596 posts categorized "Elder Music"

ELDER MUSIC: Songs About Cities - Rome

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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All roads lead to Rome; when in Rome do as the Romans do; Rome wasn’t built in a day (but it was burned down in one – sorry that’s my own addition).

There are so many sayings about the Eternal City that I could keep spouting them, but you’d be bored and turn away. So, let’s just have some songs about Rome.

Probably due to the film Three Coins in a Fountain, the fountains of Rome, particularly the Trevi fountain which is the focus of the film, have amassed a considerable amount of loot. This is good for the local kids and others who like to grab all those coins.

The song was sung (uncredited) in the film by Frank Sinatra who had a big hit with it. For something different I’ve decided to use the instrumental version by the VINCE GUARALDI TRIO.

Vince Guaraldi

Vince was a jazz pianist who had a few mainstream hits in the sixties most notably, as far as I’m concerned, was Cast Your Fate to the Wind. We’ll leave that one for another day, and play Three Coins in a Fountain.

♫ Vince Guaraldi Trio - Three Coins In A Fountain

You probably expected DEAN MARTIN to be present, so I won’t disappoint you.

Dean Martin

There were several contenders for him, but it was a matter of who else had recorded them so we could have a variety of artists. With that in mind I chose On an Evening in Roma (Sott'er Celo de Roma).

♫ Dean Martin - On an Evening in Roma (Sott'er Celo de Roma)

Another likely suspect is MARIO LANZA.

Mario Lanza

He performs the definitely-must-be-present song, Arrivederci Roma. There were many choices for this one, mostly by the artists who are present today singing something else. Mario gives it the full treatment.

♫ Mario Lanza - Arrivederci Roma

Now we have several songs by people who obviously read my opening remarks. The first of these is SAM COOKE.

Sam Cooke

Sam tells us that Rome (Wasn't Built in a Day). I don’t know why he used the parentheses, but it was quite the thing to do back when he was recording. It doesn’t matter; this is Sam who could make anything sound good.

♫ Sam Cooke - Rome (Wasn't Built in a Day)

GLENN CARDIER decided to take the same tack – same title, different song.

Glenn Cardier

He eschews the parentheses and calls it Rome Wasn't Built in a Day. This is an unusual version from Glenn who usually plays guitar, often a National steel one. Indeed, he reminds me somewhat of Tom Waits on this.

♫ Glenn Cardier - Rome Wasn't Built In A Day

As if we didn’t know by now, we have NICK LOWE to belabor the point.

Nick Lowe

Yet another song with the same name. There could be a column in that (light bulb moment). Nick sounds as if he’s just sitting in the room with us playing his guitar. A very intimate version of Rome Wasn't Built in a Day.

♫ Nick Lowe - Rome Wasn't Built In A Day

From late in his career, here is ELVIS in full operatic mode. There must be something about Rome that causes singers to do that (Nick Lowe excluded).

Elvis Presley

The song of his, and it’s not one I was familiar with until it came up on my search, is Heart of Rome.

♫ Elvis Presley - Heart Of Rome

It’s not too surprising that TONY BENNETT is present, as he’s sung a lot of songs in his career.

Tony Bennett & Bill Evans

He has the help of the great BILL EVANS playing piano. I prefer Tony with a stripped back arrangement as we have here and he became an automatic inclusive when I heard this fine version. The song is When in Rome, another of our opening clichés.

♫ Tony Bennett & Bill Evans - When In Rome

Autumn in Rome was another popular song, yet another selection process. This time it is JOHNNY MATHIS who got the nod.

Johnny Mathis

There are several good versions of this song, the one that nearly made the cut is by Peggy Lee. However, on reflection, I liked Johnny’s just a bit more.

♫ Johnny Mathis - Autumn in Rome

Bob Dylan wrote one of the finest songs about the city, and THE BAND improved on Bob’s version.

The Band

Some might say that that’s not too surprising. The song is from what critics called a lesser album for the group. Of course, a lesser Band album is the equal of most others’ best work. From the album “Cahoots”, here is When I Paint My Masterpiece.

♫ The Band - When I Paint My Masterpiece

Among classical composers, OTTORINO RESPIGHI stands out as one who really loved Rome.


Although he was from Bologna, Otto seemed to have an inordinate fondness for the city (he's probably not alone in that), witness his tone poems The Fountains of Rome, The Pines of Rome and Roman Festival.

I’ll go with the fountains, and the composition Fountains of Rome - The Fountain of Valle Giulia at Dawn.

Respighi - Fountains of Rome - The Fountain of Valle Giulia at Dawn

ELDER MUSIC: Classical Predilections 9

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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Here’s some more music to tickle your fancy as my fancy has been already tickled.

Let’s start the ball rolling with one of my all time favorites, JOSEPH HAYDN.


If you’re going to play a string quartet, which I am – well, my hands don’t hold any instruments, I’m just the D.J. – Joe is your man as he invented it. One of those is his String Quartet in B-flat Major, Op.71 No.1, the fourth movement.

Haydn - ♫ String Quartet in B-flat Major Op.71 No.1 (4)

For a change of pace, and going back quite a few years, we find along the way GIUSEPPE TARTINI.


His name always struck me as being a good name for an Italian ice cream, but that is not the case (as far as I know). No, he was a Baroque composer from the then Republic of Venice, and he was from the part of it that now is Slovenia.

He was most noted as a violin player and composer for that instrument. However, I’m going for something different, his Trumpet Concerto in D major, D. 53, the third movement.

♫ Tartini - Trumpet Concerto in D Major D. 53 (3)

FREDERICK SEPTIMUS KELLY was an Australian composer of the early 20th century.

Frederick Septimus Kelly

He won a musical scholarship to Oxford University where he was also on the rowing team. Unfortunately, the first world war (it wasn’t called that at the time) intervened. He took part in the ill-advised Gallipoli campaign, where he was wounded and wrote music during his down time.

He later was part of Battle of the Somme where he died. He was one of a dozen composers who were killed in that battle. What a waste, not just the composers but everyone in that war. It was totally unnecessary.

Now I’ve got that off my chest, here is the fifth movement, a jig, from his Serenade for flute, harp, horn and strings.

♫ Kelly - Serenade for flute harp horn and strings (5)

ALEXANDER SCRIABIN was one of the first composers to write atonal music, thus it was very improbable that I would include him in one of my columns.


Indeed, it’s improbable that I would bother listening to his music at all. However, early the other morning I was lying in bed when the announcer on the radio said he was going to play some music of his.

I was snug under the covers and didn’t want to get my arm out to switch off the radio or turn it down. Well, knock me over with a feather, or some such expression, I found the piece to be quite enjoyable.

I checked the intertube and found that he was initially influenced by Chopin and wrote music in that style before he switched to what he was most famous for. Here is his Etude Op.2 No 1 played by the inimitable Valdimir Horowitz.

♫ Scriabin - Etude Op.2 No.1

Here is the only violin concerto composed by ROBERT SCHUMANN, and therein lies a tale.


He composed this towards the end of his life for his good friend, the violinist Joseph Joachim. Joe didn’t perform the concerto as he thought that Bob had gone completely bonkers and it was unplayable.

He convinced Clara, Bob’s wife, and his good friend Johannes Brahms (who may have had a bit of a thing for Clara, but we won’t go there) that that was the case.

There was some justification for this as Bob had already (seemingly) attempted suicide and he was subsequently banged up in a sanatorium where he died. It was decided (mostly by Joachim) that the concerto was not to be performed until 100 years after Bob’s death. That would be in 1956.

However, in 1933 his great-nieces, Jelly d'Arányi and Adila Fachiri, who were violinists and also apparently somewhat bonkers themselves, held a séance and decided that it was alright to perform it early, so they did.

Anyway, in spite of all that carry on, the concerto is well worth a listen. Here is Violin Concerto in D minor, WoO 23, the second movement.

Schumann - Violin Concerto in D minor WoO 23 (2)

J.S. BACH is well known for his cantatas, he wrote scads of them.


Many of those were for particular days on the religious calendar, but his cantata BWV 51 was designated “for general use”, that is they could slot it in any time they liked, just as a filler I suppose.

The cantata was named Jauchzet Gott in allen Landen which is something along the lines of Shout for joy in God in every land. It is his only cantata scored for trumpet and soprano. From that one we have Elizabeth Watts singing the first aria.

♫ Bach JS - Jauchzet Gott in allen Landen! BWV 51

VINCENZO BELLINI is most noted as an opera composer and most especially the opera “Norma”, but many others as well.


However, there were more strings to his composing bow than just opera. His focus of study was on the works of Haydn and Mozart and that shows in this work, the Oboe Concerto in E-Flat Major, the second movement.

♫ Bellini - Oboe Concerto in E-Flat Major (2)

There are some instruments where it’s problematic for them to be played in a concerto setting. That’s because they are quite soft and the full orchestra tends to drown them out. One of those instruments is the harp.

However, in spite of what I just said, there are harp concertos. One of those is by JOHANN WILHELM HERTEL.


Jo was from a family of composers and musicians, his father and grandfather were both composers of some note. Getting back to the concerto, I notice that when the harp is playing, most of the orchestra stops, there are just a couple of instruments accompanying it.

You can hear that his Harp Concerto in F-major, the first movement.

♫ Hertel JW - Harp Concerto in F-major (1)

At one time in Vienna WOLFGANG MOZART had a violin sonata commissioned to be played in a few days.


He had completed the violin part but had only a few rough ideas about the piano section. Comes the day and that was still the status of the work, so he decided to play the piano himself.

He put a blank sheet of paper in front of him and improvised the whole thing. His wife Constanze reported that Emperor Joseph II, who was present, sent for Wolfie and his score (he’d apparently seen the empty sheet through his opera glasses). Joe thought it was a great joke.

Here is the first movement of his Violin Sonata No 32 in B flat major K454.

♫ Mozart - Violin Sonata D major (1)

I’m not a big fan of JOHANNES BRAHMS but every now and then I find a piece of his music that pricks up my ears.


Some people compare Brahms’ symphonies with those of Beethoven. I suggest that some people should have their ears cleared out.

Anyway, enough ranting, and in spite of what I said, I’m going to play part of a Brahms symphony, the third movement of his Symphony No. 3 in F major, Op. 90. This one is pretty good.

♫ Brahms - Symphony No. 3 in F Major Op. 90 (3)

ELDER MUSIC: Introductions

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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This column is about songs with introductions that most of us didn’t realise had such introductions. Given that, they are mostly pretty old songs, and the versions are just about as old.

Anything Goes is a famous song written by COLE PORTER.

Cole Porter

Most of us wouldn’t have heard the introduction before; I suspect that Cole is the only one who recorded it. I think this is the original version of the song, as there are references in it that I haven’t heard before, some of which are a little dated.

Anyway, here is the way Cole imagined his song originally.

♫ Cole Porter - Anything Goes

The song Love Letters in the Sand is mostly associated in my brain with Pat Boone. However, he didn’t sing the introduction. I could only find two versions of the song where someone did.

One I eschewed, even though it was the better one, because I’m using him for another song, and including his version in another column - pickings are slim in the category so I had to shuffle things around. I ended up with GENE AUSTIN who recorded it in 1931. It was the original version.

Gene Austin

Gene started in Vaudeville as the result of a dare. He later became one of the first crooners. He was also an early champion of Fats Waller, and besides that wrote numerous songs that entered the canon and are still sung today.

This isn’t one of them, it was written by Fred Coots and Nick and Charles Kenny.

♫ Gene Austin - Love Letters in the Sand

Not only did the song Are You Lonesome Tonight originally have an introduction, it also had an extra verse that those familiar with the more famous versions by Elvis and Al Jolson lack. Also, besides losing things, they added that talkie bit in the middle of the song that’s not in the original.

When I say original, I mean it. This is the original recording by CHARLES HART.

Charles Hart

He recorded this back in 1927, and I notice that he really likes rolling his R’s.

♫ Charles Hart - Are You Lonesome Tonight

Like the previous song, this one not only has an introduction, after all, that’s why we’re here, but it also has an extra verse, or perhaps a bridge, that I’ve not heard in elsewhere. This one is by the BOSWELL SISTERS.

Boswell Sisters

This is the only one where I heard the intro. Even Fats Waller, who as far as I can tell, recorded it first, omits the intro and extra verse. Maybe the Boswells were the only one would record the complete song.

If you’re wondering what I’m talking about, it’s I'm Going to Sit Right Down and Write Myself a Letter.

♫ Boswell Sisters - I'm Going To Sit Right Down And Write Myself A Letter

I could have included several songs by FRANKIE LAINE from an album he recorded with Michel Legrand.

Frankie Laine & Michel Legrand

It was a matter of which one that no one else had done. The song I chose is Blue Moon. Years ago I had a column with different versions of that song, so I went back and found none of those had an introduction. Indeed, apart from Frankie’s I couldn’t find another one that did, that’s why he’s included.

♫ Frankie Laine - Blue Moon

I imagine that some of you might be wondering why I included the next song. I know that Norma, the Assistant Musicologist, is one such. The song is one of my guilty pleasures, so it stays. The song is sung by NICK LUCAS as part of the Nick Lucas Troubadours.

Nick Lucas

If you’re wondering what the song is after that introduction (sorry), think Tiny Tim. Yes, you’ve all won a koala stamp for knowing Tip-Toe Thru the Tulips With Me.

♫ Nick Lucas Troubadours - Tip-Toe Thru The Tulips With Me

Back in 1937, Harry Warren and Al Dupin wrote the song September in the Rain for the film “Melody for Two”. That song is only memorable for the song. In that film JAMES MELTON sang it as it was written.

James Melton1

Of course, since then it’s gone on to be a standard, not just for singers, but jazz instrumentalists as well. None of the later versions have the intro.

♫ James Melton - September in the Rain

Normally, I’d include Otis Redding, but he didn’t sing the introduction. I believe that he modeled his version on BING CROSBY’s.

Bing Crosby

I have to take his word on that as they’re as different as night and day. There were a couple of versions before Bing’s but if he’s in the mix, I’ll go with him. The song is Try a Little Tenderness.

♫ Bing Crosby - Try a Little Tenderness

The contribution by ETHEL WATERS not only contains a generally unsung introduction, she also performs extra verses or bridges or something that also don’t usually turn up in her song.

Ethel Waters

Ethel was the real deal, she could sing in pretty much any genre of music and appeared in quite a few films and was nominated for an Oscar for one of those. The song she sings in today’s category is Am I Blue, another I didn’t realise had that intro.

♫ Ethel Waters - Am I Blue

LES GILLIAM recites his intro, rather than singing it.

Les Gilliam

I don’t know if that counts in this category or not, however, it’s a country song so that’s acceptable in that genre of music. The song was a hit in the fifties for several artists, Les not being one that I remember performing it. The song of which I speak is The Shifting, Whispering Sands.

Les Gilliam - The Shifting Whispering Sands

Going way back, indeed to 1928, we have FRANKLYN BAUR.

Franklyn Baur

Back in the 1920s Frank made hundreds of records, sometimes under different names. He performed on radio and made the occasional film. His career declined in the 1930s and he died quite young.

From his heyday, in this case 1928, Frank sings Marie.

♫ Franklyn Baur - Marie

I’ll end with person who is responsible for this column. Well, not quite, that person is Ronni.

She was setting up a column that had LEON REDBONE in it, and noticed that the song had an introduction that generally wasn’t performed by others. We wondered how many other songs out there are like that, and if it could make a column.

Leon Redbone

As you can see, it certainly has. This isn’t the song in question; it’s another as I found that Leon performed several such songs. This one is My Melancholy Baby.

Leon Redbone - My Melancholy Baby

ELDER MUSIC: 1947 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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There was no categorising T-BONE WALKER.


He was a guitarist of great skill and he played in whatever style the song required – jazz, blues, even rock and roll later on. The song today, T-Bone Shuffle, is a standard blues song, but he brought in some elements of jazz to add even more interest.

♫ T-Bone Walker - T Bone Shuffle

In 1947, country music wasn’t as formulaic as it became later. This is especially evident in Bob Wills’s contribution down below. It’s also true of MERLE TRAVIS.


There are all sorts of musical types in this song, So Round So Firm So Fully Packed, a slogan taken from cigarette advertisement from the time. The song was written by Merle, along with Eddie Kirk and Cliffie Stone. Several other people had hits with the song over the years.

♫ Merle Travis - So Round So Firm So Fully Packed

I’ll continue in the vein of the previous song with HOAGY CARMICHAEL.

Hoagy Carmichael

Hoagy was not averse to writing and performing novelty songs, and this is a prime example, Huggin' and Chalkin'. He suggests you mark where you’re up to so you can carry on from there next time.

♫ Hoagy Carmichael - Huggin' and Chalkin'

BILL MONROE was a hugely influential musician.

Bill Monroe

Not just himself but for the others who passed through his band. In the song today, one of his most famous, we have guitarist Lester Flatt and banjo player Earl Scruggs. They later went on to form the Foggy Mountain Boys, and later made a name for themselves as just Flatt and Scruggs.

Today, they play and Bill sings Blue Moon of Kentucky. This song was on the very first record that Elvis released.

♫ Bill Monroe and His Blue Grass Boys - Blue Moon Of Kentucky

You don’t usually associate COUNT BASIE with novelty records, but he did some of those.

Count Basie

One of them was Open the Door, Richard! It was recorded by a few people at the time and each version sold pretty well. It was written by several people and was originally a part of vaudeville routines by Pigmeat Markham, Dusty Fletcher and others.

Later, words were added and many people recorded it; the first to do so was Jack McVea. The Count had Harry "Sweets" Edison and Bill Johnson singing on this one. There’s some fine piano playing by the Count.

♫ Count Basie - Open The Door Richard

BOB WILLS’s music has a distinctive style: Tommy Duncan sang the words and Bob chatted away on top of him. I could have done without Bob’s contribution. At least his vocal contribution, he played the fiddle on these records.

Bob Wills

That’s Bob and Tommy in the picture. The song Sugar Moon was written by Bob and Cindy Walker. Cindy was a prolific songwriter, initially for Bob, but later for just about every country artist who needed a good song.

♫ Bob Wills - Sugar Moon

LIGHTNIN' HOPKINS was a singer, guitarist, songwriter and occasional piano player.

Lightnin' Hopkins

He was Houston's poet-in-residence for 35 years and, reputedly, recorded more albums than any other bluesman. He recorded the song Big Mama Jump at least twice (maybe more times), once with him playing piano, and the one we have today, playing the guitar.

♫ Lightnin' Hopkins - Big Mama Jump

EDDY ARNOLD was on a roll this year.

Eddy Arnold

His song I'll Hold You in My Heart was his third number one on the country charts and it crossed over to the pop charts. Indeed, it spent a remarkable 21 weeks at that position. I guess the smoothing out of country songs is not just a recent phenomenon, but Eddy does have a fine voice.

♫ Eddy Arnold - I'll Hold You In My Heart

The next song is attributed to JULIA LEE AND HER BOY FRIENDS. That’s them below.

Julia Lee

Julia was renowned for performing risqué songs, or as she put it, “the songs my mother taught me not to sing”. Sometimes it’s good not to follow your mum’s advice because she made quite a decent living from these. The one today is King Size Papa.

♫ Julia Lee - King Size Papa

To end this year, a pop song pretending to be a country song. Given the real ones above, I don’t know why they bothered. Maybe they thought it wouldn’t be played on the same program, and probably back then, it wasn’t. DOROTHY SHAY gives us her contribution.

Dorothy Shay

Dorothy was billed as the “Park Avenue Hillbilly” which probably explains the situation. The song she sings, her first and biggest hit, is Feudin' and Fightin'. I have to say that this song is quite catchy, and could become an earworm if you played it too often.

♫ Dorothy Shay - Feudin' And Fightin'

ELDER MUSIC: Ricky Nelson

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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Ricky Nelson

RICKY NELSON had many advantages that most of the other first generation of rock and roll singers (and later ones as well) didn’t have. First off, he was good looking. Okay, quite a few of the others were as well.

He had a father in the business who knew the ropes, so Ricky wasn’t screwed over by record companies and managers as virtually all the others were, so he managed to keep his hard earned money.

He was on television every week so he kept his name and face prominent for many years, and he had the best lead guitarist around at the time – James Burton. He also had considerable singing talent and he wrote quite a few songs, something only a few of the others did.

Ricky was also a favorite of mine, so he’s the featured artist in the column today. It might be a bit boring if you’re not a hard core Ricky fan. Most of the songs are from early in his career.

I’ll kick off with It's Late. This was written by Dorsey Burnette. The song did pretty well for him all over the world. Okay, you can say that about most of the songs I’ve included today.

♫ It's Late


Keeping the songwriting in the family, the next one, Just a Little Too Much, was written by Johnny Burnette, Dorsey’s brother. They both had decent performing careers of their own, together in the Rock & Roll Trio, and separately under their own names.

♫ Just a Little Too Much


Probably the best known of Ricky’s songs is Hello Mary Lou. This was the B-side of a 45 that had Travelin’ Man on the obverse. It was a double sided smash. The record has some particularly fine guitar playing by James Burton.

♫ Hello Mary Lou


One of my earliest purchases (or gifts) was the single Never Be Anyone Else But You. It was about the time I left my small country town for the big smoke and I was leaving my girl friend behind. Oh well, we both got over that.

♫ Never Be Anyone Else But You


Be-Bop Baby was written by Pearl Lendhurst for Ricky. Ricky’s output to this time was mostly ballads, so he wanted to show that he could rock as well. The guitar player wasn’t James, but Joe Maphis, which was unusual for his records at the time.

♫ Be-Bop Baby

Sharon Sheeley wrote the song Poor Little Fool when she was only 15. She managed to get Ricky to listen to it and record the song and it became a number one hit for him.

Sharon went on to have a career in songwriting for such people as Glen Campbell, Brenda Lee and most especially Eddie Cochrane, to whom she was engaged until his death in a car accident.

♫ Poor Little Fool


Although the next song references the film Rio Bravo, it didn’t actually appear in it. Ricky did though, as one of the main characters named Colorado, also mentioned in the song.

He and Dean Martin sang a couple of songs in the film though. The tune I’m talking about is called Restless Kid. It sounds like a Johnny Cash song, and it’ll come as no surprise that he wrote it.

♫ Restless Kid


In 1971, Ricky performed at a rock & roll revival concert with Chuck Berry, Bo Diddley and others. As he recounts in his song, he sang his hits but also performed new music which upset the audience who didn’t want to see their favorites evolve.

One reference in his song about the concert that evaded me until recently is “Mr Hughes”. He was a neighbor and good friend of Ricky’s: George Harrison. The song is Garden Party.

♫ Garden Party


A single I had as a kid is Ricky’s cover of the Hank Williams song, I Can't Help It (If I'm Still in Love With You). I didn’t buy it for the song, it was the flip side of the one I wanted – I think that was Just a Little Too Much, but I could be wrong.

It was also on the album “Ricky Sings Again”, which I also later had. It’s one of my favorite Hank songs, and I think that Ricky does it really well. He has the Jordanires helping him with the singing.

♫ I Can't Help It (If I'm Still in Love With You)


On a visit to Australia he heard Mike McClellan sing his song, Rock and Roll Lady. Ricky was so impressed that he recorded it as soon as he returned home. Alas, that was shortly before he died so it didn’t get the exposure that it deserved.

Ricky’s version is really good, but Mike really nails it. You should seek it out (that’s easily done; it’s on one of my previous columns).

♫ Rock And Roll Lady

ELDER MUSIC: Songs of Shel Silverstein

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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Shel Silverstein

I mostly know SHEL SILVERSTEIN for the songs he wrote for Dr Hook, but there was more to him than that.

He was a cartoonist for Playboy, a children's songwriter, a writer of children's poetry and fiction, an adult fiction writer, playwright, journalist, adult songwriter (humorous and serious), singer, artist and general polymath.

The songs today were all written by Shel, and most of them were first recorded by Dr Hook, but we have other versions for most of them.

It seems that everything in the song Sylvia's Mother is completely true, except for Sylvia’s surname, changed not to protect the innocent but so the song scans better. I’ve seen interviews with both Sylvia and her mother and they confirm this.

Shel was so smitten with her that he didn’t ever marry. He later spent a considerable amount of time at the Playboy mansion and this might have helped him overcome his disappointment a little.

The most famous version of the song, the one that most of us know, is by DR HOOK & THE MEDICINE SHOW.

Dr Hook

This is their version of this tale of woe.

♫ Dr Hook - Sylvia's Mother

The Ballad of Lucy Jordan was first recorded by Dr Hook, but it was memorably sung by MARIANNE FAITHFULL on her extraordinary album “Broken English”.

Marianne Faithfull

This is a tough, gritty, no holds barred song, particularly Marianne’s interpretation. She was no longer the pretty waif-like dolly bird from the sixties who was involved with Mick Jagger for a while. She had indulged in the full sex, drugs and alcohol life of the clichéd rock singer and was just getting her life back together when she recorded this song and album.

♫ Marianne Faithfull - The Ballad of Lucy Jordan

Both Waylon Jennings and WILLIE NELSON have recorded the song A Couple More Years.

Willie Nelson

As you can see and will hear, I’ve gone for Willie’s version, for no reason except that I have Waylon performing another song.

♫ Willie Nelson - A Couple More Years

EMMYLOU HARRIS’s album, “Pieces of the Sky,” was a real beauty, but you could say that about most of her albums.

Emmylou Harris

This is the record that launched Emmy’s solo career and on it she performs Queen of the Silver Dollar, with a little help from Linda Ronstadt.

♫ Emmylou Harris - Queen of the Silver Dollar

HANK WILLIAMS JR has a reputation of living life to the edge and then going over. His records tend to reflect this.

Hank Williams Jr

However, he recorded an excellent album that was gentle and reflective that I think is his best (but I haven’t listened to all of them). It’s called “Hank Williams Jr and Friends”. Even people who don’t like country music should appreciate this one. From that album, here is On Susan's Floor.

♫ Hank Williams Jr - On Susan's Floor

LORETTA LYNN could easily have written One's on the Way as it seems to be about her life.

Loretta Lynn

She certainly wrote other songs about herself and people around her, so that’s not inconceivable. However, it’s one of Shel’s songs. Loretta certainly made it memorable and it remains one of her best known songs.

♫ Loretta Lynn - One's On The Way

Around about 1970, Mick Jagger starred in a film about Australia’s most famous outlaw, Ned Kelly. The film was dreadful. Shel wrote the soundtrack for the film which was performed by Kris Kristofferson and WAYLON JENNINGS.

Waylon1 Jennings

The music is far superior to the film (that wasn’t hard) and the song, Ned Kelly, appears early in the film and only touches a little of his early life.

There’s much more than appears here, culminating in his being hanged in Pentridge Prison, ordered by Redmond Barry, a judge who had a proclivity for hanging those who appeared before him.

♫ Waylon Jennings - Ned Kelly

Speaking of KRIS KRISTOFFERSON, here he is with a song he co-wrote with Shel.

Kris Kristofferson

From his fine second album, “The Silver Tongued Devil and I”, he sings The Taker, with some help from Joan Baez who was uncredited on the album.

♫ Kris Kristofferson - The Taker

Here is a song from out of left field, given all the others we have today. It’s sung by JUDY COLLINS.

Judy Collins

It’s about the aftermath of the Civil War, in particular the Battle of Shiloh or the Battle of Pittsburg Landing. It produced the largest number of casualties in the war to that point. Of course, this was later surpassed by other battles.

The song is In The Hills of Shiloh.

♫ Judy Collins - In The Hills Of Shiloh

There have been a couple of problematic songs today. I think it goes with the territory when Shel’s involved. However, I think TOMPALL GLASER takes the cake with his one.

TomPall Glaser

It was Tompall’s biggest selling record and I’ll play it without further comment. The song is Put Another Log on the Fire.

♫ Tompall Glaser - Put Another Log On The Fire

I’ll end as I began with DR HOOK & THE MEDICINE SHOW. Their song is a satire of the music business about a band that lives the full rock & roll life style, but in spite of that can’t get their picture on The Cover of Rolling Stone. Sometime later the magazine did feature the band on its cover.

Dr Hook

♫ Dr Hook - The Cover of Rolling Stone

On the cutting room floor: A Boy Named Sue.

ELDER MUSIC: Toes Up in 2019

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.

* * *

It seems to me that increasingly, each year is a bad one for musicians dying. I suppose it’s probably these are the ones with whom we grew up.

Jessye Norman

JESSYE NORMAN was one of the two or three finest singers of the 20th century; I would put her at number one.

She took piano lessons from an early age, but once exposed to opera music she was an instant convert and devoured the recordings of Marian Anderson and Leontyne Price (and Nat King Cole). She proved to be a talented singer from an early age.

Later she studied at a couple of universities and gained a Masters degree in music from the University of Michigan (Ann Arbor).

Jessye went to Europe to establish herself and made her debut in Wagner's “Tannhäuser” in Berlin. There was no holding her back.

From a song cycle called Les Nuits D'Été (Summer Nights) by Hector Berlioz, Jessye sings Villanelle. (She was 74)

Jessye Norman - Berlioz - Les Nuits D'Ete ~ Villanelle

MICHEL LEGRAND was a French pianist, conductor, arranger and most especially, a composer. He composed music for both French and American films, winning a couple of Oscars along the way. He was also a fine jazz pianist and made a couple of dozen albums. (86)

PETER TORK came to prominence as a member of the Monkees. He was the bass player in the group that first became TV stars and then a real rock group in their own right. (77)

PAUL BADURA-SKODA was a classical pianist who was noted for his Mozart and especially Schubert piano works. He also played Beethoven and Chopin exquisitely. He and his wife wrote books on the interpretation of Mozart and Bach. (91)

DICK DALE pretty mush invented “surf music”. He was an excellent guitarist and had custom made amplifiers and speakers that wouldn’t distort when he turned up the volume (unless he wanted them to). (81)

Art Neville

ART NEVILLE was a keyboard player and singer. He cofounded The Meters and the Neville Brothers, probably the two most important bands to come out of New Orleans.

He joined The Hawketts when he was still a teenager and later formed his own group that consisted of several musicians who would later become The Meters, as well as two of his brothers. The Meters became the house band for record producer Allen Toussaint and can be heard on many records from New Orleans from that time.

Later he joined his brothers and he kept both groups going for decades. From very early in his career, Art sings the Mardi Gras Mambo. (81)

♫ Hawketts - Mardi Gras Mambo

STEPHEN CLEOBURY was an organist and musical director most notably for the Choir of King’s College, Cambridge. He held that post for 37 years until his death. (70)

TONY GLOVER was a folk, blues and rock harmonica player. He was mostly associated with the sixties group Koerner, Ray and Glover, but also toured with the Doors and the Rolling Stones. He was later a music writer of note. (79)

JACK SCOTT was a singer and songwriter who had several big hits in the cusp of the fifties and sixties. He performed rock & roll, gospel, country and just about anything else he set his mind to. (83)

PAUL BARRERE was the guitarist for the rock band Little Feat. He also performed with Taj Mahal, Jack Bruce, Carly Simon and others. He wrote songs that Little Feat and others performed. (71)

FRANK BUSSERI was a founding member and singer for the harmony group The Four Lads. They had several hits in the fifties and sixties. (86)

Andre Previn

ANDRÉ PREVIN won four Oscars and ten Grammies for his music as a composer, arranger, adapter, conductor, pianist, and music director. He was a classical pianist and conductor, a jazz pianist and composer and adaptor of stage musicals for the big screen.

He wrote musical scores for films, not just musical ones, but dramas as well. He composed chamber music, orchestral works, solo piano and operas. He was just about as complete a musician as we’ll see in our lifetime.

Here is André playing piano, with a little jazz, along with Herb Ellis, Shelly Manne and Ray Brown. The tune is Don't Sing Along. (89)

♫ André Previn - Don't Sing Along

DARYL DRAGON was “The Captain” in the group Captain and Tennille. He came from a musical family (both parents and two brothers were professional musicians) and he was originally a studio piano player. Along with his wife Toni Tennille they had a number of pop hits in the seventies. (76)

CHUCK BARKSDALE was a founding member and bass singer for the doowop (and later soul) group The Dells; one of the finest and longest lived such groups. (84)

MIKE WILHELM was the guitarist, singer, songwriter and founding member of the influential sixties rock group The Charlatans. He was later in another band, The Flamin’ Groovies. (77)

Although American, IRVING BURGIE was best known as a songwriter using the Caribbean as a theme. Harry Belafonte in particular recorded many of his songs, including Jamaica Farewell and Banana Boat Song. He also set up a publishing company and a magazine. (95)

JACQUES LOUSSIER was a French keyboard player who became very successful with jazz interpretations of the music of J.S. Bach. (84)

Greedy Smith

GREEDY (ANDREW) SMITH was songwriter, singer and keyboard player for the Australian band Mental as Anything. As can be judged from their name, the Mentals didn’t take themselves too seriously. They were popular from the late seventies until the end of the nineties.

The members of the group met at art school and they are/were all accomplished artists in their own right. Although all members of the group sang, Greedy was the unofficial front man when it came to giving interviews and the like. He was inducted into the Australian songwriters’ hall of fame a month before his death.

Here is Greedy singing He’s Just No Good for You. (63)

♫ Mental as Anything - He's Just No Good For You

GARY DUNCAN was a guitarist and singer for the rock group Quicksilver Messenger Service. The complex interplay between him and fellow guitarist John Cipollina did much to define the San Francisco sound of the sixties. (72)

MICHAEL JAFFEE was an expert on medieval and Renaissance music, and played several early instruments. He cofounded the Chamber Music America and the Early Music America associations. He and his wife (and others) toured with the early music group the Waverly Consort. (81)

ROBERT HUNTER was a songwriter, guitarist and occasional singer. He was best known for collaborating with Jerry Garcia to produce some of the Grateful Dead’s best known tunes. (78)

JOHNNY CLEGG was a British born white South African singer, songwriter and guitarist who was a fierce opponent of the appalling Apartheid regime in that country. He played with, and encouraged black musicians and toured extensively. (66)

DICK BOCCELLI was the drummer in Bill Hailey and his Comets. He played on most of their big hits, including Rock Around the Clock. He was also a stage and TV actor. (95)

Leon Redbone

Born in Cyprus, LEON REDBONE first came to general notice in Canada when Bob Dylan caught his act and spread the word about him. Leon specialised in songs from the early years of the 20th century, and he performed them as they were originally written, often with introductions that most of us hadn’t realised they had.

He was a quirky, entertaining and talented singer and guitarist and he is sadly missed by those who managed to catch his performances (including me). Leon’s song is Are You Lonesome Tonight. (127, or so he claimed; probably 69)

♫ Leon Redbone - Are You Lonesome Tonight

JIM GLASER and CHUCK GLASER were both members of the Glaser Brothers, a country music singing group, whose best known member was Tompall. Both also had solo careers. They died within a month of each other. (81 & 83)

J.R. COBB was the guitarist for The Atlanta Rhythm Section, one of the finest groups composed of session musicians. He also wrote songs and played guitar on many hit singles. (75)

RAYMOND LEPPARD was an English conductor, harpsichord player and composer who specialised in Baroque music. He was instrumental in getting Baroque operas on to the world’s stages. (92)

PHIL MCCORMACK was the singer for the hard rock band Molly Hatchet. (58)

GUY WEBSTER was a photographer whose pictures adorned the album covers of The Doors, The Byrds, Simon and Garfunkel, the Mamas and the Papas, The Rolling Stones and many others. (79)

Doris Day

DORIS DAY started as a singer in the late thirties and became a big hit in the forties and continued her success for several more decades. She was also one of the biggest film stars of her generation, often in rather fluffy films, but she made a number of interesting gritty ones as well.

Her wholesome persona on screen was quite at odds with her personal life, but we won’t go there. Today, Doris is singing Perhaps Perhaps Perhaps. (97)

♫ Doris Day - Perhaps Perhaps Perhaps

HEATHER HARPER was a soprano best known for performing the works of Benjamin Britten, but was equally at home with the standard operatic and concert repertoire. (88)

KENT HARRIS was a Soul and Rhythm and blues songwriter who wrote hits for The Coasters, Bo Diddley, The Platters and others. (88)

JOE TERRY and DAVID WHITE were both founding members of the doowop, rock and roll group Danny and the Juniors who had several hits in the fifties. David wrote or co-wrote many of their hits. They died within weeks of each other. (78 & 79)

REGGIE YOUNG was one of the finest session guitarists who ever picked a note. He has appeared on records of blues, country, soul, rock & roll, you name it. Anyone with more than a record or two will have him playing somewhere. (82)

ETHEL ENNIS was a jazz singer who sang with Benny Goodman, Duke Ellington, Louis Armstrong, Miles Davis, Wynton Marsalis and many others. (86)

Dave Bartholomew

DAVE BARTHOLOMEW was one of the (many) towering figures in New Orleans music. He was a producer, composer, trumpeter, arranger, and songwriter, who wrote many hits for others, especially Fats Domino.

He was a trumpeter in several bands before he started producing and writing music. Besides Fats, he also produced T-Bone Walker, Smiley Lewis, Chris Kenner and many others. Dave performs one of his own songs, later a big hit for Fats, Four Winds. (100)

♫ Dave Bartholomew - Four Winds

LES REED was an English songwriter who wrote hits for Tom Jones, Herman’s Hermits, Engelbert Humperdick and many others. (83)

GEOFF HARVEY was an Australian jazz pianist and saxophonist who went on to be a mainstay in television as a musical director for decades. (83)

GEORGE CHAMBERS was one of the four original Chambers Brothers who started out as a soul/gospel group and later added other members to become a full tilt rock band. (88)

Although American, SCOTT WALKER found fame in Britain as a member of the Walker Brothers (none of whom were named Walker, including Scott). He later veered into experimentalism, producing music that few wanted to hear. (76)

HAL BLAINE was a session drummer, one of the famous “Wrecking Crew” who were responsible for many hits in Los Angeles, notably under the direction of Phil Spector, and occasionally Brian Wilson. (90)

Chris Wilson

CHRIS WILSON was an Australian blues musician who was most famous for playing harmonica and singing, however, he also played guitar and saxophone.

For 20 years he was a school teacher until he decided to give music a try. From then on he was one of Australia’s most respected musicians. He was featured, usually playing harmonica, on the albums of many performers. From his album “Live At The Continental” here is Face In The Mirror. (62)

Chris Wilson - Face In The Mirror

FRED FOSTER was a music producer who founded his own record company that was home to several later well-know country artists. He launched the careers of Roy Orbison and Dolly Parton, and co-wrote Me and Bobby McGee with Kris Kristofferson. (87)

JOHN STARLING was the guitarist and co-founder of The Seldom Scene, one of the most influential bluegrass bands around. (79)

KOFI BURBRIDGE was the keyboard player for the Tedeschi Trucks Band. He was also a noted flute and organ player, as well as any other instrument he could pick up. (57)

VINNIE BELL was a session guitarist who worked with Simon and Garfunkel, The Four Seasons and others. He was also noted for his technical innovations and invented the first electric 12 string guitar and an electric sitar. (87)

IAIN SUTHERLAND was the singer, guitarist and songwriter for the Sutherland Brothers and Quiver who were quite successful in the seventies. He also wrote songs for others, most notably Rod Stewart. (71)

Russell Smith

RUSSELL SMITH was the singer and main songwriter for the fine southern rock group The Amazing Rhythm Aces. He also had a solo career. Quite a few of his songs have been covered by other performers, but his were generally the definitive versions.

This is Russell out in front of the Aces with one of his most popular songs, Third Rate Romance. (70)

Amazing Rhythm Aces - Third Rate Romance

GERALD ENGLISH was a British tenor who spent much of his career in Australia. He specialised in modern works – Britten, Stravinsky, Berg, Janácek and others. He also recorded early music successfully. (93)

RIC OCASEK was a co-founder, lead singer and guitarist for the late seventies and eighties new wave rock band The Cars. They had more than a dozen charting songs. (75)

JOHN COHEN was a guitarist, photographer and film maker amongst other things. He was a founding member of the influential acoustic group The New Lost City Ramblers. (87)

DONNIE FRITTS was a songwriter and session musician as well as a performer in his own right. He also played keyboards for Kris Kristofferson for more than 40 years. (76)

João Gilberto

JOÃO GILBERTO was a Brazilian singer, guitarist, and songwriter who, pretty much single handedly, brought Bossa Nova to the outside world.

Besides making dozens of records in Brazil, he also performed with several famous jazz and pop musicians, most notably Frank Sinatra and Stan Getz. It’s the albums he made with Stan that brought him to worldwide notice.

From the first of these (“Getz/Gilberto”) we have probably his most famous song, The Girl from Ipanema. João sings and plays guitar and is later joined by his then wife Astrud Gilberto singing the second part. Also along for the ride is Antônio Carlos Jobim playing piano, and of course, Stan on tenor sax. (88)

♫ João Gilberto - The Girl from Ipanema

LARRY TAYLOR was the original bass player for Canned Heat. He also worked with Tom Waits, John Mayall and the Monkees. (77)

D.A. PENNEBAKER was a documentary film maker who filmed some of the best moments of music from the sixties and seventies. These include “Monterey Pop”, “Don’t Look Back” (about Bob Dylan’s tour of Britain; the last gasp of his acoustic period), a Jimi Hendrix concert, some John Lennon, David Bowie, Little Richard and others.

He was also involved in the filming of the Woodstock Festival. (94)

JIM PIKE was the cofounder and lead singer of The Lettermen a vocal group who were successful in the sixties. (82)

GINGER BAKER was the drummer for rock’s first supergroup Cream. He admired great jazz drummers and he brought elements of that style to what was ostensibly a blues/rock genre. (80)

Dr John

It’s been a bad year for New Orleans musicians, and DR JOHN, born Malcolm Rebennack, is the latest. Mac, as he was universally known to his fellow musos, started out as a guitarist but switched to piano when he had a finger shot off during an altercation.

Besides his own concerts and records, he was greatly in demand as a session piano player. His music was darker and moodier than most, and a lot more interesting.

The good doctor plays with the guitarist Johnny Winter, in a jam session they had together, the song You Lie Too Much. (77)

Dr. John & Johnny Winter - You Lie Too Much

There were considerably more, but I had to draw the line somewhere.

ELDER MUSIC: Christmas 2019

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.

* * *


It’s getting hot so that means that Christmas must be near, so it’s time for my usual collection of dreadful Christmas songs. Actually, looking over my selection this year, they’re not as bad as in the past so you probably won’t have to skip the column this year.

Round about now we are also regaled on TV by a plethora of Christmas films, all of which are dreadful. As far as I’m concerned there’s only one good Christmas flick (well, two, but most people won’t consider the other a Yule time movie).

The one is We’re No Angels with Humphrey Bogart, Aldo Ray, Peter Ustinov and Leo G. Carroll.

No Angels

In case you’re wondering, the other is Three Days of the Condor.


I know that a lot of you are going to say, what about...? Sorry, I don’t think that one is very good. Enough of that, let’s get to the music.

I try to avoid songs that are straight on this topic, but when you have

THE BLIND BOYS OF ALABAMA and TAJ MAHAL performing, I don’t care what they sing.

Taj & Blind Boys

The Blind Boys have been making great music since 1939 and Taj has also done that since the sixties. With their vocal prowess and his skill on pretty much any instrument, they were a natural fit. Here, from an album called “Talkin' Christmas!” they perform Who Will Remember?

♫ Blind Boys & Taj Mahal - Who Will Remember

Goodness me, two tracks in a row that could be played on the better radio stations. In this case we have the wonderful RENÉE FLEMING.

Renee Fleming

Renée gets away from her usual opera gig to perform The Christmas Waltz. This is pure jazz and it shows that she could have made a decent living singing this style as well. Personally, I’m glad she went the classical route, but I’m sure there are others who might disagree.

♫ Renée Fleming - The Christmas Waltz

Okay, it’s time for Christmas on my side of the world, and who better to inform you than the national living treasure PAUL KELLY?

Paul Kelly

What a terrific, unsentimental song this is: How to Make Gravy. No more needs to be said, just listen to it and hear about Christmas in summer from a slightly unusual narrator.

♫ Paul Kelly - How To Make Gravy

It wouldn’t be one of my Christmas columns if I didn’t have a jail song. Actually, the previous one also touched on that a little. I have no idea why there are so many of them, but it’s good for my column.


Jonathan Coulton & John Roderick

From their album of alternate Christmas songs (a good resource for me) called “One Christmas at a Time” we have Christmas in Jail.

♫ Jonathan Coulton & John Roderick - Christmas in Jail

Most of my songs over the years have been about dysfunctional Christmases, as I think they make the best songs on this topic. I’m probably in the minority here, but I get to choose the songs so you’ll have to go along with them. One singer you probably wouldn’t expect in this category is JOHN DENVER.

John Denver

He recorded it twice, once with the heavenly choir and once without. Here’s the one with them all chortling along. The song is Please Daddy.

♫ John Denver - Please Daddy

After Oscar McLollie was drafted during WWII, he played USO shows to some considerable success. Later, he continued doing what he did so well, jump blues – a precursor to rock & roll. He and his group, OSCAR MCLOLLIE & HIS HONEY JUMPERS perform a Christmas song in that style.

Oscar McLollie

That song is Dig That Crazy Santa Claus. Oscar remained popular wherever jump blues was appreciated into the 21st century.

♫ Oscar McLollie & His Honey Jumpers - Dig That Crazy Santa Claus

Whenever there’s a new dance craze, there’ll be songs written about it covering all sorts of situations, including Christmas. The next song fits into that category; it’s performed by BILL DARNEL AND THE SMITH BROTHERS.

Bill Darnel

The dance craze in this case is the mambo. The song is (We Wanna See) Santa Do The Mambo.

♫ Bill Darnel & The Smith Brothers - (We Wanna See) Santa Do The Mambo

JOAN BAEZ recorded this song before the current incumbent was in the White House and she was already anxious about the situation.

Joan Baez

I wonder if she still sings the song and, if so, how it’s changed. Probably doesn’t need much tweaking. Here is Christmas in Washington.

♫ Joan Baez - Christmas In Washington

JIMMY RUSHING was the singer for the COUNT BASIE band for thirteen years.

Count Basie & Jimmy Rushing

Jimmy was more a jump blues performer than a big band singer, but he fitted in really well nonetheless. He later had a solo career. Here are the Count and his band with Jimmy out in front performing Good Morning Blues (I Wanna See Santa Claus).

♫ Count Basie - Good Morning Blues (I Wanna See Santa Claus)

I’ll end with my traditional moment of couth. In this case moments as I have two of them, beginning with MICHAEL PRAETORIUS.

Michael Praetorius

Mike was born Michael Schultze but adopted the Latinized version of his name. He spanned the late 16th and early 17th century and was a prolific composer.

He started out composing secular music, but later switched to religious music at the behest of the bigwigs who paid his salary. One such is from his Christmas Vespers called “Apollo’s Fire”. It’s the hymn Queen Pastores.

♫ Praetorius - Hymn ~ Queen Pastores

You could pretty much guarantee that J.S. BACH would be present.


He wrote quite a bit of Christmas music (well, he wrote quite a bit of other music too), and we have something from his “Christmas Oratorio”. That something is Herr, dein Mitleid, dein Erbarmen.

♫ J.S. Bach - Herr dein Mitleid dein Erbarmen

Christmas in Oz

ELDER MUSIC: Several Symphonies

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.

* * *

I hope you’re up for some hard core music, because that’s what you’re getting today.

Joseph Haydn is considered the father of the symphony. I don't know who the mother was. I doubt it was Mrs. Haydn as they didn't get on at all well. It could have been Luigia Polzelli with whom old Jo got on very well indeed (nudge nudge wink wink).

The symphony was around before Jo's time but it was a teeny weeny little thing, a bit like the original mammals that were about the size of a mouse and scurried around under dinosaurs' feet.

After the great extinction of 65 million years ago they grew to become zebras and wombats and whales and us. We know who the whale is in the context of symphonies, don't we Gustav?

Enough of this stretching a metaphor to its breaking point, let’s get to the music.

I’ll start with one of the mouse-like symphonies. WILLIAM BOYCE was considered at the time to be the finest English musical talent of the 18th century.

William Boyce

Perhaps that should be native born talent as he had the misfortune to overlap somewhat with Mr. Handel. He also overlapped at either ends of his life with Bach, Haydn and Mozart, so no wonder he's been relegated to the back shelves in our music stores (if he even manages to get in there in the first place).

Will wrote eight symphonies, all of which fit on a single CD, so he's my mouse for the day. Here is his complete Symphony No. 1. It’s shorter than the single movements of everyone else today.

♫ Boyce - Symphony No. 1

This naturally brings us to JOSEPH HAYDN. Although he didn't invent the symphony, he made it his own. He wrote more than a hundred of them, any one of which is a worthy contender for inclusion.


A number of his symphonies had really good names, mostly attached to them after Jo had kicked the bucket. Some of those are The Surprise (94), The Clock (101), Drumroll (103), The Bear (82), The Hen (83), Philosopher (22), Palindrome (47), The Schoolmaster (55) and so on.

No 45, The Farewell, is interesting. I originally had that as the musical track, but I decided to include it in my column devoted to Haydn. You can read about it there.

So, another named symphony, No 31, Hornsignal, the second movement. This one sounds to me rather like a string quartet (something for which Papa Jo was world champion) with a French horn thrown in for good measure.

♫ Haydn - Symphony No. 31 (2)

WOLFGANG MOZART took what Haydn had done and ran with it, but not very far. His last several are considered his masterpieces in this category.


The last three he wrote, numbers 39, 40 and 41 all deserve inclusion. Number 41 has gained a name over the years, the Jupiter. However, I'm very partial to number 40, and that’s the one we have today – the first movement of his Symphony No.40 in G minor K.550.

♫ Mozart - Symphony No.40 (1)

LUDWIG BEETHOVEN raised the stakes even further; probably so high that no one else could match him although many tried. A few came close.


All but the first couple of his could be included today. Number 5 especially, that's one you all know (da da da dum). I'd like to do number 9, his masterpiece, but it's a bit long. Number 7 is worth listening to, as is number 3.

Number 6 is my favorite, it's different from the others and is usually referred to as The Pastoral and it shows Ludwig at his most mellow. I wanted to use one of the middle movements but he decided to run them all in together so that was out.

So, I've gone for the one that seems to be the least performed (apart from the first two) and that is number 8: the Symphony No.8 in F, Op.93. The second movement.

♫ Beethoven - Symphony No.8 in F Op.93 (2)

FRANZ SCHUBERT learnt a lot from Beethoven. Mozart and Haydn too.


He certainly knew Ludwig, but Wolfie died too early for them to have met. Papa Jo died when Franz was 12 so they may have met but probably not. It doesn’t matter in the scheme of things.

I would have liked to include number 9, generally known as “The Great”. Alas, that not only describes the quality of the music, but the length of the work as well.

There are a couple in the middle, 5 and 6, that are worth a listen (well, they all are really). I’ve chosen the first movement of Symphony No. 5 in B flat major, D. 485.

♫ Schubert - Symphony No. 5 in B flat major D. 485 (1)

Continuing into the middle of the 19th century brings us to FELIX MENDELSSOHN.


Felix went on an extended tour of Europe from 1829 to 1831. This inspired him to write music about places he had been – his Symphony No 3, called the “Scottish symphony” and The Hebrides Overture, also from that country. Italy also inspired him to write a symphony, not too surprisingly called “The Italian”. That was Symphony No 4 in A Major Op 90.

Felix conducted the premier performance of this one in London. He wasn’t satisfied with it and kept tinkering with it throughout his life such that it wasn’t published until after he died. He didn’t touch the first movement, as he was happy with that. Here it is.

♫ Mendelssohn - Symphony No 4 A Major op.90 'Italian' (1)

PYOTR TCHAIKOVSKY is generally relegated to the reserves bench by the classical buffs, although that seems to be changing a bit lately.


He’s considered a bit lightweight, possibly because his music is so popular with those who may not go to concerts regularly. I must admit to ambivalence about a lot of his works, but I really like his symphonies, especially number 5.

This is up there with the rest of the compositions today. It's the second movement of the Symphony no 5 Op. 64 in E minor that we have today.

♫ Tchaikovsky - Symphony no 5 Op.64 in E minor (2)

While we're on the subject of Russians, someone who’s not generally considered in this category, especially given the heavyweights we’ve already played, is ALEXANDER BORODIN.


Alex is mostly known for the couple of string quartets, the second in particular that gave rise to the music that was usurped and used in the musical Kismet. His opera Prince Igor also added more music to that.

Alex’s main gig was Professor of Chemistry and he was also a doctor and a surgeon, and he championed women’s entry into university to study such things decades before that was generally so.

He was an accomplished pianist and a composer of considerable facility. That he only did in his spare time. His compositions are noted for their charm and wonderful melodies. He’s not taken very seriously because of that, however, I disagree with the critics because I like him very much. That’s why he’s here today.

A lot of composers left unfinished symphonies; Schubert is the most famous of those who did so. He wasn’t alone; Mahler’s number 10 has been “finished” by several people over the years.

Likewise, Alex only completed the first two movements of his Symphony No.3 in A minor. This is the first movement.

♫ Borodin - Symphony No.3 in A minor 'Unfinished' (1)

Speaking of heavyweights, here's the world heavyweight champ. I know that a lot of people think that GUSTAV MAHLER is boring. I used to be one of them.


The first time I encountered him was back in the early seventies when there was the Melbourne equivalent of the Prom Concerts at the Melbourne Town Hall. We sat on the floor (because we couldn't afford the seats). We were urged to bring cushions along, which we did, but it still wasn't enough.

It was one of his long symphonies; okay they're all pretty long, but it was one of the really long ones, and I said at the time that that was the last time I'd bother with him. I’ve changed my mind over the years when I heard them in a more comfortable setting.

I am now a fan, particularly the fourth, which is quite un-Mahler like and rather dismissed by hard-core Mahler fans. In that symphony, taking a leaf out of Beethoven's book, old Gus made the fourth movement a vocal one – not choral like Ludwig, a single soprano (and an orchestra as well, of course).

It's not the only one where Gus introduced vocals, but it's what we have today. The fourth movement of Symphony No.4 in G. The wonderful Renée Fleming is the singer.

♫ Mahler - Symphony No.4 In G (4)


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.

* * *

I originally thought that I’d write a trio of columns based on Rock, Paper, Scissors. I gave up that idea when I found that looking for Rock songs was like looking for Love songs. You can probably imagine how many came up.

I decided that that was out. Then I searched for Scissors and found not a single one with that word in the title. So I’m left with Paper, and there are some good ones so it hasn’t been a total waste of time.

I’ll start with what I consider the pick of the bunch. It’s by NAT KING COLE.

Nat King Cole Trio

I imagine that most of you can guess which song it is. It’s from Nat’s early days with his trio, which to my mind was far better musically than his later period when the record company insisted on all sorts of bells and whistles accompanying him.

That was probably more lucrative, so who am I to gainsay that decision? The song is It's Only a Paper Moon.

♫ Nat King Cole - It's Only A Paper Moon

Here are three songs with three different takes on what is essentially the same subject, starting with RICHARD “DIMPLES” FIELDS.

Richard Dimples Fields

This song tickles my fancy. It starts out as a standard soul tune, with the full schmaltz arrangement, and half way though veers off into left field with the help of Betty Wright. The song is She's Got Papers on Me.

♫ Richard Fields - She's Got Papers On Me

Next up on this subject is B.B. KING.

BB King

This is very early B.B. with what sounds like a big band behind him rather than his later blues band. He comes at the topic from the opposite direction, saying I've Got Papers on You, Baby. I wonder what would have happened if Betty Wright had been his baby.

♫ BB King - I've Got Papers On You Baby

It looks as if neither will have papers with the final song in this somewhat nebulous trilogy. To tell us all about it is RAY PRICE.

Ray Price

In this case Ray is being asked to sign the papers, something he doesn’t want to do. Of course, it wouldn’t make a sad country song if he did (or maybe it would). Here is All Right (I'll Sign the Papers).

♫ Ray Price - All Right (I'll Sign The Papers)

THE BEATLES get into the act.

The Beatles

John, especially, had literary ambitions. Indeed, he published several books so I guess it’s okay to call him a Paperback Writer.

♫ Beatles - Paperback Writer

Going backwards more than a couple of decades brings us to THE MILLS BROTHERS.

Mills Brothers

These were a group of brothers, at least until one of their number died of pneumonia. He was replaced in the group by Dad Mills at the suggestion of their mum (perhaps it got him out of the house).

Paper Doll was slapped together in 15 minutes to serve as a B-side. It sold six million copies at the time. I don’t know what the A-side was.

♫ The Mills Brothers - Paper Doll 1942

Guy Clark wrote the next song and I nearly included him. Folks who know me might be surprised that I didn’t. Those same folks won’t be at all surprised that I went with EMMYLOU HARRIS instead.

Emmylou Harris

Emmy has the help of Willie Nelson on this one, as if she needs any help. The song is One Paper Kid.

♫ Emmylou Harris - One Paper Kid

Paper Roses was written Fred Spielman and Janice Torre. It first made the charts in 1960 sung by Anita Bryant. Marie Osmond also had a hit with it later on. There have been a bunch of versions over the years and the one I’m using today is by SLIM WHITMAN, one of the very few by a male performer.

Slim Whitman

I have to admit that on the song Slim sounds rather like Tiny Tim. I know that would discourage many listeners (including Norma, the Assistant Musicologist) but I’m okay with that. See what you think.

♫ Slim Whitman - Paper Roses

ROY ORBISON has a couple of paper songs, it’s just a matter of deciding which to use.

Roy Orbison

Roy wasn’t like the other rockers at the time, as he was blessed with an extraordinary voice that probably could have sung opera had he set his mind to it.

His songs, most of which he wrote, were also different – telling stories and not structured to the standard verse, chorus, verse of most of the others. He gives us Pretty Paper.

♫ Roy Orbison - Pretty Paper

I had to include the next song as my sister and I had it when we were kiddlywinks. This was one of hers. I give you BILL HALEY (and his Comets).

Bill Haley

We didn’t actually buy (or were given) this one; it was on the flip side of See You Later, Alligator, which is what attracted us. Of course, back then with few records to our name, we turned all of them over just to see what was on the other side. In this case it was Paper Boy.

♫ Bill Haley - Paper Boy

This song has a talkie bit in the middle of it, which according to the A.M. means it’s a country song, as if you couldn’t tell just by listening to it. The singers (and talkers) are THE STATLER BROTHERS.

Statler Brothers

The Statlers were about the best harmony group in country music, owing more to barbershop quartets than the Louvin Brothers and their ilk. I’ve always liked their singing, if not always the subject of some of their songs. Their paper song is Your Picture in the Paper.

♫ Statler Brothers - Your Picture In The Paper

I’ll end with DEAN MARTIN with a song that suggests to me that the songwriters (Bernie Wayne and Teddy Powell) listened very closely to I’m Going to Sit Right Down and Write Myself a Letter.

Dean Martin

Dean’s arrangement is different from that song as he seems to have recruited a trad jazz band. That’s fine with me. Let’s get his take on I'm Gonna Paper All My Walls With Your Love Letters.

♫ Dean Martin - I'm Gonna Paper All My Walls With Your Love Letters

ELDER MUSIC: I’ve Told Every Little Star

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.

* * *

Here is another “variations on a single song”. This one I remember as a pop song from my last years in high school.

However, looking more closely at its history, I find that the song goes all the way back to 1931, and there have been many versions over the years, and enough of those are good enough to include in this columns (there are a bunch that got thrown out pretty much immediately).

One day in 1931, Jerome Kern heard a bird singing outside his window. The bird returned the following day and Jerry was so taken by the tune he wrote it down.

He took it along to his friend and lyricist Oscar Hammerstein II. Oscar said something along the lines of, “What the hell can I do with this?” Eventually he put words to it and it became the song`, I’ve Told Every Little Star.

This is far from Norma, the Assistant Musicologist’s favorite song, and she wondered why I devoted an entire column to it. I’ll let you decide if she’s right.

The first recording of the song was by JACK DENNY AND HIS ORCHESTRA.

Jack Denny

To be a bit more accurate, that is Jack Denny and his Waldorf-Astoria Orchestra, featuring Paul Small on vocal refrain. That’s a bit of a mouthful, so I went with the short name.

You can tell by the long name where Jack and company played mostly. I’m informed that they played at both the old location (Fifth Avenue near 34th Street) and the new (Park Avenue between 49th and 50th Streets). Here’s what it sounded like in 1932.

♫ Jack Denny & his Orchestra - I've Told Ev'ry Little Star (1932)

Bringing things right up to date, here is DIANA PANTON.

Diana Panton

Diana is a Canadian jazz singer who also teaches French literature. She performs under the guise of Diana Panton Trio + 1. There’s some nice guitar work by Reg Schwager. Her version is from an album called “If the Moon Turns Green”.

♫ Diana Panton - I've told ev'ry little star

Going backwards again, nearly to the earliest recordings, is MARY ELLIS, from 1933.

Mary Ellis

Mary gives us the full introduction to the song that’s missing from most versions. She was an opera singer who appeared on every medium known – records, radio, stage, films, TV and any others you can think of (even YouTube).

She also lived for the entirety of the 20th century, dying at age 105 in 2003. She is the epitome of elder music. This is the full rendition of the song.

♫ Mary Ellis - I've Told Ev'ry Little Star

BRAD MEHLDAU brings us an interesting jazz version of the song.

Brad Mehldau

Brad is not just one of the finest jazz pianists around at the moment, he also writes classical music including song cycles for Renée Fleming and Anne Sofie Von Otter as well as longer orchestral works.

However, getting back to our song, this is a live recording with a quartet rather than his usual trio.

♫ Brad Mehldau - I've Told Every Little Star

You knew that BING CROSBY had to be here as he recorded pretty much every song known to man (and woman).

Bing Crosby

Bing needs no introduction from me, so I’ll just play his version, recorded in 1945.

♫ Bing Crosby - I've Told Every Little Star (1945)

Although MARION MARLOWE was coached in the classical repertoire, she’s best known as a cabaret style singer. This was mostly on TV, especially Arthur Godfrey’s programs, and later Ed Sullivan. Her version seems to me to be the quintessential fifties’ style.

Marion Marlowe

♫ Marion Marlowe - I've Told Ev'ry Little Star

I was surprised that MARIO LANZA had recorded our song.

Mario Lanza

I suppose I shouldn’t be as he sang many pop songs, but they were usually Italian in origin or were related to the classical repertoire in some way. I’ve waffled on enough about Mario’s choice of songs (a prime example of padding out the column), so sing it, Mario.

♫ Mario Lanza - I've Told Every Little Star

Another who gives up the full introduction is JOAN MORRIS.

Joan Morris

Joan and her husband, WILLIAM BOLCOM, who is a pianist, composer and arranger, specialise in songs of the first half of the twentieth century. They perform them as they were originally written, as is evident from this version.

♫ Joan Morris - I've Told Ev'ry Little Star

Anything that SONNY ROLLINS performs is well worth a listen, and this is no exception.

Sonny Rollins

Indeed his is easily the pick of the bunch today, as it doesn’t sound much like the song. Sonny goes off on an interesting improvisation and only touches the tune now and then. There’s some nice piano work by Hampton Hawes.

♫ Sonny Rollins - I've Told Every Little Star

I’ll end with the one I mentioned in the introduction. It’s by LINDA SCOTT, probably my first musical crush (well, I was a teenager).

Linda Scott

At the time, Linda seemed to have the market cornered on songs about stars, probably because this one was such a big hit, and if you’re on a good thing... So, here we are with the first version I heard (or that I can remember hearing).

♫ Linda Scott - I've Told Every Little Star


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.

* * *

Dionne Warwick sang Trains and Boats and Planes, and I’ve already done columns on trains and planes, so it’s time for the boats.

I’ll begin with LYLE LOVETT.

Lyle Lovett

Tom Rush has said that Lyle isn’t like the other kiddies, and he’s right. His boat has his pony on board. Not just that but Roy Rogers and Trigger as well as the Lone Ranger and Tonto. If you can’t imagine how all that works, have a listen to If I Had a Boat.

♫ Lyle Lovett - If I Had a Boat

Riverboats didn’t just truck up and down the Mississippi River; they were in Australia as well plying their trade along the Murray River. Actually, they’re still there but it’s the tourists who ride them these days, not wool, cotton, wheat and the like. To tell you of the original boats here are STARS.


Stars were a particularly fine, but short lived group – they produced only two albums. That was due to the death from cancer of their main songwriter and lead guitarist. Before that occurred, they recorded Last of the River Boats.

♫ Stars - Last Of The River Boats

Back during the great folk scare of the early sixties, THE HIGHWAYMEN had a big hit with the traditional song Michael Row the Boat Ashore.


This group has no connection to a later bunch who also went by the name The Highwaymen. The more recent mob was Willie Nelson, Waylon Jennings, Johnny Cash and Kris Kristofferson.

The folkies were Dave Fischer, Bob Burnett, Steve Butts, Chan Daniels and Steve Trott. Later, some left and others joined, including Gil Robbins, father of the actor Tim.

♫ Highwaymen - Michael Row The Boat Ashore

How many versions are there of On a Slow Boat to China? I’ll tell you: a lot, but none of them floated my boat (sorry) except the version by SONNY ROLLINS and THE MODERN JAZZ QUARTET.

Sonny Rollins & MJQ

I hadn’t realised that Sonny had recorded with the MJQ, so I learn from these columns as well (I hope) as you do. I include Sonny as often as I can and the MJQ are always welcome.

♫ Sonny Rollins - On A Slow Boat To China

Here is an unusual song by the INK SPOTS.

Ink Spots

What’s unusual about it is that bass singer, Hoppy Jones, didn’t perform his free form rap in the middle of the song as he did on pretty much all their other songs. I was a little disappointed as I always expect that. It doesn’t matter, here is Someone's Rocking My Dreamboat.

♫ Ink Spots - Someone's Rocking My Dreamboat

SPLIT ENZ were a strange band from New Zealand who were huge in Australia, as well as being a cult success elsewhere.

Split Enz

Actually, all bands from New Zealand were a bit strange except for Max Merritt and the Meteors, who were the best of the lot, but that’s enough of that.

The Enz gave us the talented brothers Tim Finn (who started the Enz) and Neil Finn (later the main man for Crowded House). The group gives us Six Months in a Leaky Boat.

♫ Split Enz - Six Months in a Leaky Boat

I was tempted to include Stan Freberg’s version of The Banana Boat Song, but thought better of it and went with HARRY BELAFONTE instead.

Harry Belafonte

This isn’t Harry’s best song but it certainly is memorable, especially his mentioning the black tarantula, something I normally don’t want to think about. Just try and put it out of your mind (if that’s possible).

Here’s the real version of the song – I suggest you check out Stan Freberg’s version as well.

Harry Belafonte - The Banana Boat Song

Texas has given us many of the finest singer/songwriters around and one of the best of them was GUY CLARK.

Guy Clark

His songs were an interesting blend of poetry and wit and he turned it all into a musical art form that few have matched. From the album of the same name, here is Boats to Build.

Guy Clark - Boats to Build

HOAGY CARMICHAEL name-checks a bunch of jazz musicians from around the time he recorded this song.

Hoagy Carmichael

I had to include a Mississippi riverboat song, at least I think it is, it’s not explicitly stated. I imagine that a song called Riverboat Shuffle sailed on that river.

Hoagy Carmichael - Riverboat Shuffle

From the Mississippi to the Gulf, I’ll let JO STAFFORD tell you about it.

Jo Stafford

Those with long memories will know the song I’m talking about. Her boats are working boats, not luxury tourist ones, and they bring in the shrimps (or prawns as we Australians call them, in spite of that advertisement). The song, of course is Shrimp Boats.

Jo Stafford - Shrimp Boats

I mentioned the DIONNE WARWICK song in the introduction so it’s only fair that I include it.

Dionne Warwick

This was one of the many songs that Burt Bacharach and Hal David wrote for Dionne. Most of them became big hits, including this one. Trains and Boats and Planes.

Dionne Warwick - Trains And Boats And Planes

ELDER MUSIC: Classical Predilections 8

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.

* * *

Here’s some more interesting music from little known and very well known composers.

EVARISTO DALL'ABACO was born in Verona in the final quarter of the seventeenth century.


His dad was a renowned guitarist and he taught him the rudiments of music. Ev later had lessons in violin and cello from Giuseppe Torelli. He worked in Modena for a bit until he became a bigwig in the orchestra of Maximilian II of Bavaria.

That didn’t last very long as old Max was beaten in one of the interminable battles at the time, and Ev fled to Brussels. He also spent time in France and Holland.

Max eventually regained his throne, seat or whatever and Ev returned to play and compose music for him. Some of the things he composed were released under the title Concerti a più Istrumenti (Concertos with several instruments). One of those is Concerto a più Istrumenti Op 5 No 6 in D major, the first movement.

♫ Dall'Abaco - Concerto a più Istrumenti op.5 No.6 in D major (1)

Many of the compositions of JOHANN SEBASTIAN BACH are ripe for reinterpreting, using other instruments rather than the original ones. Indeed, Jo himself did that quite often.


An example of this is his set of six English Suites that he originally composed for harpsichord. These are often reinterpreted and today is no exception. We have one of them played on two guitars by the Montenegrin Guitar Duo. It’s the English Suite No 4 in F Major BWV 809, the second movement.

♫ Bach JS - English Suite No 4 In F Major Bwv 809 (2)

DOMENICO SCARLATTI is probably the best known of a family of composers that included his father, Alessandro, and brother, Pietro.


Dom’s keyboard sonatas are timeless and they sound as if they could have been written by Bach or Haydn or Beethoven or Chopin or even Phillip Glass. Except for Bach, he preceded all of these.

He would have written these sonatas for the harpsichord but I think they sound better played on a modern piano. A lot of pianists think the same way as many of them record and perform these works. It was a tough decision which to include as they all sounded fine, but in the end I settled on his Sonata in D Minor, K.9.

♫ Scarlatti - Keyboard Sonata in D Minor K.9L.413P.65

MADDALENA SIRMEN was born in Venice to a poverty-stricken family in the middle of the 18th century. She was born Maddalena Lombardini.


Maddy started studying violin at an orphanage that taught music to poverty stricken girls and one of her teachers, the famous composer and violinist Giuseppe Tartini, noticed her talents and took her under his wing.

He continued with his lessons when she got older. She later toured with the noted violinist Ludovico Sirmen whom she married. Maddy was a much better composer than Ludo, and reports from the time suggest she was a better violinist too.

Most of her compositions feature the violin prominently, including the Concerto No. 3 in A major. This is the first movement.

♫ Sirmen - Concerto No. 3 in A major (1)

Giovanni Battista Draghi was born in 1710 in Jesi in what were then the Papal States. If that name isn’t familiar to you I’m not surprised as he was more commonly known as GIOVANNI PERGOLESI.


He wrote a vast amount of music considering his short life – he died at the age of 26 of tuberculosis. He wrote operas, sacred works, concertos, symphonies, keyboard works, chamber music and so on. It’s as if he realised he wasn’t long for this world and decided to write as much as possible while he could.

One of his more famous works is his Stabat Mater, and we have the duet from that called Sancta mater, istud agas. It’s sung by Mirella Freni and Teresa Berganza.

♫ Pergolesi - Stabat Mater ~ Duet

ANTON ARENSKY is best known today, or only known, for his “Variations on a Theme of Tchaikovsky for String Orchestra”, and even that isn’t played very often.


Ant was born in Russia in the middle of the 19th century and, apart from touring, spent his life in St Petersburg. He was better known at the time for his piano playing and conducting than his compositions. He wrote a lot of music in all genres – opera, ballet, symphonies and concertos, chamber and choral works and quite a bit for solo piano.

As mentioned above, you’d be hard pressed to hear any of them these days. I’ll do something about that. Here is the third movement of his Piano Trio No. 1 in D minor, Op. 32.

♫ Arensky - Piano Trio No. 1 in D minor Op. 32 (3)

I bet this was top of the pops when it was released round about 1610. The gentleman who wrote it is GASPAR FERNANDES.

Gaspar Fernandes

Gasp was born in Portugal in 1566 and was a singer (and perhaps an organist) in the cathedral in Évora. He was hired as an organist (and organ tuner, that’d be some job) in what is now Antigua, Guatemala.

He was later head-hunted by the bigwigs of Puebla, Mexico to do the same job. He remained there for the rest of his life. The tune I mentioned at the beginning is Tleycantimo choquiliya (Hush, little child). It might even make the charts now if someone promoted it.

♫ Fernandes Gaspar - Tleycantimo choquiliya (Hush little child) for chorus

CAMILLE SAINT-SAËNS was a 19th and early 20th century French composer.


A number of his works are still played and are popular today – The Carnival of the Animals, his Organ Symphony, Dance Macabre and the opera Samson and Delilah.

It’s this last composition that interests me today, especially the aria Mon coeur s'ouvre a ta voix, and even more especially as it’s sung by the splendid ELĪNA GARANČA.

Elina Garanca

GasparSaint-Saens - Samson et Dalila ~ Mon coeur s'ouvre a ta voix

GIOVANNI GIORNOVICHI or IVAN JARNOVIC was certainly a citizen of Europe.


His family was from what is now Croatia, but Gio was born on a ship traveling between Dubrovnik and Palermo. He lived in Italy for a while (apparently – everything is “apparent” about him as there are few written records of his life), and later was hugely successful in Paris, and he became a French citizen.

He decided that England was a better bet when the revolution took place, where he met and performed with Joseph Haydn. He also turned up in Prussia playing for Crown Prince Friedrich Wilhelm II and ended up in St Petersburg in Russia where he eventually died.

He was quite the wiz on the violin and wrote quite a few violin concertos. The first of those was the Violin Concerto No 1 in A major, the first movement.

GasparGiornovichi - Violin Concerto No 1 in A major (1)

FRANZ BERWALD was a Swedish orthopaedic surgeon, who later was the manager of a saw mill and a glass factory.


He also wrote music, but little of it was heard during his lifetime and he had to wait till he was dead before the musical public starting appreciating what he had written.

Franz must have had a bunch of his friends from the orchestra around one day when he decided to write his septet, because it consists of clarinet, bassoon, horn, violin, viola, cello and double bass. Indeed that’s the title of the piece: Septet for clarinet, bassoon, horn, violin, viola, cello & double-bass in B-flat major, the 'Grand'. This is the third movement.

GasparBerwald - Septet for clarinet bassoon horn violin viola cello & double-bass in B-flat major (3)

ELDER MUSIC: 1952 Yet 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.

* * *

1952 was still in the sway of pop music, but there were hints of things to come. This was not rock and roll as such, but there was music pointing in that direction. You'll hear all of that and more today.

FRANKIE LAINE and DORIS DAY team up for the first song.

Frankie Laine & Doris Day

That one is Sugarbush, based on a traditional South African song and written down by Fred Michel. It was translated into English and first recorded in 1930. Frankie and Doris have by far the best version that I’ve heard, though.

♫ Frankie Laine & Doris Day - Sugarbush

The next song lies somewhere between big band jazz and small group rhythm and blues. The performer, as well as the songwriter, is PERCY MAYFIELD.

Percy Mayfield

It was this year that he was returning from a performance and the car in which he as traveling hit a truck. He was pronounced dead at the crash site. This pronunciation was somewhat premature. He lived for more than thirty more years. He didn’t perform again, but he made a living as a songwriter of great skill. Before all this he had a hit with Cry Baby.

♫ Percy Mayfield - Cry Baby

Here is a song that would not sound out of place any time from the thirties to the eighties. I was originally going to say the present day, but it’s a bit too musical for the last few decades. The performers are LES PAUL & MARY FORD.

Les Paul and Mary Ford

This one has the beautiful voice of Mary and some not too over the top guitar playing from Les. The song is My Baby's Comin' Home.

♫ Les Paul & Mary Ford - My Baby's Comin' Home

Josef Marais was born in South Africa and early on played violin and viola. He left that country for England and he studied violin and composition in London, Paris, Prague, and Budapest and he played in several orchestras in those cities.

He later turned his hand to folk music and amongst many other songs, he wrote Ay-Round the Corner. This was a hit for both The Weavers and JO STAFFORD in 1952.

Jo Stafford

It was really a toss of the coin which to include and Jo came up heads.

♫ Jo Stafford - Ay-Round The Corner

ROSCO GORDON was best known as a blues singer and songwriter. He also played piano.

Rosco Gordon

Rosco was associated with B.B. King, Bobby Bland, Johnny Ace and others of that ilk. He’s included because this year he had a big hit with one of his songs, No More Doggin'. I didn’t hear this at the time. I wish I had. Oh well.

♫ Rosco Gordon - No More Doggin'

It was always hard to categorise JOHNNIE RAY.

Johnnie Ray

He was definitely a pop singer of the old school; he’d sing show tunes and others like that. However, he also seemed to pointing in the direction of rock and roll, even if his songs weren’t quite that. He was a particular favorite of my sister and me at the time.

His song is Here I Am Broken Hearted, one of the old school songs, but sounding a bit doowop. A couple of decades later Big Joe Turner and T-Bone Walker recorded a fabulous blues version of the song.

♫ Johnnie Ray - Here I Am Broken Hearted

MARIE ADAMS was a gospel and rhythm and blues singer, mostly associated with Johnny Otis.

Marie Adams

Like Rosco above, she also performed with Bobby Bland, B.B. and Johnny Ace. Her first record hit the charts, and it’s this one, I'm Gonna Play the Honky Tonks.

♫ Marie Adams - I'm Gonna Play The Honky Tonks

FATS DOMINO always performed rock and roll, even before it was called that. A lot of musicians from New Orleans did so as well.

Fats Domino

By this year he was already well established with a number of hits under his belt. He sings a tale of woe, but anything by Fats will bring a smile to my face. Poor Me.

♫ Fats Domino - Poor Me

Oh my, I wish that my local radio station at the time (3LK) played RUTH BROWN back in 1952, but living 250 miles from Melbourne and 250 mile from Adelaide that was not on the cards.

Ruth Brown

My musical education might have been accelerated by several years had I heard such music. Fortunately I’ve caught up since. Not just Ruth, but several of the performers I’ve already mentioned weren’t on that station. Anyway, here’s Ruth with Daddy Daddy.

♫ Ruth Brown - Daddy Daddy

PERRY COMO was synonymous with the music of this year.

Perry Como

There are a number of songs of his I could have included, so it was a bit of a tossup. Finally, I went for one I remember (well, I remember most of them) Don't Let the Stars Get in Your Eyes.

♫ Perry Como - Don't Let The Stars Get In Your Eyes

A bonus track from the JACKSON BROTHERS that’s a pointer to what’s going to happen to music in a few short years.

Jackson Brothers

It’s still a little rhythm and blues but the rock and roll sounds are already in place in We're Gonna Rock This Joint.

♫ Jackson Brothers - We're Gonna Rock This Joint

ELDER MUSIC: Country Performers Who Should be Better Known

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.

* * *

In every genre of music there are performers who are as good as, and occasionally better than, the big names. Today I’m featuring some country performers who I like a lot and wonder why they are not better known.

I hope to remedy that just a little bit in our little corner of the world. Fans of country may know some (or even all) of these; it’s for the other people who like good music, but are perhaps not fans of country music, for whom I feature them today.

Although ostensibly country, LACY J DALTON has elements of blues, folk and rock in her performances.

Lacy J Dalton

She may not be the only person in this column where that applies. Lacy has said that her influences are more along the lines of Leadbelly, Billie Holiday, Karen Dalton and Bob Dylan than any country performer. See what you think with Crazy Blue Eyes.

♫ Lacy J Dalton - Crazy Blue Eyes

I had several albums of RUSTY WIER before I saw him in Albuquerque; he was opening for Bonnie Raitt.

Rusty Wier

Everyone was there to see Bonnie as was I, but I was also there to see Rusty. From the response of the audience I think I was the only one. I don’t know if he won them over but I thought he was great.

Alas, he’s no longer with us but he was one of the unsung country performers. He performs The Coast of Colorado.

♫ Rusty Wier - The Coast Of Colorado

DAVID ALLAN COE is not really a mainstream performer.

David Allan Coe

He is best known as a songwriter – many country (and other) singers have had hits with his songs. He’s also somewhat of a cult performer and you can find influences of Lightnin’ Hopkins and Bo Diddley in his music to go alongside the Charlie Rich and Jerry Lee Lewis.

He’s one of a kind, and that’s probably a good thing. This is If Only Your Eyes Could Lie.

♫ David Allan Coe - If Only Your Eyes Could Lie

I have my friend Tony to thank for turning me on to WILLIS ALAN RAMSEY.

Willis Alan Ramsey

Tony has good taste in music so I always listen to what he has to say. This was back in the seventies and Willis’s eponymous album was terrific. It still is.

Willis is still out there performing, but, and this is a real surprise given the quality of that original album, he has not recorded another. From that one here is Muskrat Love (Muskrat Candlelight).

♫ Willis Alan Ramsey - Muskrat Love (Muskrat Candlelight)

Often I think I’m the only one who knows about certain artists, but writing these columns has really put that thought to bed. Once, I thought nobody else knew about DARDEN SMITH. There’s a blogger and occasional commenter who put me in my place. You know who you are.

Darden Smith

I really had trouble deciding which song of his to include. It was a matter of drinking quite a bit of wine and playing the songs over and over again. Finally I settled on Two Dollar Novels. Darden has the help of another fine singer, Nanci Griffith, singing along with him.

♫ Darden Smith - Two Dollar Novels

I’ve had the great pleasure of seeing the AMAZING RHYTHM ACES several times. They are my favorite southern rock band.

Amazing RhythmAces

They also play country, blues, soul and anything else they set their minds and instruments to. Their one constant throughout their long existence has been their lead singer and songwriter, Russell Smith.

From their first album “Too Stuffed to Jump” here is The End Is Not in Sight (The Cowboy Tune).

♫ Amazing Rhythm Aces - The End Is Not in Sight (The Cowboy Tune)

I stumbled on a country music station when I was in San Francisco once while I was searching for the classical music station. That station was playing ROBIN LEE at the time.

Robin Lee

“That’s not bad”, I thought and left it there until the song ended. I went out and bought the CD called “This Old Flame” which turned out to be a good buy. From that album here is the title track, This Old Flame.

♫ Robin Lee - This Old Flame

I first encountered HERB PEDERSEN as a member of The Dillards.

Herb Pedersen

He later went solo and recorded several fine solo albums. Later still he was a founding member of The Desert Rose Band with Chris Hillman from The Byrds (and the Flying Burrito Brothers).

Later still, and this is the way I’ve seen him most recently, he and Chris perform as an acoustic duo. From his first solo album (“Southwest”) here is Wait a Minute.

♫ Herb Pedersen - Wait A Minute

R.B. MORRIS is difficult to categorise, which is fine by me. The only problem is this particular column is a particular genre, so I’ll have to put him in this bag.

R. B. Morris

R.B. started out as a poet and a playwright. Even with his songs, the influence of Jack Kerouac and Lawrence Ferlinghetti shine through. This isn’t the standard stuff from which country songs are crafted, but R.B. isn’t like the other kiddies.

However, the song They Say There's a Time stays close to the country norm. Carmella Ramsey gives him some vocal assistance on this one.

♫ RB Morris - They Say There's A Time

I found LEE ANN WOMACK on the same station where I found Robin Lee.

Lee Ann Womack

I would flip back when the classical station was playing Wagner or Brahms or some such. They played this track and I also bought the CD. The album, and it’s another good one, is “Some Things I Know”. The track is I'll Think of a Reason Later.

♫ Lee Ann Womack - I'll Think Of A Reason Later

I’m including a bonus track, just because I can. It’s another from the AMAZING RHYTHM ACES. It’s included as a tribute to Russell Smith, who died recently.

Amazing Rhythm Aces

Here, from the Aces’ eponymous album, is Rodrigo, Rita and Elaine. We have Russell singing Rodrigo (or the narrator, it’s unclear), Joan Baez and Tracy Nelson (the singer, not the actress) as Rita and Elaine.

♫ Amazing Rhythm Aces - Rodrigo Rita and Elaine

ELDER MUSIC: Classical – By the Numbers

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.

* * *

Today we’re eschewing the orchestra and having music from small ensembles. I’m going from one to ten, and we’ll see where that gets us. With the lower numbers I’m overwhelmed by choice, but as the numbers increase, the tracks pretty much choose themselves as there aren’t too many options.

Okay, instead of counting down, I’m counting up, starting at one.

I don’t know if you really call one an ensemble but I’m including it nonetheless. For one, it’s either a piano sonata (sonatas for other instruments always include a piano or other keyboard instrument, so for this exercise they really count as two) or a suite for a single instrument.

I kept going back and forth between a Beethoven sonata and a Bach English suite. In the end I settled for LUDWIG BEETHOVEN.


His piano sonatas are the high point of music for this instrument; no one has done it better. He wrote a whole bunch of them and I chose one that’s not as well known as the famous ones. This is the first movement of Sonata No 9 in E major, Op. 14, No. 1, played impeccably by Gerard Willems.

♫ Beethoven - Sonata No 9 in E major Op. 14 No. 1 (1)

WOLFGANG MOZART wrote a series of works variously called violin sonatas or sonatas for violin and piano.


As far as I can tell these are essentially the same sort of thing and I’m using one of those today. In this case it’s called the Sonata for Piano and Violin in G major, K 301, and we have the second movement. It’s played by two of the best in the business, Itzhak Perlman on violin and Daniel Barenboim on piano.

Mozart - Sonata for Piano and Violin in G major (2)

Joseph Haydn invented the piano trio, and Mozart took it up and ran with it. Initially, it sounded more like a mini-piano concerto, but by the time Schubert got to it, all the instruments (piano, violin, cello) began to receive equal billing.

Probably the finest of all, and there’s a lot of competition, is the one by FANNY MENDELSSOHN, Felix’s big sister.

Fanny Mendelssohn

Felix always contended that she was a better composer than he was, and that’s a big call, but as more of her compositions are discovered, it’s easy to see that there’s some justification for his point of view.

Here is the second movement of her Piano Trio in D minor, Op 11.

♫ Fanny Mendelssohn - Piano Trio in D minor (2)

Three, four and five are where all the quality music is. As well as inventing the piano trio, JOSEPH HAYDN also invented the string quartet, and it’s appropriate we feature one of his.


That’s Jo himself instructing some others how he wants his music played. Although they weren’t his first, the six string quartets that make up his Opus 20 are the ones that gained him the reputation as father of this musical style.

One of those is the String Quartet in C Major, Op.20 No.2, the first movement.

♫ Haydn - String Quartet in C Major Op.20 No.2 (1)

Normally I’d put Mozart here with his clarinet quintet, but I’ve already featured him above so I thought we should have someone different, someone nearly as good as the great man, CARL MARIA VON WEBER.


Like Mozart’s, his clarinet quintet is still regularly performed and recorded to this day. Listening carefully to it, it’s obvious that he lent an ear to Wolfie’s. Learn from the best is good advice.

This is the fourth movement of his Clarinet Quintet in B flat major J 109.

♫ Weber - Clarinet Quintet (4)

IGNAZ PLEYEL was far and away the most famous composer of his time.


In retrospect, this might seem unusual as his time encompassed Boccherini, Beethoven, Hummel, the latter years of Haydn and many others. Like some other famous (at the time) composers, he quickly slid from view and only a few appreciate him these days.

He was a workaholic, writing hundreds of compositions. He was also a businessman, creating a publishing company that published just about everyone composing at the time. Besides all that, he created a company that made probably the best pianos around, and it continues to this day.

Getting back to the music, this is the first movement of his Sextet in E flat major.

♫ Pleyel - Sextet in E flat major (1)

Just imagine what JOHANN NEPOMUK HUMMEL’s address book was like.


He lived with the Mozarts for a couple of years and was taught by Haydn, was good friends of both Beethoven and Schubert. He taught Mendelssohn and was also good friends with Goethe. Jo also composed quite a bit of music including the Piano Septet No. 1 in D minor, Op. 74. This is the second movement.

♫ Hummel - Piano Septet No. 1 in D minor Op. 74 (2)

Felix Mendelssohn deserves this spot for his extraordinary Octet for strings in E flat major, Op. 20 which he wrote at age 16. However, he is featured down below, so we have someone else in his place. In spite of his name, PETER WINTER was a German composer.

Peter Winter

In terms of style and age, he fits neatly between Mozart and Weber. During his lifetime he was a wildly successful opera composer, one of which was a continuation of the story of Mozart’s “Magic Flute”. None of his operas are performed these days.

He graces our column today for his Octet for Winds and Strings, the third movement.

♫ Winter - Octet for winds and strings (3)


LOUISE FARRENC was born Louise Dumont in Paris and showed musical talent at a young age.


She began studying at the Paris Conservatoire at age 15. Later she met and married Aristide Farrenc, a flute player of some note and the two toured playing flute and piano.

Ari tired of the performing life and started a music publishing company which proved a boon for his wife. Louise initially only wrote music for the piano but after some years branched out into larger works, one of which is her Nonet for Strings and Wind in E-Flat Major, Op. 38. Here is the third movement.

♫ Farrenc - Nonet for Strings and Wind in E-Flat Major Op. 38 (3)

There’s been a change of plans. Originally I had an arrangement of a part of Mendelssohn’s Midsummer's Night Dream for dectet. After playing it several times, I decided to throw it out as it wasn’t very good. Indeed, it was awful. Not Felix’s music, the arrangement is what was so jarring.

In its place we have JEAN FRANÇAIX with his Dixtuor for Wind Quintet and String Quintet.


He cheated a bit as it’s not quite a dectet, it’s a wind quintet and string quintet cobbled together – well, there are ten of them. This is the third movement.

♫ Françaix - Dixtuor for Wind Quintet and String Quintet (3)

Ten is pretty much as far as we go. There are a couple of works mentioned on the web for hendectet or undectet, which are both for eleven instruments but I don’t have any of those. Generally after ten, ensembles are just called orchestras or bands or something.

Since I threw out FELIX MENDELSSOHN, and up above I said that he deserved to be at the number eight spot, I thought I’d have him back in as a bonus.


As I mentioned, this is his Octet for strings in E flat major, Op. 20, the first movement. Sit back and let the music float all around and over you.

Mendelssohn - Octet Op 20 (1)

ELDER MUSIC: Johnny Cash

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.

* * *

Johnny Cash

For those who have been living on Saturn for the last 60 or 70 years, JOHNNY CASH was one of the most important musicians in country, pop and various other genres of music during that time. He was also an advocate for Native American rights and prison reform, amongst other things.

He was a good man and occasional bad boy in the one distinctive package. There’s too much that happened in his life for me to tell you here, so we’ll just get to the music. Out of his many hundreds of songs, I’m sure I’ve omitted your favorites. These are the ones I think deserve to be present.

I’ll start early (but not the very earliest) with the song Guess Things Happen That Way. It was written by Jack Clement and it made the pop charts as well as the country ones back in 1958.

John had a few hits before this one which could just as easily have begun this column.

♫ Guess Things Happen That Way

Johnny Cash & Ten Two

Norma, the Assistant Musicologist, insisted that the next song be present. It was going to be anyway but she just added some weight to that.

I’ve always assumed that the Tennessee Flat Top Box was one of those early twentieth century Gibson acoustic guitars so prized by aficionados of such instruments, of whom I assume John was one as he wrote the song.

♫ Tennessee Flat Top Box

The Statler Brothers were one of the finest harmony groups in country music, if not the best of the lot. John started them on the road to success by having them as part of his touring band. Not just that, he had them backing him on recordings as well.

Here they are on Daddy Sang Bass, with Jan Howard (not June Carter, as is often suggested). The song was written by Carl Perkins.

♫ Daddy Sang Bass


Ira Hayes was an American war hero; he fought in Bougainville and in the two Iwo Jima campaigns. Indeed, he was one of the marines who famously raised the flag on Mount Suribachi on Iwo Jima.

However, he was a Pima Indian and he was treated disgustingly by the government and the people upon his return. I’m not just saying that to make a point about American’s treatment of their original people, the same thing happened in Australia to our Aborigines. It was shameful of both our countries.

Here is The Ballad of Ira Hayes, written by Peter La Farge.

♫ The Ballad of Ira Hayes

Johnny Cash

Towards the end when none of the major record companies would touch him, Rick Rubin asked John if he’d like to have him as a record producer, and release his records through his label.

This was somewhat unusual, as Rick was best known at the time for producing hard rock and hip hop artists. He was a fan of John’s though, and he went on to produce half a dozen albums that stand as some of the most interesting of John’s career.

His voice may not have the power and quality it had when he was younger but there's no doubting his integrity. It's a man who's seen everything, done everything and never compromised.

Here is the appropriately named A Singer of Songs.

♫ A Singer of Songs

Johnny Cash

There are stories that John spent time in prison. He didn’t, at least not involuntarily. He did spend a lot of time performing, entertaining the inmates. He made a couple of famous albums at such places – Folsom and San Quentin Prisons.

The song Folsom Prison Blues was originally recorded in 1955 and it was used extensively as his opening song in concerts. This was especially so at Folsom Prison where it went over like gang busters. Here’s the original version.

♫ Folsom Prison Blues

Bill really should have listened to his mum when she advised him Don't Take Your Guns to Town. Naturally, he was young and stupid and didn’t listen. You can guess, or already know, the outcome.

♫ Don't Take Your Guns To Town

Johnny Cash

Eric Von Schimdt wrote the song Joshua Gone Barbados, and he recorded a fine version of it. The definitive version is by Tom Rush. John recorded the song as well with some help from Hoyt Axton. It’s certainly up there with the previously mentioned ones.

There are conflicting stories about the accuracy of the song. Some contend that Ebenezer Joshua was a hero on the island, others that he was a villain. There’s no dispute about Sonny Child though. I imagine that the legend will outlive the truth. It’s a good song though.

♫ Joshua Gone Barbados

Johnny Cash

James Garfield was the second American President to be assassinated. He didn’t die immediately and he probably wouldn’t have died at all if the doctors at the time didn’t fiddle around in his insides with their filthy hands; they didn’t hold with this sterilisation nonsense.

The shooter in this instance was Charles Guiteau. John tells us all about this in Mr Garfield.

♫ Mr. Garfield

Johnny Cash

Here is another song from very late in his career, and John’s voice is really cracking but there are few people who record with the dignity and integrity that he displays on this song.

It’s Four Strong Winds, written by Ian Tyson, a writer (and singer) of superb songs.

♫ Four Strong Winds

Johnny Cash

I’ll end with what I consider the high point in John’s canon; I think the finest song he recorded. That’s a big statement, given the quality of the songs both included here and the many great ones I left out.

This was written by Bruce Springsteen and is on his extraordinary “Nebraska” album. Bruce does a fine, if rather low-key, version on that disk and for once I prefer the cover. It almost seems as if he wrote the song with John in mind. It is Highway Patrol Man.

♫ Highway Patrolman


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.

* * *

It’s been a while since I had a variation on a single song column, so it’s time for another. The song for today is Die Moritat von Mackie Messer. You may know this better as Mack the Knife.

Macheath first saw the light of day in John Gay’s “The Beggar’s Opera” back in 1728. He was based on a real person, Jack Sheppard, who was a thief but essentially a good guy. Others suggest that it might have been Robert Walpole, but that was probably just for political purposes.

The character turned up in several plays after that getting darker and darker, until he became the Macheath in “Die Dreigroschenoper”, by Kurt Weill and Bertolt Brecht. This is more commonly known in English as “The Threepenny Opera”.

Let’s start with the original version, the woman who sang it in the first production of “The Threepenny Opera”. Interestingly, in many versions since this one, this singer was name-checked as one of the victims. She is LOTTE LENYA.

Lotte Lenya

Lotte was married to Kurt and besides the German version, she also appeared in a revival (in English) in New York. Here she is with original Ballad of Mack the Knife (Moritat).

♫ Lotte Lenya - Ballad of Mack the Knife (Moritat)

For a complete change of pace, I’ll give you an instrumental version, sounding somewhere between the zither playing from “The Third Man” and Lawrence Welk’s bubble machine. The players are LES PAUL AND MARY FORD.

Les Paul and Mary Ford

Unfortunately, Mary doesn’t sing on this one (neither does Les). It’s just their guitars doing strange things on Moritat.

♫ Les Paul & Mary Ford - Moritat

We now get to something approximating the way we generally know the song. This one is a pretty straight ahead pop version by PEGGY LEE.

Peggy Lee

However, Peggy has never made exactly straight ahead pop. There’s always something interesting in what she sings. That’s why I’ve included her performing Mack the Knife.

♫ Peggy Lee - Mack The Knife

Getting back to the original, but sung in English, here is STING.


This is the only English language version that mentions his arson and the murder of children. I guess that was a bit too much for the pop sensibilities of the other performers (or record executives). Of course, if you don’t listen too closely you’ll miss the references. Here is The Ballad of Mac the Knife.

♫ Sting - The Ballad Of Mac The Knife

This column was inspired when I heard RICKIE LEE JONES perform our song on a local radio station.

Rickie Lee Jones

I thought she did an interesting interpretation and wondered if there were more out there (apart from the obvious candidates). A search of my music collection found that that was certainly the case. Indeed, more than would fit in a single column.

So here’s today’s inspiration, Rickie Lee with Mac the Knife.

♫ Rickie Lee Jones - Mac the Knife

DAVE VAN RONK was a blues musician who could sing pop songs and numbers from musicals and make them sound like the deepest blues.

Dave Van Ronk

That’s what he does here – makes our song sound as if it originated from the Mississippi Delta or the bayous of Louisiana, rather than Berlin in the Twenties. He calls this one .

♫ Dave Van Ronk - Mack the Knife

SONNY ROLLINS produces my favorite version of the song.

Sonny Rollins

That’s probably because there are no words and the tune is not at all evident apart from brief glimpses at the start and end. It’s mostly Sonny going off on his own tangent with some beautiful improvisation. He calls it Moritat.

♫ Sonny Rollins - Moritat

There was an English film made in 1989 called “Mack the Knife” based on “The Threepenny Opera”. It had a surprisingly good cast of actors and singers. One of the singers, and the one who sang the title song, is ROGER DALTREY.

Roger Daltrey

Baby boomers, and those who are familiar with the music of the sixties and seventies, know that Roger was the main singer from the rock group The Who. He doesn’t sound at all the way he did in that group when he sings Mack the Knife, along with other singers from the film.

♫ Roger Daltrey - Mack the Knife (1989) ~ The Moritat

You might think that some of the tunes today have been a little away from the way you remember the song. Now we have one that’s totally off the planet, and it’s probably no surprise that the performer is DR JOHN.

Dr John

The good Doc brings in elements of New Orleans (of course), but also rap, hip hop and who knows what else. He has the help of Mike Ladd and Terence Blanchard on this one. He simply calls the song Mack the Knife.

♫ Dr John - Mack the Knife

I first became aware of the song when LOUIS ARMSTRONG recorded it back in the Fifties and took it to the top of the charts.

Louis Armstrong

I imagine I’m not alone in that. Satch produces some wonderful trumpet playing in this one, something I probably didn’t appreciate at the time. You were probably all expecting this one, so I don’t want to disappoint you. Here is Mack the Knife.

♫ Louis Armstrong - Mack The Knife

I know some of you will be saying, “Where’s Bobby Darin?” I thought his version was too much like Louis’, and was obviously based on that one. I wanted as much variety as possible.


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.

* * *

John Prine

JOHN PRINE is one of the finest, most admired and best loved songwriters for the last 50 years. Like most of his ilk, he’s probably the best interpreter of his songs but because so many people have performed them there’s bound to be some gems by others out there as well. I have a couple of those in the column as well as John’s own.

John Prine

John was one of the few people who could write sensitive and accurate songs about old people when he was still a young man. Robbie Robertson from The Band was another who did that. I suspect all the others didn’t have the imagination to want to try to do that.

The song I’m talking about, and it’s not his only one in this genre, is Hello in There.

♫ Hello in There

John Prine

There have been many terrific versions of the song Paradise. Probably the best of these was by the Everly Brothers. John Denver had a good one, as did the Nitty Gritty Dirt Band. Good as these are I’ll go with John.

He recorded it twice, once on his debut album “John Prine”, the second on the more recent “German Afternoons”, where he performs it in semi-bluegrass style.

John was writing about environment concerns years before it was even considered in politics (okay, that’s not difficult as it’s barely mentioned even now).

♫ Paradise

On her album “Other Voices, Other Rooms” where she performs cover versions of other songwriters, Nanci Griffith sings one of the best cover versions of a song by John.

Nanci Griffith

In this case she has the help of the man himself on Speed of the Sound of Loneliness.

♫ Speed of the Sound of Loneliness

John Prine

John has fun speculating on what happened to Jesus during the time that the New Testament is silent on what happened to him. That’s fine by me as I believe that the rest of his life is equally speculative. Here is Jesus, The Missing Years.

♫ Jesus, The Missing Years

The song Let’s Invite Them Over could make a pretty good plot for a TV soapie. John has the help of IRIS DEMENT on this one.

John & Iris

Of course we don’t know the attitude of the other couple, but as the song includes “again” I imagine that they’re okay with the situation.

This isn’t one of John’s songs, it was written by Onie Wheeler and was first recorded by George Jones and Melba Montgomery. John and Iris do it better.

♫ Let's Invite Them Over

John Prine

Lake Marie is a multilayered song - it’s a love song intertwined with history, murder, legend and heartbreak. It’s ostensibly about a lake in the Chain O’Lakes near the Illinois/Wisconsin border, but it’s a lot more than that. This is a really great song.

♫ Lake Marie

BONNIE RAITT has recorded, and played in concert, quite a few of John’s songs.

Bonnie Raitt

She’s probably the best interpreter of his music except John himself, and on Angel From Montgomery Bonnie might even pip him at the post.

♫ Bonnie Raitt - Angel From Montgomery

I grew up in a town about this size, so I know what John’s singing about. We left when I was about 13, but of course your formative years stay with you for the rest of your life.

To know what I’m talking about we should listen to John singing In a Town This Size with the help of DOLORES KEANE.

Dolores Keane

♫ In a Town This Size

John Prine

Back when John wrote Illegal Smile, what he was referring to certainly was illegal. Nowadays, there are a lot of place where it’s perfectly legal. I wonder if that removes the frisson of the song somewhat.

♫ Illegal Smile

Normally, I would say that I really like to include LEE ANN WOMACK in a column, but I discovered that this is the first time I’ve done that. Thanks John, for getting me to do it.

Lee Ann Womack

Unfortunately, Lee Ann seems to be trying to be Dolly Parton rather than herself, but I’m including the song anyway. It’s a good old cheatin’ song, this time with someone from the past. Fifteen Years Ago.

Fifteen Years Ago

John Prine

Oh my, can John write sad songs that sound as real as any news story? Well, more real the way news is at the moment. You can picture Donald and Lydia quite readily, but that’s not unique to this one – John’s details in most of his songs make them stand out from most other writers’ material.

Donald and Lydia

ELDER MUSIC: Classical Predilections 7

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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Some more music that has tickled my ears over recent times.

WOLFGANG MOZART needs no introduction from me besides saying he is one of the four greatest composers in history.


Nothing else needs to be said about him. Everyone should have some Mozart in their home.

If you don’t (or even if you do) here’s some to go along with - his Violin Concerto No. 3 in G major, K216, the second movement. For some reason his violin concertos don’t get as much recognition as his other famous compositions.

♫ Mozart - Violin Concerto No. 3 in G major K216 (2)

ANN CARR-BOYD is an Australian composer and musicologist (a real one).


She was born Ann Wentzel – her grandfather came to Australia with an orchestra and decided to stay. Her father was Ann’s first teacher and he and his brother both played viola in the Sydney Symphony Orchestra.

Besides being a composer, Ann is a teacher, broadcaster and has contributed to various books on music, including the prestigious Grove Dictionary.

Here is her composition Rag for Razz, originally written for a piano, but this version is for piano and violin.

♫ Carr-Boyd - Rag for Razz

The Stamitz family produced several composers of note. JOHANN STAMITZ was the first of them. He had two sons, Anton and Carl, who were also pretty good at this composing lark, and Carl is probably more famous than dad.

Johann Stamitz

Jo was born in what is now the Czech Republic, but from his early twenties onward lived in Mannheim (now Germany). He died quite young, only 39, as seems to be mostly the norm for composers back then.

Jo gives us his Concerto for Clarinet and Orchestra in B-flat major. This is generally considered to be the very first clarinet concerto.

♫ Stamitz J - Clarinet Concerto in B-flat major

Not a great deal is known about JACQUES MOREL.


He studied under Marin Marais, who wrote the book (literally) on playing the viol (like a slightly bigger cello with extra strings). Here Jacques takes on board what he learnt from Marin and adds a bit of flute for his Chaconne in G major, really just a trio.

♫ Morel - Chaconne en trio in G major

MAURO GIULIANI was a wizard on the guitar, sort of the Eric Clapton of his time; and he did it all without having to plug in.


He was also a gifted cello player as well as a singer and composer. Although he wrote for other instruments, the overwhelming number of his compositions is for the guitar. This is one of those, the Guitar Concerto No 1 in A, Op. 30, the third movement.

♫ Giuliani - Guitar Concerto No 1 in A Op. 30 (3)

WILLIAM BARTON is a virtuoso didjeridu (or didjeridoo, depending on where you come from) player. I bet you haven’t encountered many of those in your life.

William Barton

The late great Australian composer Peter Sculthorpe used William’s playing to add color to several of his string quartets. He also wrote special dedicated compositions as well.

Besides being a wizard on the didj, William is also a composer and singer. One of his compositions is Birdsong at Dusk, which is a string quartet with William singing on top and some didj work towards the end.

♫ Barton - Birdsong At Dusk

FRÉDÉRIC CHOPIN was Polish by birth and French by inclination. Indeed, his dad was born in France and went to Poland. Fred did the journey in the opposite direction.


To my mind he was the finest composer for the piano in the 19th century (if you exclude Beethoven, who didn’t just stick to the piano). He wrote all sorts of things for the instrument, including waltzes, and this is one of those.

The Waltz in B minor, Op. 69, No. 2. The great Artur Rubinstein twiddles the ivories.

♫ Chopin - Waltz Op. 69 No. 2 in B Minor

I’m generally not a big fan of JEAN SIBELIUS, I can usually take him or leave him (mostly leave him).


However, I’ll acknowledge him when something of his strikes my fancy, and my fancy has been struck by his Violin Concerto in D Minor, Op. 47, the second movement.

♫ Sibelius - Concerto for Violin and Orchestra- Op 47 (2)

“La Rondine” is far from the most popular opera written by GIACOMO PUCCINI.


However, there are a couple of arias that are often performed in concert, even if the complete opera isn’t. One of those is Chi il bel sogno di Doretta (Doretta’s Dream Song), performed here by the splendid RENÉE FLEMING.


♫ Puccini - La Rondine ~ Chi il bel sogno di Doretta (Doretta s Dream Song)

I’ll end with something that’s not often heard in the classical repertoire – a trombone concerto. The person responsible for this is GEORG WAGENSEIL.


Georg was a stay at home sort of a person – he was born in Vienna and stayed there for the rest of his life. I guess if you were a composer or musician at the time (the time being the 18th century) that was the place to be.

Anyway, here is his Concerto in E-flat major for Alto Trombone.

♫ Wagenseil - Concerto in E-flat major for Alto Trombone