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.
I've been to Las Vegas twice in my life but in spite of two visits, the total time I've spent in the place would not amount to more than four or five hours.
The second of these visits I was driving from Albuquerque to San Francisco with my sister, brother-in-law and a couple of friends. Two cars were involved (thus we could switch around if things got a bit tense).
We hit Vegas around lunch time and we stopped to eat. We had a splendid meal and some spectacular wines (those not driving) for not much money at all. This was back in the days when the gambling subsidized the food.
I thought very highly of the place at the time until we ventured back out on to the streets and reality reasserted itself. We drove on.
The first visit I was flying with my father from San Francisco to Albuquerque (you might notice a theme here) and we had to change planes at Las Vegas.
Like the rest of the city, McCarran airport is replete with slot machines. Dad, who liked a bit of a flutter, dug into his pocket and came up with three quarters. He put them into one of those machines and on the third try he had a mini-jackpot – about $20 or so.
He pocketed his winnings and we flew on. So, it means that my dad is one of the very few people who has gambled in that city and left showing a profit.
So, on the theme of Australians in Las Vegas, here is the LITTLE RIVER BAND.
Their song is Home on a Monday, which doesn't sound much like the topic today, however, they sing (several times) that they are calling from the Las Vegas Hilton. That's good enough for me.
DARYL HALL AND JOHN OATES gave us one of the great Vegas songs.
Anyone who is familiar with their oeuvre will know immediately that I’m talking about Las Vegas Turnaround, the continuing story of Sarah who has appeared before in their songs.
Well, the Queen of Spades is a friend of mine
The Queen of Hearts is a bitch
Someday when I clean up my mind
I'll find out which is which.
That pretty much sums up the city, and probably sums up the writer and singer of the song, the late great GRAM PARSONS.
That was from his song Ooh Las Vegas, which was on his final album, released posthumously, called “Grievous Angel”. He has the help of Emmylou Harris on this one.
BUCK OWENS’ mum didn’t seem to like the idea of her little boy venturing to Sin City.
Buck seems to think that he’s Big in Vegas. He’s either kidding himself or us.
Buck is generally thought of a country singer, but here we have a real country song – drowning sorrows, pedal steels, takeout meals and a talky bit in the middle.
Okay, no takeout meals (that was my own private musical joke – I like to keep myself amused. Norma, the Assistant Musicologist will get it, I don't know about anyone else). The singer is BOB WAYNE.
Bob seems to have gone from the top to the bottom in the city. He’s not the only one who’s done that. He tells us all about in Lost Vegas.
You were expecting this next one I imagine. I don't want to disappoint so here is ELVIS.
It is far from my favorite song of his, but it's on topic so it fits right in. It's probably the first one you thought of when the title came up. You know of what I speak, Viva Las Vegas.
THE EVERLY BROTHERS are particularly jaded by our city.
Perhaps that should just be Don because as far as my ears can tell, Phil doesn’t seem to be present on this song. I assume that they performed in Las Vegas after their huge success tapered off somewhat.
I believe it pays well, but it could get a bit dispiriting as is evidenced by the song, I'm Tired of Singing My Song in Las Vegas.
I assume that SHERYL CROW feels the same as the Everly Brothers (or brother).
That’s because she’s Leaving Las Vegas. The song was written by David Baerwald and is based on a book of the same name written by John O’Brien.
Sheryl might pass SOUTHERN CULTURE ON THE SKIDS as they are going in the opposite direction.
SCOTS is a three piece band whose style leans towards rockabilly with a large dose of tongue-in-cheek thrown in for good measure. They’re heading for the city, but it seems it’s still 40 Miles to Vegas.
TOM WAITS is channeling his inner lounge singer.
That might come as a shock to those familiar with Tom’s work, but he seems to think he’s Frank Sinatra on this one. Indeed, the song sounds perfect for Frank. It’s a bit of a pity he didn’t get to record it. Straight to the Top (Vegas).