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.
At last, a topic we all indulge in. I suppose there’s always the chance that you might nod off during today’s column, given the topic. Let’s hope that doesn’t happen as there are some good songs that are worth a listen.
I’ll start with HOAGY CARMICHAEL who wrote songs for a living, and occasionally sang them.
One such song is Two Sleepy People, which he wrote with Frank Loesser. It’s probably best known to people of our vintage from the version by Bob Hope and Shirley Ross from the film Thanks for the Memory where they also sang the title song. Here we have Hoagy and Ella Logan singing it.
The EVERLY BROTHERS are having Sleepless Nights.
This is one of several of their songs covered memorably by Emmylou Harris (and others as well). Their songs were so well crafted, either by them or others, that people really want to sing them. In this case the song was written by song writers Felice and Boudleaux Bryant.
DAVE COHEN also recorded under the name David Blue.
The first time I encountered him (on record) was on a disk called “Singer Songwriter Project” where he and three others performed their own songs. One of Dave’s was called I Like to Sleep Late in the Morning, later covered memorably by David Bromberg.
What a cad was HELEN SHAPIRO’s bloke.
He gave her the flick at midnight, presumably after they were doing something or other. I’ll leave that up to you. There was only one thing she could do (well, I suppose there were several things, but we won’t go there either). She sings I Cried Myself to Sleep Last Night.
WILLIE NELSON has by far the best song today. It’s probably not the only column where I could say that.
Willie’s song is from his extraordinarily good album “Red Headed Stranger”. Any song from that would be worth featuring, but Can I Sleep in Your Arms is the only sleep related song.
BOBBY LEWIS couldn’t sleep at all last night.
If that isn’t a cue for a song I don’t know what is. That song is Tossin' and Turnin', a song that not only made number 1 on the charts it was also the number 1 song for 1961. Okay, there wasn’t much competition that year, but it’s still a good effort.
There’s a personal angle to GORDON LIGHTFOOT’s song, but I’m not revealing anything.
It came from around the time that the album “Summer Side of Life” was released, which naturally I bought back then. The song I’m talking about in my roundabout way is Talking in Your Sleep.
Instead of talking in her sleep, HANK WILLIAMS’ honey was crying in her sleep.
Perhaps it was Helen (above), but probably not as he skedaddled, and Hank seems to be still around (in song terms, not in life, unfortunately). Hank sings (Last Night) I Heard You Crying In Your Sleep.
I’m sure if I mention THE TOKENS, those who know that group will know which song comes next.
I suspect that, like me, without resorting to Wiki, you couldn’t name another of their songs. It doesn’t matter, this one is worth hearing. The Lion Sleeps Tonight.
MERLE HAGGARD wrote the song Don't Ever Let Your Lover Sleep Alone and it appeared on a duet album called “Old Loves Never Die” with LEONA WILLIAMS.
In his autobiography, Merle said that he wished that he’d made a solo album instead, that Leona was just using him to further her career. I don’t know if that’s so, but I’ll have to say that I haven’t heard of her outside this album. She seems to be an okay singer though.
Now that you’ve got to sleep, be careful you don’t Sleepwalk. That’s a cue for SANTO & JOHNNY who had a big hit with the tune way back in 1959.
Santo and Johnny were brothers Santo and John Farina from Brooklyn and their father gave them both guitars. The tune evolved from the brothers jamming after one of their gigs.