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.
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Since the book and the film The Horse Whisperer appeared, there seem to be all sorts of "whisperers" out there so why should I be left out?
Naturally, I would call myself The Song Whisperer. I figure all the rest just made it up, so why shouldn't I? Besides, I have a little bit of substance to my claim – all these songs about whispering.
Let the music commence (but too loudly, of course).
I'll begin with one of the first songs I thought of in this category, one written by Vivian Gilbert and Mary Hadler who were husband and wife in spite of Viv's funny name for a bloke.
He was often referred to as Jack (I don't know if that was in the country or in the town).
Anyway, this couple came up with The Shifting, Whispering Sands. This one's been recorded by a bunch of people and choosing one was difficult.
Back when I was a whippersnapper, Rusty Draper had a hit with it round where I lived. Somewhat later, Johnny Cash recorded an excellent version on his "Ballads of the True West" album. He also recorded it with Lorne Greene, but we'll skip over that one.
Roy Rogers' old group The Sons of the Pioneers had a go at it too. I listened to all those, and more besides, and decided the one I found most interesting today was by LES GILLIAM.
Like most versions, he has a talkie introduction – that's the way to tell it's a country song according to Norma, the Assistant Musicologist. Les is often billed as the Oklahoma Balladeer. This is the way he performs it.
♫ Les Gilliam - The Shifting, Whispering Sands
THE DEL-VIKINGS (or Dell-Vikings, both spellings were used over the years due to a split in the group early on producing two of them) were one of if not the best of the DooWop groups in the fifties.
They had quite intricate harmony as was shown most strikingly in their song Come Go With Me. Their song Whispering Bells isn't quite up to that one, but it involves whispering, so it's the one we have today.
♫ Del Vikings - Whispering Bells
This morning, quite out of the blue, I wondered if I had the song Whispering Hope among my collection for no discernable reason. I have these odd thoughts now and then.
Turns out I did have it, a couple of versions in fact, and it is this that prompted the column. The one I chose, as I'm sure it's the one from way back when I first heard it, is by JO STAFFORD.
On this one she has the help of GORDON MACRAE.
They made a couple of albums together over time. This was from one of those.
♫ Jo Stafford and Gordon MacRae - Whispering Hope
WILLIAM HAYES was sort of contemporaneous with Mr Handel, born some years after the great man, but they were writing music around the same time.
Old Bill looks rather splendid in those robes and I especially like the early headphones.
Anyway, although influenced by Handel, Bill often wrote music in styles that Georg neglected, smaller vocal works and the like. This is an example of that called Still It Whispered Promised Pleasure from a larger work, simply called “The Passions.” The song is sung by EVELYN TUBB.
♫ William Hayes - Still it whispered promised pleasure
THE INK SPOTS were a huge influence on DooWop music.
There are about 100 different groups going around calling themselves The Ink Spots but the one I have today is the original (and I won't say the best – they are the only ones who should be considered).
They started in the early thirties and kept performing into the fifties. One of their many hits is Whispering Grass.
♫ Ink Spots - Whispering Grass
Nino Tempo was a musical prodigy on clarinet and saxophone and made his first appearance at age four. He also acted in a number of films before he was a teenager. He later worked as a session musician, most notably as one of the Wrecking Crew, the musicians who worked for Phil Spector and others.
April Stevens began singing professionally when she was 15 and has been doing so ever since. At one stage they recorded together as NINO TEMPO & APRIL STEVENS, not too surprisingly as they are brother and sister.
They had a huge hit with the song Deep Purple (that Nino didn't like). They also did well with the old song Whispering.
♫ Nino & April - Whispering
I won't do my usual rave about how great THE BAND were because you've heard it all before.
I'll just play their whispering song, Whispering Pines, from their eponymous album. The tragic Richard Manuel sings this one.
♫ The Band - Whispering Pines
We in Australia have known about RENEE GEYER for decades.
When she ventured out into the rest of the world, she was often billed as "The greatest R&B singer in the world that you've never heard of". Too bad for the rest of the world, is all I can say.
I won't even mention the famous musicians' records she's graced with her presence as there are too many. Her contribution to the column is one that was a hit here, Stares and Whispers.
♫ Renee Geyer - Stares and Whispers
PATTI PAGE does her famous thing of double tracking her voice on her song (well, if you're on a good thing...)
It sounds like quite a few of her other songs but that doesn't bother me as I like them all (well, apart from that Doggie one). Her song today is Whispering Winds.
♫ Patti Page - Whispering Winds
I'll end with the best of the songs today, but I'm biased as it's IRIS DEMENT.
I mentioned the film The Horse Whisperer in the introduction. This is from the sound track of that movie. It's Whispering Pines, a different song from the one with the same name by The Band.
♫ Iris DeMent - Whispering Pines