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 times like this we need all the friends we can get, quite a few of whom these days will be on Zoom or Skype. Similarly, for a few years after I discovered Time Goes By and when I got this gig, I could count Ronni as the best friend I had never met.
That all changed of course when Norma, the Assistant Musicologist and I visited Oregon (a couple of times) and stayed with her in Lake Oswego.
Here are some friends songs.
RAL DONNER was cursed by having a voice that was uncannily like Elvis’s.
I bet all those Elvis impersonators wish they could claim the same thing. Ral was never an impersonator, indeed he really hated it when it was pointed out to him (which was quite often). See what you think when he sings Girl of my Best Friend.
MIKE MCCLELLAN would be a super-star if he lived in a bigger country. Well, he is here in Australia.
Mike recorded several albums in the seventies and eighties, but they have been deleted. There are a couple of collection CDs as well as several more recent albums, but it’s still difficult to source his early music unless you have the vinyls.
From that early period, here is a song he still performs quite often, Lovers Never Wind up Friends.
Quite coincidentally, I discovered Larry McMurtry’s book, All My Friends are Going to be Strangers, around the same time that I first heard MERLE HAGGARD perform (My Friends Are Gonna Be) Strangers.
I assume for Merle there was a bit of tongue in cheek going on as his backing band was called The Strangers.
After his initial success as a pop star and member of a Doowop group DION DiMucci turned into a fine blues and folk performer.
One of the first albums of his that demonstrated that was “Sit Down Old Friend”. Here is the song Sit Down Old Friend.
PERCY SLEDGE is probably best known for one song and what a great song that is. It’s not the one we have today, however.
There was a lot more to him than that one. Besides being one of the finest soul singers, he was also a bluesman of note as this shows on My Old Friend the Blues, from the album with the same name.
On the surface. JIMMY BUFFETT seems to be the friendliest musician around. I hope he’s really like that.
From one of his early good albums (most of his early albums were good), “Son of a Son of a Sailor” Jimmy tells us about his African Friend.
By far the most critically successful and popular band in Australia in the seventies was SKYHOOKS.
They liked to dress up in outlandish costumes but their musicianship was impeccable. Besides that they, thanks to main songwriter Greg Macainsh, addressed issues about Australian suburban life, particularly Melbourne whence they hailed.
The song All My Friends Are Getting Married is more laid back then their usual fare.
From easily their finest studio album, “American Beauty”, the GRATEFUL DEAD want to be a Friend of the Devil.
Of course, although they only recorded two or three good studio albums, their milieu was live performances at which they excelled. As they are no more, it’s good that there are a number of fine live recordings. “A number”? I wouldn’t be surprised if every concert they ever performed is out there somewhere.
Anyway, here’s the song, with Phil Lesh playing bass as the lead instrument.
HERMAN'S HERMITS came from Manchester (not far from Liverpool) at the height of Beatlemania.
Unlike most of their contemporaries, they were a straight pop band and had a clean cut image – they didn’t frighten parents the way other bands at the time did. In spite of that (or maybe because of it) they produced really fine pop songs, most of which still hold up today, including My Sentimental Friend.
The members of the NITTY GRITTY DIRT BAND must be friends as they’ve been together with little change to their lineup since the sixties.
They have even recorded a song along that line called Partners, Brothers and Friends. Here it is.
Back around 1970, I discovered a record by SPIDER JOHN KOERNER and WILLIE MURPHY.
This is a really wonderful album and in keeping with the theme of the column, my friends thought so too. The album is called “Running Jumping Standing Still” and I now have it on CD so it might still be around somewhere.
It’s the only thing they did together and it’s a collection folk-blues, ragtime piano, country and even a little jazz thrown in for good measure. In keeping with our category, their song is Friends and Lovers. Spider John sings the lead on it.
There is one song I’m sure you were all expecting, but as you can see, I didn’t include it. I expect that there will be comments about that.