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.
A column about arms – the things attached to our bodies, not the things that armies use.
OTIS REDDING started as a driver for the blues performer Johnny Jenkins.
One day, after Johnny had recorded a couple of songs backed by Booker T and the MGs, there was some time left over. Otis asked if he could try one of his songs.
They let him do that and backed by Booker and crew, he recorded These Arms of Mine. It became a smash hit, the first of many for Otis (but alas, not nearly enough).
Like Ray Charles, SOLOMON BURKE liked to mix his musical genres.
Also like Ray, he delved into the country repertoire for songs that he could give a soul treatment to. One of those, and one his most successful songs, is Just out of Reach (Of My Two Open Arms).
MARK SEYMOUR was the singer, songwriter, guitarist and general chief of the Australian rock group Hunters & Collectors.
One of the songs the group performed back in the eighties was Throw Your Arms Around Me. It wasn’t very successful at the time but since then the song has gained enormous stature, such that’s it’s now considered a classic song.
Quite a few performers have covered it over the years, most notably Paul McDermott from The Doug Anthony Allstars. However, here is Mark with a more recent group of his, The Undertow, with his song.
NICK CAVE recorded Into My Arms during his brief relationship with P.J. Harvey.
It’s one of his rare romantic songs - he’s not noted as a performer of such material - but when he sets his mind to it, as he does here, the results are terrific.
Everyone from Elvis to Dobie Gray to Kris Kristofferson and Rita Coolidge has had a hit with the song Loving Arms. The man who wrote it is often forgotten, but not by me. That man is TOM JANS.
Tom made a bit of a name for himself in the seventies as a songwriter of note, and also a performer, both as a solo artist and as a duo with Mimi Fariña, Joan Baez's sister. Unfortunately, he died due to complications after a motor cycle accident. Here’s his version of the song.
Iain Sutherland wrote the song Arms of Mary in the Sutherland family farmhouse in England. Iain performed with his brother Gavin as The Sutherland Brothers. The pair got together with the rock group Quiver and they all became known as THE SUTHERLAND BROTHERS & QUIVER.
It was this combination that recorded the song which was a worldwide hit, except in America. Later the Everly Brothers recorded the song and their version is even better, but today we have the original.
I’ve used this song by WILLIE NELSON somewhat recently in a column on Sleep.
However, it’s such a good song, and it fits well here as well, that I’m going to use it again. After all, too much Willie is barely enough. Can I Sleep in Your Arms?
Music of the last sixties years would be quite different if it weren’t for LES PAUL & MARY FORD.
For a start, Les was the person who developed the Gibson Les Paul guitar, probably the finest electric guitar in the world. He also invented double (and triple and whatever) tracking on recordings. Les was also one of the finest guitarists around and Mary was a fantastic singer. They were decades ahead of their time.
Their song today is Take Me In Your Arms And Hold Me.
Crazy Arms was written by Ralph Mooney and Charles Seals (and maybe Paul Gilley). Ray Price was the first to have a hit with the song. Many others have also recorded it with some success. One version that didn’t make the charts, but I quite like, is by LEON REDBONE.
Of course, very little, if anything, that Leon records makes the charts, but what a terrific performer he is. See what you think of his interpretation. Leon died last week on 30 May - no one reporting it in the press seemed to know his real age for certain.
You may not be very familiar with the duo DILLARD & CLARK.
They might become a little more familiar to you when I say that they are Doug Dillard, from The Dillards – probably the first country rock group, who were also featured often on The Andy Griffith Show – and Gene Clark, a founder member of The Byrds.
The pair made one great record and a second pretty good one, and that’s all she wrote. From the second we have Roll in My Sweet Baby's Arms.
O.V. WRIGHT is one of the best unsung soul singers, so I’m going to sing him today (as it were).
He’s best known for his song That’s How Strong My Love Is, covered by both Otis Redding and the Rolling Stones. Today, however, his song is Since You Left (These Arms of Mine).