INTERESTING STUFF – 8 September 2018
Reasons to Vote in 2018

ELDER MUSIC: Songs About Cities - Las Vegas

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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Las Vegas

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.

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.

♫ Little River Band - Home On A Monday

DARYL HALL AND JOHN OATES gave us one of the great Vegas songs.

Hall & Oates

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.

♫ Hall & Oates - Las Vegas Turnaround

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.

Gram1 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.

♫ Gram Parsons - Ooh Las Vegas

BUCK OWENS’ mum didn’t seem to like the idea of her little boy venturing to Sin City.

Buck Owens

Buck seems to think that he’s Big in Vegas. He’s either kidding himself or us.

♫ Buck Owens - Big In Vegas

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 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.

♫ Bob Wayne - Lost Vegas

You were expecting this next one I imagine. I don't want to disappoint so here is ELVIS.

Elvis Presley

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.

♫ Elvis Presley - Viva Las Vegas

THE EVERLY BROTHERS are particularly jaded by our city.

Everly Brothers

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.

♫ Everly Brothers - I'm Tired of Singing My Song in Las Vegas

I assume that SHERYL CROW feels the same as the Everly Brothers (or brother).

Sheryl Crow

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 Crow - Leaving Las Vegas

Sheryl might pass SOUTHERN CULTURE ON THE SKIDS as they are going in the opposite direction.

Southern Culture on the Skids

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.

♫ Southern Culture On The Skids - 40 Miles to Vegas

TOM WAITS is channeling his inner lounge singer.

Tom Waits

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).

♫ Tom Waits - Straight To The Top (Vegas)


Great post and interesting blog. I suppose that when your dad won the $20 at the airport money actually was worth something then. Like that you have focused on the musicians with the pictures. Thank you.

Great set, irresistible theme. May I add "Show Biz Kids" by Steely Dan, iwth its refrain throughout, "You go to Los' Wages"?

Wonderful post, as always, Peter. Thank you! And since I'm only commenting today, September 16th, HAPPY BIRTHDAY/BUON COMPLEANNO!

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