Saturday Single No. 645

June 15th, 2019

It’s time for Games With Numbers!

We’re going to take the numerals from today’s date – 6/15/19 – and add them together to get 40. Then we’re going to look at four Billboard Hot 100s from the mid-point of June and see what we find at No. 40. We’ll use the chart in each year closest to June 15, and along the way, we’ll note the No. 1 and No. 2 records of those weeks. I think we’ll start in 1966 and jump three years at a time, hitting 1969, 1972 and 1975 along the way.

And we start with a country crossover lament: “The Last Word In Lonesome Is Me” by Eddy Arnold. He was, of course, one of the giants of post-World War II country, putting 128 records into the Billboard country chart between 1945 and 1982, with twenty-eight of them reaching No. 1. He had twenty-nine records chart on the Hot 100; his highest ranking record there was 1965’s “Make The World Go Away,” which got to No. 6. As to “The Last Word In Lonesome Is Me,” it would go no higher than the No. 40 spot where we found it on the June 18, 1966, chart. On the country chart, it got to No. 2, and it went to No. 9 on the magazine’s easy listening chart. It’s a pretty record, but it doesn’t scratch any itches for me.

Parked at No. 1 during mid-June 1966 was “Paint It, Black” by the Rolling Stones, while the Lovin’ Spoonful’s “Did You Ever Have To Make Up Your Mind” was at No. 2.

Off we go to mid-June in 1969, and we find ourselves a chewy piece of bubblegum: The No. 40 record on June 14, 1969, was “Special Delivery” by the 1910 Fruitgum Company. The Fruitgum Company wasn’t really a band, of course; it was a revolving group of players brought together by producers Jerry Kasenetz and Jeff Katz to back lead singer Joey Levine, who also sang lead on records for Ohio Express, Crazy Elephant and Reunion (and maybe more, I suppose). By the time June 1969 rolled around, the Fruitgum Company had put three singles into the Top Ten: “Simon Says,” “1, 2, 3, Red Light,” and “Indian Giver.” But the group’s brand of bubblegum had lost it flavor, it seems, as “Special Delivery” would stall at No. 38. The group had only two more singles reach the Hot 100, one reaching No. 57 and the other bubbling under at No. 118. “Special Delivery” is catchy, of course, but nothing much, except I do love the saxophone intros.

The No. 1 record as the middle of June 1969 approached was “Get Back” by the Beatles with Billy Preston; sitting at No. 2 was “Love Theme From ‘Romeo & Juliet’” by Henry Mancini and his orchestra.

Next up is 1972, and the record that sat at No. 40 in the Hot 100 released on June 17 was the mournful plaint (with a few power moments mixed in) of “All The King’s Horses” by Aretha Franklin. There’s no point in digging too deeply into the astounding numbers; it’s enough to say that “All The King’s Horses” was the fifty-fourth single Franklin had put in or near the Hot 100, with another thirty-four to come. The record was on its way to No. 26; it went to No. 7 (along with its B-side, “April Fools”) on the magazine’s R&B chart. I like it, but the shift from plaintive to powerful along the way disorients me; maybe it’s supposed to, but I find it distracting.

Sitting atop the Hot 100 at mid-June 1972 was “The Candy Man” by Sammy Davis, Jr., and “I’ll Take You There” by the Staple Singers was at No. 2.

And as we reach our final stop of 1975, we find ourselves a sweet ballad, Melissa Manchester’s “Midnight Blue.” It was the first of an eventual eleven Hot 100 hits for Manchester, with two more bubbling under. It was on its way to No. 6, and it spent two weeks at the top of the magazine’s easy listening chart. And it’s a potent earworm: Just reading the title off the chart this morning, I hear in my head, “Whatever it is, it’ll keep ’til the morning . . .” And it brings back in full the summer of ’75, a great season in the middle of one of the most potent years of my life.

The No. 1 record in the Hot 100 released June 14, 1975, was America’s “Sister Golden Hair.” Parked at No. 2 was “Love Will Keep Us Together” by the Captain & Tenille.

So, as we look for a single for this mid-June Saturday, I have to admit I was a little disappointed in the first three candidates we found. I was on the verge of offering up “Special Delivery” by the 1910 Fruitgum Company simply because it was bubblegum, which doesn’t get a lot of play here. But the instant the first words of “Midnight Blue” sailed into my head, I was lost. And a quick check of the archives tells me that I’ve mentioned the record only twice in twelve-and-a-half years (has it truly been that long?) and have never posted it here.

So here, from the summer of 1975, is Melissa Manchester’s “Midnight Blue,” today’s Saturday Single.

No. 46, Forty-Six Years Ago

June 13th, 2019

Having dabbled in 1973 the other day, looking at how I occupied my daytime during the summer of that year and what I likely heard on Chicago’s WLS during my nighttime ponderings, it seemed like a good idea to play our game of Symmetry with the early summer of 1973 and see what sat at No. 46 in the Billboard Hot 100 during that time forty-six years ago.

Two of the top three records in the Hot 100 that came out during this week in 1973 were also atop the WLS survey we looked at two days ago. At WLS, Paul McCartney’s “My Love” and Sylvia’s “Pillow Talk” were Nos. 1 and 2 respectively. On the Hot 100, they were Nos. 1 and 3, separated by Clint Holmes’ “Playground In My Mind.” As I indicated the other day, “Pillow Talk” really made no impression on me then, and I found the Clint Holmes record insipid from the start, and my distaste for it only increased.

“My Love,” though, I liked and still like. For some reason, it’s one of the two records that puts me in St. Cloud’s East Side Dairy Queen sometime during the summer of 1973, waiting in line with Rick and our pal Gary for some frozen treat. Even having heard the song live during a McCartney concert in 2002, it still pulls me back to soft-serve.

But let’s get to our game. What was it that sat at No. 46 in the Hot 100 forty-six years ago this week? Well, it’s a record that will please one of my long-time readers,assuming this blog is still on that person’s reading list: “Back When My Hair Was Short” by Gunhill Road.

The record – the band’s only Hot 100 hit – was in its twelfth week on the chart, heading back down after peaking at No. 40. I recall it only vaguely. I can’t find a survey from the Twin Cities’ KDWB for the time, but a WDGY survey from late May of 1973 I found at Oldiesloon shows “Back When My Hair Was Short” sitting at No. 10. So I likely heard the admittedly catchy record back then but paid little attention. My loss, I guess.

Gazing Out My Window

June 11th, 2019

I got to thinking this morning about June 1973, recalling that by the time the month’s second week rolled around, I’d likely settled into my summer routine on the campus of St. Cloud State:

In the mornings, I’d spend four hours wandering around campus with about three other fellows employed by the Learning Resources Center (the library, in the vernacular), lugging cases filled with cleaning supplies and projection lamps. We’d spend about a week in each classroom building, moving from room to room and doing maintenance on projectors, noting as well which pieces of equipment needed more care than we could provide.

In the afternoons, I’d head to the Education Building and be a janitor for four hours, vacuuming, sweeping, washing blackboards and whiteboards, emptying trash and doing all the other things that janitors do.

The two half-time jobs were increasing the balance of my savings account nicely, so that in September I could add my funds to the vastly larger sum my parents were contributing to my college year in Denmark. In June, that September departure still felt a little distant, though I increasingly found myself gazing out my bedroom window during the nighttime hours, wondering what I would find in Denmark and how it would all feel. As it turned out, very little of my nocturnal imaginings came close to the Danish reality.

As I sat at the window during those nighttime reveries, I’d have my clock radio playing low, probably tuned to WLS out of Chicago. As it happens, the collection at the Airheads Radio Survey Archive has a copy of the station’s Solid Rock Music survey released on June 11, 1973, forty-six years ago today. Here’s the top ten there:

“My Love” by Paul McCartney
“Pillow Talk” by Sylvia
“Daniel” by Elton John
“Frankenstein” by the Edgar Winter Group
“I’m Gonna Love You Just A Little More Baby” by Barry White
“Hocus Pocus” by Focus
“Give Me Love (Give Me Peace On Earth)” by George Harrison
“Playground In My Mind” by Clint Holmes
“One Of A Kind (Love Affair)” by the Spinners
“Right Place, Wrong Time” by Dr. John

The only one of those I don’t recall hearing as frequently as its position might indicate is the record by Sylvia. And the only one of those I would never want to hear again is the record by Clint Holmes. (I disliked “Playground In My Mind” from the moment I heard it, and I disliked it even more after there had been a self-made disaster in my life involving a girl named Cindy.)

The other eight, I liked, although the yodeling in “Hocus Pocus” had a short shelf life.

I should note the presence of “Right Place, Wrong Time” by the recently departed Dr. John. I loved the record, just as I came to love the bulk of the good doctor’s work through the years. (There were a few albums and tracks over the years that left me wanting, but only a few.) And I was lucky enough to see Dr. John in 1989 as a member of the first iteration of Ringo Starr’s All Starr Band. So the news of his passing last week was another grief-bearing reminder that time is getting short – short for my generation, yes, but even more so for the generation that preceded us and brought us our music. I won’t write much about him after this, as I’ve read too many tributes in the past few days to separate my thoughts from the things I’ve read, but I’m doing the second-best thing a music lover and writer can do: I’ve put Mac Rebennack’s work on heavy rotation here this week.

Back to WLS’ Solid Rock Music from forty-six years ago today and a few other favorite singles from the time:

No. 16: “I’m Doin’ Fine Now” by New York City
No. 18: “Shambala” by Three Dog Night
No. 27: “Diamond Girl” by Seals & Crofts
No. 31: “Natural High” by Bloodstone

And we’ll close with the record that was at No. 13 on WLS that long-ago week, a record by another now-departed performer who was also on stage with Ringo Starr in 1989. Here’s “Will It Go Round In Circles” by Billy Preston.

Saturday Single No. 644

June 8th, 2019

I’m only briefly here today, as we’re taking a short excursion. We’re heading to a nearby casino to take in a show by Rob Thomas, who records on his own and as the lead singer of Matchbox Twenty (although as the band has not released a new album since 2012, I’m not certain if it’s still a going concern).

Anyway, we’re heading out to play.

Here’s the track that introduced me to Matchbox Twenty back in 2000, when the Texas Gal was still in Texas, I was still in south Minneapolis, and we were beginning to put together what has turned into the essential pairing of my lifetime. Here’s “If You’re Gone.” It’s on the group’s album Mad Season, and it’s today’s Saturday Single.

‘Under Orion’s Heel’

June 5th, 2019

Twenty-some years ago, when I was researching a project about life in Columbia, Missouri, during World War II, I came across a piece by an advisor to President Franklin Roosevelt; at one point in that piece, he talked about the passage of time as marked by Earth’s turning “under Orion’s heel.” I loved the phrase and tucked it into my memory. Not too much later, I found a place for it:

Under Orion’s Heel

Noise from the freightyard down the block
Nudges at my sleep.
In my dream I see a silver clock
Waiting by a wishing well
In a land whose name I cannot spell.
A slender maid with amber eyes
Shows me how the hoping dies
For wishes thrown too deep.

The morning traffic rumbles past
The coffee shop in town.
I read the paper, front page last,
And learn of famine, plague and war.
I pay the bill, and near the door,
Investment bankers block my way.
Their hair is short; their coats are grey;
Their stocks are falling down.

So the fool turns to the audience,
And the sage turns to a book.
The hoodlums turn to violence;
The neighbors turn to look.
The grass turns brown in the winter field
And the iron turns to rust
As the earth turns under Orion’s heel
And the boulders turn to dust.

The lunchtime crowd at Nellie’s bar
Ignores the jukebox din.
The singer croons about his car.
Sam the waiter reads my face
And says “You know my sister, Grace?
Well, she just won the lottery
With the ticket that you gave to me.”
He serves me with a grin.

The office gossips mill the news
And truth is ground to dust.
The hissing of the hows and whos
Provides the background as I work,
Promoting Tim the TV Turk,
Who’s scheduled a new ad campaign.
His name is really Roger Crane.
In currency we trust.

So the fool turns to the audience,
And the sage turns to a book.
The hoodlums turn to violence;
The neighbors turn to look.
The grass turns brown in the winter field
And the iron turns to rust
As the earth turns under Orion’s heel
And the boulders turn to dust.

At night, the houses huddle ’round
The streetlight’s golden glow.
Out for a walk, I hear the sound
Of mothers hailing children in
To supper; let the feasts begin.
I imagine some homes house the grief
That comes from life without belief.
I hope I never know.

So the fool turns to the audience,
And the sage turns to a book.
The hoodlums turn to violence;
The neighbors turn to look.
The grass turns brown in the winter field
And the iron turns to rust
As the earth turns under Orion’s heel
And the boulders turn to dust.

March 6, 1991
Columbia, Mo.

Saturday Single No. 643

June 1st, 2019

I mentioned KDWB’s survey from June 2, 1969, in yesterday’s post, noting that it did not fit my needs for a May 31 survey. For today, it does just fine. Here, according to the Heavy Hit List, is what was popular at the beginning of the summer of ’69 on the Twin Cities station that provided the soundtrack for pretty much every kid I knew.

(As I’ve noted before, I was not yet a committed listener, but I nevertheless heard KDWB pretty much everywhere I went in those days, except for the rec room in our basement.)

Here’s the top ten from that Heavy Hit List:

“Get Back” by the Beatles
“Love (Can Make You Happy)” by Mercy
“Grazing In The Grass” by Friends Of Distinction
“These Eyes” by the Guess Who
“Happy Heart” by Andy Williams
“More Today Than Yesterday” by the Spiral Starecase
“Oh Happy Day” by the Edwin Hawkins Singers
“Let Me” by Paul Revere & The Raiders
“The River Is Wide” by the Grass Roots
“Lodi/Bad Moon Rising” by Creedence Clearwater Revival

“Let Me” was marked as new to the survey, and it’s a record I do not remember by title. The same is true of the Andy Williams record. The other nine records are very familiar and very much liked.

Of course, ten seconds into listening to both “Let Me” and “Happy Heart,” I know the records. I am, however, ambivalent about both of them. If I were to rank the eleven records above, they’d come in at the bottom of the pack. And their popularity on KDWB exceeded by a fair amount their success nationwide: “Let Me” peaked at No. 20 in the Billboard Hot 100, and “Happy Heart” went to No. 22.

So how would I rank the other nine? Well, I’m not going to sort through all of them, but I think the top three would be the records by the Friends Of Distinction, the Grass Roots and the Edwin Hawkins Singers, with “Get Back” sitting in fourth place.

And I clearly remember listening intently to “Grazing In The Grass” with Rick, with both of us working hard (and failing) to replicate the chatterbox vocals on the break:

I can dig it, he can dig it, she can dig it,
We can dig it, they can dig it, you can dig it
Oh, let’s dig it. Can you dig it, baby?

So for that reason – and for the fact that it’s a great record that went to No. 3 on the Hot 100 and to No. 5 on the Billboard R&B chart – “Grazing In The Grass” by the Friends Of Distinction is today’s Saturday Single.

Survey Digging: May 31, 1969

May 31st, 2019

It’s time for a visit to the Airheads Radio Survey Archive to check out what folks were listening to around the country fifty years ago, as May 1969 drew to a close. We’ll check out the No. 31 record at four stations and note the No. 1 and No. 2 records as well.

We’ll start in New York City with the Music Power Survey at WABC. Parked in the No. 31 slot in the survey was “Israelites” by Desmond Dekker & The Aces. The first portion of the second sentence of the Wikipedia entry on the record sums up my memory of the single: “Although few could understand all the lyrics . . .” I recall straining my ears to figure out what the song was about and not really succeeding for years. Wikipedia goes on to note, “the single was the first UK reggae number one and among the first to reach the US top ten (peaking at number 9). It combined the Rastafarian religion with rude boy concerns, to make what has been described as a ‘timeless masterpiece that knew no boundaries’.”

(The “rude boy” culture in Jamaica, another Wikipedia entry points out, correlates roughly with what’s called “gangsta” culture in the U.S.)

Sitting at No. 2 at WABC fifty years ago was “Love (Can Make You Happy)” by Mercy, while the No. 1 record was the Beatles’ “Get Back.”

We’ll head south along the East Coast and make a stop in Miami, where we’ll take a look at the Fabulous 56 Survey from WQAM. The No. 31 record there as May 1969 came to a close was “Goodbye” by Mary Hopkin. The song was written by Paul McCartney (though credited, as was the arrangement at the time, to John Lennon as well). McCartney also produced the recording, adding bass, an acoustic guitar solo and the somewhat odd acoustic guitar introduction. I recall liking the record, which makes sense as it’s kind of a sappy and sad love song, and anyone who’s read this blog more than once knows that’s one of my soft spots. The record peaked at No. 13 in the Billboard Hot 100 and went to No. 6 on the magazine’s easy listening chart.

The No. 2 record on the Fabulous 56 was the Guess Who’s “These Eyes” and the Beatles’ “Get Back” and its flip, “Don’t Let Me Down,” were listed as a double No. 1.

Our next stop is in Tucson, Arizona, home of KTKT and its mundanely named “Top Forty.” The No. 31 record in that part of the southwest on May 31, 1969, was “Pinball Wizard” by the Who. The centerpiece in the group’s rock opera Tommy, the record – full of slashing acoustic guitars and suspended chords (among my favorite sounds) – doesn’t sound nearly as loud or disruptive to me now as it did fifty years ago. I know I didn’t hear it a lot back then, but I sought it out about a year later when I came across the piano arrangement for the song and began to work on it at the keyboard. I got pretty good at it, but it never sounded as cool on the piano as it does on the Who’s guitars, so I let it go. The record went to 19 on the Hot 100.

Sitting at No. 2 on KTKT fifty years ago was, again, “Love (Can Make You Happy)” by Mercy, and the station’s No. 1 record was “Love Theme From Romeo & Juliet” by Henry Mancini.

I was going to end this trip in the Twin Cities, but WDGY’s survey only goes to No. 30, and KDWB didn’t release a 6+30 Survey until June 2. So we’ll finish our excursion with the Entertainment Survey from WLTH in Gary, Indiana. The No. 31 record there fifty years ago today was a favorite of mine: “Where’s The Playground Susie” by Glen Campbell. I wrote some years ago about discovering the song on a live Campbell recording given to me in a box of cassettes: “[W]hen I heard Campbell’s live performance of what was another [Jimmy] Webb gem, the sweep of its melody, the sadness and confusion in its words and the playground metaphor all made me sit up and take notice.” The record went to No. 26 on the Hot 100, to No. 10 on the easy listening chart and to No. 28 on the country chart.

The No. 2 record at WLTH fifty years ago was, as in New York and Tucson, “Love (Can Make You Happy)” by Mercy, and – as in Miami – the No. 1 spot was the double-sided “Get Back/Don’t Let Me Down” by the Beatles.

(As it happens, I could not have pulled any information from a June 2, 1969, edition of KDWB’s 6+30. The station did not begin calling its survey the 6+30 until the end of June in 1969. Before then, the station’s survey was called the Heavy Hit List. It had other names earlier than that, I know. Perhaps someday I will sort them all out. Note added June 1, 2019.)

How Many Junks?

May 29th, 2019

Summer – in a cultural sense – starts this week, the last days of May. (In a meterological sense, summer starts with the solstice, which will take place here in the American Midwest at 10:54 a.m. on Friday, June 21.) But these days of dwindling May have been disappointing, with too many clouds and too much rain and very few sunny days.

And that’s been a problem, as the Texas Gal has taken this week off from work, and we’d like to play in the sunshine. (Well, it was just as well that yesterday was kind of ooky, as we both had dental appointments and neither of us – especially she – wants to waste a nice day with the mundane unpleasantness of that.) Today, however, promises better times with a high temperature of about 75 (Fahrenheit) and – if I am reading the forecast on my phone correctly – at least dappled sunshine for the day.

So we’re going to go play in a few hours, starting with a lunch at one of our favorite restaurants. Then we’re going to wander a little ways from St. Cloud, looking for antique stores or junk shoppes that we have not visited recently. How many junks we buy depends on both our moods and our assessments of our wallets.

I had thought about dropping in here a song with “summer” found somewhere in its title, but the last sentence of that last paragraph pushed me in a different direction. Here’s Paul McCartney’s lovely brief ballad “Junk.” It was written in India in 1968 and was passed over for inclusion on the White Album and Abbey Road, finally seeing release on the solo album McCartney in 1970.

Saturday Single No. 642

May 25th, 2019

Here’s a piece that ran here in October 2015. I’m running it again today because of the number in the heading above. As you’ll see lower down, the minor mystery has been solved.

My sister and I had one of those “oh, my” moments last week at Mom’s storage unit when we found Dad’s alarm clock in a box of stuff. Every night he was home during his more than forty-six years on Kilian Boulevard, Dad had wound the little brown clock – Westclox? Timex? I don’t recall right now – and checked the alarm before setting it back on the nightstand and turning off the light for the evening.

It was that brown alarm clock that had started our weekdays during the school year, waking Mom and Dad at 6 a.m. They’d get dressed, and then Dad would rouse my sister and me while Mom headed downstairs to make breakfast for all of us.

When my second year of college started in September 1972, after my sister had decamped during the summer for marriage and a life in the Twin Cities, my mom decided to sleep in most mornings. That meant it was just Dad and me during the early morning, getting ready for our days across the river at St. Cloud State. He’d rise and dress, then wake me, and both of us would head out the door and drive off right around 7 a.m., he in his 1952 Ford and me in the 1961 Falcon I’d just inherited from my sister.

And for some reason, as the college quarter started during September 1972, Dad began waking me exactly at 6:42 a.m. Every day. Why that exact minute? I have no idea. But for some reason, that minute mattered.

There were days when I wasn’t quite sleeping, having surfaced from slumber to a half-waking state (a place between dreams and reality that I find quite pleasant), and I’d be aware of Dad standing next to my bed. Moments later, I’d hear the very faint click as the plastic tile in my clock radio flipped down, changing the time from 6:41 to 6:42, and Dad would shake my shoulder gently.

I’d nod, he’d head down the stairs to the kitchen, and I’d get out of bed and prepare for the day. By that time, neither of us ate breakfast at home, but when I got down to the kitchen, there would be a small glass of V-8 Juice and a larger glass of milk at my place at the table. I drank them standing up, and we’d head out.

And that’s how I started pretty much every school and work day from the autumn of 1972 until I moved away from Kilian Boulevard during the summer of 1976 (my time in Denmark excluded, although even there, I was an early riser). I never knew the significance of 6:42, and I never asked. I once mentioned it to my sister, and learned that before she left home, she was the 6:42 riser, with me following. Our conversation went elsewhere, so I never asked her the significance, if any, the minute had.

And I suppose I could have asked her last week, as she and I stood in the storage unit, looking at Dad’s clock with memories whirling in our heads. I didn’t think to do so.

She held up the clock and looked at me, as if to ask what to do with it. I shrugged; there are only so many things one can keep. She shrugged, too, and she placed Dad’s alarm clock into the box of things destined for an antique store.

In the time since I wrote this, I’ve asked my sister: Why 6:42? She said that she and Dad had learned that her rising at 6:42 gave her just enough morning preparation time to be ready to leave the house at 7 a.m. “That’s the only significance it had,” she said. And after my sister left Kilian Boulevard for her married life, I unknowingly inherited her schedule. As prosaic and utilitarian as that might have been, any time I see those three digits – whether as 6:42 or 642 – they bring me back to a time when I was much younger and my Dad was still here, winding his alarm clock every night.

And here’s an appropriately titled tune from the late Richie Havens: “Younger Men Grow Older.” It’s from an even more appropriately titled album, 1971’s Alarm Clock.

‘You May Be High . . .’

May 22nd, 2019

When the Rolling Stones recorded “You Got To Move” and released it on Sticky Fingers in 1971 (with the title offered as “You Gotta Move”), they credited the song to Fred McDowell, a Tennessee-based farmer and blues singer who’d somehow been given the name of Mississippi Fred McDowell. It was not an unreasonable decision, as McDowell had recorded the tune in 1965 for his second album on the Arhoolie label, which was released a year later and listed him as the song’s writer.

Here’s that version by McDowell:

(It’s worth noting that McDowell was an anomaly in the blues revival of the late 1950s and the 1960s: He’d never recorded before, while many of the blues artists celebrated during that revival had recorded in the 1920s and 1930s. Whether that made McDowell’s previously unrecorded music more “authentic” – as I’ve seen written in at least a couple of places – is for others to judge. It was certainly new to listeners, and, despite McDowell’s frequent use of an electric guitar, clearly linked to the Delta tradition.)

But McDowell did not write the song. Second Hand Songs lists the song as “traditional,” noting four recordings that predate McDowell’s 1965 recording. (McDowell’s 1965 recording is not listed at all; his 1969 live version with the Hunter’s Chapel Singers is listed, another reminder that as useful as the website is, it’s not complete.)

Those four earlier listed recordings came from the Willing Four in 1944, the Two Gospel Keys (Emma Daniels and Mother Sally Jones) in 1947, Elder Charles Beck & His Religion In Rhythm in 1949, and Blind Gary Davis with Sonny Terry in 1953. One can assume two things, I think: There were other recordings as well before McDowell recorded his 1965 version, and the song no doubt predates the Willing Four’s version. By how much, who knows?

And I’m going to make a third assumption: That crediting the song’s creation to McDowell on his 1966 album was an error by someone at Arhoolie. McDowell would certainly have known that he’d learned the song elsewhere, and everything I’ve read about McDowell tells me that he was an unassuming, almost humble man. I have my doubts that he’d have claimed the song as his.

(At Second Hand Songs, “You Got To Move” is called “traditional,” and on the CD version I have of Sticky Fingers, it’s credited to McDowell and Davis. I don’t know what credits there are on more recent versions of the CD or the LP.)

McDowell recorded the song at least a couple more times: The previously mentioned 1969 recording with the Hunter’s Chapel Singers for an album titled Amazing Grace, and in a 1971 performance in New York City that was released as a live album two years later.

There are, of course, other covers out there, some by artists I know and others by artists unfamiliar to me: The Party Boys, Mike Cooper & Ian A. Anderson, Mick Taylor, Herman Alexander, the Radiators, Corey Harris, Jorma Kaukonen, Townes Van Zandt, Cassandra Wilson, Aerosmith, and Koerner, Ray & Glover are just some of them.

Most of those are faithful to the Delta sound of McDowell’s version; some of them reach back to what I assume are the song’s Gospel origins; and some are hybrids. Here’s one of the latter, the version offered by Sista Monica Parker on her 2008 album Sweet Inspirations.