This Sunday Elder Music column was launched in December of 2008. By May of the following year, one commenter, Peter Tibbles, had added so much knowledge and value to my poor attempts at musical presentations that I asked him to take over the column. He's been here each week ever since delighting us with his astonishing grasp of just about everything musical, his humor and sense of fun. You can read Peter's bio here and find links to all his columns here.
What Happened in 1941?
- Bob Dylan was born
- Marlene Dietrich became an American citizen
- The Bismarck was sunk (there could be a song in that)
- America entered the war
- Citizen Kane was released
- Melbourne were premiers
Following on from 1940, I'll start this year with Lady Day. BILLIE HOLIDAY, that is.
Billie's song is one she wrote herself with Arthur Herzog, God Bless the Child.
THE INK SPOTS had a number of hits in 1941.
This is just one of them, Someone's Rocking My Dreamboat written by Leon René and Emerson Scott.
One of DUKE ELLINGTON's more famous tracks is Take the A Train.
Billy Strayhorn played for Duke after a concert and Duke was so impressed he invited Billy to his home. He gave him directions to get there, part of which was "Take the A train."
Billy liked the line and composed the tune at the party and wrote it down for Duke. It became the band's signature tune (another one of those).
ERNEST TUBB's song Walking the Floor Over You is generally considered the first honky tonk song.
The first one to become a hit at any rate. Ernest recorded the song several times over the years, but the original one from this year had just him playing acoustic guitar and "Smitty" Smith on electric guitar.
His voice later improved on subsequent versions, but it's interesting to get the raw initial version.
Key to the Highway is usually attributed to Chas Segar and BIG BILL BROONZY.
Bill said that it was based on a traditional tune and Chas used to sing one version and he another. They got together and melded them and produced the one we know.
The song has had many cover versions, most notably by Little Walter, The Rolling Stones and Eric Clapton. This is Bill from 1941.
Boogie Woogie Bugle Boy is one of the iconic songs from World War II. It was recorded by THE ANDREWS SISTERS.
To my ears it sounds like an early take on jump blues, a style that became common later in the decade that lead eventually to rock & roll. The song was featured in the Abbott and Costello film, Buck Privates.
My goodness, jazz/swing from around this time produced some fine clarinet players. ARTIE SHAW is just one of them.
Artie wasn't quite like the other band leaders/arrangers at the time. He was influenced by Igor Stravinsky and he often introduced classical elements into his music. Not much of that on this one though, Frenesi.
Now for something completely different, CHAMPION JACK DUPREE.
Jack, or William to give him his birth name, was from New Orleans, born in 1908, 09 or 10 – nobody seems to know and Jack's not telling. Well, he can't any more.
He was orphaned when he was only two years old and sent to the New Orleans Home for Colored Waifs. That place, incidentally, was where Louis Armstrong was sent as well. It was there that Jack taught himself to play piano.
He was later apprenticed to Tuts Washington and Willie Hall. It was from Willie that he learned the song, Junker's Blues.
Here is another song with TOMMY DORSEY and FRANK SINATRA.
Not just those two, but CONNIE HAINES and THE PIED PIPERS are on board as well.
All of these folks get together to perform Oh! Look At Me Now!
VAUGHN MONROE is best known around my place for the song They Call the Wind Mariah.
That's not what we have today though, after all he sang other things too, I remind myself. Besides being a singer he was a talented trumpeter and trombone player, although these are seldom in evidence on his records. The song is There I Go.
1942 will appear early next year.