The Coronavirus and Ageism


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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In 1935, I wasn’t even a glint in my dad’s eye. The glint in his eye was mum who worked in the same store that he did, he was in men’s ware (he was a tailor) and mum was over the aisle selling haberdashery.

It took 10 more years (or really nine, I suppose) for the glint that led to me to appear. This preamble is really to tell you that I don’t remember any of these songs when they first appeared. That doesn’t matter as I know about them now.

Someone I’ve known about from a very young age is BING CROSBY, as he was one of my dad’s favorite singers.

Bing Crosby

The song, Red Sails in the Sunset, I remember from my youth thanks to Fats Domino and Tab Hunter. Bing’s version has an introduction that the later versions lacked.

♫ Bing Crosby - Red Sails In The Sunset

The SONS OF THE PIONEERS were about the best harmony group from this era, well in the genre of country music, as there were many harmony groups around who should be recognized.

Sons Of The Pioneers

In 1935, they still had their most famous lead singer. Regular readers will know that I’m talking about Leonard Slye, better known to us all as Roy Rogers. He was helped by Bob Nolan and Tim Spencer. They must have liked Santa Fe as they recorded four or five songs with it in the title, including Over the Santa Fe Trail.

♫ Sons Of The Pioneers - Over The Santa Fe Trail (1935)

SLEEPY JOHN ESTES was a blues performer from Tennessee.

Sleepy John Estes

He went blind when he was young due to a friend hitting him with a rock (some friend). His songs are pretty much about people he knew or encountered, or about events he participated in or “observed”.

He was a big favorite of blues revivalists in the early sixties. His song is Stop That Thing.

♫ Sleepy John Estes - Stop That Thing

One of the most enduring songs from this year is I'm Gonna Sit Right Down and Write Myself a Letter. It was written by Fred Ahlert and Joe Young. The first recorded version, and one of the best, was by FATS WALLER.

Fats Waller

We know Fats for his wonderful singing (and mugging and whatnot), but he demonstrates his piano playing in the introduction. He then sings the song with a fine jazz band backing him.

♫ Fats Waller - I'm Gonna Sit Right Down and Write Myself a Letter

Speaking of harmony groups, as I was above, SOL K. BRIGHT & HIS HOLLYWAIIANS were certainly up there with the best.

Sol Bright

I only discovered them a few years ago, but since then I’ve become a fan. You can probably guess that they were from Hawaii, and they integrated that island’s musical culture with what was going around at the time. One of those things was Irving Berlin’s song, Heat Wave.

♫ Sol K. Bright & His Hollywaiians - Heat Wave (1935)

BENNY GOODMAN was at his best when he performed in his small groups.

Benny Goodman & Helen Ward

Of course, at the height of the swing era he knew on what side his bread was buttered, so he organised an orchestra. That included singers as was normal for such things. One of those was HELEN WARD who sang “vocal refrain” on their record of Blue Moon, a Rogers and Hart composition.

♫ Benny Goodman - Blue Moon

Naturally, FRED ASTAIRE was making films in 1935.

Fred Astaire

Also, naturally, his partner in those was Ginger Rogers. The one we’re interested in today is “Top Hat” where Fred sang Cheek to Cheek while dancing with Ginger.

I’ll refrain from saying things about high heels and backwards. The song is yet another written by Irving Berlin, and Fred’s is the first recorded version.

♫ Fred Astaire - Cheek To Cheek

Often cited as the finest guitarist whoever plucked a string, DJANGO REINHARDT achieved that with only three functioning fingers on his left hand. The others were injured, along with quite a bit of the rest of him, by a fire.

Django Reinhardt

Here he is jamming with his long time musical partner, violinist Stéphane Grappelli, on the tune Djangology.

♫ Django Reinhardt - Djangology

Okay, take your partners for a foxtrot, or a hybrid I’d not heard of before, a tango foxtrot. Waving the baton in front of his orchestra is RAY NOBLE, and we have AL BOWLLY on vocal refrain.

Ray Noble & Al Bowlly

The song Isle of Capri was written by Wilhelm Grosz and Jimmy Kennedy. Ray’s and Al’s version was one of the early ones, only being pipped a month earlier by Lew Stone.

♫ Ray Noble and his Orchestra ~ Al Bowlly - Isle of Capri

I’ll end with LOUIS ARMSTRONG in mellow mood.

Louis Armstrong

By 1935, Louis had left his Hot 5 and Hot 7 groups behind him, and he was pretty much going with the mood of the times, employing a larger orchestra. Anything with him playing his trumpet is worth listening to, including I'm In the Mood for Love.

♫ Louis Armstrong - I'm In the Mood for Love


I look forward to this treasure trove of musical knowledge and entertainment every week. It’s high time I said thank you for sharing this ! I appreciate and enjoy it so much! THANK YOU!

Like Janet admiring your incredible "musical knowledge''... I must agree, Peter. I often enjoy the research as much as the music.  Learning 'anything' new is invigorating to aging brains like mine. Thank you, for it is by far tastier than politics or virus fears these days. 

Because I was a housebound teen in the 40s, the radio music, etc. was my best friend. The phrase "musical knowledge'' brought to mind "Kay Kyser's Kollege of Musical Knowledge" , an American old-time radio musical quiz program. It was broadcast on most American networks throughout the 1940s. I think I remember him referring to himself as "The Professor".  Wikipedia gives it fine coverage should anyone be interested .

You too must have  college "tenure" for certain, Peter. Thank you and your faithful assistant for our interesting Sundays.  Charlene in Portland, OR.

Oddly enough, Isle of Capri was going through my head a few days ago and today I was able to supply the last few lines of the song where Al left off!

Thanks again for sharing your musical knowledge with us. I always enjoy reading your comments as much as listening to the music.

I join the others' well-phrased compliments to you and Norma, for the music and the research of the music and those performing with voice, instrument. I count it as music ed and it's interesting and revealing each time.

Listening and reading is a favorite habit every Sunday.

Thank you.

Enjoyed this so much!! I miss listening to old-time Hawaiian music, so thank you!

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