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.
Okay, the dance is in full swing now so everyone get up on your feet and choose someone with whom to do some twirling.
Norma, the Assistant Musicologist's favorite Motown song by her favorite Motown group is MARTHA & THE VANDELLAS performing Dancing in the Street.
Nothing more needs to be said, except that others have recorded the song but none is as good as this one.
As a complete contrast here is MICHAEL MARTIN MURPHEY, one of my faves in a different genre.
Michael recorded a series of albums called "Cowboy Songs" which were, to state the bleeding obvious, songs about cowboys. On the first on these there was a song called Let the Cowboy Dance.
MADELEINE PEYROUX is high on the list of great interpreters of Leonard Cohen's songs.
She isn't bad on Bob Dylan's either. However, it's Lennie's song today: Dance Me to the End of Love.
Before he became one of the first rock & rollers BILL HALEY was performing a mix of western swing and rhythm and blues.
That, of course, is some of the parts that led to rock & roll. Bill doesn't get the kudos he deserves because Elvis came along not too long after and Bill didn't have Elvis's charisma, sex appeal and youth.
However, besides his big hits, Bill had a number of songs he recorded that in retrospect deserves a listen. One of those is Dance With a Dolly.
Speaking of charisma, CHET BAKER had it in spades.
He was ridiculously handsome, played the trumpet as well as all but the very best and was one the finest jazz singers ever. He threw it all away with a lifetime of serious drug abuse. However, before all that happened he recorded some wonderful tunes, including Music to Dance By.
We continue with some of the very best in their various fields, starting with THE DRIFTERS.
For vocal groups in the fifties, there was none better, especially when Ben E King was singing lead vocal, as he did on Dance With Me.
Probably not as well known as other southern rock groups, but in my mind the best of the lot is the AMAZING RHYTHM ACES.
They were not as bombastic as most and didn't indulge in hour-long jams. They played songs that were well crafted and as good as any around at the time. They were blessed with a good lead singer who was also their main song writer. Here they get a little indulgent with Dancing the Night Away.
Over the years the Nitty Gritty Dirt Band have had an ongoing project (and series of records) called "Will the Circle be Unbroken" where they collect the finest musicians together to record with them.
These are mostly country performers, but not exclusively. Naturally, EMMYLOU HARRIS would be high on the list of those they'd select.
Emmy's song, backed by the Nittys, is Mary Danced with Soldiers.
Another fave of the A.M. is AMOS MILBURN.
He was one of the finest rhythm & blues performers. This music was also a component in the development of rock & roll. He had his tongue firmly in his cheek when he recorded Square Dance Boogie.
I'll finish today's dancing tune with a song from left field, which is apt as it's one by RANDY NEWMAN.
This one isn't about people dancing as you will hear. It's Simon Smith and the Amazing Dancing Bear. It was originally a hit for Alan Price (once of The Animals) and many others, but Randy wrote it and that's good enough for me.
More dancing next week.