicks too, of course. Here the pioneers perform one of their biggest hits, Tumbling Tumbleweeds.

♫ Roy Rogers & Sons Of The Pioneers - Tumbling Tumbleweeds



ELDER MUSIC: More Classical Gas

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.


Norma, the Assistant Musicologist, named the original Classical Gas post and I thought I'd keep the title for this second round. This column, like its predecessor, is just some lesser known composers whose works I like that I'd like to share with you.

FÉLICIEN DAVID was a French composer who lived in the 19th century.

Felicien David

When I first heard this piece I was struck by how similar it sounded to the quartets of Alexander Borodin but on further investigation, I discovered that Félicien had died before Alex had written his so no hanky panky there.

Unless it was the other way round, of course, but I don't wish to imply anything. See what you think with the first movement of his String Quartet No. 2 in A major.

♫ Felicien David - String Quartet No. 2 in A major (1)


MADDALENA SIRMEN was born Maddalena Lombardini in Venice to a poverty-stricken family in the middle of the 18th century.

Maddalena Sirmen

She started studying violin at an orphanage and was noticed by the famous composer and violinist Giuseppe Tartini who taught there occasionally. He was so struck by her talent that he paid for her tuition.

When she grew up, she toured with the noted violinist Ludovico Sirmen whom she later married.

Maddalena composed a number of works for violin: concertos, string quartets, sonatas and trios. She was a considerably better composer than her husband and reports from the time suggest that she played the violin better than he did as well.

Here is the first movement of her Violin Concerto No. 1 in B flat major.

♫ Maddalena Sirmen - Concerto No. 1 in B flat major (1)


FRANZ TAUSCH apparently was a great virtuoso on the clarinet, one of the first as it was a rather new instrument at the time. He was taught by his father starting at a very young age.

It seems that Mozart heard them both playing the instrument and was really taken by it. So much so, that he started using it in orchestral works including the most beautiful piece of music ever, his clarinet concerto.But we're not here to discuss Mozart, this is Franz's turn.

Franz Tausch

He wrote a number of concertos and quartets for the instrument including this one, a Double Clarinet Concerto, which I assume that means two people are playing the clarinets and not just a single person with two in his gob, Roland Kirk style.

The official title is Concerto No 1 for Two Clarinets, Op 27. It's the third movement.

♫ Franz Tausch - Double Clarinet Concerto No 1 (3)


ENGLEBERT HUMPERDINCK is mostly known for one thing (well, two, if you include having his name pinched by a sixties pop singer) and that is the opera "Hansel and Gretel.”

Englebert Humperdinck

There was more to old Engle, though. Besides a number of other operas, he wrote some string quartets but we already have some of those today so we'll ignore them.

I'm going with his Minuet for Piano Quintet in E flat major. I think he lent a close ear the works of Felix Mendelssohn.

♫ Englebert Humperdinck - Piano Quintet in E flat major, EHWV 18 ('Menuet')


JAN BAPTIST VANHAL was a pupil of Dittersdorf and a friend of both Haydn and Mozart. These four would get together and play string quartets – the first super group I suppose.

Jan Baptist Vanhal

Like the others, Jan wrote string quartets but as much as I like them, it's time for something else. I'll play a flute quartet instead.

It consists of flute, violin, viola and cello. I used not to like flutes but they're growing on me – they are still far from my favorite instrument but I can listen to them without grinding my teeth. I'm not alone, Mozart didn't like them either.

Anyway, here is the fourth movement of the Flute Quartet, Op. 7, No. 2.

♫ Jan Baptist Vanhal - Flute Quartet, Op. 7, No. 2 (4)


CARLO TESSARINI was born in Rimini and early on played violin in a chapel in Venice and taught that instrument as well.

Carlo Tessarini

He learned of the opportunity to make money publishing his compositions so he hightailed it to Paris and did just that. He also went to Holland and England to play and write music. He got around as he was recorded as doing the same in (what's now called) Germany and Belgium.

This is the third movement of his Violin Sonata in C Op.3 No.1.

♫ Carlo Tessarini - Violin Sonata in C Op.3 No.1 (3)


I see there's an international "Save the Bassoon" movement afoot. It seems that few new musicians choose the instrument to play and the ranks of bassoonists are thinning alarmingly.

So, to help inspire people to take up the instrument (assuming that there are any young players reading this) I'll play some bassoon music. There's actually quite a repertoire and I had fun playing them all. Well, not all. When I found this one I stopped, otherwise it would take days).

It's by JOHANN FRIEDRICH FASCH who was born towards the end of the 17th century near Weimar.

Johann Friedrich Fasch

He was important in that he was a link between the earlier baroque and the later classical periods. You can pretty much hear the transition between the two in his music but probably not in the single piece I've used today.

It's the third movement of the Bassoon Concerto in C major.

♫ Johann Friedrich Fasch - Bassoon Concerto in C major (3)


The brothers CARL HEINRICH GRAUN and JOHANN GOTTLIEB GRAUN had such similar style of composing that these days it's difficult to determine who wrote what. A lot of their works are just attributed to Graun.

Carl Heinrich Graun and Johann Gottlieb Graun

However, the probability is that Carl wrote this next piece as he was known to have written trio sonatas. We'll go with that but if any descendants of Jo are around and know better, please let me know. The second movement of Trio Sonata B flat major.

♫ Carl Heinrich Graun - Trio in B flat major (2)


ERNST GOTTLIEB BARON was a composer and a master of the lute and the theorbo, which is a member of the lute family and has bass strings as well as the normal ones.

Ernst Gottlieb Baron

He traveled a lot, he was always on the go, wandering from court to court (as that's where the paying customers were). He ended up being the head musician for Frederick the Great in Potsdam when Fred moved everyone there.

Ernst wrote a whole bunch of music for the lute but there were other instruments in the mix as well. It's one of those other instruments I've selected, the second movement of Oboe Sonata in D minor. This has some theorbo backing the oboe.

♫ Ernst Gottlieb Baron - Oboe Sonata in D minor (2)


GEORGE ONSLOW was born in France but his father was English and was rolling in money, it seems. However, dad was a bit of a naughty boy and had to flee to France.

George Onslow

George was educated in both France and England and as he had inherited all that lovely loot, he didn't have to work. He turned his hand to composing and he found he was pretty good at it.

He was very fond of chamber music and wrote many string quartets, quintets and the like. I've selected his Cello Sonata in F major, Op.16, No.1. The third movement.

♫ George Onslow - Sonata in F major, Op.16, No.1 (3)



ELDER MUSIC: Music of New Orleans Part 4

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’m not sure, but I’m almost positive, that all music comes from New Orleans."
       – Ernie K-Doe

New Orleans

For those who came in late, be sure to check out Part 1, Part 2 and Part 3 for the music (if not the deathless prose).

JELLY-ROLL MORTON (or Ferdinand LaMothe to his mum and dad) was an early jazz pianist, band-leader and composer.

Jelly Roll Morton

He had the very first published jazz tune (Jelly Roll's Blues) and he showed that the essentially improvised music could be notated without losing its verve and spirit.

He wasn't a shy, retiring type and claimed to have invented jazz much to the derision of others at the time (and since). This is one of his compositions, Dr Jazz.

♫ Jelly-Roll Morton - Dr Jazz


From a jazz pianist to a blues piano player (or a barrel house player, as he terms himself in the song), CHAMPION JACK DUPREE.

Champion Jack Dupree

He was orphaned at age two, and spent his early years in the New Orleans Home for Colored Waifs which is also where Louis Armstrong called home a few years earlier.

While he was there, he taught himself to play piano. He later lived in Chicago and later still went to Europe where he spent the rest of his life. In spite of that, here's a paean to his hometown called Hometown New Orleans.

♫ Champion Jack Dupree - Hometown New Orleans


Yet another pianist - well, New Orleans turns them out by the truckload. This time it's JAMES BOOKER.

James Booker

Even with all these great pianists, all the others think that James was the best of the lot. To quote Dr John, he was "the best black, gay, one-eyed junkie piano genius New Orleans has ever produced.”

To show us what he's made of, here's a medley of Tico Tico; Papa Was a Rascal; So Swell When You're Well.

♫ James Booker - Medley


The man with the voice of an angel, AARON NEVILLE, is next. Actually, I think the angels would be jealous of him.

Aaron Neville

Aaron's song Hercules was written and produced by Allen Toussaint (now that's a surprise) and the backing band is The Meters, Aaron's big brother Art's band.

With all that talent, there's no way they could produce a dud (and they didn't, of course).

♫ Aaron Neville - Hercules


To the man himself, ALLEN TOUSSAINT.

Allen Toussaint

Allen was involved in one way or another with the majority of the music I've featured in this series. As I've already mentioned, he was a producer, songwriter and musician. He also made records himself. This is one of them, Solitude.

♫ Allen Toussaint - Solitude


IRMA THOMAS is the "Soul Queen of New Orleans," an accolade bestowed upon her by the local officials.

Irma Thomas

Unfortunately, she's not as well known outside the city. Well, she should be. I'll try to do a small part in helping that along, starting with the song Anyone Who Knows What Love Is (Will Understand) that's been used in several films and TV series. It's not her best song but it's not bad.

♫ Irma Thomas - Anyone Who Knows What Love Is (Will Understand)


Some time ago, before Katrina, Norma, the Assistant Musicologist, and I were wandering along Bourbon Street and discovered a hole in the wall, about the size of my living room, that was a music club. It was owned by CLARENCE (THE FROGMAN) HENRY.

Clarence Frogman Henry

We were pretty excited about that as there was music coming from inside. Alas, it wasn't Clarence. Apparently he often performed there but not that day. Oh well.

Here's Clarence with one of his big hits, Ain't Got No Home. This is the song that inspired his nickname.

♫ Clarence (Frogman) Henry - Ain't Got No Home


Lawdy Miss Clawdy was written by Lloyd Price who had a hit with it. After that, just about everyone else recorded the song, including LARRY WILLIAMS.

Larry Williams

Larry wrote songs as well: Bony Moronie, Short Fat Fannie, Dizzy Miss Lizzy and many others. However, like Byron, he was mad, bad and dangerous to know.

I won't go into details but there's always the web for those who wish to investigate further.

♫ Larry Williams - Lawdy Miss Clawdy


SHIRLEY AND LEE were Shirley Goodman and Leonard Lee.

Shirley & Lee

Shirley was a teenager when she was going to cut her first record and the producer thought another singer would be advantageous. He brought in Len who, as it turns out, had gone to school with Shirl.

The musical partnership clicked immediately and they recorded a number of songs that did well on the charts. This is one of them, Feel So Good.

♫ Shirley & Lee - Feel So Good


We have come full circle. The first track in this series was by King Oliver. It's only fitting that we end with a tribute to him. The tributer (I just made up that word) is WYNTON MARSALIS.

Wynton Marsalis

The Marsalis family is full of musicians but Wynton is the best known to the general public. He not only plays jazz, he has performed and recorded classical works as well. Here is In The Court Of King Oliver.

♫ Wynton Marsalis - In The Court Of King Oliver