567 posts categorized "Elder Music"

ELDER MUSIC: Earworms 2

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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My first column on earworms was really historic in nature – they were songs that have plagued me for some considerable time, more than 50 years in some cases.

Today's column is about new earworms. These are songs that got stuck in my brain while I was searching for music for various columns. The criterion is that they are not songs that hung around for a day or two, all these tormented me for at least a week.

Although they are recent additions, some of these go back quite a ways as well; I was just reminded of them during my searches. As with the previous column, I hope that because there are quite a few of them they'll cancel each other out. I'm not too sanguine about that. So, I've had to suffer all these and now it's your turn.

It’s not simple or dumb songs that fit the criterion. Ondeed, today’s list are made up mostly of good songs, starting with HALL AND OATES.

Hall & Oates

A couple of their songs could fit in this category, but the one that impacted on me in this regard is Rich Girl.

♫ Hall & Oates - Rich Girl


JERRY ORBACH started his show biz career as a song and dance man. He also played baddies quite a bit on television.

Jerry Orbach

In his earlier incarnation he played the lead in the original staging of the musical play "The Fantasticks", often considered the longest running musical in history.

Jerry sang the musical's most famous song, Try to Remember. This is a gentle earworm I’ve featured before in these columns.

♫ Jerry Orbach - Try to Remember


THE DIXIE CUPS were sitting around the recording studio one day between takes of whichever song they were recording. They began singing a song one of their grandmothers used to sing. The recording engineer let the tape roll and with a bit of tweaking, they had their biggest hit.

Dixie Cups

That song, and I’m sorry to inflict it on you, is Iko Iko.

♫ The Dixie Cups - Iko Iko


Another female trio from around the same time is THE TOYS.

The Toys

They had one big hit that impacted on my brain, and it’s this one. It’s based on a minuet by classical composer Christian Petzold (not J.S. Bach as is often contended). The song is A Lover's Concerto.

♫ Toys - A Lover's Concerto


It’s best not to listen too closely to the words of Adam and Eve by BUZZ CASON.

Buzz Cason

They are problematic on several counts. The song is really jaunty though and I’ve been singing the chorus for about 50 years now, not continuously I hasten to add. I’ll play the song and leave it up to you.

♫ Buzz Cason - Adam & Eve


IAN AND SYLVIA started out as a folk duo and eventually evolved into a full tilt rock band (Great Speckled Bird).

Ian and Sylvia

Some time towards the end of that process they recorded an album in Nashville called (surprise, surprise) “Nashville”. It didn’t get very good revues but I really liked it. One of the songs from it is The Renegade. Boy, this one stays with me for a long time whenever I hear it.

♫ Ian & Sylvia - The Renegade


We’ll stay in Canada with GORDON LIGHTFOOT.

Gordon Lightfoot

There are a number of songs of Gordie’s that remain in my brain, but for some reason this one seems to be the most insidious of his. It’s nowhere near my favorite, but it stays there for weeks at a time. Christian Island.

♫ Gordon Lightfoot - Christian Island


One of the finest bands from Texas, and one who have made a career of performing western swing music, is ASLEEP AT THE WHEEL.

Asleep At The Wheel

There’s an album of theirs that I really like a lot. It’s called “The Wheel”. All the songs on it are worth a listen, just be prepared for I Can't Handle It Now, because it’ll stay with you for long time.

♫ Asleep at the Wheel - I Can't Handle It Now


It's not only songs that are earwormy, tunes can be as well. In that case I go along singing dah dah dah dah dah dah dah (and so on). In this case I’m talking about a tune from “CAROUSEL”, indeed The Carousel Waltz. This will keep your dah dah dahs going for a long time.

♫ The Carousel Waltz


THE EAGLES sure could write memorable songs.

The Eagles

It’s not too surprising that one of those would appear here today. The one I have in mind is Take It Easy, written by Glenn Frey and Jackson Browne.

♫ The Eagles - Take It Easy


This one is really historic. I hadn’t heard it for decades when I discovered it for one of my “Years” columns. That proved to be unfortunate as it’s by far the most earwormy song today, at least for me. I haven’t really managed to erase it since then. The song is performed by the FOUR KNIGHTS.

The Four Knights

The song is I Get So Lonely. You have been warned.

♫ 4 Knights - I Get So Lonely


THE BEATLES certainly wrote catchy tunes, but only one of theirs makes it to earworm status, for me anyway.

The Beatles

It’s not even a song, more a songlet, and on the “Abbey Road” album it was joined to other songlets, which is what we have today. Golden Slumbers, Carry That Weight and The End. I find the Golden Slumbers bit is the earwormy section, although the other bits hold their own as well.

♫ The Beatles - Golden Slumbers (etc)




ELDER MUSIC: Bobby Darin

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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BOBBY DARIN changed a lot during his singing career – starting out as a rock & roller, then to a big band singer, a Sinatra wannabe, a jazz singer, a folk singer and blues performer.

I don’t think there are many of us who liked all aspects of his output, but I could be wrong. We’ll see today as that’s what I’m doing, at least to a degree. I prefer his early work.

Bobby’s folks knew him as Walden Robert Cassotto and he was from the Bronx.

Always in rather fragile health, he was motivated to succeed before he turned up his toes which happened at the too young age of 37.

Bobby started as a Brill Building writer, especially for Connie Francis, with whom he was romantically attached until her rather strict father ran him off with a gun. Connie has said that he was the love of her life.

He later married Sandra Dee, no accounting for taste. He also had a songwriting partnership with Don Kirshner, who was later responsible for the formation of The Monkees.

Bobby mentored such diverse talents as Richard Pryor, Flip Wilson, Wayne Newton and Jim (later Roger) McGuinn from The Byrds.

Bobby Darin

BOBBY wrote the song, Splish Splash, as a bet with the disk jockey, Murray the K. The bet was that he couldn’t write a song that began with the words "Splish Splash, I was takin' a bath". He not only could, he took it to the top of the charts.

♫ Splish Splash


Bobby Darin

Beyond the Sea was based on a song called La Mer, written and performed by Charles Trenet. They kept the tune and put English words to it, words that bore no resemblance to the original.

I think La Mer is the superior song, but Beyond the Sea isn’t bad, especially if you don’t have the original around with which to compare it.

♫ Beyond The Sea


Bobby Darin

The song Multiplication made the charts in 1961. It was from an album called “Twist with Bobby Darin”. Groan.

♫ Multiplication


Bobby Darin

I don’t know if it’s a coincidence or not, but in 1962 Leroy Van Dyke had a hit with the song If a Woman Answers. In that same year, really about the same time, BOBBY had one as well with If a Man Answers. Got everything covered there.

♫ If A Man Answers


Bobby Darin

Now we’re getting to some quality stuff. John Coltrane and Johnny Hartman did a wonderful version of the song Softly, as in a Morning Sunrise. BOBBY’s version is nowhere near as good as that one (nor is anyone else’s), but it’s not too bad.

♫ Softly As In A Morning Sunrise


Bobby Darin

One of his finest of the fifties’ songs is Dream Lover. It’s a song he wrote himself and was recorded at Atlantic Records, a company that knew how to get the best out of their artists. As a trivial aside, that’s Neil Sedaka playing the piano.

♫ Dream Lover


Bobby Darin

Bobby’s version of Mack the Knife is based vaguely on Louis Armstrong’s earlier hit. Both bear little resemblance to the original version from Kurt Weill’s “Threepenny Opera”. It doesn’t matter too much as they both earned a tidy amount for themselves.

♫ Mack The Knife


Bobby Darin

Back to the rather silly songs, this one from the early sixties, although it sounds as if it should be earlier. The song I’m talking about is Things, another he wrote himself. I could have done without the female singers on this one; it would have been better without them but that was the way to do things back then I suppose.

♫ Things


Bobby Darin

Black Coffee is an old song that he recorded on an album called “This is Darin” in 1960. It sounds as if it came from much later in his career, so I guess he was already thinking of a change of style.

♫ Black Coffee


Bobby Darin

During his folk period, BOBBY recorded several of Tim Hardin’s songs. Interestingly, the highest charting song Tim had was with a Bobby Darin song, in spite of the many terrific songs he wrote himself.

Anyway, I’m not using the obvious one, instead here is The Lady Came From Baltimore. He sounds rather like Tim on this one.

♫ The Lady Came From Baltimore


Bobby Darin

As well as Tim, BOBBY took a song from another singer/songwriter, in this case it was John Sebastian. The song is Darling Be Home Soon, which has been covered extensively over the years. It’s a good song on which to end.

♫ Darling Be Home Soon




ELDER MUSIC: Classical - The Usual Suspects

Tibbles1SM100x130This Sunday Elder Music column was launched in December of 2008. By May of the following year, one commenter, Peter Tibbles, had added so much knowledge and value to my poor attempts at musical presentations that I asked him to take over the column. He's been here each week ever since delighting us with his astonishing grasp of just about everything musical, his humor and sense of fun. You can read Peter's bio here and find links to all his columns here.

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In my general classical columns, I tend to feature lesser known composers who really need to be better known rather than those whose music fills the concert halls all over the world. Today it’s the turn of the big names.

I imagine you know all of these composers, they’re well known because their music is wonderful. Choosing something to include for each will be a tough, but fun, exercise. I’m particularly fond of quartets of various kinds, and several will be featured today.

I’ll start with the most famous composer in history, LUDWIG BEETHOVEN.

Beethoven

There are a lot of his works I could have included, but the one I settled for is the Rondo for Piano and Orchestra. I really like this one.

Ludwig had intended it as the final movement for his Piano Concerto No. 2 but he decided it didn’t fit so he removed it from that composition. It eventually surfaced as a stand-alone piece, the Rondo for piano and orchestra in B flat major.

♫ Beethoven - Rondo for piano and orchestra


Had I been doing this column 50 years ago, certainly one hundred, you’d have all gone “Who?” when I mention ANTONIO VIVALDI.

Vivaldi

That’s because most of his works were thought lost but vast amounts of it were rediscovered in the 20th century, and mostly the second half of that.

New (to us) compositions are still being found. If you live in Venice, check your attics, cupboards, trunks and whatnot; elsewhere as well – he moved around a bit. You never know.

Anyway, rather than use one of his instrumental works, I’ll go with some singing. The singer is the terrific CECILIA BARTOLI.

Cecilia

She performs Anch'il mar par che sommerga.

♫ Vivaldi - Anch'il mar par che sommerga


I really like the music of JOSEPH HAYDN.

Haydn

To my mind he’s up there with the more famous Mozart, Beethoven and Bach. Like them, he was an innovator, inventing the string quartet and (sort of) the symphony. Okay, that had been around before but he expanded it into the major form that we have today.

I’m not going with either of those, though. Today it’s his Sinfonia Concertante for Violin, Oboe, Cello and Bassoon Hob I-105, the first movement.

♫ Haydn - Sinfonia Concertante In B-Flat Hob I-105 (1)


The concertos of JOHANN SEBASTIAN BACH have been tinkered with over the years; different instruments have been substituted for the original ones. Even Jo himself did that.

Bach-JS

I’m going to do the same. Okay, I’m not that clever, I’m going to include a version that has had that treatment. In this case it’s his Concerto for Violin and Oboe in C minor, BWV1060R.

The violin and oboe got the flick and two guitars have taken their place. The guitarists are probably the best around at the moment, SLAVA AND LEONARD GRIGORYAN.

Slava & ;Leonard Grigoryan

The tinkerer is their father, who also knows a bit about this sort of music. This is the third movement.

♫ Bach - Concerto for Violin and Oboe in C minor BWV1060R (3)


FELIX MENDELSSOHN always contended that his sister Fanny was a better composer than he was.

Mendelssohn

That’s a big call, as he was one of the best. The more we hear of Fanny’s work, the more credence can be given to his opinion; however, so far, it’s her brother whose works are performed regularly.

I don’t know if this is one of those regular ones, but I like it. It’s the Piano Quartet No. 1, the fourth movement.

♫ Mendelssohn - Piano Quartet No. 1 C Minor (4)


My first opera composer is GIACOMO PUCCINI, my favorite (along with Mozart) opera composer.

Puccini

I have changed my mind about what to include half a dozen times. Finally, Norma, the Assistant Musicologist, insisted on the piece of music that I (sorry, we) finally settled on.

It’s not from one of Gia’s best known operas; they were the ones I had originally considered before I was overruled. The opera is “Il Tabarro”, and it’s quite a short opera – it doesn’t even top an hour. Wagner should take note and learn a thing or two.

The singers are Renata Tebaldi and Mario Del Monaco. The duet is È Ben Altro Il Mio Sogno.

♫ Puccini - Il tabarro ~ È Ben Altro Il Mio Sogno


WOLFGANG MOZART was a fine writer of music for the clarinet; probably the best ever.

Mozart

His clarinet concerto is, in my opinion, the finest piece of music anyone has composed. I’ve used that several times over the years, so I’ll go with something else. The first movement of his Clarinet Quartet, K. 317d in B Flat Major.

♫ Mozart - Clarinet Quartet K. 317d in B Flat Major (1)


Franz Liszt and FRÉDÉRIC CHOPIN were the big names in piano music in the 19th century.

Chopin

I much prefer Fred to Franz as the latter was too bombastic and over the top for my taste. Fred was born in Poland but spent the second half of his life in France. It’s surprising to me that for all that time in France he only gave 30 public performances (unlike Franz who would tinkle the ivories at the drop of a hat).

So, people at the time had to learn about Fred’s music via sheet music. Luckily for us there are lots of pianists who like to play his music. Here is a little bit of it, his Nocturne, Op. 9 No. 1 in B flat minor, a lovely gentle piece.

♫ Chopin - Nocturne Op. 9 No. 1 in B flat minor


MR HANDEL was better known to his friends as Georg.

Handel

His countryman George of Hanover, who had hightailed to Britain to become George One of that country, invited him over. George made Georg a citizen and then promptly died. His son, George Two, was also a friend and Georg wrote lots of music for him, for which he was paid royally (so to speak).

A lot of that was vocal music, but Georg wrote lots of instrumental stuff as well, including the Trio Sonata No 1 in B Flat Major for two oboes and continuo. This is the third movement.

♫ Handel - Trio Sonata No 1 B flat Major (3)


GIUSEPPE VERDI was a terrific writer of music for choruses and several voices.

Verdi

Norma, the Assistant Musicologist is particularly fond of these, so I played the contenders for the column and let her pick the one to include. After a bit of to’ing and fro’ing she settled on a piece from Nabucco: Io t´amava! Una furia è quest´ amore.

This is sung by Renata Scotto, Elena Obraztsova and Veriano Luchetti.

♫ Verdi - Nabucco ~ Io t´amava! Una furia è quest´ amore...


I don’t know if FRANZ SCHUBERT lived fast, but he certainly died young – just 31.

Schubert

There is a lot of music I could have included – symphonies (finished and unfinished), quintets (and other chamber music), songs (or lieder as they are pretentiously called), lots of operas that don’t get performed any more. A lot more I could have added to the list.

In the end I’ve chosen an interesting combination of instruments, his Quartet for Flute, Guitar, Viola and Cello in G Major, D96. The first movement.

♫ Schubert - Quartet for Flute Guitar Viola and Cello in G Major D96 (1)


GUSTAV MAHLER has only been in the repertoire of most orchestras for the last few decades, but what an impact he’s made. Gus is probably the most performed composer at the moment.

Mahler

His symphonies are long, really long; they make Beethoven’s seem like miniatures. That is, except for number 4, which, maybe coincidentally, is my favorite of his.

Like Beethoven’s ninth, this one has a vocal final movement but unlike Ludwig’s, it’s by a single soprano, not a choir. In the version I have today RENÉE FLEMING is that soprano.

Renee Fleming

So, here’s that movement of Gus’s Symphony No.4 in G.

♫ Mahler - Symphony No.4 In G (4)




ELDER MUSIC: 1923

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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We’re now getting back before any of us can remember, and I imagine before any readers were born – if I’m wrong on that, please leave a message in the comments. So, I can waffle on and nobody can contradict me. Well, they can, but not from personal experience. So, on with the motley.

JELLY-ROLL MORTON (or Ferdinand LaMothe to his mum and dad) was really up himself (as we say here in Oz).

Jelly Roll Morton

He claimed to have invented jazz much to the derision of others at the time (and since). He was jazz pianist, band-leader and composer and was the first to publish a jazz composition.

He showed that the essentially improvised music could be notated without losing its verve and spirit. We’ll just glide over that “invented jazz” business and hear what he does with Kansas City Stomps.

♫ Jelly Roll Morton - Kansas City Stomps


CLARA BUTT was an English contralto who specialised in (then) contemporary composers like Elgar and Saint-Saëns.

Clara Butt

She also made records of popular music as well as her classical repertoire. One of those is the song Love's Old Sweet Song, these days better known as Just a Song at Twilight.

♫ Clara Butt - Love's Old Sweet Song (1923)


JOHN STEEL was an American tenor who appeared in the Ziegfeld Follies several times.

John Steel

He was a regular performer on Broadway and on the vaudeville circuit. In spite of earning vast amounts of money (for the time), he went broke and finished his life as a singing instructor. He performs one of his hits, Lady of the Evening.

♫ John Steel - Lady of the Evening


Over the years, many people have had a go at the song That Old Gang of Mine. It was written in this year, 1923, by Ray Henderson, Billy Rose and Mort Dixon. Quite a few performers recorded it at the time, but the one I have is by BENNY KRUEGER AND HIS ORCHESTRA.

Bennie Krueger

There is a “vocal refrain” on the record, as was the thing back then. As far as I can tell it’s by Billy Jones and Ernest Hare, but I could be wrong.

♫ Bennie Krueger's Orch. - That Old Gang Of Mine


Any year that has a BESSIE SMITH hit is worth a listen, and so it is for this year.

Bessie Smith

Bessie was the most popular blues performer of her time, and she’s been a major influence on blues, jazz and rock singers ever since. Her music is still being recorded today. So, back to 1923 and Gulf Coast Blues, her very first record.

♫ Bessie Smith - Gulf Coast Blues


Unlike Jelly-Roll up at the top, KID ORY, or Edward to his mum and dad, may have been the most important person in the early development of jazz.

Kid Ory

That’s because he hired King Oliver, Louis Armstrong and Johnny Dodds amongst others for his band. Unlike many musicians from that era, he lived a long time, retiring to Hawaii in 1966 and dying in 1973 (he was born in 1886).

This is Ory's Creole Trombone with those musicians mentioned playing along with him.

♫ Kid Ory Louis Armstrong - Ory's Creole Trombone


ETHEL WATERS had a dreadful childhood and early life. I won’t go into it but it’s worth finding out about it, just to see what she had to overcome.

Ethel Waters

Quite early on she was performing in the same club as Bessie Smith who was the headliner. Bessie refused to allow Ethel to sing blues or jazz, so she (Bessie) wouldn’t be upstaged. So Ethel performed pop songs from the day.

Maybe that set her up to be the versatile performer she became. Here, and ignoring Bessie, Ethel performs Georgia Blues. This has Fletcher Henderson and cornet player Joe Smith accompanying her.

♫ Ethel Waters and Her Jazz Masters - Georgia Blues


BEN BERNIE AND HIS ORCHESTRA were the first to record the song Swinging Down the Lane.

Ben Bernie

Isham Jones wrote the song and he recorded it as well, but not until a few months later. Ben had quite a good singing voice but this track is an instrumental.

♫ Ben Bernie - Swinging Down The Lane (1923)


I remember Connie Francis singing Who's Sorry Now? That wasn’t in 1923, of course. The song was written in that year and several people recorded it at the time, including MARION HARRIS.

Marion Harris

She was one of the first white performers to sing jazz and blues. I have to admit that I can’t hear it in this song. There is a talkie bit in the song which Norma, the Assistant Musicologist, always contends that means it’s a country song. I bow to her insight, but I notice that later recordings eschew this bit.

♫ Marion Harris - Who's Sorry Now


BLOSSOM SEELEY was a vaudeville performer who helped to bring blues and jazz to a wider audience.

Blossom Seeley

For a white performer of the time she’s not bad. She’s no Bessie Smith, but nor is anyone else. She was one of the first to sing many of the songs we think of as classics today, including Way Down Yonder in New Orleans.

♫ Blossom Seeley - Way Down Yonder In New Orleans




ELDER MUSIC: The Queenston Trio

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.

* * *

Queenston

This was the joke name for a trio consisting of EMMYLOU HARRIS, DOLLY PARTON and LINDA RONSTADT. They recorded some albums together and occasionally performed in various combinations over the years. This column is merely an excuse to hear three of the finest singers of the last 50 years.

EMMY leads off with Do I Ever Cross Your Mind? Of course, as with all the songs today, the others are there in the background (or foreground).

Emmylou

The song was actually written by Dolly, and she has performed it both on one of her albums and another as a duet with Chet Atkins. However, it’s Emmy’s turn today.

♫ Do I Ever Cross Your Mind


Everyone together with Mr. Sandman, a cover of The Chordettes’ hit from the mid-fifties.

Queenston13

The song was written by Pat Ballard and was first recorded by Vaughn Monroe, of all people, before The Chordettes took it to the top of the charts.

♫ Mr. Sandman


LINDA is to the forefront of Lover's Return, an old Carter Family song, written by A. P. Carter.

Linda

♫ Lover's Return


LINDA sings a splendid lead on one of Jackson Browne’s finest songs, For a Dancer.

Linda

This first came to our notice on Jackson’s fine album “Late for the Sky”, maybe his best. Jackson’s version is hard to beat, but Linda just about equals it.

♫ For a Dancer


The song, I've Had Enough is mostly the trio, with EMMY out front now and then.

Emmylou

It was written by Kate McGarrigle, who was a writer of fabulous songs.

♫ I've Had Enough


Are You Tired Of Me was written by G.P. Cook and Ralph Roland, and first recorded by L.K. Reeder in 1925. Since then it’s been performed by many people including our trio. It’s mostly the three of them, but EMMY is slightly to the fore.

Emmylou

♫ Are You Tired Of Me


I’ve always been ambivalent about Neil Young. I don’t particularly like his singing. When I’m in the mood (not very often) I like his roaring lead guitar. However, he sure can write great songs. This is one of those, After the Gold Rush. DOLLY performs this with some help from the others in the background.

Dolly

♫ After The Gold Rush


DOLLY again, with the song, He Rode All the Way to Texas.

Dolly

The song was written by John Starling, and performed by him in his band, The Seldom Scene, a fine, progressive, bluegrass group. Others have recorded it as well, and it’s the trio’s turn today.

♫ He Rode All The Way To Texas


My Dear Companion goes a long way back but is attributed to Jean Ritchie. However, Jean’s sister Edna recorded a version before Jean tackled it. Jean massaged the song, scrubbed it a bit, made the language more poetic and recorded it herself. That’s the version we have today. EMMY sings lead on this one.

Emmylou

♫ My Dear Companion


To Know Him is to Love Him is a song written by Phil Spector, inspired by words on his father's tombstone. It was a huge hit for The Teddy Bears (which included Spector, the only group he was ever in). This is essentially a trio song, with EMMY occasionally singing lead.

Queenston

There’s some nice guitar work by Albert Lee.

♫ To Know Him Is To Love Him


LINDA takes the lead on this beautiful version of Across the Border, a song written by Bruce Springsteen. This is a superb song, and this is a wonderful version of it.

Linda

If you’d like to hear Bruce’s version, it’s on his album “The Ghost of Tom Joad”.

♫ Across the Border


Queenston

I’ll end with a religious song and that’s rather unusual for me as I’m not religious; indeed, if pushed I would say I was anti-religion, but we won’t go there.

The first three verses have EMMY and DOLLY trading lead vocals and that alone would make it a great song. Then LINDA comes in on the fourth verse and takes the song into the sublime realm, making it one of the finest songs ever recorded.

Surprising, Softly and Tenderly didn’t appear on their official trio albums; it was only when the complete sessions were released that we discovered it. See if you can remain unmoved by this one.

♫ Softly And Tenderly




ELDER MUSIC: These Arms of Mine

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.

* * *

A column about arms – the things attached to our bodies, not the things that armies use.

OTIS REDDING started as a driver for the blues performer Johnny Jenkins.

Otis Redding

One day, after Johnny had recorded a couple of songs backed by Booker T and the MGs, there was some time left over. Otis asked if he could try one of his songs.

They let him do that and backed by Booker and crew, he recorded These Arms of Mine. It became a smash hit, the first of many for Otis (but alas, not nearly enough).

♫ Otis Redding - These Arms Of Mine


Like Ray Charles, SOLOMON BURKE liked to mix his musical genres.

Solomon Burke

Also like Ray, he delved into the country repertoire for songs that he could give a soul treatment to. One of those, and one his most successful songs, is Just out of Reach (Of My Two Open Arms).

♫ Solomon Burke - Just out of Reach (Of My Two Open Arms)


MARK SEYMOUR was the singer, songwriter, guitarist and general chief of the Australian rock group Hunters & Collectors.

Mark Seymour

One of the songs the group performed back in the eighties was Throw Your Arms Around Me. It wasn’t very successful at the time but since then the song has gained enormous stature, such that’s it’s now considered a classic song.

Quite a few performers have covered it over the years, most notably Paul McDermott from The Doug Anthony Allstars. However, here is Mark with a more recent group of his, The Undertow, with his song.

♫ Mark Seymour - Throw Your Arms Around Me


NICK CAVE recorded Into My Arms during his brief relationship with P.J. Harvey.

Nick Cave

It’s one of his rare romantic songs - he’s not noted as a performer of such material - but when he sets his mind to it, as he does here, the results are terrific.

♫ Nick Cave - Into My Arms


Everyone from Elvis to Dobie Gray to Kris Kristofferson and Rita Coolidge has had a hit with the song Loving Arms. The man who wrote it is often forgotten, but not by me. That man is TOM JANS.

Tom Jans

Tom made a bit of a name for himself in the seventies as a songwriter of note, and also a performer, both as a solo artist and as a duo with Mimi Fariña, Joan Baez's sister. Unfortunately, he died due to complications after a motor cycle accident. Here’s his version of the song.

♫ Tom Jans - Loving Arms


Iain Sutherland wrote the song Arms of Mary in the Sutherland family farmhouse in England. Iain performed with his brother Gavin as The Sutherland Brothers. The pair got together with the rock group Quiver and they all became known as THE SUTHERLAND BROTHERS & QUIVER.

Sutherland Brothers & Quiver

It was this combination that recorded the song which was a worldwide hit, except in America. Later the Everly Brothers recorded the song and their version is even better, but today we have the original.

♫ Sutherland Brothers & Quiver - Arms Of Mary


I’ve used this song by WILLIE NELSON somewhat recently in a column on Sleep.

Willie Nelson

However, it’s such a good song, and it fits well here as well, that I’m going to use it again. After all, too much Willie is barely enough. Can I Sleep in Your Arms?

♫ Willie Nelson - Can I Sleep in Your Arms


Music of the last sixties years would be quite different if it weren’t for LES PAUL & MARY FORD.

Les Paul Mary Ford

For a start, Les was the person who developed the Gibson Les Paul guitar, probably the finest electric guitar in the world. He also invented double (and triple and whatever) tracking on recordings. Les was also one of the finest guitarists around and Mary was a fantastic singer. They were decades ahead of their time.

Their song today is Take Me In Your Arms And Hold Me.

♫ Les Paul & Mary Ford - Take Me In Your Arms And Hold Me


Crazy Arms was written by Ralph Mooney and Charles Seals (and maybe Paul Gilley). Ray Price was the first to have a hit with the song. Many others have also recorded it with some success. One version that didn’t make the charts, but I quite like, is by LEON REDBONE.

Leon Redbone

Of course, very little, if anything, that Leon records makes the charts, but what a terrific performer he is. See what you think of his interpretation. Leon died last week on 30 May - no one reporting it in the press seemed to know his real age for certain.

♫ Leon Redbone - Crazy Arms


You may not be very familiar with the duo DILLARD & CLARK.

Dillard & Clark

They might become a little more familiar to you when I say that they are Doug Dillard, from The Dillards – probably the first country rock group, who were also featured often on The Andy Griffith Show – and Gene Clark, a founder member of The Byrds.

The pair made one great record and a second pretty good one, and that’s all she wrote. From the second we have Roll in My Sweet Baby's Arms.

♫ Dillard & Clark - Roll In My Sweet Baby's Arms


O.V. WRIGHT is one of the best unsung soul singers, so I’m going to sing him today (as it were).

OV Wright

He’s best known for his song That’s How Strong My Love Is, covered by both Otis Redding and the Rolling Stones. Today, however, his song is Since You Left (These Arms of Mine).

♫ O.V. Wright - Since You Left (These Arms Of Mine)




ELDER MUSIC: 1955 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.

* * *

Well, it’s 1955 and I’m in grade 5. It was one of the better years (musically) before I hit high school.

In the middle of their successful period THE CHARMS split into two.

Charms

One group, who thought they could do without their lead singer, kept the name The Charms. The other, led by that singer, called themselves Otis Williams and The Charms. Otis is not the singer with the same name who later performed with The Temptations.

The song, That's Your Mistake, is performed by the Otis version of the group.

The Charms - That's Your Mistake


BILL HALEY was the first of the white singers to bring rock & roll to a wider audience.

Bill Haley

He deserves a place in the musical hall of fame for his best known song, but he had many more hits. One of those is Rock-A-Beatin' Boogie.

♫ Bill Haley - Rock-A-Beatin' Boogie


Bill Haley may have performed rock and roll before him, but ELVIS brought sex appeal to the music. Boy, did he ever.

Elvis Presley

Elvis was just on the verge of hitting it big in 1955. He was still recording at Sun Studios (some say that’s where he made his best music; I refuse to comment on that).

One of the songs from the time is I'm Left, You're Right, She's Gone, with Scotty Moore and Bill Black backing him.

♫ Elvis - I'm Left You're Right She's Gone


I'm rather surprised I didn't use this song on the previous two occasions I featured 1955. It's good in a way as I can include it now. I'm talking about FRANKIE LYMON AND THE TEENAGERS' biggest hit, Why Do Fools Fall in Love.

Frankie Lymon

It seems that a neighbour gave the group some love letters sent to him by his girlfriend (you have to wonder why he’d do that). The Teenagers read those missives and turned them into the song. The title was apparently common in the letters.

Frankie Lymon & the Teenagers - Why Do Fools Fall In Love


The songs that ETTA JAMES recorded around this time were covered by quite a few people, most notably Georgia Gibbs.

Etta James

Etta’s song today was originally called The Wallflower. It’s probably better known as Roll With Me Henry. Georgia’s cleaned-up version was known as Dance With Me Henry. Let’s listen to the original, as it’s much better.

Etta James - The Wallflower (a-k-a Roll With Me Henry)


GENE & EUNICE were Gene Forrest and Eunice Levy.

Gene & Eunice

They were touted as Los Angeles’s answer to Shirley and Lee (from New Orleans). Some catty commentators suggested that the difference was that Eunice could actually sing in tune (ouch).

They were more lyrical and lighter than S&L, and that probably appealed more to younger teens at the time. One of their hits is This is My Story.

♫ Gene & Eunice - This Is My Story


RUTH BROWN had a bunch of hits in the fifties.

Ruth Brown

Most of them are worthy of inclusion in any of these columns. As this is 1955 we have to go with one of those from this year. The one I’ve chosen is As Long As I'm Moving.

♫ Ruth Brown - As Long As I'm Moving


BOYD BENNETT was a rockabilly singer who performed with his band The Rockets (or His Rockets, as they were usually known).

Boyd Bennett

He had a huge hit this year called Seventeen, a song he wrote himself. Because it was so successful, others covered it and several versions made the charts.

I’m sure many other countries had people recording the song at the time – I know here in Australia the song was covered as well. However, here’s Boyd’s original.

♫ Boyd Bennett and his Rockets - Seventeen


THE JACKS were really another group called The Cadets.

Jacks

It seems that the group recorded the song Why Don't You Write Me? and they wanted to release it immediately. Unfortunately (well, really fortunately, I’d imagine), they already had a song on the charts at the time and the record company didn’t want another one by the same group to interfere with the sales of the first one, so they released it under the name The Jacks. It was also a success.

♫ Jacks - Why Don't You Write Me


BIG JOE TURNER was a blues performer, but he had a huge influence on the development of rock & roll.

Big Joe Turner

Everyone was listening to Joe by this stage, and both Bill Haley and Elvis recorded this song, Flip Flop and Fly (as well as other songs of his). An appropriate way to end the year.

♫ Big Joe Turner - Flip Flop and Fly




ELDER MUSIC: Beatles Favorites

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 like to walk along the beachfront on days when I’m not otherwise occupied. This is easy to do as I live not far away. Whenever I’m alone on the walk, I usually have my Sony Walkman along for entertainment, and before people make cracks about living in the seventies, cassettes and whatnot, the current model plays digital files.

As I’ve been doing this for 10 years (I’ve upgraded the Walkman a couple of times) I’ve listened to a range of things – serious talks, audio books, music, podcasts and whatever has caught my fancy.

A recent discovery, although it’s been around for a couple of years, is a podcast called “Compleatly Beatles” (that’s the way they spell it) where a couple of Canadians discuss all the Beatles’ albums, one per podcast.

Each song is discussed and occasionally they say something like “That one wouldn’t make my top five Beatles songs, or top 10 or top 50”. That got me thinking along the lines of which are my top ten Beatles songs?

So, here they are in no particular order. Now, before we have the usual, “What about...?”, remember these are my selections. No doubt yours are different.

Beatles

Many people put the song, Things We Said Today down near the bottom of their lists. Even Paul, who wrote it, is believed to be embarrassed by it. Quite obviously, I disagree as it’s in the list. It’s from “A Hard Day’s Night”.

♫ Things We Said Today


Beatles

Eleanor Rigby sounds so integrated that you’d expect that it was written by a single person, but all four of them had a hand in writing it. Maybe that’s the reason.

Paul started it and brought it into the studio where they all finished it off. It’s from the album “Revolver”. Paul said that Eleanor was named after Eleanor Bron who was in the film Help! with them. Rigby is from a wine store he noticed one day and Father McKenzie came from the phone book (well, the McKenzie part).

None of The Beatles played an instrument on the recording.

♫ Eleanor Rigby


Beatles

We Can Work It Out was released as a double-A side single. That’s because Paul wrote (most of) it and he, George and Ringo thought it should be the A-side. John had written, and they had recorded, Day Tripper and he thought that should be the A. So, they compromised.

Paul wrote about his long term, but now deteriorating, relationship with Jane Asher. I think Jane should get some royalties, not just for this one, but she inspired several of Paul’s finest songs.

♫ We Can Work It Out


Beatles

For No One is another song Paul wrote about Jane. It’s a great song, but a heartbreaking one. They often make the best songs.

Paul played all of the instruments except for the French horn that George Martin thought would add to it. He was right. The song is from “Revolver”.

♫ For No One


Beatles

It’s best not to listen too closely to the words of Baby’s in Black because if you do, you can go down a couple of different rabbit holes of interpretation. Just listen on the surface is my advice, but even that’s a bit problematic as I’ve found the song to be a real earworm.

It’s from the album “Beatles for Sale”.

♫ Baby's In Black


Beatles

When Bob Dylan recorded the song Fourth Time Around for his “Blonde on Blonde” album, Al Kooper, who played on the song, suggested that John (Lennon) might sue Bob as it’s an obvious pinch of Norwegian Wood.

Bob said that he wouldn’t as he had played the song for John before Norwegian Wood was even thought of. So, it’s a matter of Bob pinching from John or vice versa. The upshot is that John didn’t sue, or even threaten to. The song appeared on “Rubber Soul”.

♫ Norwegian Wood (This Bird Has Flown)


Beatles

Many people think that The Ballad of John and Yoko is a John Lennon solo effort. It’s not, it was attributed to The Beatles and sold really well (okay, everything they did sold really well).

It wasn’t on any of their albums though, it came out as a single. It was The Beatles’ final number one single. Only John and Paul played on the record.

I was surprised that Paul played bass as it’s a rather perfunctory effort from probably the best bass player in rock and roll. He also played piano and drums.

♫ The Ballad of John and Yoko


Beatles

The song And I Love Her is another of Paul’s about Jane. This is from early in their relationship so things are going well at this stage. Because of this, Paul is under represented on the album “A Hard Day’s Night”; John wrote most of the songs for that album.

♫ And I Love Her


Beatles

After recording the album “Let It Be”, no one particularly liked the way it sounded. Several people had a go at remastering it without any success. Finally, John took it along to Phil Spector to see what he could do.

Spector added heavenly choirs, orchestral overdubs and all sorts of bells and whistles. No one was satisfied with that but it was released that way as everyone was sick and tired of the whole thing.

About 15 years ago, Paul got the original tapes and remastered the songs stripped back to the way the album was originally intended to be heard. It was released as “Let It Be (Naked)”, and I think it’s much more interesting than the original.

From that version of the album here is Let It Be, as it should be.

♫ Let It Be


Beatles

Paul wrote the song I’ve Just Seen a Face, and it really moves along at a decent clip. The Dillards recorded the song as well on their album “Wheatstraw Suite”, and it’s a rare instance of a cover being better than the original.

However, today is Beatles day. Paul also wrote the next song on the album (“Help!”), but we don’t have that one today (or yesterday either).

♫ I've Just Seen A Face


Beatles

If I were ranking the songs, the next one would have to be put at the very top of the heap. It’s amazing that the song In My Life was written by men in their twenties. It was mostly John’s song, with a little help from Paul.

It certainly gave the album “Rubber Soul” added gravitas.

♫ In My Life


Beatles

On the subject of life, the next (and last) song probably had to be present. If I left it out it’d be like omitting Like a Rolling Stone from a Bob Dylan selection.

From “Sgt Pepper's Lonely Hearts Club Band”, here is A Day in the Life, an appropriate note on which to finish as it concluded that album in fine style.

♫ A Day In The Life

Okay, the “top ten” blew out a bit, but I imagine that’d be the same for everyone.




ELDER MUSIC: Classical Predilections 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.

* * *

More stuff that has caught my ears in recent times.

GUSTAV HOLST is mainly known these days, probably only known, for The Planets.

Holst

I’ve never been a fan of that suite, but he wrote other stuff that’s more to my liking. One of those is rather amusingly called A Fugal Concerto, for flute, oboe & string orchestra, Op. 40-2, H. 152. Here is the first movement.

♫ Holst - A Fugal Concerto for flute oboe & string orchestra Op. 40-2 H. 152 (1)


ARCANGELO CORELLI was a major figure in Baroque music, much admired by Handel and Bach.

Corelli

He did more than anyone to develop the sonata and concerto forms of music we know today. As was the custom then, others were not above pinching tunes from their contemporaries, and if you listen closely to his Fugue for Four Voices (although no one’s actually singing) you’ll see where Handel got his Hallelujah Chorus.

Bach appropriated this tune as well. Check the original called Fuga a Quattro voci, played by the New Dutch Academy.

♫ Corelli - Fuga a Quattro voci


Coming right up to date, indeed to the present day, we have someone who’s younger than most of us who are reading this: LUDOVICO EINAUDI.

Ludovico Einaudi6

Ludo is an Italian composer, noted mostly for film and TV scores, but he composes “serious” works as well. He’s often lumped into the “minimalist” movement just because people like to label things, but he’s much more than that.

Here he plays his composition Bella Notte (beautiful night).

Ludovico Einaudi - Bella Notte


J.S. Bach’s St Matthew Passion is one of the most famous, and loved, pieces of music of all time. However, old Johann wasn’t the only one who used this topic. Indeed, he wasn’t even the first.

Before him (and I can’t say if he was the first, I imagine that he wasn’t) was RICHARD DAVY. Old Rich didn’t stand still long enough to have his photo taken. He was an English composer in the 15th century and his works were compiled in the Eton Choirbook (along with others from the time).

The book is a collection of motets and magnificats devoted to the cult of Mary, a tradition that was pretty much obliterated by the Reformation. Fortunately, his music survived.

This is the eleventh and final movement, “Ah Gentle Jesu”, of his St Matthew Passion.

♫ Davy - Ah Gentle Jesu


ANTON WRANITZKY (or Antonin Vranicky) was a Czech composer and violinist.

Wranitzky

He followed his big brother Paul to Vienna, where he became a pupil of both Mozart and Haydn - talk about learning from the best. He later became friends with Beethoven – now there’s an accomplishment.

He was well regarded in his day for his compositions, particularly his violin concertos, one of which we have today. The third movement of his Violin Concerto in C Major. Op. 11.

♫ Wranitzky A - Violin Concerto in C Major. Op. 11 (3)


DOMINENICO ZIPOLI was an Italian Baroque composer.

Zipoli

Somehow or other he got to Spain where he joined the Jesuits as he wanted to go to South America to teach the indigenous peoples about music (and God and stuff, I suppose).

He did just that ending up in what’s now Argentina, where he served as musical director at one of the churches. Alas, some sort of disease struck him down; details of his life are a bit sketchy.

He wrote a bunch of really nice Suites and Partitas, presumably for the harpsichord, but today played on a piano: Suite No. 1 in B Minor, the fourth movement.

♫ Zipoli - Suite No. 1 in B Minor (4)


I always like to include a string quartet in these columns, but this one is a little different. Instead of the usual line up of instruments, two violins, a viola and a cello, everyone took a step to the right and took up two violas, a cello and a double bass.

I really like the way this sounds. The person responsible for this was GEORG WAGENSEIL.

Wagenseil

Although virtually unknown these days, Georg was quite famous in his day – both Haydn and Mozart took note of what he was doing. What he was doing this day was writing what he called the Sonata VI in G, the second movement. Really, it’s a string quartet before the term had been invented.

♫ Wagenseil - Sonata VI in G (2)


I used not to like GIOACHINO ROSSINI very much but my radio station kept playing him over the years and I gradually became a fan.

Rossini

He wrote one of the most famous arias in opera, Largo al factotum della citta, from “The Barber of Seville”. I’m sure most of you will recognize it when you hear it. Simon Keenlyside sings it.

♫ Rossini - Largo al factotum della citta


FELIX MENDELSSOHN wrote his “Songs Without Words” for a solo piano, and, of course, no singer was in evidence.

Mendelssohn

Naturally, through the years people have tinkered with these. In the case today we have a cello (played by Steven Isserlis) join the piano (played by Melvyn Tan). This is the one D Major, Op. 109.

♫ Mendelssohn - Song Without Words for Cello and Piano in D Major Op. 109


LOUIS SPOHR wrote music for the clarinet that was nearly as good as Mozart’s. Nearly, but that means it was very good indeed.

Spohr

His first concert tour (playing violin) was when he was only 15, and during that he wrote his first violin concerto. Later on he used to play with Beethoven, and complained that Beethoven’s piano was out of tune. Perhaps Ludwig didn’t know (that’s a joke, not a very good one).

Anyway, he wrote a whole bunch of stuff, the usual compositions, including the Clarinet Concerto No.4 in E minor WoO 20. This is the third movement.

♫ Spohr - Clarinet Concerto No.4 in E minor WoO 20 (3)




ELDER MUSIC: Turn Your Radio On

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 imagine that just about everyone reading this gained their initial musical knowledge mainly from the radio. That is certainly so for me as, when I was growing up, I lived in a small country town 400 kilometres from the big smoke (actually, in those days, it was 250 miles from the big smoke), so it was from the radio that music emerged and found a safe harbor in my ears.

When we came to the big smoke (Melbourne) I found that radio station 3KZ had probably the best DJ in the world - Stan Rofe. Stan always played the authentic versions of songs; he eschewed the bland cover versions that pretty much everyone else played back then. He was also a great champion of Australian music. Thus I learned from the best. Here are songs about the radio.

For those who remember President Ike, which is probably everyone reading this, here is MARK DINNING.

Mark Dinning

Not just Ike, but all the references mentioned would be enough for those with a certain type of memory to be able to date the song pretty precisely. It’s the way radio was back then, consisting of Top 40, News, Weather and Sport.

♫ Mark Dinning - Top 40 News Weather And Sport


WARREN ZEVON gives us a bit darker view of things, but then that’s generally what he did.

Warren Zevon

I imagine that Warren’s song wouldn’t get any airplay these days on certain stations, particularly those that are associated with Fox, only because of its title. His subversive song is called Mohammed's Radio.

♫ Warren Zevon - Mohammed's Radio


JOHN HARTFORD gets uncharacteristically gospelly with his contribution.

John Hartford

He suggests that you Turn Your Radio On. That’s a good idea if you want to listen to it, although these days it might not be such a good idea. Not like in our day. Oh dear, I’m turning into a grumpy old man.

♫ John Hartford - Turn Your Radio On


There’s another way to be turned on as JONI MITCHELL will explain.

Joni Mitchell

I wouldn’t dare suggest that illegal substances were involved in You Turn Me On I'm a Radio. I’ll let you make up your own mind.

♫ Joni Mitchell - You Turn Me On I'm a Radio


Back in 1994 DAVE ALVIN recorded an acoustic album called “King of California”.

Dave Alvin

This was the first of several albums of his that really demonstrated his songwriting, singing and musical abilities. This one and the several that followed are all worth a listen. Besides, he has one of the finest voices in the alt-country genre.

From the aforementioned album, Dave performs Border Radio.

♫ Dave Alvin - Border Radio


Getting back to when radio was king we find FREDDY CANNON.

Freddy Cannon

Back then, a lot of the time we listened to the radio on transistor radios. Freddy did the same apparently, or at least his sister did as he will recount on Transistor Sister.

♫ Freddy Cannon - Transistor Sister


It seems that JOHN DENVER was the same as most of us in one respect.

John Denver

That is, he knew the songs but many of the words were a mystery to him. I think that this is pretty universal. He tells us all about it in Late Nite Radio.

♫ John Denver - Late Nite Radio


From the eighties, a decade from which I include very few songs in my columns, we have QUEEN.

Queen

They were one of the few bright musical spots from around that time, however, even this song sounds very much of its time – drum machines, synthesizers and so on. I don’t know why they did that as they were all fine musicians. Anyway, this is Radio Ga Ga.

♫ Queen - Radio Ga Ga


DAVID ALLAN COE really knows how to take revenge on the gal what dun ‘im wrong.

David Allan Coe

Not just that but he will make some money out of the deal as well. I guess if you’re going to break up with someone, earning a bit of loose scratch from the exercise seems like a good thing. Okay, perhaps not. Anyway, David sings I'm Gonna Hurt Her on the Radio.

♫ David Allan Coe - I'm Gonna Hurt Her On The Radio


Turn up your radio, sings VAN MORRISON. Of course, you should have done that by now.

Van Morrison

From his superb album “Moondance”, one of the finest ever recorded, we have Caravan. Nothing else needs to be said.

♫ Van Morrison - Caravan




ELDER MUSIC: Do the Reggay

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.

* * *

Do The Reggay is the first song where the word reggay (which later became reggae) made an appearance. It was performed by THE MAYTALS.

Maytals

The song was written by The Maytals’ main man, Toots Hibbert. He said that he took the term from a scruffy or unkempt person. Wherever he got it, it certainly caught on. Here is that first song that rather lives up to his definition.

♫ The Maytals - Do The Reggay


Back in 1988, SHABBA RANKS (Rexton Gordon) recorded an album called “Rapping with the Girls”. One of those “girls” was KRYSTAL (Cherylle Ramdeen).

Shabba Banks

One of the songs they performed is Twice My Age. It seemed to me that Krystal listened very carefully to the song Seasons in the Sun, until I found out our song today was written by Jacques Brel and Rod McKuen (and a couple of others).

Jacques wrote the original French version of Seasons (called Le Moribond), and his friend Rod the English lyrics, so I guess they’re allowed to steal from themselves.

♫ Krystal & Shabba Ranks - Twice My Age


Before there was Bob Marley, before Toots Hibbert, even before Jimmy Cliff, DESMOND DEKKER was pretty much alone bringing reggae music to the outside world.

Desmond Dekker

Desmond performs the song 007 (Shanty Town), and of course, the writer Ian Fleming spent much of his life in Jamaica writing the James Bond (and other) books. I suspect he didn’t live in Shanty Town though.

♫ Desmond Dekker - 007 (Shanty Town)


Jamaican musicians originally based their music on American soul and R&B music. It wasn’t the only style of music that they used. ANNETTE (Annette Brissett) listened to American pop songs, quite obviously.

Annette Brissett

Annette’s song is Lover’s Concerto, which was a big hit for The Toys. The song was based on a minuet by classical composer Christian Petzold (not J.S. Bach as is often contended).

♫ Annette - Lovers Concerto


TOOTS & THE MAYTALS were the biggest selling reggae performers in the sixties and seventies.

Maytals

By the eighties, Toots (Hibbert) had left and has had a successful solo career. The Maytals had a couple of songs on the soundtrack of the film The Harder They Come, probably the finest soundtrack album of all time. From that they perform The Pressure Drop.

♫ Toots & The Maytals - The Pressure Drop


CHAKA DEMUS & PLIERS (John Taylor and Everton Bonner) have evolved from straight reggae performers into a sort of reggae/hip hop act. They had started along on that change on the song Gal Wine, (from their first album together), but weren’t very far advanced on that journey (fortunately).

Chaka Demus & Pliers6

They both had established careers before they teamed up to become one of the most successful groups in the genre.

♫ Chaka Demus & Pliers - Gal Wine


At last we get to my favorite reggae artist, JIMMY CLIFF.

Jimmy Cliff

I mentioned the film The Harder They Come above. Jimmy was the lead actor in that picture as well as contributing songs to the soundtrack album, including Many Rivers to Cross.

♫ Jimmy Cliff - Many Rivers To Cross


PETER TOSH (Winston McIntosh) was a founder member of The Wailers, along with Bunny Wailer and Bob Marley. Initially, he was the only one in the group who could play any instruments (guitar and piano, in his case).

Peter Tosh

He later left The Wailers after a dispute with their record producer (who refused to release one of their albums). Later in his career he hung around with the Rolling Stones and made records with both Keith and Mick.

In 1987, Peter was murdered in a home invasion. From the album “Wanted Dread and Alive,” here is the title song.

♫ Peter Tosh - Wanted Dread and Alive


I guess people would be saying, “Where’s Bob?” if I omitted BOB MARLEY, so here he is.

Bob Marley

Although he’d been recording for a while, he didn’t become known in the outside world until Eric Clapton recorded a cover version of his song I Shot the Sheriff. If you’re familiar with Eric’s version, you’ll be even more impressed with Bob’s version, although he is a bit heavy on the wah-wah pedal.

♫ Bob Marley - I Shot the Sheriff


Just because I can, I’ve added a bonus track from JIMMY CLIFF.

Jimmy Cliff

Another song from the film is You Can Get It If You Really Want.

♫ Jimmy Cliff - You Can Get It If You Really Want




ELDER MUSIC: 1948 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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Sometime in the second half of 1948 I turned three years old so I don’t actually remember any of this music from the time. I’ve since come to appreciate it.

Already by 1948 the seeds of rock & roll were starting to spring forth out of the ground and wave their hands saying, “Here I come, ready or not”. One of those shoots is WYNONIE HARRIS.

Wynonie Harris

Wynonie was known for amusing and risqué songs but he also sang straight blues and rhythm and blues material. One such is Good Rockin' Tonight, written and first performed by Roy Brown. Oh, course it was later famously covered by Elvis.

♫ Wynonie Harris - Good Rockin' Tonight


The other stream of music that contributed to the genesis of rock and roll is country music. One of the purveyors of this style was JIMMY WAKELY.

Jimmy Wakely

The song One Has My Name (The Other Has My Heart) became a staple in the heartbreak country genre. Incidentally, the female harmony singer is Colleen Summers, who would later become better known as Mary Ford.

♫ Jimmy Wakely - One Has My Name (The Other Has My Heart)


Getting back to rhythm and blues, AMOS MILBURN was one of its major exponents.

Amos Milburn

Amos was a singer and pianist and he was a major influence on Fats Domino. He wrote and recorded the song Chicken Shack Boogie, which was originally the B-side of the record but outsold the putative A-side.

♫ Amos Milburn - Chicken Shack Boogie


Continuing the flip flopping between R&B and country, we have the biggest name in country music, HANK WILLIAMS.

Hank Williams

For someone who was so influential, it’s instructive to note that he had only two songs that made the main charts (as distinct from the country ones) in his lifetime and none that got anywhere near the top.

I could draw a parallel with Vincent Van Gogh, but that would be crass. This song didn’t even hit the top of the country charts (although his son’s version did), Honky Tonkin’.

♫ Hank Williams - Honky Tonkin


BOB HOPE is neither R&B nor country.

Bob Hope & Jane Russell

However, his song is from a western film he made, one of his more famous – “The Paleface” with Jane Russell. Bob laments that he should have stayed in the city, rather than traveling west in the song Buttons and Bows.

♫ Bob Hope - Buttons and Bows


DooWop music was starting to make an impression on the charts by now, especially thanks to one of the earliest and longest lived group THE ORIOLES.

Orioles

This was due in no small part due to their having one of the finest lead singers in the genre, Sonny Til. It's Too Soon To Know was their first song to make the charts, peaking at the very top. It was covered by many other artists, including Ella Fitzgerald and Dinah Washington.

♫ The Orioles - It's Too Soon To Know


Cajun music rarely makes the charts, at least not without being watered down somewhat. One performer who made it without dilution is IRY LEJEUNE.

Iry LeJeune

Iry brought the accordion back into Cajun where it’s been prominent ever since. For a couple of decades before that, the music mostly leant in the direction of western swing. Iry was killed at the age of 26 by a hit and run driver while he was changing a flat tyre on his car. He performs Evangeline Special.

♫ Iry LeJeune - Evangeline Special


Around this time EDDY ARNOLD had many songs on the charts; several that went to the top.

Eddy Arnold

He was managed by someone you may have heard of, “Colonel” Tom Parker. Old Tom might have had something to do with his success, but I’d like to put it down to Eddy’s talent (rather like Tom’s more famous acolyte).

Anyway, Eddy’s song in 1948 (or one of them) is Bouquet of Roses, a tear jerker if ever there was one.

♫ Eddy Arnold - Bouquet Of Roses


There are songs that were fine at the time, but aren’t particularly P.C. these days. This is one of them. The singer is PEGGY LEE.

Peggy Lee

I won’t say another word and just let you listen to Peggy singing Mañana.

♫ Peggy Lee - Manana


JOHN LEE HOOKER was definitely the real thing.

John Lee Hooker

He’s also quite unlike anyone else featured here today. His songs were often built around a single note and he relied on his singing and the lead guitarist to supply color and movement. So it is today on one his most famous early songs, Crawlin' Kingsnake.

♫ John Lee Hooker - Crawlin' Kingsnake


For a complete change of pace, here is BUDDY CLARK.

Buddy Clark

Buddy had a short but successful career after the war until he was killed in a plane crash in 1949. His wasn’t the first version of Ballerina to make the charts, or even the most successful, but it was very popular in its day.

♫ Buddy Clark - Ballerina




ELDER MUSIC: Taj Mahal

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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Taj

TAJ MAHAL was born Henry Saint Clair Fredericks, and that’s such a splendid name I don’t think he should have changed it.

Unlike many blues musicians, he wasn’t from the south, he was born in New York and grew up in Massachusetts. Both his parents were musicians so it was almost certain that that would be his calling.

Taj was classical trained on piano but was also proficient on clarinet and trombone. However, it was the guitar and pretty much every other stringed instrument that became his preferred choice.

Besides being one of the foremost performers of both traditional and electric blues, Taj also likes to include elements of music from around the world, particularly from Africa, the Caribbean and the Pacific.

Taj

Early in his career, indeed his third solo album, TAJ released a double album called “Giant Step / De Ole Folks at Home”. The Giant Step part was modern electric blues, and the Ole Folks part was early traditional blues, even some songs that predated the blues. I’ll start with one of the early songs, Annie's Lover.

♫ Annie's Lover


Taj

From the other record, here is its namesake Take a Giant Step, not as raucous as some in his repertoire.

♫ Take a Giant Step


Continuing on the theme of electric blues, TAJ was a guest on a concert by MICHAEL BLOOMFIELD.

Mike Bloomfield

This was recorded and released as the album “Live at Bill Graham's Fillmore West”. Here is Taj singing (and playing harmonica) with the unmistakeable sound of Michael’s electric guitar. The song is One More Mile to Go.

♫ One More Mile To Go


Taj

Returning to the “Ole Folks” TAJ performs a song called Fishin' Blues. Around the time of its release the song was rather popular with performers who liked to sing roots music. Few did it better than Taj.

♫ Fishin' Blues


Taj

As I mentioned in the introduction, TAJ likes music from all over the world. He seems to be taken by the music from Hawaii where he’s lived for some years. One of his albums that surveyed that topic is “Sacred Island”, and from that we have No Na Mamo, with the assistance of The Hula Blues Band.

♫ No Na Mamo


Taj

Getting back to nearly the beginning, to TAJ’s second album we have She Caught the Katy and Left Me a Mule to Ride. This song was one that featured in “The Blues Brothers” film, where they did a decent version. Not as good as the original though.

♫ She Caught the Katy and Left Me a Mule to Ride


Taj got together with David Hidalgo from Los Lobos, along with the group LOS CENZONTLES (The Mockingbirds) for the record “American Horizon”.

Los Cenzontles

The record had many styles of music, often in the same song as will be demonstrated here in Solo Quiero Bailar.

♫ Solo Quiero Bailar


Taj

Not neglecting his blues roots, TAJ performs Further on Down the Road, a song he’s recorded a couple of times. Not just him, pretty much every blues performer has had a go at this one.

♫ Further On Down The Road


Taj

And so back to Hawaii, we have The New Hula Blues. This really is an Hawaiian blues amalgam.

♫ The New Hula Blues


Taj

Delving into the music of Africa, TAJ gathered a number of famous performers to record the album “Maestro”. One of those is ANGÉLIQUE KIDJO, with whom he wrote and sang the song Zanzibar.

Angélique Kidjo

There’s some lovely African style guitar on this one.

♫ Zanzibar


Taj

Just because I can, I’ve included a couple of bonus tracks. These revert back to late rhythm and blues, or early rock and roll. Both are from his successful album “Phantom Blues”. The first is What Am I Living For written by the great Chuck Willis.

♫ What Am I Living For


The second is Let the Four Winds Blow, written by Roy Brown and made hugely successful by Fats Domino.

♫ Let the Four Winds Blow




ELDER MUSIC: Happy Birthday, Ronni

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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Birthday Cake

Ronni said a little while ago that she probably didn’t expect to see this day, but I’m glad she has – and I know that everyone reading this will agree with me.

I selected some birthday music, none of which I imagine that she’d have chosen herself. That’s the fun of doing these columns.

The songs today are predominantly from the fifties, the only reason for that is that I’ve used most of the others in previous columns. A number of the songs are so sad you can’t help but laugh; a good thing to do on your birthday, a better thing to do than what I did on my last birthday, but we won’t go into that.

I’ll start with an exception to my opening statement, indeed here is a moment of couth from JOHANN CHRISTIAN BACH, J.S.’s youngest son, generally called the London Bach because that’s where he lived for the last couple of decades of his life.

Bach-JC4

Like his father, J.C. wrote some cantatas; that wasn’t his main gig as it was for his dad. This one is Cantata a tre voci (Birthday cantata). This is the first movement.

♫ Bach JC - Cantata a tre voci (Birthday cantata) (1)


That’s out of the way, let’s get down to the rubbish, starting with THE FLEETWOODS.

Fleetwoods5

Okay, The Fleetwoods are really pretty good, so ignore my previous statement. I also noticed that if you really listen carefully to the words, the song sounds a lot more R rated than is usually the case in songs from the fifties.

Maybe it’s just me. They sing It's Your Birthday.

♫ The Fleetwoods - It's Your Birthday


THE FOUR KNIGHTS formed all the way back in 1943 and continued with the same line up until the late fifties when the lead singer had to drop out due to his worsening epilepsy.

Four Knights

They had several hits in the fifties and appeared regularly on Red Skelton’s TV program. They seem really happy to sing Happy Birthday, Baby, a song closer to the forties than the fifties.

♫ 4 Knights - Happy Birthday Baby


Unlike all the other songs today, where the performer wishes someone else a happy birthday, it’s the singer’s birthday instead. That singer is HANK LOCKLIN.

Hank Locklin

He bought his present and sang happy birthday to himself because his sweetie seems to be otherwise occupied. She didn’t even bother sending him a card. Hank sings Happy Birthday to Me.

♫ Hank Locklin - Happy Birthday To Me


While I was searching for songs, I noticed that whenever an age was mentioned in a song, 16 was far and away the most common. So it is with the next song by THE CRESTS.

Crests

They sing, “You’re only sixteen, but you’re my teenage queen” which sounds a bit creepy these days. Let’s hope Mr Crest is himself only 16 or 17. Anyway, now I’ve had my jaundiced look at the song (and you’d agree with me if you ever hear Jerry Lee Lewis’s version), you can listen to 16 Candles.

♫ Crests - 16 Candles


Here’s a brief sojourn into the sixties with the most famous group from that decade, THE BEATLES.

Beatles

From the album called “The Beatles”, and if you’re scratching your head over that one, it’s universally known as “The White Album”, we have Birthday.

♫ Beatles - Birthday


I have to admit that the PIXIES THREE are unknown to me.

Pixies Three

To judge from the song they seem to be having a good time, unlike several others today. It seems that they’re having a Birthday Party.

♫ Pixies Three - Birthday Party


JOHN HARTFORD has some interesting advice for what you should wear on your birthday.

John Hartford

Of course, if you think about it for a minute or two you could probably figure where I’m going. I imagine there’d be few of my readers who’d be willing to go along with John. He sings I Shoulda Wore My Birthday Suit.

♫ John Hartford - I Shoulda Wore My Birthday Suit


You can tell from the introduction to the song that things aren’t going to turn out well for THE TUNE WEAVERS.

Tune Weavers

They want to wish their baby a happy birthday. Alas, said baby is with someone else. Oh dear, I imagine a lot of us went through this as teenagers. Anyway, Happy Happy Birthday Baby.

♫ The Tune Weavers - Happy Happy Birthday Baby


Okay Ronni, do you want to change your name to Cindy for two and a half minutes. That’s so JOHNNY CRAWFORD can serenade you.

Johnny Crawford

Johnny almost certainly got a recording career because of his acting in the TV show The Rifleman. He was guaranteed name recognition. After much coaching and singing lessons, it paid off with several hits, the biggest of which is Cindy's Birthday.

♫ Johnny Crawford - Cindy's Birthday


I’ll end as I began, with another moment of couth. This time it’s MR HANDEL.

Handel

Georg knew on which side his bread was buttered – he wrote music for all sorts of royal occasions. Due to that, he became extremely rich. He wrote an ode to Queen Anne who was the queen of Great Britain after the deaths of Williamandmary (they always seemed to be mentioned that way, as if it’s one word).

What Georg wrote is Eternal Source of Light Divine (Ode for the Birthday of Queen Anne, HWV 74). Here we have some trumpet playing by WYNTON MARSALIS and some singing by KATHLEEN BATTLE.

Wynton Marsalis & Kathleen Battle

♫ Handel - Eternal Source of Light Divine (Ode for the Birthday of Queen Anne HWV 74)


Happy birthday, Ronni and I look forward to doing this next year. I hope I can find some better songs.

Champs




ELDER MUSIC: Classical Predilections 3

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 is more music that has caught my ears in recent times.

This will wake you up this Sunday morning, get your heart racing, toes tapping and generally wanting to start the day in a good mood. You may not even need coffee. The gentleman responsible is JOHANN JOSEPH FUX.

Fux

Jo was a composer during the late Baroque period. He was also a writer about music of considerable reputation. One of his works, still used today, is about the Palestinian style of Renaissance polyphony (see below).

The music today (and I wonder if he wrote the words himself) is Plaudite, Sonat Tuba, which is a Motet for Voice, Trumpet & Strings. It’s the second movement, and you probably won’t be surprised to learn that it’s called Alleluja, and is sung by JUAN DIEGO FLOREZ.

Juan Diego Florez

♫ Juan Diego Florez - Johann Joseph Fux ~ Alleluia Plaudite sonat tuba


Early in his career, JOSEPH HAYDN wrote three symphonies called “Le Matin”, “Le Midi” and “Le Soir” (Morning, Noon and Night).

Haydn

He went on to write more than a hundred symphonies, most much grander in scale and ideas, but these three are quite charming. Today I’d go for the middle one. To give it its official title, it’s the fourth movement of Symphony No. 7 in C Major.

♫ Haydn - Symphony No. 7 (4)


Very little is known about CARLO CECERE which is a bit surprising as he lived in the eighteenth century, a time well documented, at least as far as composers are concerned.

Cecere

He was probably a violinist, although some say he played the flute. He must have cocked an ear towards the mandolin as well, as several works for that instrument survive. This is one of them, the third movement for his Mandolin Concerto in A Major.

♫ Cecere - Mandolin Concerto In A Major (3)


JEAN-PHILIPPE RAMEAU was a leading musical theorist of the early eighteenth century.

Rameau1

He was also a leading French composer of operas and also music for the harpsichord. It’s noted that he was taught music at three years of age, before he could read or write (his dad was in the music biz).

Although very popular in his time, his music went out of fashion towards the end of the century, and was pretty much forgotten until revived during the twentieth century. From his Concerto Number 6 is the fourth movement, called, for some reason, L'Egyptienne.

♫ Rameau - L'Egyptienne


GIOVANNI PIERLUIGI DA PALESTRINA was born, quite fortuitously, in Palestrina near Rome. He was one of the most important composers of the Renaissance.

Palestrina

Gio studied in Rome and spent pretty much all his life in that city. He played organ and was musical director at a number of places around town during his life. He once thought of becoming a priest, but caught the eye of a wealthy widow and married her instead.

He left behind for us all hundreds of compositions, including 105 masses, 140 madrigals, more than 300 motets, hymns, offertories, Magnificats and a bunch of other things. One of those is the motet Sicut cervus. This is the second part of that performed by the Cambridge Singers.

♫ Palestrina - Sicut cervus (2)


JEAN-BAPTISTE BRÉVAL was a French cello player and composer.

Bréval

The majority of his compositions involved the cello in some way or another. He was a member of the orchestra at the Paris Opera, and probably taught cello at the Paris Conservatoire. His music was certainly part of the curriculum at the time. This is one such, the Cello Sonata, Op. 12 No. 1, the third movement.

♫ Bréval - Cello Sonata Op. 12 No. 1 (3)


JOHANN JOACHIM QUANTZ was a flute maker, flute player and composer (predominantly for the flute).

Quantz

He caught the ear of Frederick II of Prussia, himself an enthusiastic supporter of all things flute, because by all accounts, he was a pretty good flute player himself (Fred, that is, of course, who would tell him otherwise?) I’m probably dissing him too much there, as old Fred wrote music too, and his works are really fine.

Anyway, J-J must have been pretty good as well as he became Fred's resident flute person for more than 30 years. This is the third movement of JJ's Flute Concerto in G Major, QV 5-174.

♫ Quantz - Flute Concerto in G Major QV 5 174 (3)


GIOACHINO ROSSINI is best known as an opera composer, and probably even better known for the overtures to those: “The Thieving Magpie", "The Barber of Seville" and most especially "William Tell".

Rossini

That’s not the only string to his bow (sorry, I couldn’t help myself). There are quite a few other works that really should be better known. Perhaps this will help a little.

I was pleasantly surprised by how good his string quartets are because he wrote them (all six of them) in three days when he was 12 years old. He called them string sonatas, perhaps because they were written for two violins, cello and double bass, rather than the standard quartet instruments. Here is the first movement of his ♫ String Sonata No.1 in G major.

Rossini - String Sonata No.1 in G major (1)


CHARLES AVISON was an English composer as well as a writer and musical critic – he rather liked to disparage the works of Handel. Charlie spanned the Baroque and Classical periods.

Avison

That dichotomy is evident in his Concerto No.6 in D major where the two elements seem to be tugging in different directions. It makes for an interesting piece of music though. Here is the second movement.

♫ Avison - Concerto No.6 in D major (2)


I enjoy putting on a Gregorian Chant or other early polyphonic music. I just let my brain wander where it will, or read a book (I know, musical snobs say you shouldn’t do that, but I don’t care).

One album I’ve been listening to lately was recorded by Ensemble Gilles Binchois, a French group named after Gilles de Binche, one of the major composers of this sort of music from the early fifteenth century. This isn’t by him, it’s that most prolific composer, ANONYMOUS: Submersus jacet Pharao.

♫ Anonymous - Submersus jacet Pharao


Something else from that very same composer, well sort of. We tend to associate the Baroque period of music with Europe, but there was a considerable amount of activity in the various countries of South America at the time as well. Certainly, Bolivia produced some interesting music, including this piece by that ubiquitous composer ANONYMOUS. Unfortunately, the percentage of anonymous works is higher here than in Europe. Here is the third movement of >em>Sonata “Chiquitana” No 4.

♫ Anonymous - Sonata Chiquitana No. 4 AMCh 264 (3)




ELDER MUSIC: Save Your Sugar For Me

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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I thought that we all need a bit of sweetening so I'm serving you up a lump of sugar. It’s probably not very good for you, but at my age, I don’t care anymore. Okay, I tend not to eat much sugar anyway, so it’s not really a problem. It’s good for a music column though.

The GRATEFUL DEAD weren’t noted as a recording band but they were as good as anyone (when they were on song) as a live band.

Grateful Dead

However, they did record three excellent albums, one of which I’d include in my top ten. That album was “American Beauty” and from that one we have Sugar Magnolia.

Grateful Dead - Sugar Magnolia


BESSIE SMITH was known as the Empress of the Blues.

BessieSmith2

She was certainly the best known blues performer in the twenties and thirties and had a huge influence on other blues and jazz singers (as well as later rock singers such as Janis Joplin).

Her work challenged the elitist norms of her era encouraging woman, especially working class woman, to embrace their right to do things that men were doing. This is evident in Need a Little Sugar in My Bowl.

♫ Bessie Smith - Need a Little Sugar in My Bowl


In the early seventies JESSE COLIN YOUNG was extracting himself from his band The Youngbloods.

Jesse Colin Young

During that period he recorded a couple of excellent solo albums. The best of those was “Song for Juli” but it’s not that one we want today. Instead, the album is “Songbird” and from that the song we need is Sugar Babe.

♫ Jesse Colin Young - Sugar Babe


DJANGO REINHARDT could do more with playing with just two fingers on his left hand than just about any other guitarist can do with a full set.

Django Reinhardt

He lost the use of the others in a caravan fire where he was living at the time, early in his career. The doctors said he’d never play again. He showed them. From around about 1939 Django plays Sugar, with the help of an unnamed band.

♫ Django Reinhardt - Sugar


One of the first songs I thought of for this category is by the MCGUIRE SISTERS.

McGuire Sisters

They were all over the hit parade in the fifties, including several songs that hit the top of the charts. One of those was Sugartime.

♫ McGuire Sisters - Sugartime


NAT KING COLE has one of the most famous sugar songs, certainly one of his most famous songs.

Nat King Cole

This is from recordings he made with Billy May and a big band going full tilt behind him. The song is When My Sugar Walks Down the Street.

♫ Nat King Cole - When My Sugar Walks Down The Street


Besides her solo career, NANCY SINATRA had a long musical association with Lee Hazelwood.

Nancy Sinatra

As well as often recording together, Lee wrote many of her biggest songs. These Boots were Made for Walking was one of his. Jackson was another. Yet another that hit the top of the charts is Sugar Town.

♫ Nancy Sinatra - Sugar Town


Here's another song called Sugar Babe but it's a different one from Jesse Colin's. This one is by TOM RUSH.

Tom Rush

This was from his terrific early-ish album “Take a Little Walk With Me”, more than 50 years old and still one of the best albums around.

♫ Tom Rush - Sugar Babe


If the world was an equitable place JOE TEX would be a more important artist than James Brown, but it’s not, so I’ll just have to do my thing and play his music when I can.

Joe Tex

This song will get you up and dancing, or at least tapping your toes. The song is If Sugar Was as Sweet as You, a song he wrote himself.

♫ Joe Tex - If Sugar Was As Sweet As You


I can only remember one song by JIMMY GILMER & THE FIREBALLS.

Fireballs

However, checking Wiki, it seems he had quite a few that made the charts. I guess I wasn’t taking much notice at the time.

That song is Sugar Shack which was written by Keith McCormack and Jimmy Torres. Keith gave the rights to the song to his aunt, who helped him with some of the lyrics, for her birthday. That would have been a nice little earner for her as it hit the top of the charts around the world.

♫ Jimmy Gilmer & The Fireballs - Sugar Shack




ELDER MUSIC: John Sebastian

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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John Sebastian

If you’re going to be a musician, you couldn’t do much better than emulate John Sebastian. That is being born in Greenwich Village in New York, and growing up there surrounded by the best folk, blues and classical musicians of the time. Also, having a father in the business as well – John Senior was a classical harmonica player. There aren’t too many of those about.

He taught his son the instrument and there was a period in the sixties when, if you needed a harmonica on your record, he was the one to get. That is, if Sonny Terry wasn’t in town.

John started as a folk/blues performer, but when The Beatles hit town he and his friend Zal Yanovsky watched them on TV (at Cass Elliot’s house) and said, “We could do that”. And they did.

They found a bass player and a drummer (Steve Boone and Joe Butler) through friends of theirs and The LOVIN’ SPOONFUL was born.

Lovin' Spoonfu

The period from 1965 to 1968 saw the Spoonful hit the charts with more than a dozen and a half songs, as many as any band from the period. One of those is Did you Ever Have to Make up Your Mind? I like it as one of the verses resonates with me.

♫ Lovin' Spoonful - Did You Ever Have to Make UpYour Mind


Lovin' Spoonful

Probably their grittiest song from that time is Summer in the City. Indeed grit gets a mention in it. Also, who else thought of including jack hammers in a pop song?

♫ Lovin' Spoonful - Summer In The City


Lovin' Spoonful

The first single the Spoonful released was their first of many charting songs. It is Do You Believe in Magic, essentially about rock & roll, not conjuring tricks.

The group was proud of the fact that they played all the instruments in the recording studio, unlike a number of their contemporaries at the time who relied on session musicians.

♫ Lovin' Spoonful - Do You Believe in Magic


Lovin' Spoonful

On one of their tours the group was in Nashville and after a show, they repaired to a local bar where they encountered some musicians playing there that they realised were far better than they were, and yet no one knew of them. To honour them, and others in town, John wrote the song Nashville Cats.

♫ Lovin' Spoonful - Nashville Cats


John Sebastian

Around the final year of the sixties, the band was going in a couple of different directions. Zal wanted to continue in the pop vein that made them successful, and John was writing songs that anticipated the later singer/songwriter period of the early seventies. So John left and became a solo artist.

One of his earliest and most famous gigs was at Woodstock, wearing that iconic tie dyed jacket. One of the songs he performed is Younger Generation, a song about the high hopes that parents have for bringing up their kids and find they can’t quite live up to those hopes.

I’m just guessing, as I’ve never had any kids. Here is a live version of the song.

♫ John Sebastian - Younger Generation


John’s first solo album was called “John B. Sebastian” which had many of his friends along as session musicians – particularly Crosby, Stills and Nash who wanted him to be in their group. That didn’t happen. He reprised a couple of the Spoonful songs, but the best thing on the album was a new one called How Have You Been?

♫ John Sebastian - How Have You Been


John Sebastian

Here’s another song about looking back, those so inclined would call it nostalgia. It’s probably more about people sitting around with a glass of wine and a couple of guitars singing about Stories We Could Tell. It’s been covered by Jimmy Buffett and memorably by the Everly Brothers.

John Sebastian - Stories We Could Tell


John had always been a fan of Mississippi John Hurt and had learned his lesson well, as is illustrated in the song Sportin' Life, ostensibly a song written by him, Zal and Steve, but whose roots go back many years.

♫ John Sebastian - Sportin' Life


John Sebastian

In the mid-seventies, John was out of fashion and his record company, Warner Brothers, who was also a television company, was thinking of creating a TV sit-com set in a school called Kotter (the TV show, not the school). As he was on their label, they asked John if he could write a theme for it.

He decided that he couldn’t do one of that name but as the program was about a teacher returning to a school where he was once a student, a song called Welcome Back might work.

Did it ever. It was so successful that people wanted a single and an album with this song on it. One was quickly produced and the album was John’s biggest seller. Here’s that song.

♫ John Sebastian - Welcome Back


John Sebastian

The visit to Nashville that the Spoonful made, mentioned above, must have made quite an impression on John, because he wrote another fine song about the city. That one is A Song a Day in Nashville.

John Sebastian - A Song a Day in Nashville


John Sebastian

John always had a sense of humour, particularly about himself. After all, anyone who could name one of his albums “Cheapo Cheapo Productions Presents Real Live John Sebastian” is okay with me.

From that album here is Darlin' Be Home Soon. It’s another song that’s been covered extensively, most notably by Joe Cocker.

♫ John Sebastian - Darlin' Be Home Soon




ELDER MUSIC: Sleep

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.

* * *

At last, a topic we all indulge in. I suppose there’s always the chance that you might nod off during today’s column, given the topic. Let’s hope that doesn’t happen as there are some good songs that are worth a listen.

I’ll start with HOAGY CARMICHAEL who wrote songs for a living, and occasionally sang them.

Hoagy Carmichael

One such song is Two Sleepy People, which he wrote with Frank Loesser. It’s probably best known to people of our vintage from the version by Bob Hope and Shirley Ross from the film Thanks for the Memory where they also sang the title song. Here we have Hoagy and Ella Logan singing it.

♫ Hoagy Carmichael - Two Sleepy People


The EVERLY BROTHERS are having Sleepless Nights.

Everly Brothers

This is one of several of their songs covered memorably by Emmylou Harris (and others as well). Their songs were so well crafted, either by them or others, that people really want to sing them. In this case the song was written by song writers Felice and Boudleaux Bryant.

♫ Everly Brothers - Sleepless Nights


DAVE COHEN also recorded under the name David Blue.

Dave Cohen

The first time I encountered him (on record) was on a disk called “Singer Songwriter Project” where he and three others performed their own songs. One of Dave’s was called I Like to Sleep Late in the Morning, later covered memorably by David Bromberg.

♫ Dave Cohen - I Like To Sleep Late In The Morning


What a cad was HELEN SHAPIRO’s bloke.

Helen Shapiro

He gave her the flick at midnight, presumably after they were doing something or other. I’ll leave that up to you. There was only one thing she could do (well, I suppose there were several things, but we won’t go there either). She sings I Cried Myself to Sleep Last Night.

♫ Helen Shapiro - I cried myself to sleep last night


WILLIE NELSON has by far the best song today. It’s probably not the only column where I could say that.

Willie Nelson

Willie’s song is from his extraordinarily good album “Red Headed Stranger”. Any song from that would be worth featuring, but Can I Sleep in Your Arms is the only sleep related song.

♫ Willie Nelson - Can I Sleep in Your Arms


BOBBY LEWIS couldn’t sleep at all last night.

Bobby Lewis

If that isn’t a cue for a song I don’t know what is. That song is Tossin' and Turnin', a song that not only made number 1 on the charts it was also the number 1 song for 1961. Okay, there wasn’t much competition that year, but it’s still a good effort.

♫ Bobby Lewis - Tossin' And Turnin'


There’s a personal angle to GORDON LIGHTFOOT’s song, but I’m not revealing anything.

Gordon Lightfoot

It came from around the time that the album “Summer Side of Life” was released, which naturally I bought back then. The song I’m talking about in my roundabout way is Talking in Your Sleep.

♫ Gordon Lightfoot - Talking in Your Sleep


Instead of talking in her sleep, HANK WILLIAMS’ honey was crying in her sleep.

Hank Williams

Perhaps it was Helen (above), but probably not as he skedaddled, and Hank seems to be still around (in song terms, not in life, unfortunately). Hank sings (Last Night) I Heard You Crying In Your Sleep.

♫ Hank Williams - (Last Night) I Heard You Crying In Your Sleep


I’m sure if I mention THE TOKENS, those who know that group will know which song comes next.

The Tokens

I suspect that, like me, without resorting to Wiki, you couldn’t name another of their songs. It doesn’t matter, this one is worth hearing. The Lion Sleeps Tonight.

♫ The Tokens - The Lion Sleeps Tonight (Wimoweh)


MERLE HAGGARD wrote the song Don't Ever Let Your Lover Sleep Alone and it appeared on a duet album called “Old Loves Never Die” with LEONA WILLIAMS.

Merle Haggard & Leona Williams

In his autobiography, Merle said that he wished that he’d made a solo album instead, that Leona was just using him to further her career. I don’t know if that’s so, but I’ll have to say that I haven’t heard of her outside this album. She seems to be an okay singer though.

♫ Merle Haggard & Leona Williams - Don't Ever Let Your Lover Sleep Alone


Now that you’ve got to sleep, be careful you don’t Sleepwalk. That’s a cue for SANTO & JOHNNY who had a big hit with the tune way back in 1959.

Santo & Johnny

Santo and Johnny were brothers Santo and John Farina from Brooklyn and their father gave them both guitars. The tune evolved from the brothers jamming after one of their gigs.

♫ Santo & Johnny - Sleep Walk




ELDER MUSIC: 1970 Goes Forth

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 spent much of 1970 in the San Francisco bay area, initially in Berkeley, and later in Palo Alto and Los Gatos. I got to see and hear a lot of live music that year, at the Fillmore, Winterland, the Family Dog and elsewhere possibly to the long term detriment to my hearing.

CREEDENCE CLEARWATER REVIVAL were generally underrated by critics at the time, but the general public loved them.

Creedence

Their songs and records have stood the test of time,so once again, the public knew something that the critics didn’t. Each album they released around this time contained what has proved to be classic songs. Down on the Corner may be one of those from the album “Willy and the Poor Boys”.

♫ Creedence - Down on the Corner


THE KINKS were the most English of the “British Invasions” bands.

Kinks

Their songs, even whole albums, were about the minutiae about English life. One song that bucked that trend was probably their biggest hit: Lola. The song was banned by the BBC, not for the general content of the lyrics, but because the song mentioned Coca Cola. Can’t have brand names on the Beeb.

♫ Kinks - Lola


MICHAEL NESMITH was really the only ex-member of The Monkees who had a decent career separate from that group.

Mike Nesmith

He was even productive before the group was formed – he wrote the terrific song, Different Drum. Afterwards, he formed several country rock groups and recorded a number of well regarded albums.

One of those was “Magnetic South” on which the song Joanne appeared. The song is a real earworm (for me anyway). You have been warned.

♫ Michael Nesmith - Joanne


BLOOD, SWEAT & TEARS’ second album produced a number of hits. It was their first without the guiding hand of Al Kooper, who formed the group.

Blood Sweat and Tears

In place of Al, who did most of the singing on that first album, they had the fine baritone David Clayton-Thomas doing the honours. The song And When I Die was written by Laura Nyro and was first recorded by Peter, Paul & Mary. It was also one the hits for BS&T.

♫ Blood Sweat and Tears - And When I Die


1970 saw SIMON & GARFUNKEL at the peak of their creativity.

Simon and Garfunkel

It also saw their swansong with the album “Bridge Over Troubled Water”. The title song was one of the finest ever put on to vinyl. Perversely, I won’t feature that one, but instead here’s El Condor Pasa (If I Could).

Simon and Garfunkel - El Condor Pasa (If I Could)


By 1970, STEVIE WONDER was starting to make a name for himself as an adult performer rather than just as Little Stevie Wonder, as he was initially known.

Stevie Wonder

It was still a couple of years until he would record his masterpiece album “Innervisions”, however, he was producing fine pop songs like Signed Sealed Delivered I'm Yours.

♫ Stevie Wonder - Signed Sealed Delivered I'm Yours


On their second album (“Déjà Vu”), Crosby Stills & Nash brought in Neil Young, because on the first album Steve Stills pretty much played all the instruments and it was agreed that a bit of help would be nice. Naturally, they called the group CROSBY STILLS NASH & YOUNG, but you all know that.

Crosby Stills Nash and Young

The album they recorded was a huge hit as were several of the songs from it, including Teach Your Children. The pedal steel guitar on the song was played by Jerry Garcia.

Crosby Stills Nash & Young - Teach Your Children


After hearing the Staple Singers (or some such group) NORMAN GREENBAUM decided that he could write a gospel song, so he did.

Norman Greenbaum

Naturally, he imbued it with the sounds of the day – heavy, fuzz-tone guitar and drums to the fore, but in spite of that I’ve always liked it. The song is Spirit in the Sky.

♫ Norman Greenbaum - Spirit In The Sky


CHICAGO started out as The Chicago Transit Authority and their first album was under that name. However, the real organization with the same name objected and the group reverted to the reduced moniker.

Chicago

Although somewhat long and self indulgent (it was a double album), a lot of that first record was pretty good. From it we have I'm A Man. This one is typical of the period – heavy wah-wah laced guitar, extended drum solo, a lot of cowbell action, soul-sounding singing. In spite of all that it still sounds good.

♫ Chicago - I'm A Man


By 1970, The Miracles were being billed as SMOKEY ROBINSON & THE MIRACLES, because their main man was the singer, songwriter and producer of the group.

Smokey & ;the Miracles

Not just that group, he did the same for many acts on the Motown label. Smokey was hoping to retire from touring but the success of The Tears of a Clown kept him on the road for another couple of years.

♫ Smokey Robinson - The Tears Of A Clown


MUNGO JERRY was a British group who had an ever changing line up whose one constant was the presence of Ray Dorset.

Mungo Jerry

That’s Ray, third from the left. They had quite a few hits in their home country but only one that really impacted elsewhere. That song is In the Summertime.

♫ Mungo Jerry - In The Summertime




ELDER MUSIC: Classical Predilections 2

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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.

* * *

If this were a radio program, I’d play the first track and ask who you think composed it. As you’re all smart cookies, I imagine you’d say something along the lines of, “Well, it’s rather like Mozart, but not quite. Sort of Haydn, but again just misses. Maybe it’s one of their contemporaries – one of Bach’s sons or similar”. That’s certainly what went through my mind when the radio did just that.

We’re all wrong, of course, or they wouldn’t have asked. It was written by NIGEL WESTLAKE.

Nigel Westlake

“Who?” I hear you ask. Nigel is a young Australian composer (well younger than us – he tuned 60 recently) and this work is nothing like all the others of his I’ve heard.

It sounds like a piano concerto and he calls it Diving with George. George was his uncle and a respected surgeon in Melbourne who liked diving (with scuba gear, not jumping off a board into a pool).

♫ Westlake - Diving with George


GIOVANNI VIOTTI was an Italian composer and violinist whose fame for playing the violin spread far and wide.

Viotti

Gio was violin teacher to Marie Antoinette, but when the French revolution came he decided it was safer in London. He had some trouble there too, but that was resolved eventually and became a British citizen.

He’s best known for his compositions for violin, but he wrote works for other instruments as well. Going with his strength, here is the third movement of his Violin Concerto No. 2 in E major, G. 44.

♫ Viotti - Violin Concerto No. 2 in E major G. 44 (3)


JOHN FIELD was an Irish composer and pianist.

John Field

His father and grandfather were both musicians (violin and organ respectively) so he had a head start. The family moved to London when John was about 10 where he had lessons from Muzio Clementi. Later John and Muzio toured Europe playing piano to great acclaim.

John is regarded as the person who invented the nocturne. Chopin took notice of this and made it his own. Here’s one of John’s inventions, the Nocturne No. 1 in E flat major, H24.

♫ Field - Nocturne No.1 in E Flat Major H.24


I imagine if you’re going to be an opera singer, it might help to have a name that’s one of the most famous in the field; in this case the singer is AIDA GARIFULLINA. Look out for her folks, she’s wonderful.

Aida Garifullina

We won’t have something from her namesake opera, instead it’s by NIKOLAI RIMSKY-KORSAKOV.

Rimsky-Korsakov

Nik wrote the opera “The Golden Cockerel”, but he knew it had no chance of being staged as it was an implied criticism of monarchy, and the Czar would have none of that.

It finally got staged a few years later, and even then he had to change it a bit to satisfy the censors. From that, Aida sings Hymn to the Sun.

♫ Rimsky-Korsakov - The Golden Cockerel ~ Hymn to the Sun


These days, after J.S. Bach, ANTONIO VIVALDI is probably the best known baroque composer.

Vivaldi

Tony had a considerable influence on J.S. who grabbed some of his compositions and created variations on them. I don’t know if this is one of those – probably not because he wrote a hell of a lot of music. Here is the second movement of Sonata for Oboe and Continuo RV 53 in C minor.

♫ Vivaldi - Sonata for oboe and continuo RV 53 in C minor (2)


There is a story that Henry VIII wrote the tune Greensleeves. It’s possible, but the odds are stacked against that being true. The tune was certainly around during his time as you’ll hear.

DIEGO ORTIZ was a Spanish composer and writer on various musical subjects who lived in the sixteenth century.

Ortiz

His life coincided with Henry’s and one of his compositions is called Recercada No 7 sobre la Romanesca. To my ears this sounds like a first draft of Greensleeves. See what you think.

♫ Ortiz - Romanesca Recercada 7


JOHANN HUMMEL was born in Pressburg, nowadays called Bratislava in Slovakia. Back then it was part of the Austro-Hungarian Empire.

Hummel

Early on Jo caught the ear of Mozart who decided to take him on as a pupil, and also invited him to live with the Mozart family for a while (that turned into two years).

He was later a good friend of both Beethoven and Schubert and he taught Mendelssohn. The piano was his main instrument and today we have the third movement of his Piano Trio No. 1 in E-Flat Major, Op. 12.

♫ Hummel - Piano Trio No. 1 in E-Flat Major Op. 12 (3)


ISABELLA LEONARDA was born in 1620 in Novara, Italy.

Isabella Leonarda

She was put into a convent when she was 16, and held many posts within that due to the influence of her prominent family. This allowed her to compose music, and she became the most productive woman composer of her era.

Not surprisingly, most of her music was for the church, including her Motet Op. 6 No 5, Ave suavis dilecto. This is sung by LOREDANA BACCHETTA.

Loredana Bacchetta

♫ Leonarda - Motet Op. 6 No 5. Ave suavis dilecto


JOSEPH-FRANÇOIS GARNIER was a French Composer and oboe player.

Garnier_JF

He was born into a family of modest circumstances – his father was a cobbler – but his uncle was in the music trade. Unc took young J.F. to Paris and got him a job playing the oboe in the Royal Academy of Music which became the Paris Opera after the revolution.

He was a whiz on his instrument and stayed there a long time. He became their main oboe player (and he occasionally played flute), later premiering some of his own compositions. One of those is his Symphonie Concertante No. 2 for 2 Oboes & Orchestra. This is the first movement.

♫ Garnier - Symphonie Concertante No. 2 (1)