Crabby Old Lady: It All Goes Wrong From the Neck Up

ELDER MUSIC: Let's Face The Music And Dance

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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Quite a lot of music is written especially for dancing, and more reference dancing. I thought that might make an interesting column but when I started looking for music I was overwhelmed by choice.

So, rather than throw good songs away, I created four columns (and there were even more good songs, but I went with what I thought were the best). I’ve had to cull so much that I imagine some of you might mention some in the comments. Take your partners…

I’ll start with my favorite dance song by MIKE MCCLELLAN.

Mike McClellan

Mike is one of the finest singer/songwriters in Australia. Had he been born in America he’d be a superstar. To us in Oz he is. His song is Saturday Dance.

♫ Mike McClellan - Saturday Dance

BOBBY FREEMAN is generally considered San Francisco’s first rock star.

Bobby Freeman

He started out in a Doowop group while he was still at school and they actually made a record. He was in a couple more groups before he went solo and recorded the biggest hit of his career, Do You Wanna Dance? Many people have covered this one over the years, but his is still the best version.

♫ Bobby Freeman - Do You Wanna Dance

The Drifters were the only competition THE PLATTERS had as finest vocal group of the fifties.

The Platters

The Platters had many hits during the decade thanks to their fine lead singer Tony Williams. Their dancing song isn’t in the first rank of their songs but it’s one we have: I'm Just a Dancing Partner.

♫ The Platters - I'm Just A Dancing Partner

KEITH JARRETT recorded a couple of albums with the late great jazz bass player CHARLIE HADEN.

Keith Jarrett & Charlie Haden

One of those was called “Last Dance”, an appropriate title for our column. From that album we have Dance of the Infidels, a tune written and made famous by Bud Powell.

♫ Keith Jarrett - Dance of the Infidels

Of the half dozen albums that could be considered as the best ever, Moondance is in the mix. It was recorded by VAN MORRISON.

Van Morrison

He’d have a couple of others in consideration as well (along with some by The Band). The title song is the one we have today.

♫ Van Morrison - Moondance

Way back at the beginning of his career, JIMMY BUFFETT gave us a really fine album called “A White Sport Coat and a Pink Crustacean”. Fans of Marty Robbins (of which I’m one) appreciated the joke.

Jimmy Buffett

The songs on that one were all terrific and ranged from serious to poignant to silly. That really is the basis of Jimmy’s career. The song we’re interested in is They Don't Dance Like Carmen No More.

♫ Jimmy Buffett - They Don't Dance Like Carmen No More

Of all the long-lived bands, the NITTY GRITTY DIRT BAND seems to fly under the radar.

Nitty Gritty Dirt Band

I don’t understand this as there is not a better band around that started in the sixties that is still producing great (and new) music. I may be biased (of course I am) but I’ve been a fan of their music from way back. From somewhere in the middle of their career is Dance Little Jean.

♫ Nitty Gritty Dirt Band - Dance Little Jean

You probably all know about the DAVE BRUBECK QUARTET’s most famous album (and possibly the biggest selling jazz album in history). This is from their next album called “Time Further Out” which also sold pretty well.

Dave Brubeck

The tune from that one is called Unsquare Dance. I’m sure that that was a hip reference from the time it was released. To my ears Paul Desmond seems to be missing from the track, unless that was him clapping along.

♫ Dave Brubeck - Unsquare Dance

BILLY BLAND started out in a group called The Bees.

Billy Bland

He went out as a solo artist and one day while in the studio he heard another singer (Titus Turner) trying to record the song, Let The Little Girl Dance and he demonstrated (with the studio musicians along for the ride) how it should be done.

Fortunately, the tapes were rolling and his was the version that was released and became quite a decent sized hit.

♫ Billy Bland - Let The Little Girl Dance

I had half a dozen or more contenders for the next song. When you know what it is, I’m sure you’ll know quite a few of them. In the end I settled for ROSEMARY CLOONEY.

Rosemary Clooney

So, Nat, Susannah, Ella, Willie and Frank missed the cut (along with lesser contenders). The song is the column’s title: Let's Face the Music and Dance.

♫ Rosemary Clooney - Let's Face The Music And Dance

More dancing next week.


Thank you Peter for this lovely Sunday 'dance' down Memory Lane.

Recordings made when the lyrics were definable and primary, like The Nitty Gritty's sang on the vinyl LP *Buy For Me the Rain* I still have. "I'll buy it for you now, Babe, the years all hurry so." And indeed they do!!

I'm looking forward to your future Sundays and maybe even Kathy Mattea's "Asking Us To Dance".

What a great post! I love hearing music that isn't necessarily a greatest hits compilation, and I have long loved the Nitty Gritty Dirt Band. And as an old person I appreciate comprehensible lyrics, good voices, and melodies without all kinds of electronic noises. If it weren't so hot here I'd be Dancing' In The Street!

For many years, Brubeck has stated that the "unsquare" in "Unsquare Dance" referred to the unique 7/4 time signature.

Great choices. It’s so difficult to listen to this music and not dance! As a child of the 60’s I couldn’t help missing the great rock music (said be the child of blues and jazz) from that decade. The Beatles put out some of the memorable dance music, some of which were covers of 50’s rock. So, maybe we could do a bit on the great music of the Rock’n Roll era!

Peter, I look forward to your weekly posts and often share with friends. This one was fun and informative. My era is doo wop and 60's sounds and I'm always amazed at the music you find! Next week, don't forget Martha and the Vandellas!!!

Never heard the unsquare dance. Loved it!

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