INTERESTING STUFF – 31 August 2019
The Alex and Ronni Show – Labor Day Edition 2019

ELDER MUSIC: 1940 Again

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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Instrumentals seem to be the big thing in 1940, and we have several of them today. Perhaps it was just my selection that skewed them that way.

The song Sweet Lorraine has always been synonymous with Nat King Cole as far as I’m concerned. Of course, he wasn’t the only one who recorded the tune. In 1940 ART TATUM assigned it to wax (or shellac or whatever).

Art Tatum

Art had an enormous influence on pianists who followed him. Alas, he did like a small glass of sherry now and then. Okay, perhaps a bit more than that and he died due to the effects of alcohol at the age of 47. Let’s see how he compares with Nat with this tune.

♫ Art Tatum - Sweet Lorraine

THE INK SPOTS make their regular appearance again today.

Ink Spots

If you don’t know about the Ink Spots you haven’t been reading my columns for very long. They were one of the finest singing groups for the last hundred years. Here they are with a hit from our year, Whispering Grass.

♫ Ink Spots - Whispering Grass (Don’t Tell The Trees)

We’re at the height of the popularity of big band music, so it would be perverse of me not to include something from that genre. Of course, I’ve been known to be perverse in these columns, but not today. Here is ARTIE SHAW.

Artie Shaw

Frenesi was written by Alberto Dominguez, and Artie and his band had the biggest hit at the time. It’s been recorded many times by the cream of performers, but this is the way it started out.

♫ Artie Shaw - Frenesi

T-BONE WALKER is known as one of the best guitarists from the last hundred years. Well, that’s my considered opinion.

T-Bone Walker

Today, however, he puts his guitar down and sings some blues in the style of performers from 1940. I’d prefer that he’d play the guitar, but I can’t have everything. Here is T-Bone Blues.

♫ T-Bone Walker - T Bone Blues

Any year where BILLIE HOLIDAY is featured is all right with me.

Billie Holiday

The song she sings, Night and Day, is one of the most recorded songs in history, but it’d be difficult to come up with a better version than hers.

♫ Billie Holiday - Night and Day

JIMMY RUSHING was the singer for the Count Basie Orchestra for quite a few years.

Jimmy Rushing

Jimmy was respected by all his peers, he could sing loud, soft and in between. Here he’s in the middle ground with the Count and his crew performing I Want A Little Girl.

♫ Jimmy Rushing - I Want A Little Girl

There were some hints of music to come, in spite of the popularity of swing music at the time. This was in the form of small groups, playing boogie woogie and rhythm and blues. These elements eventually led to rock and roll about 15 years later, and there’s a hint of that in WILL BRADLEY’s song today.

Will Bradley

That song is Down the Road a Piece.

♫ Will Bradley - Down the Road a Piece

Almost certainly, the most popular band around at the time was that led by GLENN MILLER.

Glenn Miller

Here he is with his band with one of his most popular numbers (literally - sorry), Pennsylvania 6-5000, the phone number of the hotel in New York where the band stayed quite often, handily close to Penn Station.

♫ Glenn Miller - Pennsylvania 6-5000

Another big band is that of ERSKINE HAWKINS & HIS ORCHESTRA.

Erskine Hawkins

On this track Avery Parrish is featured playing piano on a bluesy instrumental. Avery wrote this tune in spite of it being credited to Erskine on the record label. That sort of thing went on back then, as well as later. The tune is After Hours.

♫ Erskine Hawkins - After Hours

The Boswell Sisters were a big name act during the thirties. They appeared a bunch of times on BING CROSBY’s radio program during those years. By 1940 they had pretty much finished performing as a trio.

CONNEE BOSWELL, however, kept going as a solo artist as well as singing now and then with Bing.

Bing Crosby & Connee Boswell

Connee changed her name from Connie for some reason; it’s not quite the radical name change that some performers make. Anyway, after the sisters called it a day, Connee went out as a solo singer, and occasionally as a duo as we have today.

The song she and Bing perform is Between 18th and 19th on Chestnut Street.

♫ Bing Crosby & Connee Boswell - Between 18th And 19th On Chestnut Street


What a terrific selection this morning! I enjoyed it so much.

Really enjoyed your choice of music today, many I did not know. Being born in the 1940s in France the radio did not play much US music but still some jazz. When we went to visit cousins in Marseille in 1947 they had received several 78 rpm records of boogie woobie from family in the US. I loved the sound, still do. I have several CDs of boogie woobie music, mostly of Albert Ammons and Pete Johnson. It’s great driving music for my trips between Tennessee and Georgia. I did not know Will Bradley and will add him to my list.

Hi, I just found your blog and am enjoying reading about these great musical talents from the Swing Era. I have heard two versions of why Connee Boswell changed her name. 1. She did it to make signing autographs easier because dotting the "i" in "Connie" was tiring. 2. Another story is that she did it because she thought the unique spelling would bring her good luck. But no one seems to know for sure.

My late mom sang with Tex Beneke, Saxie Dowell and Fred Waring. I remember years ago, coming upon some of her old vinyl records, wrapped in brown paper, everything dusty and on the verge of coming apart. We were still (yay!) in possession of a record turntable then..and I saw that these were actually 'demos'..Put one on..and the scratchy music started..Instantly recognized my mom's voice singing, "R-A-G-G-M-O-P-P..rag mop" (backup singers chiming in "doodle ooh dah dee ah dah!!"). Ok, I rolled my eyes, but it was still kinda cool. I am seventy now, and treasure any music-mementos from that day. I regularly sniff around You Tube for oldies, and those arrangements. Thrilled to see that groups like Manhattan Transfer would often do those old charts AS THEY WERE PERFORMED from the 1940's..such a treat. And makes you realize that this music is still, very much loved and enjoyed!!

I never saw this area (although I don't tend to look very hard) but I have been wanting to let you know how much I enjoy your posts. They are great. I listen fairly regularly to your choice of music. Sorry for the late notice.
Partly I noticed that you were not posting anymore and so I am wondering why? Hope you are okay. Ronni isn't posting so much anymore either. 😕

Hello Yvonne...

Peter is still writing his music column every Sunday and Time Goes By is published every day of the week except Thursday. We haven't gone anywhere. Is there anything I can do to help you figure this out?

I sent you a private email saying the same thing and it was returned with a note that it was blocked at your end for "having spam-like qualities". I assure you it is not spam - I have never had any similar message from anyone's email address. Let me know if I can help work this out. (I can't promise I can, but I'm willing to try.)

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