607 posts categorized "Elder Music"

ELDER MUSIC: Paper

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

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

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

Nat King Cole Trio

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

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

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


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

Richard Dimples Fields

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

♫ Richard Fields - She's Got Papers On Me


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

BB King

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

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


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

Ray Price

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

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


THE BEATLES get into the act.

The Beatles

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

♫ Beatles - Paperback Writer


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

Mills Brothers

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

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

♫ The Mills Brothers - Paper Doll 1942


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

Emmylou Harris

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

♫ Emmylou Harris - One Paper Kid


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

Slim Whitman

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

♫ Slim Whitman - Paper Roses


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

Roy Orbison

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

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

♫ Roy Orbison - Pretty Paper


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

Bill Haley

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

♫ Bill Haley - Paper Boy


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

Statler Brothers

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

♫ Statler Brothers - Your Picture In The Paper


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

Dean Martin

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

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



ELDER MUSIC: I’ve Told Every Little Star

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Jack Denny

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

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

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


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

Diana Panton

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

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


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

Mary Ellis

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

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

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


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

Brad Mehldau

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

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

♫ Brad Mehldau - I've Told Every Little Star


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

Bing Crosby

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

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


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

Marion Marlowe

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


I was surprised that MARIO LANZA had recorded our song.

Mario Lanza

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

♫ Mario Lanza - I've Told Every Little Star


Another who gives up the full introduction is JOAN MORRIS.

Joan Morris

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

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


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

Sonny Rollins

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

♫ Sonny Rollins - I've Told Every Little Star


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

Linda Scott

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

♫ Linda Scott - I've Told Every Little Star



ELDER MUSIC: Boats

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

I’ll begin with LYLE LOVETT.

Lyle Lovett

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

♫ Lyle Lovett - If I Had a Boat


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

Stars

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

♫ Stars - Last Of The River Boats


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

Highwaymen

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

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

♫ Highwaymen - Michael Row The Boat Ashore


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

Sonny Rollins & MJQ

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

♫ Sonny Rollins - On A Slow Boat To China


Here is an unusual song by the INK SPOTS.

Ink Spots

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

♫ Ink Spots - Someone's Rocking My Dreamboat


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

Split Enz

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

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

♫ Split Enz - Six Months in a Leaky Boat


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

Harry Belafonte

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

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

Harry Belafonte - The Banana Boat Song


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

Guy Clark

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

Guy Clark - Boats to Build


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

Hoagy Carmichael

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

Hoagy Carmichael - Riverboat Shuffle


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

Jo Stafford

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

Jo Stafford - Shrimp Boats


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

Dionne Warwick

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

Dionne Warwick - Trains And Boats And Planes



ELDER MUSIC: Classical Predilections 8

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

* * *

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

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

Dall'Abaco

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

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

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

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


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

Bach-JS

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

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


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

Scarlatti

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

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

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


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

Sirmen

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

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

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

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


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

Pergolesi

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

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

♫ Pergolesi - Stabat Mater ~ Duet


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

Arensky

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

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

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


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

Gaspar Fernandes

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

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

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


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

Saint-Saëns

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

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

Elina Garanca

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


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

Giornovichi

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

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

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

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


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

Berwald

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

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

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



ELDER MUSIC: 1952 Yet Again

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

* * *

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

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

Frankie Laine & Doris Day

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

♫ Frankie Laine & Doris Day - Sugarbush


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

Percy Mayfield

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

♫ Percy Mayfield - Cry Baby


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

Les Paul and Mary Ford

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

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


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

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

Jo Stafford

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

♫ Jo Stafford - Ay-Round The Corner


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

Rosco Gordon

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

♫ Rosco Gordon - No More Doggin'


It was always hard to categorise JOHNNIE RAY.

Johnnie Ray

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

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

♫ Johnnie Ray - Here I Am Broken Hearted


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

Marie Adams

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

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


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

Fats Domino

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

♫ Fats Domino - Poor Me


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

Ruth Brown

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

♫ Ruth Brown - Daddy Daddy


PERRY COMO was synonymous with the music of this year.

Perry Como

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

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


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

Jackson Brothers

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

♫ Jackson Brothers - We're Gonna Rock This Joint



ELDER MUSIC: Country Performers Who Should be Better Known

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

* * *

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

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

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

Lacy J Dalton

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

♫ Lacy J Dalton - Crazy Blue Eyes


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

Rusty Wier

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

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

♫ Rusty Wier - The Coast Of Colorado


DAVID ALLAN COE is not really a mainstream performer.

David Allan Coe

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

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

♫ David Allan Coe - If Only Your Eyes Could Lie


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

Willis Alan Ramsey

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

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

♫ Willis Alan Ramsey - Muskrat Love (Muskrat Candlelight)


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

Darden Smith

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

♫ Darden Smith - Two Dollar Novels


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

Amazing RhythmAces

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

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

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


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

Robin Lee

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

♫ Robin Lee - This Old Flame


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

Herb Pedersen

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

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

♫ Herb Pedersen - Wait A Minute


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

R. B. Morris

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

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

♫ RB Morris - They Say There's A Time


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

Lee Ann Womack

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

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


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

Amazing Rhythm Aces

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

♫ Amazing Rhythm Aces - Rodrigo Rita and Elaine



ELDER MUSIC: Classical – By the Numbers

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

* * *

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

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

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

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

Beethoven

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

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


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

Mozart

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

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


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

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

Fanny Mendelssohn

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

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

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


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

Haydn

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

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

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


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

Weber

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

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

♫ Weber - Clarinet Quintet (4)


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

Pleyel

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

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

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

♫ Pleyel - Sextet in E flat major (1)


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

Hummel

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

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


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

Peter Winter

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

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

♫ Winter - Octet for winds and strings (3)


NINE

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

Farrenc

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

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

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


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

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

Françaix

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

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


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

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

Mendelssohn15

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

Mendelssohn - Octet Op 20 (1)



ELDER MUSIC: Johnny Cash

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

* * *

Johnny Cash

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

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

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

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

♫ Guess Things Happen That Way


Johnny Cash & Ten Two

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

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

♫ Tennessee Flat Top Box


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

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

♫ Daddy Sang Bass


JohnnyCash33

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

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

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

♫ The Ballad of Ira Hayes


Johnny Cash

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

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

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

Here is the appropriately named A Singer of Songs.

♫ A Singer of Songs


Johnny Cash

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

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

♫ Folsom Prison Blues


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

♫ Don't Take Your Guns To Town


Johnny Cash

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

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

♫ Joshua Gone Barbados


Johnny Cash

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

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

♫ Mr. Garfield


Johnny Cash

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

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

♫ Four Strong Winds


Johnny Cash

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

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

♫ Highway Patrolman



ELDER MUSIC: Macheath

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

* * *

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

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

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

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

Lotte Lenya

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

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


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

Les Paul and Mary Ford

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

♫ Les Paul & Mary Ford - Moritat


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

Peggy Lee

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

♫ Peggy Lee - Mack The Knife


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

Sting

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

♫ Sting - The Ballad Of Mac The Knife


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

Rickie Lee Jones

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

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

♫ Rickie Lee Jones - Mac the Knife


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

Dave Van Ronk

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

♫ Dave Van Ronk - Mack the Knife


SONNY ROLLINS produces my favorite version of the song.

Sonny Rollins

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

♫ Sonny Rollins - Moritat


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

Roger Daltrey

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

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


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

Dr John

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

♫ Dr John - Mack the Knife


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

Louis Armstrong

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

♫ Louis Armstrong - Mack The Knife


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



ELDER MUSIC: John Prine

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

* * *

John Prine

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

John Prine

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

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

♫ Hello in There


John Prine

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

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

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

♫ Paradise


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

Nanci Griffith

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

♫ Speed of the Sound of Loneliness


John Prine

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

♫ Jesus, The Missing Years


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

John & Iris

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

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

♫ Let's Invite Them Over


John Prine

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

♫ Lake Marie


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

Bonnie Raitt

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

♫ Bonnie Raitt - Angel From Montgomery


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

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

Dolores Keane

♫ In a Town This Size


John Prine

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

♫ Illegal Smile


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

Lee Ann Womack

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

Fifteen Years Ago


John Prine

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

Donald and Lydia



ELDER MUSIC: Classical Predilections 7

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

* * *

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

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

Mozart

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

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

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


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

Carr-Boyd

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

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

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

♫ Carr-Boyd - Rag for Razz


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

Johann Stamitz

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

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

♫ Stamitz J - Clarinet Concerto in B-flat major


Not a great deal is known about JACQUES MOREL.

Morel

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

♫ Morel - Chaconne en trio in G major


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

Giuliani

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

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


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

William Barton

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

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

♫ Barton - Birdsong At Dusk


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

Chopin

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

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

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


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

Sibelius

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

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


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

Puccini

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

ReneeFleming

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


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

Wagenseil

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

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

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



ELDERMUSIC: Motown - The A.M.'s Choice

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.

* * *

This is the response of Norma, the Assistant Musicologist, to Mojo magazine’s top 100 songs from Motown.

Quite a few years ago, I wrote about the top 20 and you can find those columns here and here. These are the songs the A.M. thought should have been in the top 10.

It surprised me that she would do this as I didn't think that she was a great fan of Motown over the years. You live and learn. The only one she thought they got right was their number 1, Martha and the Vandellas with Dancing in the Street.

The songs are in no particular order and the numbers in brackets after each is the position that Mojo assigned each song (where they were present in the list). The A.M. said that she avoided the obvious songs, the ones that made the original top 20.

As is usual when the A.M. selects music for a column she leaves me to do the actual writing, so let's get this show on the road.

THE TEMPTATIONS were a major presence in the top 20, deservedly so, and they are going to be included here as well.

Temptations

They had a number of lineup changes over the years, but that didn’t seem to affect the quality of the music they recorded. Here is The Way You Do the Things You Do. (55)

♫ Temptations - The Way You Do The Things You Do


MARVIN GAYE made a couple of appearances in the top 20 but none as a duet singer. The A.M. is partial to duets, so we have a couple of those today. The first is with KIM WESTON.

Marvin & Kim

After Marvin and Kim had a hit with It Takes Two (36), they recorded an album together (“Take Two”). Shortly after the album was released, Kim left Motown because of a dispute over her royalties, so no more Marvin and Kim.

♫ Marvin Gaye - It Takes Two


MARTHA AND THE VANDELLAS make their first appearance with Nowhere to Run (50).

Martha & Vandellas

They are Martha Reeves, Rosaland Ashford and Betty Kelley. There were other members early on but they dropped by the wayside. The song is one of the group’s signature songs, but they have several in that category.

♫ Martha&Vandellas - Nowhere to Run


DAVID RUFFIN is best known as one of the lead singers in The Temptations during their classic period.

David Ruffin

After he left the group, he had a few solo hits and teamed with his brother to record a quite decent album. He later teamed with fellow Temptations singer Eddie Kendricks to perform old Temps’ songs, and the two of them also did some great performances with Hall & Oates.

David’s increased drug use led to deteriorating performances and eventually his death at age 50. From his solo period he sings Walk Away From Love (66).

♫ David Ruffin - Walk Away From Love


I was surprised that MARY WELLS’ most famous song rated as low as it did.

Mary Wells

The song was written and produced by Smokey Robinson and it was easily Mary’s biggest hit. After this one, she left Motown in the hopes of getting a better deal elsewhere but nothing she did subsequently came anywhere near the success of My Guy (48).

♫ Mary Wells - My Guy


Now this one really surprised me. The A.M. has never expressed any enthusiasm for THE SUPREMES. Indeed, generally the opposite. I think it's more to do with Diana Ross than the group itself.

Supremes

The A.M. chose You Can’t Hurry Love (27) which certainly has a good backbeat and has some almost jazz-like phrasing. I think it was a good choice.

♫ Supremes - You Can't Hurry Love


The A.M. and I are in agreement that the FOUR TOPS should be present and not just because they had five songs in the top 50.

Four Tops

They were a superb singing group lead by one of the finest around, Levi Stubbs. Baby I Need Your Loving (43) was the lowest ranking of theirs in the list.

♫ Four Tops - Baby I Need Your Loving


KIM WESTON was up there with Marvin, and now she’s on her own.

Kim Weston

Her song is Take Me in Your Arms (Rock Me a Little While) (not ranked). The A.M. says she really likes the Doobie Brothers’ version of this which was on high rotation on a bus trip she took through South America back in 1975, but the Doobies don’t count as Motown, so Kim it is.

♫ Kim Weston - Take Me In Your Arms (Rock Me A Little While)


MARVIN GAYE makes another duet appearance, this time with TAMMI TERRELL.

Marvin & Tammi

Tammi took over dueting duties with Marvin after Kim went elsewhere. Marvin and Tammi were even more successful and were really close friends. Tragedy struck when Tammi was diagnosed with brain cancer and died at only 24.

The writing (and occasional singing) duo Ashford and Simpson wrote the song Ain’t No Mountain High Enough (22) and this version was successful enough for them to write more songs for Marvin and Tammi.

♫ Marvin Gaye - Ain't No Mountain High Enough


We end with the A.M.’s number 1. The performers are MARTHA AND THE VANDELLAS.

Martha & Vandellas

Mojo had them at the top as well, but with a different song. The A.M. thinks that (Love Is Like A) Heat Wave (39) should have been at the top.

Martha&Vandellas - (Love Is Like A) Heat Wave



ELDER MUSIC: 1940 Again

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

* * *

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

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

Art Tatum

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

♫ Art Tatum - Sweet Lorraine


THE INK SPOTS make their regular appearance again today.

Ink Spots

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

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


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

Artie Shaw

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

♫ Artie Shaw - Frenesi


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

T-Bone Walker

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

♫ T-Bone Walker - T Bone Blues


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

Billie Holiday

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

♫ Billie Holiday - Night and Day


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

Jimmy Rushing

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

♫ Jimmy Rushing - I Want A Little Girl


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

Will Bradley

That song is Down the Road a Piece.

♫ Will Bradley - Down the Road a Piece


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

Glenn Miller

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

♫ Glenn Miller - Pennsylvania 6-5000


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

Erskine Hawkins

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

♫ Erskine Hawkins - After Hours


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

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

Bing Crosby & Connee Boswell

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

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

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



ELDER MUSIC: L'Angélus

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.

* * *

Langelus

L'ANGÉLUS is a family band, surnamed Rees, from Lafayette, Louisiana. There are four in the group, two sisters and two brothers. They are Katie who plays guitar, Paige on bass, John on drums and occasional piano and Stephen plays fiddle, accordion, saxophone, harmonica and anything else that needs playing.

Their music is Cajun with Irish roots and some rock and roll thrown in as well.

They all sing lead vocals, depending on the song, and because they are siblings, their harmonies are gorgeous. They started out performing with their mother Linda as Linda Lou and the Lucky Four. Mum occasionally joins them on stage these days.

If you check their vids on YouTube, and there are a lot of them, you’ll find that they really seem to be having a good time in all of them. That’s a nice change.

Langelus

Way back in the late forties, Professor Longhair recorded a song called Hey, Little Girl. A few years later, into the fifties, Zydeco accordion master Clifton Chenier performed the song as Ay-tete Fee.

The record company didn’t know what he was singing so Clifton did it again using his native New Orleans jive talk as Eh, tite Fille. Others, including our family, have sung it as Hey 'Tite Fille. STEPHEN sings this one.

♫ Hey 'Tite Fille


Langelus

Iko Iko is a traditional New Orleans song made popular by The Dixie Cups in 1965. It’s a song that’s had several law suits concerning its authorship and who owns the rights to the song. This is unfortunate, but not unexpected. Anyway, our family perform it live with PAIGE singing lead.

♫ Iko Iko


Langelus

Give a Little Bit is as close as L'Angélus get to a standard pop song with standard instrumentation – two guitars, bass, drums. Of course, they do it really well with STEPHEN singing lead.

♫ Give a Little Bit


Langelus

The group recorded an album of religious music as is their wont. I like the songs that are not in English as I don’t have to understand the words. I have the same attitude to opera; I much prefer those in Italian and French. I really don’t like opera in English.

Anyway, one of the songs from the album is called J'irai la Voir Un Jour, sung by PAIGE

♫ J'irai la Voir Un Jour


Langelus6

River Road was written by all members of the group. It’s another that comes close to a conventional pop song. It has in it the road to New Orleans, the Mississippi River, the Gulf wind and so on.

KATIE sings this one.

♫ River Road


Langelus14

Ça C'est Bon is another song written by all four members and it is also the name of their first album. It mixes Cajun style with some hard driving drumming, as well as some nice harmonies (that goes without saying, but I said it anyway). STEPHEN sings lead.

♫ Ça C'est Bon


Langelus12

JOHN steps forward, well actually, he sits forward as he’s still at the drum kit, with the Van Morrison classic Brown Eyed Girl.

♫ Brown Eyed Girl


Langelus19

It seems that our candle is alight, which is good so we can read by its flickering illumination. Of course, it sounds better in French. So, La Chandelle Est Allumée, sung by PAIGE.

♫ La Chandelle Est Allumée


Langelus18

Wait a Minute was written by Herb Pedersen and first appeared on the album “Old Train” by the bluegrass band The Seldom Scene. Herb recorded a terrific version himself on his first solo album (he’d previously been a member of The Dillards) called “Southwest”. In the version today, KATIE sings lead.

♫ Wait a Minute


Langelus10

Ponchatoula is a small town in Louisiana and during the American Civil War it was captured by the northern army, as was much of the state. The current demographics suggest to me that people would rather leave the town than return to it. However, there is no accounting for taste because apparently, our family, or at least PAIGE, is dead set on Goin' Back to Ponchatoula.

♫ Goin' Back To Ponchatoula


I’ll end with Cajun legend D.L. MENARD who joins our band to perform one of his songs.

DLMenard1

It’s a song D.L. wrote that L'Angélus have also recorded. Here is a version where they all got together in somebody’s back yard and really nailed it. The song is The Back Door.

♫ The Back Door


Langelus22


ELDER MUSIC: Classical Predilections 6

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

* * *

Here is some more music that has taken my fancy in recent times. Some I heard on the radio, others I played for my own enjoyment and thought I’d share it with you.

JOHANN FASCH was a German violinist and composer.

Fasch

Jo’s dad died when he was about 12 and the family moved in with his mother’s brother who was a clergyman. It was through him that young Jo became a choir boy and made the acquaintance of several composers who put him on the path to becoming a composer himself.

He wrote cantatas, concertos, symphonies and chamber music. Surprisingly, nothing he wrote was published during his lifetime. One such is his Concerto for two Oboes da caccia, two Violas, two Bassoons and Continuo in G major. The oboe da caccia was a hunting oboe.

I didn’t know that there was such a thing. It’s a bit deeper than the regular oboe and looks like this.

Oboe da caccia1

I’ll play the whole concerto as it’s quite short as was the way of things back then before Vivaldi, Telemann and Bach came along and changed all that.

♫ Fasch - Concerto for 2 Oboes da caccia 2 Violas 2 Bassoons and Continuo in G Major FaWV L_G11


The music of PHILIP GLASS tends to polarise people.

Philip Glass

Nobody seems to be ho hum about it – you usually love it or hate it. You can tell where I stand as I’m including him today. I especially like his piano music and I’ve included a piece today, his Etude No. 2. Listen with an open mind.

♫ Philip Glass - Etude 2


Continuing with contemporary music, ELENA KATS-CHERNIN is easily Australia’s finest living composer.

ElenaKats-Chernin

It might not induce you to listen to this when I say that the text of the piece is made up of mostly nonsense syllables sourced from Russian words to do with sea creatures; those words are then split up and used in reverse.

The composition was first heard at the opening ceremony of the Sydney Olympic Games. It’s performed today by Sally Whitwell playing piano and the Gondwana Voices, a Sydney young people’s choir. Here is Deep Sea Dreaming.

♫ Kats-Chernin - Deep Sea Dreaming


For a complete change of pace, I give you MAX BRUCH.

Max Bruch

Max was a German composer who has a couple of hundred compositions to his name, but is best known for his violin concertos which have become a staple on the concert circuit. That is especially so of his Violin Concerto No 1 in G Minor. Here is the third movement.

♫ Bruch - Violin Concerto No 1 (3)


MAURICE RAVEL is best known (and quite often only known) for Bolero.

Ravel

Like every composer, there’s more to him than a single composition. In 1904, the French musicologist Pierre Aubry was preparing a lecture on Greek folksongs. He enlisted the help of Greek-born fellow musicologist and critic Michel-Dimitri Calvocoressi to provide some examples. He, in turn, asked his friend Maurice to orchestrate some of the chosen songs.

One of those is Chanson des cueilleuses de lentisques (Song of the Pistachio Harvesters). It’s sung by the marvelous soprano SARA MACLIVER.

Sara Macliver

♫ Ravel - Chanson des cueilleuses de lentisques


NICOLA FRANCESCO HAYM was an Italian jack of all trades.

Haym

He went to London when he was in his early twenties and stayed there for the rest of his life. He took a job as a theatre manager and also wrote the words for operas by various composers, including Mr Handel.

Besides that he composed music of his own, was an artist and a literary editor who wrote about linguists, art, politics, poetry, geography, mathematics and astronomy.

Nic is the only composer I’ve come across who was a numismatist, being an expert on early Greek and Roman coins. He wrote several trio sonatas, one of which is the Trio Sonata No. 1 in D Minor, Op. 1. This is the fourth movement.

♫ Haym - Trio Sonata No. 1 in D Minor Op. 1 (4)


PYOTR TCHAIKOVSKY has a suite called “The Seasons”, a bit like Haydn, Vivaldi and others.

Tchaikovsky

This is a misnomer as it’s really just the months of the year. These are twelve solo piano compositions and are quite lovely, gentle pieces; a million miles away from his bombastic works. The one I’ve included is June. It’s played by Vladimir Ashkenazy.

♫ Tchaikovsky - The Seasons (June)


CAMILLE SAINT-SAËNS was a French composer, organist and pianist.

Saint-Saëns

He was a child prodigy and performed major works in concert before he was a teenager. He was a bit of a polymath as he excelled in philosophy, literature, Greek and Latin, mathematics, astronomy and archaeology.

Camille is probably best known for rather over the top works like the Organ Symphony (No. 3) and Danse Macabre.

His Cello Concerto No. 1 in A minor, Op. 33 is not in that mold; it’s a lot quieter than those. This is the second movement with Ha-Na Chang playing the cello.

♫ Saint-Saëns - Cello Concerto No. 1 in A Minor Op.33 (2)


There is an oratorio that GEORG HANDEL wrote three times.

Handel

Well, he revised it twice would be more accurate. The first time he wrote it in Italy and called it Il trionfo del Tempo e del Disinganno (The Triumph of Time and Disillusion). The next time was when he had moved to London and he called it Il trionfo del Tempo e della Verità (The Triumph of Time and Truth).

The third version was in English and just called The Triumph of Time and Truth. An aria from that is called “One Band Of Pleasures Keeps Watch Over My Thoughts”.

♫ Handel - One Band Of Pleasures Keeps Watch Over My Thoughts


I’ll end with FRANZ DANZI whose name might give away his origins. He was born in Germany to an Italian cello player.

Danzi

Franz took after his dad and took up the cello himself. He also wrote music and was a conductor of some note at the time. His compositions tended to favour chamber music – duos, quartets, quintets, septets and the like.

What we have today, however, is a bigger work. It’s the Concertante in B-flat major for flute, clarinet & orchestra, Op. 41, the first movement.

♫ Danzi - Sinfonia Concertante in B-flat major for flute clarinet & orchestra Op. 41 (1)



ELDER MUSIC: Felice and Boudleaux Bryant

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.

* * *

Felice&BoudleauxBryant1

FELICE AND BOUDLEAUX BRYANT wrote several thousand songs, somewhere between three and seven, depending on who’s counting. Here are a few of them that you might recognise.

People of a certain age (that is, round about mine) tend to associate them with the Everly Brothers, as they wrote a bunch of songs for them, most of which were big sellers. There’ll be a few of those today.

The Oxford American Magazine summed up their writing style best...

”If you’re drawn to musicians who salvage their art from tragic romance, addiction, and other personal wreckage, you may as well turn elsewhere now.

“The lives and joint career of Felice and Boudleaux Bryant, Nashville’s first full-time, non-performing songwriters, offer few attractions for the rubbernecker. By all accounts, their 42-year marital and creative partnership was nearly idyllic, as Boudleaux acknowledged when asked to explain the optimism of many of their songs: 'I suppose it’s because we’ve had such a very wonderful relationship.'”

Felice said,

“'We started writing for the hell of it, for fun,' Boudleaux said, 'and after about 80 songs we thought, this looks like it could be a good thing. But we originally wrote them for our own amusement.'”

I’ll start, appropriately, with the EVERLY BROTHERS and one of their big hits.

EverlyBrothers13

As mentioned above, they wrote a lot for the Everlys, and this will not be the only song of theirs. It’s Wake Up Little Susie.

♫ Everly Brothers - Wake Up Little Susie


By 1960 there was a fad for teenage tragedy songs. Not just the teenagers (Tell Laura I love Her, Teen Angel and so on) but others as well (by Marty Robbins, Patti Page etc).

The Bryants wrote a song to send up this phenomenon, called Let’s Think About Living and BOB LUMAN was the singer who turned it into a considerable hit.

BobLuman5

Bob was from Texas and lived in some wonderfully named towns early on – he was born in Blackjack, grew up in Nacogdoches and went to high school in Kilgore. His father was a good amateur musician and encouraged young Bob.

His first band included the great guitarist James Burton, before he played with Ricky Nelson, Elvis, Emmylou Harris and anyone else who wanted the very best. Anyway, here’s Bob with the song.

♫ Bob Luman - Let's Think About Living


BUDDY HOLLY mostly performed his own songs.

BuddyHolly41

However, now and then he’d have a go at someone else’s. This one turned out to be quite a hit for Buddy, Raining in My Heart.

♫ Buddy Holly - Raining In My Heart


Here is our second dose of the EVERLY BROTHERS.

EverlyBrothers41

Their song is Sleepless Nights. This was also performed by the Flying Burrito Brothers, a group that contained Chris Hillman, founder member of The Byrds, and Gram Parsons, himself a member of The Byrds for a short time.

♫ Everly Brothers - Sleepless Nights


A few people have recorded the song, She Wears My Ring, but the version I like is by JOHNNY O'KEEFE.

JOK5

Johnny was the first and best of Australia’s early rock and rollers. He started out as a wild one (a song he wrote and recorded) but like many from that time, mellowed over the years.

This song is on the mellower end of his output, but it’s still evident he’s a rocker when you listen to his voice.

♫ Johnny O'Keefe - She Wears My Ring


Love Hurts was originally recorded by the Everly Brothers. It was later covered really well by Gram Parsons and Emmylou Harris. Emmy also did her own version, as have several other performers. One of those is LEO SAYER.

LeoSayer8

Leo was a bit of a chameleon, changing styles depending on what was popular at the time. However, he always brought a little extra to everything he performed. This one is a little heavy on the celestial choirs and strings but he does a good job.

♫ Leo Sayer - Love Hurts


Some more EVERLY BROTHERS.

EverlyBrothers4

It seems they were naughty and got banged up in the slammer. However, they don’t want Mary to know about this. It should become obvious to her when they don’t come home for quite some time, or ever, according to the song. Take a Message to Mary.

♫ Everly Brothers - Take a Message to Mary


When SUE THOMPSON had several hits in the early sixties - she sounded to us as if she were a teenager just starting out. We were wrong as she was was well into her thirties at the time.

SueThompson4

This isn’t one of the songs of hers I remember from then, but it was written by our pair today, so it’s included. The song is Have a Good Time.

♫ Sue Thompson - Have A Good Time


Doug Dillard, of The Dillards, and Gene Clark, from The Byrds, teamed up to record a couple of fine albums under the name DILLARD AND CLARK.

Dillard&Clark1

Doug was a virtuoso banjo player, which will be demonstrated on the song Rocky Top. Donna Washburn is also prominent singing along with them.

♫ Dillard & Clark - Rocky Top


Okay, it’s approaching the last dance of the evening, so grab your sweetie for that last dance. Here are the EVERLY BROTHERS to do the honors.

EverlyBrothers41

This is what we used to call a “clutcher hugger”, and we blokes really liked these. I don’t what the gals thought about them. The song is Devoted to You.

♫ Everly Brothers - Devoted to You


FELICE AND BOUDLEAUX may have claimed to be non-performing songwriters, but they did make a couple of albums, so we’ll finish with them.

Felice&BoudleauxBryant3

They’re better than they give themselves credit for as they demonstrate on All I Have to Do is Dream, originally a hit for (guess who?) the Everly Brothers.

Felice & Boudleaux Bryant - All I Have to Do is Dream



ELDER MUSIC: Singing with B.B.

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.

* * *

B.B. King

Another in the occasional "Singing With" series, this time it's B.B. KING. He hasn't sung with as many people as Willie Nelson, who is present today, but he's up there.

I imagine that everyone here (and many more who didn't make the cut today) would have jumped at the chance to perform with the blues master. I hope you like blues and soul because that’s what you’re getting today - with occasional jazz and gospel influences.

The most appropriate place to start is with the song Playin' with my Friends. On this one B.B. has the help of ROBERT CRAY.

RobertCray&BB1

Robert is one of the newish breed of blues artist who bring elements of soul, rock, jazz and gospel into their playing. He’s an excellent guitarist and a pretty good singer as well. Here he is playin’ with B.B.

♫ Playin' with my friends


BONNIE RAITT is one of the foremost blues guitarists of her generation.

Bonnie&BB1

She’s also a fine singer and here she gets to demonstrate both skills with B.B. doing the same on Baby I Love You.

♫ Baby I Love You


Apart from B.B., JOHN LEE HOOKER was probably the last of that early generation who made the trek from the southern states to Chicago and plugged in their guitars (so they could be heard above the generally raucous crowds).

JohnLeeHooker&BB3

His style of singing and playing is quite the opposite of B.B.’s, but as with everyone today they work well together. The song is You Shook Me.

♫ You Shook Me


Michael Bloomfield and Eric Clapton (and some others) introduced B.B. to an earlier mainstream, mainly rock, audience. U2 performed the same function for the next generation of listeners.

U2&BB2

Instead of B.B. influencing U2 to play the blues, they turn the tables and turn B.B. into a rocker with When Love Comes to Town.

♫ When Love Comes to Town


DIANE SCHUUR is a jazz singer and pianist.

DianeSchuur&BB3

She’s performed with many artists over the years, including Frank Sinatra, Ray Charles, Stevie Wonder, Stan Getz, Alison Krause and many others. Today it’s B.B.’s turn. The song they perform is Spirit in the Dark. They sure get the spirit on this one.

♫ Spirit in the Dark


After that song, we all need to sit down and rest a while. To help us calm down we have WILLIE NELSON singing and playing with B.B.

Willie&BB4

We have two distinctive guitarists on this one, maybe the two most distinctive who have ever recorded. No one would mistake either of their playing for anyone else.

The same with their singing. The song they perform is Night Life, a song Willie wrote. Due to his straitened circumstances at the time, he had to sell the rights for a pittance, and it’s often credited to others, but it is Willie’s.

♫ Night Life


The song Hummingbird was written by Leon Russell, and he did a fine version of it. Around the same time, B.B. recorded it on his “Indianola Mississippi Seeds” album. Today he has the help of DIONNE WARWICK to sing it.

DionneWarwick17

This version is the equal of the previous two I mentioned. Maybe it’s the song – there are some songs where there is no bad version. This could be one of them.

♫ Hummingbird


Mac Rebennack, better known to most of us as DR JOHN, died recently.

DrJohn&BB1

Mac (or John or Doc or whomever) was another who liked performing with other people, so he’s a good fit in the column today. His style is quintessentially New Orleans, where he was born and bred. Of course, that includes a big dollop of the blues.

They perform There Must Be a Better World Somewhere. Unfortunately or fortunately, this world is all we have.

♫ There Must Be A Better World Somewhere


When I say that ERIC CLAPTON is up next, I imagine you'd expect a great blues jam with B.B., however, you'd be wrong.

Eric&BB2

Eric and B.B. recorded an album together called "Riding With The King" where they performed in all sorts of styles. The track I've chosen is the old standard Come Rain or Come Shine, not what you'd expect from these two. Of course, they turn it into a blues song.

Come Rain or Come Shine


Although he didn’t write it, The Thrill Is Gone became B.B.’s signature tune. He performed it in pretty much every concert he gave during the last several decades of his life. It has appeared on many albums, including “Deuces Wild” where he performed with a bunch of artists and is a valuable source of material today. One of those performers is TRACY CHAPMAN.

TracyChapman&BB1

Tracy first came to my notice with her terrific song, Fast Car, from the late eighties. She and B.B. do a great job with the song – it’d be hard not to.

The Thrill Is Gone


I’ll end with one of B.B.’s friends BOBBY BLAND.

BobbyBland&BB6

B.B. and Bobby often performed together and also made several records, both studio and “live” records. From one of the latter, a most appropriate song: Let the Good Times Roll.

♫ Let the Good Times Roll



ELDER MUSIC: Goffin and King

Goffin & King

GERRY GOFFIN AND CAROLE KING were one of the most successful song writing teams of the fifties and sixties. They managed to get more than 100 of their songs on the Billboard Top 100, which isn’t a bad effort in anyone’s language.

Carol Klein went to school with (later) fellow songwriter Neil Sedaka. They were a bit of an item for a while and he wrote his first hit, Oh Carol for her. Later she wrote an amusing answer song called, Oh Neil.

She began using the nom de plume Carole King and met budding songwriter Gerry Goffin in college. They started writing songs together and were soon married and became fixtures at the famous Brill Building, song-writing central in New York at the time. These are just a few of their songs, some of which I was surprised that they wrote.

THE BYRDS performed two Goffin and King songs on their album “The Notorious Byrd Brothers”.

Byrds

Both songs appear today, the second below by a different artist. When you talk about rock and roll harmony singing, there’s none better than The Byrds. This is a prime example, Goin' Back.

♫ The Byrds - Goin' Back


THE SHIRELLES don’t seem to be spoken of in the same league as The Supremes and The Ronettes, which is a real shame as I think they are up there with the best.

Shirelles

Apparently they had several hits before I noticed them with the song we have today. Will You Love Me Tomorrow reached number 1 pretty much everywhere that had hit parades.

It was ranked as the number 1 song of 1962. As a trivial aside, the flip side of the record was the song Boys, recorded by The Beatles a couple of years later.

♫ Shirelles - Will You Love Me Tomorrow


GENE MCDANIELS was a jazz singer who became successful singing a bunch of non-jazz songs.

Gene McDaniels

I didn’t know this at the time; I just thought he was a terrific singer. I hope his success meant that he was set up so he could do what he wanted to do. Getting back to those pop songs that hit the top of the charts, one of them was Point of No Return, written by our couple today, of course.

♫ Gene McDaniels - Point of No Return


I can’t think of any group from the late fifties, early sixties who were as good as THE DRIFTERS.

Drifters

Particularly during the rather short period when Ben E. King was singing lead for them, and incidentally writing songs for which he didn’t receive credit. They sang our couple’s songs as well, one of which is Up on the Roof.

♫ Drifters - Up On The Roof


Here is the other song, mentioned above, that was performed by The Byrds. I have to admit that I prefer The Byrds’ version, but DUSTY SPRINGFIELD does it pretty well too.

Dusty Springfield

Dusty was born Mary O’Brien and she first came to my notice as part of a folk group with her brother Dionysius O’Brien, who took the name Tom Springfield. They were joined by Tim Field initially, and later Mike Hurst and called themselves The Springfields. Dusty left and became a successful solo artist. One of her songs from that career is Wasn't Born to Follow.

♫ Dusty Springfield - Wasn't Born To Follow


BOBBY VEE was the recipient of quite a few of Gerry and Carole’s songs.

Bobby Vee

Bobby has always been lumped in with the early sixties pretty boy singers who were created by opportunistic record companies. I think he has more substance than he’s been given credit for. He mostly didn’t write his songs, but he was an astute chooser of them. One such is Take Good Care Of My Baby, a big hit for him.

♫ Bobby Vee - Take Good Care Of My Baby


Eva Boyd was a babysitter for Gerry and Carole. They had seen her dancing around and singing while performing her tasks and wrote a song for her. Friends of theirs said that was a really bad idea because while good singers are rather easy to come by, good babysitters are worth their weight in gold.

In spite of this advice, they went ahead anyway. The song was The Loco-Motion, and Eva recorded it under the name LITTLE EVA.

Little Eva

The song was later also recorded by Kylie Minogue, but Eva’s version is far superior to Kylie’s. Sorry Kylie.

♫ Little Eva - The Loco-Motion


Even when this next song was around, I thought that it was a bit creepy. After all these years I haven’t changed my opinion. You may be surprised to learn that the singer is STEVE LAWRENCE.

Steve Lawrence

Yes, he of Steve and Eydie fame. The song is Go Away Little Girl which sounds pretty good until you listen to the words. It was first recorded by Bobby Vee, which would make it slightly less creepy. Donny Osmond had a go at it later too. He’d have been about the right age.

♫ Steve Lawrence - Go Away Little Girl


Perhaps the song of which Carole and Gerry are most proud is (You Make Me Feel Like) A Natural Woman. That’s almost certainly because ARETHA FRANKLIN recorded it.

Aretha Franklin

Aretha nailed it and turned it into one of the finest records of the twentieth century. Nothing more needs to be said, here it is.

♫ Aretha Franklin - (You Make Me Feel Like) A Natural Woman


THE MONKEES don’t get any respect from critics of popular music.

Monkees

We know they were created by nefarious TV executives to cash in on the success of The Beatles. However, at least three of them were good musicians before they came together. They grew in that role to become quite a decent band in their own right.

Before that happened, they were given songs to perform from established song writers. One of those from our couple is Pleasant Valley Sunday.

♫ Monkees - Pleasant Valley Sunday


I imagine that pretty much everyone reading this knows that CAROLE KING herself recorded an album called “Tapestry”.

Carole King

This was hugely successful, one of the biggest selling albums of all time. Possibly as a result of that, she went on to have a career as a singer/songwriter (she and Gerry were divorced by then). However, before that, way back in 1962, she recorded a song that became a big hit for her.

Again, Bobby Vee first recorded it, and the record company was a bit dubious about releasing Carole’s version as she only recorded it as a demo for other artists. Don Kirshner (later producer of The Monkees) really liked it and had it released. The song is It Might As Well Rain Until September.

♫ Carole King - It Might As Well Rain Until September



Classical Predilections 5

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

* * *

Here is some more interesting and entertaining music.

MARIE JAËLL was born Marie Trautmann in Alsace and learned the piano when she was six.

Jaell Marie

She was only ten when she was admitted to the Paris Conservatory and within months she won first prize for piano. At 20 she married Alfred Jaëll, once a pupil of Chopin, and they performed together throughout Europe and Russia.

Marie also started writing music and getting it published. Her compositions weren’t just for piano, but covered the full range of music. An example of this is the third movement of her Concerto for Cello and Orchestra in F Major.

♫ Jaëll - Concerto for cello and orchestra in F Major (3)


I’m not a fan of FRANZ LISZT’s rather bombastic compositions, which seems to be most of them as far as I’m concerned.

Liszt

Check that picture, talk about the original rock star. Getting back to what I was saying, every now and then he came up with a beautiful, lyric piece and I have one of those today. It is Au lac de Wallenstadt (At Wallenstadt Lake). The pianist is Lazar Berman.

♫ Liszt - Au lac de Wallenstadt


NICOLÒ CORRADINI was an Italian composer of the early Baroque era.

Corradini

Not a great deal is known about him except that he was the organist of the Cremona Cathedral. He later became a Kapellmeister to a local noble who liked to put on music around town.

Nic wrote music suited to the times, mostly religious. What we have today is a motet called Spargite flores. It’s performed by BRUCE DICKEY, who plays the cornetto, which I know of as an ice cream, but in this context is an instrument totally unrelated to the modern cornet, as you’ll see below. Along for the ride is the soprano HANA BLAŽÍKOVÁ.

Bruce Dickey & Hana Blažíková5

Corradini - Spargite flores


FRIEDRICH KALKBRENNER was born in a carriage traveling between Kassel and Berlin and because of that it caused all sorts of problems registering his birth.

Kalkbrenner

But born he was. In spite of being German, he attended the Paris Conservatoire, and spent the rest of his life in France, mostly in Paris (well, who wouldn’t?) Although living mostly in the nineteenth century, he thought of himself as a throwback to the days of Haydn and Mozart, and he composed in the classical style, rather than the rather bombastic (to my ears) romantic that was the vogue at the time.

Besides being a composer, he was a teacher of piano and he made them as well. Getting back to his compositions, here is the third movement of the Piano Sextet in G major, Op. 58.

Kalkbrenner - Piano Sextet in G major Op. 58 (3)


IGNAZIO ALBERTINI lived in the middle of the seventeenth century. Iggy doesn’t seem to have stood still long enough to have his photo taken.

As far as we know he was born in Milan but the first real mention of him was in Vienna. It was in this city that he spent the rest of his life, all 41 years of it, as he was murdered in suspicious circumstances (stabbed by persons unknown).

All that’s known of his music is a collection of twelve sonatas for violin. This is one of them, his Sonata for Violin & Bass continuo in F major.

♫ Albertini - Sonata for violin & bass continuo


FLORENCE PRICE was born Florence Smith in Little Rock, Arkansas in 1887.

Price Florence

She was taught piano at a very young age and gave her first performance when she was only four and was publishing music when she was eleven. She was head of the music department at an Atlanta university where she married Thomas Price and they moved back to Little Rock.

After a number of nasty racial incidents in that city they decided to move to Chicago. After her divorce from Tom, Florence made ends meet by playing for silent films. She later won (monetary) prizes for some of her compositions, which helped a bit.

Florence was the first African-American woman to have a symphony performed by a major orchestra. A lot of her compositions were thought lost, but a large number have been found in an abandoned house in Illinois. One of those is Tropical Moon, from a series called “Dances in the Canebrakes.”

♫ Florence Price - Dances in the Canebrakes II. Tropical noon


Very little is known about NICOLA FIORENZA, who was from Naples.

Fiorenza Nicola

He was a cellist in the Neapolitan Royal Chapel Orchestra. Later he was up for a job as the head of the string section at the local conservatory. There were four in the running and they drew lots. Nic won.

It seems that he wasn’t the best teacher around – he used to beat his students and otherwise mistreat them – so he was eventually fired from that position. Only about 30 of his compositions are known to exist. One of those is his Cello Concerto in B-flat major. This is the second movement.

♫ Fiorenza - Cello Concerto in B-flat major (2)


GEORGES BIZET is best known for his operas (Pearl Fishers, Carmen and so on).

Bizet

However, that’s not all he wrote – there were symphonies, many compositions for piano, vocal works and so on. Here is the third movement of his Symphony in C. I must admit that it does sound as if it wouldn’t be out of place in an opera.

♫ Bizet - Symphony In C (3)


CHRISTOPH GLUCK was a German composer who specialized in French and Italian operas.

Gluck

Chris spent some time at university in Prague, but for a while after that he seemed to have vanished until he popped up in Vienna some years later. He traveled quite extensively: Italy, London, back to Prague and Paris.

He made radical changes to the prevalent opera style of the time – sort of left over from its Baroque origins – and turned it into the now familiar style. He spent some considerable time in Paris, but spat the dummy and returned to Vienna, where he remained for the rest of his life, when one of his operas received a poor reception.

From his most famous opera, Orfeo ed Euridice, Wq. 30, from Act 3 we have Orfeo singing “Che farò senza Euridice.” This is performed by countertenor PHILIPPE JAROUSSKY.

Philippe Jaroussky

♫ Gluck - Orfeo ed Euridice Wq. 30 Act 3 Che farò senza Euridice (Philippe Jaroussky)


JOSEPH EYBLER was born in Schwechat, which is near Vienna.

Eybler

His dad was in the music biz and the family was good friends with the Haydn family, indeed they were distantly related. It was through Joseph Haydn that he was introduced to Mozart, another of Haydn’s friends.

They got along famously, such that he was (eventually) asked by Mozart’s widow to complete Mozart’s unfinished Requiem. He thought that task was beyond him, but he did conduct that work (finished by Franz Sussmayr) some years later.

Alas, he suffered a stroke while he was doing that, but lived for another 13 years. He wrote about 250 works, one of which is the Clarinet Concerto in B-flat major, this is the third movement.

Eybler - Clarinet Concerto in B-flat major (3)



ELDER MUSIC: The Kinks

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.

* * *

Kinks

After The Beatles, The Kinks were probably the most important British band from the sixties. Like the Fab Four, they vastly expanded the topics about which pop and rock song could be written.

They were formed by brothers Ray and Dave Davies in Muswell Hill, North London. Ray was the songwriter, singer and rhythm guitarist and Dave played lead guitar and sang backup.

They were completely different personalities: Ray was a quiet intellectual who preferred the home life, and Dave was the quintessential sixties, rock-star party animal. What could possibly go wrong?

They were joined by Pete Quaiffe, a school friend of Dave’s on bass, and Mick Avory on drums. They were a volatile mix, especially the brothers, often arguing and fighting – even on stage. Pete has said that performing with the brothers was like being on stage with Jimi Hendrix on one side and Noel Coward on the other.

Ray and Dave were constants throughout with changes in the other members from time to time. They later added a regular keyboard player.

Kinks

The Kinks burst on the scene with a song that contained snarling vocals and snarling, dirty, distorted guitar achieved by slashing the speaker cones with a razor blade. This one made all the other bands at the time sit up and take notice. Its influence on punk, grunge music, heavy metal and garage bands of all sorts is incalculable. That song is You Really Got Me.

♫ You Really Got Me


Kinks

After three or four top 5 hits in the original style, the Kinks completely changed direction in their music. This is because of Ray’s song writing ability. The songs became more observational, many of them mini-short stories in song form. Some biting or sarcastic, some affectionate, others merely reflections. One rather pointed song is Dedicated Follower of Fashion.

♫ Dedicated Follower Of Fashion


Ray has said that he was really depressed when he wrote Sunny Afternoon, on the surface a quite happy song. Not so if you listen to the words.

It gave the impression that the group was really rich and they were complaining about trivial things. The reality was quite different as, along with a lot of performers of the time, their managers ripped them off so they saw virtually nothing of what they had earned.

♫ Sunny Afternoon


Ray’s songs aren’t nostalgia exactly, more a celebration of times gone by and things that are lost to the modern world. Picture Book really is a photo album, but I imagine that the title scans better in a song.

♫ The Kinks - Picture Book


Kinks

The Kinks came up with a couple of what would later be called “rock operas” some time before The Who did the same thing. One of these is called “Arthur (Or the Decline and Fall of the British Empire)”, which is rather self explanatory about its subject.

From that is the song, and a reasonable hit for them, Victoria. This one really rocks out, in spite of its subject.

♫ Victoria


Kinks

Sorry about going back to the beginning for those who aren’t really into heavy rock and roll, but here’s their second hit, All Day and All of the Night. I can see an influence for the Oz rock band The Easybeats in this song.

♫ All Day And All Of the Night


Kinks

It’s pretty amazing that the band that had a huge influence on punk and grunge music also produced indubitably the most beautiful song from the sixties. Certainly the most beautiful by a rock group anyway. That song is Waterloo Sunset.

There’s a long-standing story that Terry and Julie, referenced in the song, are Terence Stamp and Julie Christie who were an item at the time the song was written and recorded. Ray has said repeatedly that this is not so, it’s about his sister (and presumably another Terry).

He and Dave had six older sisters some of whom have made an appearance in other songs, so I’m inclined to believe him.

♫ Waterloo Sunset


This is just a silly throw-away song, but we need some of those now and again. This one is Apeman. I think it was just an excuse for Ray to play his National steel guitar, also used in the final song today.

♫ Apeman


Kinks

It’s really admirable, astonishing really, that for young men, just in their mid-twenties, to observe that things were changing really quickly and asking are we losing something valuable?

Well, they might notice the first part, but it was unusual for them to reflect upon the second. It’s generally years later that people gain that insight. There was an album (actually more than one) devoted to this concept, and from that we have The Village Green Preservation Society.

♫ The Village Green Preservation Society


Kinks

Also from “Arthur”, mentioned above, is the song. Australia. You know I couldn’t resist a song with that title. It’s about the Oz government’s campaign to induce British people to emigrate to Australia back in the fifties and sixties. It was rather successful. This one gives Dave a good workout on the guitar.

♫ Australia


Kinks

Ray wrote Come Dancing as a tribute to his sisters who were all older than he was. They used to go out dancing at the weekends and the music they danced to was from an earlier period – big band and the like. He and Dave absorbed that music as they were growing up by listening to their sisters’ records.

♫ Come Dancing


Kinks

I’ll end with an example of the idea that songwriters often don’t know the quality of their own songs. This one is probably their biggest seller (okay, that’s not necessarily a guide to quality), and Ray has said, “It’s a nothing song, not really important”.

The song is Lola. It’s based on a real event that happened to their manager at the time. Dave has said that Ray is brilliant at compressing small details into a song and making them come alive. He certainly did on this one.

♫ Kinks - Lola


Kinks