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ELDER MUSIC: Songs About Entertainers

PeterTibbles75x75You never know who you're going to meet on the internet and I came to know Peter Tibbles (bio here) via email over the past couple of years. His extensive knowledge of most genres of music and his excellent taste became apparent only gradually (Peter's not one to toot his horn) but once I understood, I knew he needed his own column at Time Goes By - or, better, that TGB needed his column - which appears here each Sunday. You can find previous Elder Music columns here.

category_bug_eldermusic Today I’m doing songs about other entertainers – singers or actors. There are a lot of these and I’m just scratching the surface. A number of the tunes many of you may not recognize. That’s because I’m being self-indulgent and including several songs by Australian artists, so sit back and enjoy them. I sure did while I was researching this.

The obvious place to start is with Elvis. I’m sure I could do a complete column on songs about him. The first I can remember of those is a song called All American Boy. I wasn’t going to include this one, but thought, “Oh, why not?”

The 45 I had of it had the artist’s name as Bill Parsons. Years later, I discovered that it was actually Bobby Bare who recorded it.

Bobby Bare and Elvis Presley

I’m indebted to Don Powell, who played guitar on that record, for setting me straight. Okay, Don didn’t do it personally, I found it on the intertube.

It seems that not long before recording it, Bobby had been drafted into the army. A touch of irony there when you listen to the song.

He wasn’t going to be able to tour and promote the record so he got his good friend, Bill Parsons, who was in the studio that day, to take the credit and tour with the song. Bill was soon found out as he wasn’t the singer that Bobby was and returned to playing in bars in Dayton, Ohio.

♫ Bobby Bare - All American Boy

I’m continuing with Elvis as the best song about him I’ve encountered is by Glenn Cardier. Glenn is an Australian singer/songwriter, one of the best – certainly the most interesting. His only competitors for the title are Paul Kelly and Mike McClellan.

Glenn Cardier and Elvis Presley

Glenn has toured with or written songs for a diverse bunch of performers including Harry Chapin, Frank Zappa, Spike Milligan, Fairport Convention and Olivia Newton-John. That’s pretty diverse. This is from his album, “House of Mirrors,” and it’s called, Elvis at the Checkout.

♫ Glenn Cardier - Elvis At the Checkout

Rodney Crowell knew Johnny Cash. Indeed Rodney became Johnny’s son-in-law when he married Roseanne. He later became his ex-son-in-law. He must have remained on reasonably friendly terms judging by this song.

Rodney Crowell and Johnny Cash

I recently saw Rodney perform and I wondered if he was going to sing this song. He did, with a little help from a friend who did a pretty decent Johnny Cash, as the original was no longer available. You’ll understand what I mean when you hear it. This is I Walk the Line (Revisited).

♫ Rodney Crowell - I Walk the Line (Revisited)

A particular favorite of Norma, the Assistant Musicologist, is Paul Wookey's song, Brigitte Bardot. I like it too.

Paul Wookey and Brigitte Bardot

Paul is yet another Australian singer/songwriter (we have a bunch of them) who is an excellent guitarist as well and, based on the last time we saw him, seems to have an encyclopedic knowledge of pop, folk and blues songs. The song is fairly self explanatory – it's what teenaged boys were thinking about in country Victoria at the time (city Victoria too).

♫ Paul Wookey - Brigitte Bardot

The Go Betweens were a cult band in the Eighties. Not just here but around the world it seems. Indeed, as the years have passed, their cult status has grown to something approaching mythical status these days.

The few times I encountered them (not live, just on TV or radio), I thought they were just an average pop band. I'd have downgraded even that, but they seemed to have a wicked sense of humor. I'm not worried that all those serious fans may flame me as they are at least a generation behind even the youngest of us, so I doubt they're logging on to TimeGoesBy.

One time I do remember them was on some TV show along with Lee Remick, who was visiting the country at the time, and they sang this song. She thought it was a real hoot and there may be a single (a real one – 45) out there somewhere with her autograph on it. The song is, I Love Lee Remick.

Go Betweens and Lee Remick

♫ The Go-Betweens - Lee Remick

Coincidentally, the day I wrote this it was announced that a new bridge in Brisbane will be named after the Go Betweens - an appropriate name for a bridge when you think about it.

Shelley Winters is the subject of Charles Jenkins's song called – surprise, surprise - Shelley Winters.

Charles Jenkins and Shelley Winters

I don't know a great deal about Charles; he's one of the interesting young people (well, young to me) who are producing entertaining music (I define that as music that most of us would be happy to listen to). Apart from his solo recordings, he's a member of the group Ice Cream Hands.

♫ Charles Jenkins - Shelley Winters

There's a very entertaining album (actually, there are two of them) that Tom Russell and Barrence Whitfield recorded together called, Hillbilly Voodoo. (The other is called, Cowboy Mambo - both are worth seeking out).

From the first of these is the song today called Chocolate Cigarettes. This was written by Tom and Sylvia Fricker. Those with long memories will recall that she is the Sylvia of Ian and Sylvia, and you can find her in a previous column about Ian Tyson.

This song is sung by Barrence (who was known to his mum and dad as Barry White, but that name was already taken) and its subject is the little sparrow, Edith Piaf.

Barrence Whitfield and Edith Piaf

♫ Barrence Whitfield - Chocolate Cigarettes


Oh boy! Peter, you've posted a great Sunday morning beat!

love, Love, LOVE the Glenn Cardier, "Elvis at the Checkout". I gotta have some more Cardier!

Thanks for including a tribute to the late great Mr. Cash. His music has been a part of my life always.

Sunday mornings at TGB and a hot mug of Community Coffee is good for what ails ya! (My favorite mug is from the Holland Hotel in Alpine Texas. Nice hefty ceramic weight, with an embossed image of the old hotel on it in shades of forest green.)

Ms Bennett: Why do I receive your Sunday blog on Monday morning? Is it a thing (Ronni has told me the blog sometimes has issues with this system or whatever one calls it in the internet world) or what? Thanks, Jim

Thanks Peter & Norma! I really liked that Shelly Winter's song. As always, a fun & interesting read & listen!

You may have some interest in my song "Woman of a Certain Age"
It was written after I chanced upon a holiday luncheon party of Red Hatters at a local pub. It's on my CD "More to Love" and can be previewed at my music site.

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