Archive for the ‘Video’ Category

Back In ’75

Wednesday, November 22nd, 2017

Here are the top ten albums from the Billboard 200 released on November 22, 1975, forty-two years ago today:

Rock of the Westies by Elton John
Windsong by John Denver
Red Octopus by Jefferson Starship
Prisoner In Disguise by Linda Ronstadt
Wish You Were Here by Pink Floyd
Still Crazy After All These Years by Paul Simon
Wind On The Water by David Crosby & Graham Nash
Born To Run by Bruce Springsteen
The Who By Numbers by the Who
Breakaway by Art Garfunkel

Over the years, seven of those albums ended up in the vinyl stacks; the only three that didn’t were the albums by John Denver, by the Who, and by David Crosby and Graham Nash. (Wind On The Water, however, has a place on the digital shelves while the other two of those three albums do not.) The first two to show up were the Paul Simon and the Art Garfunkel, both of which landed on my shelves about the time I graduated from St. Cloud State in February 1976. The latest acquired was the Linda Ronstadt album in 1994.

So are any of these essential listening right now? (And let’s just put Born To Run in that category without going any further; I’ve likely said all I ever need to say about that album.)

Beyond that, if we look at the current iteration of the iPod’s playlist we find:

Five tracks from Breakaway, with my favorite likely being Garfunkel’s cover of Albert Hammond’s “99 Miles From L.A.”

Two tracks from Still Crazy . . . but that’s a bit misleading: “My Little Town,” the late 1975 single by Simon & Garfunkel, was on both of their solo albums that autumn, and I happened to pull it into the iPod from Garfunkel’s album.

Two tracks from Red Octopus. One, for long-time readers, is obvious: “Miracles.” The other surprises me a little, but then, the current iPod stock was the result of fast and instinctive clicking, and during that whirlwind, I also pulled in “Play On Love.”

Just one track, “Love Is A Rose,” from Ronstadt’s Prisoner In Disguise. As I rebuild the iPod’s playlist in a couple of days – it’s part of the process of getting my tunes saved on two new three-terabyte external drives – I’ll likely add “The Tracks Of My Tears.”

And one track from Pink Floyd’s Wish You Were Here is currently in the iPod: “Shine On You Crazy Diamond.” I imagine the title track will be pulled into the iPod during the next rebuild.

And, of course, all eight tracks from Born To Run are in the iPod. But excluding that album, which of the other albums on the Top Ten from forty-two years ago today do I see as essential listening? I guess I’d say Still Crazy After All These Years. And I recall hearing “50 Ways to Leave Your Lover” on a snowy weekend evening in December 1975, as I took home the young woman who would become the Other Half. We were sure we’d never need any of those fifty ways.

Better Than Never

Tuesday, November 14th, 2017

I did a quick look this morning to find a Billboard Hot 100 released on today’s date. There were a few in the 1990s and later, but they didn’t interest me. I found charts from today’s date in 1964 and 1970, but without looking, I decided that those two years have been pretty well chewed around here.

Then I came upon a chart from November 14, 1981. Most of the stuff in the Top 40 was familiar, reminding me of Saturday evenings near Monticello when the Other Half and I would eschew television and turn up the radio as I read and she worked on one craft project or another. We generally liked what we heard on the Twin Cities KS-95, which offered an adult contemporary format to the world. Here’s the Top Ten from the Hot 100 chart released thirty-six years ago today:

“Private Eyes” by Daryl Hall & John Oates
“Start Me Up” by the Rolling Stones
“Physical” by Olivia Newton-John
“Waiting For A Girl Like You” by Foreigner
“Tryin’ To Live My Life Without You” by Bob Seger
“The Night Owls” by the Little River Band
“Here I Am (Just When I Thought I Was Over You)” by Air Supply
“I’ve Done Everything For You” by Rick Springfield
“Arthur’s Theme (The Best That You Can Do)” by Christopher Cross
“The Theme From ‘Hill Street Blues’” by Mike Post feat. Larry Carlton

I don’t recall the tracks by Bob Seger, the Little River Band, or Rick Springfield. If I ever heard them, it wasn’t often enough for them to make an impression. The other seven I know well, although only two of them – the tracks by the Stones and Mike Post – really hold my interest.

(And I wonder if the Seger or the Springfield got play on KS-95. I don’t know that they’d fit the format. On the other hand, I’d think that the Little River Band tune would. As I wondered, I grabbed Joel Whitburn’s Top Adult Songs, which told me that seven of those records made the adult contemporary Top 40; those that didn’t were the records by Seger, Springfield and the Rolling Stones. )

That lack of interest was 1981 for me: The process that I referred to a couple of months ago – I wrote “We were slowly moving into a time when what was popular was no longer what I wanted to hear.” – had left me with very little on the radio that I truly dug. Radio still offered pleasant background noise to an evening of reading, but for the most part, that’s all it was.

Still, I had to assume as I looked at the chart this morning that somewhere in the 110 singles listed in that long-ago Hot 100 (with ten records listed as Bubbling Under), there must have been a record that would make me look at the radio in appreciation, a record that I would want to hear again. So I began to make my way slowly down the list.

It didn’t take long. At No. 27, I found “Harden My Heart” by Quarterflash, a record that was included in my Ultimate Jukebox some years ago. But there was something else, I thought, something that I’d skipped past. So I reversed course, and at No. 15, I saw Al Jarreau’s “We’re In This Love Forever.”

Now, that’s another record that I could hear frequently without getting tired of it. It was a huge hit for Jarreau, reaching No. 15 in the Hot 100 and No. 6 on the magazine’s R&B country and adult contemporary charts. But for some reason, even though I remember the record fondly, I’ve not given it any attention in more than ten years of blogging. In fact, I’ve mentioned Jarreau only twice in those ten-plus years, both times in passing, and I didn’t even notice that he died last February.

I guess late is better than never. Here’s Jarreau’s “We’re In This Love Together.”

Saturday Single No. 564

Saturday, November 11th, 2017

The Texas Gal is in Texas this weekend, visiting her family. So I slept late before running her car down to the nearby tire shop for a routine tire check.

All was well, so I’m home and half the day is over.

November always brings with it thoughts of those gone from my life, making me a little subdued for the first half of the month. One of the folks I miss is Bobby Jameson, who entered my life after I shared some of his music here. One of my favorites among Bobby’s work is “Big Spoke Wheel,” recorded with Crazy Horse, Red Rhodes and Gib Gilbeau. Bobby told me that the sessions – unreleased until Bobby put many of his tunes up at YouTube – took place in either 1970 or 1971.

And “Big Spoke Wheel” – with its slender connection to my taking care of the tires on the Texas Gal’s car – is today’s Saturday Single.

Catching Up

Wednesday, November 8th, 2017

For a few months now, the Texas Gal and I have been talking about taking a look at the NBC television series This Is Us. So this weekend, we did, letting our smart TV find the show’s first season.

We’ve binge-watched other shows, a prime example being Amazon’s The Man In The High Castle. We took care of two seasons of that in just a couple of weeks. And early this year, we took care of the first season of Outsiders on WGN in a week or so, catching up to watch the second – and final – season as it came around weekly.

But it’s turning out to be tough to binge-watch This Is Us. The time-shifting story of family life is one of the best television series I’ve ever watched. Or perhaps I should say that if the rest of the series – the third second season is airing weekly on NBC these days – is as good as the first five episodes have been, This Is Us will rank among the best television series I’ve ever watched.

But it’s hard to binge on.

Why? Because every episode aims at my heart and hits true. And it never seems to go over the top, except in the ways that life itself sometimes goes over the top. Add in the comic moments that seem to be pulled from someone’s life rather than written, and top those off with intelligent casting and production, and you have great TV.

And, in our household at least, damp eyes. As the credits roll to end another episode, the Texas Gal turns to me. “What’d you think?” I shake my head, unable to speak for a few moments, and then maybe we roll another episode. We managed two in a row the first night and two in a row the next. Last night, we squeezed one into our regular viewing. I think two per evening is going to be our limit.

I’m also very aware of the music used in This Is Us, of course. Ranging from the 1960s to today, lots of it is familiar and some is not, and I keep telling myself I need to find out what the unfamiliar stuff is. That’s how I came upon tunefind, a site that catalogs tracks used in movies and television shows. And that’s how I verified that a track used behind an opening montage in the third episode of the series was in fact a 1965 track that’s been hanging around in the digital shelves here for almost ten years.

Here’s the very spare “Blues Run The Game” by Jackson C. Frank.

Saturday Single No. 563

Saturday, November 4th, 2017

Remembered moments and places sometimes swirl and connect in odd ways, filling in a picture of something I hadn’t thought about for years.

I was pondering the autumn of 1969, when the St. Cloud Tech Tigers football team – I was one of the managers – went 6-3 and finished at No. 9 in the state rankings released at season’s end by the Minneapolis Tribune. (A lofty ranking for a team with three losses? Maybe, but the Tigers’ three losses came at the hands of the Minneapolis Washburn Millers, the Austin Packers and the Moorhead Spuds, all undefeated and ranked Nos. 1, 2, and 3 by the Tribune. Tech played a tough schedule.)

By the first Saturday in November, the high school season was over. There were no playoffs. So, I wondered, what did go on during the first weekend of November. Locked into football at the moment, I checked at Pro Football Reference to see what the Minnesota Vikings had done. (Besides win, that is: The Vikings that year lost the first and last games of the season, winning twelve in a row in between.) It turned out that was the week that the Vikings hosted the Cleveland Browns and won 51-3.

I didn’t watch the game. This was the era when pro football games were not telecast in the home markets. Did I listen to it? I don’t think so. I do recall learning the final score while at the Minneapolis-St. Paul International Airport. My folks and I were waiting for a flight bringing my sister back from Alabama, where she’d been visiting a friend. I remember being in the airport, being annoyed about something. What it was that annoyed me, I’m not sure. Maybe her flight was late.

Having remembered my sister’s trip to Alabama, I recalled that my folks and I had brought her to the airport on Friday evening. In the midst of what was rush hour traffic back then, we made our way south along Highway 100, which was then the main north-south route on the Twin Cities’ western edge. And here’s where the memories get a little fuzzy.

On the western side of Highway 100 in the suburb of Robbinsdale, there was a restaurant called Vanni’s. Its menu was mostly Italian. I think we’d stopped there once before because I remember looking for it as we made our way south. And if I recall correctly, I thought that there might be a good chance of eating at Vanni’s as we made our way home from the airport that evening.

And so we did. I think. I know we made an evening stop at Vanni’s right about this time during the late autumn of 1969. Maybe it was on the way home after taking my sister to the airport that Friday. It might have been the following Sunday, on the way home after my sister’s return from Alabama. I’m not sure of which evening it was, but it was one of the two.

How am I sure? Because I remember what I had for dinner. On our first visit to Vanni’s sometime in the preceding two or three years, I was puzzled by an item on the menu: chili mac. Having learned that it was chili ladled onto spaghetti – two of my favorites in one dish! – I went for it and enjoyed it greatly. So, on our second visit on this November evening, I didn’t bother to look at the menu. I had chili mac and enjoyed it again.

And as we dined, someone went to the jukebox against the wall not far from where we sat. I recognized the record the instant it began. As I sat in Vanni’s and listened, the record – according to research from this morning – was at No. 20 on the Billboard Hot 100 (having moved up smartly from the previous week’s spot at No. 42). On the KDWB survey that week, it was at No. 31, right where it had been the week before. I may have only heard the record once or twice before, but I recognized it.

Why? Because during the introduction, I heard the unmistakable sound of a football game, and the record’s lyrics played on football lingo. It was, of course, “Backfield In Motion” by Mel & Time. It peaked at No. 10 on the Hot 100 and at No. 3 on the R&B chart, and it’s today’s Saturday Single.

Sophie’s Bowl

Wednesday, November 1st, 2017

My sister and I are still sorting through Mom’s things, and we will be doing so for some time. During the various moves that took place in Mom’s last years – from Kilian Boulevard to a patio home, from the patio home to assisted living, and from assisted living to memory care – Mom not only put a lot of stuff in two storage units, but she also sent boxes home with me and many more boxes home with my sister.

So Monday morning, I headed down to my sister’s home in Maple Grove to tackle two tasks: Decide what to do with first, Mom’s framed pictures and memorabilia and, second, her silver.

Along with art – a couple of watercolors by a local artist and some prints – and some smaller pieces like doilies her aunt had made, Mom had framed four beautiful certificates issued by a rural church near Lamberton, Minnesota, in the early 1900s. The certificates – all in German – noted the marriage of her parents and her own christening as well as the christening of her two sisters. Mom also had framed certificates noting Dad’s birth and confirmation, issued by churches in the east central portion of Minnesota where Dad grew up, and a couple of other similar events.

My sister thinks her children will take the watercolors, and we’ll put the doilies in the vast amount of stuff heading for an estate sale sometime in the next few months. As to the certificates, we’re going have a local photo shop remove them from the frames and get digital photos of them, and then I’ll contact historical societies in the various counties where the churches were located and see if the folks there are interested in the certificates. If they’re not, I guess we’re going to have to find a safe way to store them and figure out later what to do with them.

As to the silver, Mom had trays, bowls, and a coffee and tea service, a collection that seems typical for the middle class in the Upper Midwest during the middle years of the Twentieth Century. My sister already has enough silver she said, and I didn’t need it. She was going to check with her kids, but the likelihood was that most of the silver would go to the estate sale.

So we each chose one thing: She chose a silver bowl that she and her husband had given Mom and Dad for their silver anniversary in 1973. I pulled bowls from flannel bags and out of mounds of tissue paper, not entirely certain what I might want. As I looked at things, I found the notes my sister had made when the silver was put away in March; with each piece, she’d asked Mom where it came from: they came from cousins and aunts and uncles and grandparents.

And one bowl came from Sophie Kashinsky.

The name caught my eye. In April of last year, one of Mom’s stories over lunch had introduced me to Sophie Kashinsky. I’d been asking Mom about the recipe for the punch that had been served at Mom’s 90th birthday celebration in 2011 and at my sister’s wedding in 1972. And Mom told me that the same punch had been served at my grandparents’ fiftieth anniversary celebration in 1965 and at Mom and Dad’s own wedding reception in 1948.

I wrote then:

So where had Grandma gotten the recipe? Well, Mom said, she’d gotten it from her sister Hilda.

And Hilda, Mom said slowly, thinking, had gotten it from her roommate at nursing school. The memories began to spool out, as they always do when Mom gets to talking about things that happened sixty or more years ago: Hilda was living in St. Paul, and the nursing school was at the long-gone Miller Hospital . . .

Hilda’s roommate was a nursing student, too, Mom said, visibly sifting the memories . . . . [Her name was] Sophie, Sophie . . . Kashinsky. Sophie came from Hutchinson, Minnesota, a town about sixty miles straight west of the Twin Cities, with a population back then of not quite 5,000 people.

Where did Sophie get the recipe? Mom didn’t know. She’d met Sophie a number of times, the last occasion being a potluck picnic at the Hutchinson home of the recently married Sophie during the summer of 1950. Mom recalled the year of the picnic because she was pregnant with my sister at the time, and she also recalled that she brought baked beans to the picnic. I have no doubt that if I’d asked her what color the table cloth was, she’d have remembered.

But there was no answer to the question: Where did Sophie get the punch recipe? I didn’t say this at lunch, but it’s reasonable to assume, I think, that Sophie got the recipe from her mother, and I’d like to think that it was served at a reception for Sophie’s graduation from Hutchinson High School sometime during the 1930s, or maybe even at the reception when Sophie’s own parents were married, most likely in the early 1900s.

So when I found inside one of Mom’s silver bowls a note with Sophie’s name on it, I looked a little more closely. The note indicated that in July 1948, when Mom and Dad got married, Sophie had been the supervisor. To me, that means that Sophie took care of the numerous details a wedding day brings: organizing the ushers, getting the flowers in the right places, coordinating transportation for the bridal party back to my grandparents’ farm after the wedding, getting the photographer in the right place, and so on and so on.

So there was no question which piece of silver I’d take from Mom’s collection. I took Sophie’s bowl.

Sophie's Silver Bowl

I’d like to know more than I do, but so far, I’m finding nothing online. On the note, my sister spelled Sophie’s last name as “Kashinski,” but I don’t know if Mom spelled it for her or if my sister made an assumption. In any case, I’ve searched using both “Sophie” and “Sophia” along with “Kashinsky,” “Kashinski,” “Kachinsky,” “Kachinski,” and “Kaczynski.” And I’ve done all of those using “Hutchinson” as an added term. I may be missing something in the results, but nothing seems to be out there for our Sophie. (Searching is complicated by the fact that one of the characters in the CBS comedy Two Broke Girls is named Sophie Kaczynski-Golishevsky, which many fans misspell as one of the other variants listed here.)

So what do we listen to as we think about Sophie and a wedding gift of a silver bowl? I decided quickly against anything from the soundtrack to Sophie’s Choice. I like some work by singer Sophie Zelmani, but my favorite, her cover of Bob Dylan’s “Most Of The Time,” isn’t on YouTube (and would likely be blocked anyway, I think). So I looked for things about silver.

And here is Susan Tedeschi and her cover of the Rolling Stones’ “You Got The Silver.” It’s from her 2005 album Hope and Desire.

‘Be On My Side . . .’

Friday, October 20th, 2017

Sometime in the past week or two – and I cannot recall where or when – I heard a faint snippet, no more than five seconds, of Buddy Miles’ cover of Neil Young’s “Down By The River.” It reminded me of this piece, now more than ten years old.

There was a half-second of empty air after the commercial ended. A softly strummed guitar broke the silence, and then, above that, came the moan of an electric guitar playing one long note and then a short break of melody in a minor mode. A choir came in behind the guitars, a chorus of “oooooh” sounding as lonely as a back road while the guitar continued its forlorn dance above the chorus.

A quiet organ wash replaced the chorus as the drums entered and set a pace, and then a tortured voice sang, “Be on my side, I’ll be on your side, baby. There is no reason for you to hide . . .”

Rick and I paused whatever we were doing – probably playing a board game – and stared at the small radio and the sounds coming from its somewhat tinny speaker. What the hell was that? And who was singing?

The sounds of a summer night came through the screened windows of the porch that Rick’s dad had recently added to their house: oak leaves whispering in the wind, a car’s honk some blocks away, the faint “breek-breek” of frogs in the low places near the railroad tracks, the laughter of teens out walking in search of something, the distant horn of an approaching train.

But we kept looking at the radio, wondering what in the heck they were playing on WJON, whose studios were no more than two blocks away, just the other side of the railroad tracks.

It was 1970, and like many stations in non-metro America, WJON tried to be all things to all people. Daytime was farm reports, the Party Line show in the morning, news at regular times during the day, and, I seem to remember, lots of traditional pop music during the day: Dean Martin, Rosemary Clooney, Al Martino and maybe, if the deejay were feeling adventurous, Hugo Montenegro’s version of “The Good, The Bad and The Ugly,” with its eerie whistle and twangy guitars.

At night, from seven o’clock on, the station played pop and rock, ranging from mostly Top 40 during the early hours of the segment to deeper cuts and slightly harder sounds as the night aged. And it was about ten p.m., I guess, when Rick and I were transfixed by the sounds coming out of the radio.

Maybe Rick recognized the song as Neil Young’s “Down by the River,” but I don’t think he recognized the vocals as coming from funky drummer Buddy Miles. I didn’t know either the song or the singer. I was still pretty unhip to most pop and rock music, although in the past nine months, I’d started to listen and to buy LPs. My first two purchases had been Chicago II and the Beatles’ Let It Be. It would be a while before I got around to Neil Young. And beyond hearing on radio the spooky sounds of his version of “Down by the River,” it would be a longer time yet before I got around to Buddy Miles and his combination of blues, funk and rock.

“Down by the River,” which Rick and I would hear several more times late at night that summer, was from Miles’ third solo album, Them Changes. His first two, Expressway to Your Skull and Electric Church, had been well received by critics. (Jimi Hendrix, with whom Miles would play in Band of Gypsys, had produced about half of Electric Church.) Earlier, Miles had been part of Electric Flag, a group that was eclectic in both its membership and its music.

He’s not always been received well by critics. I recall reading particularly savage reviews in the various editions of the Rolling Stone Record Guide and Album Guide. But in the years following Them Changes, Miles would team up with Carlos Santana on a well-regarded live album in 1972 and would record consistently through 1976. After that, his recording was sporadic.

For me, though, as intriguing as his other work may be, nothing from Miles has ever grabbed my attention and imagination as tightly as that first hearing of “Down by the River” during that long-ago summer evening.

Miles, of course, is gone now: He passed on in February 2008, less than a year after this piece first showed up here. The album track of “Down By The River” remains one of my favorite tunes; I’m not as fond of the single edit that went to No. 68 in the Billboard Hot 100 that summer. I have a few other interesting covers of “Down By The River” in the digital stacks, and I pondered offering one of them here. But having heard just a snippet of Miles’ version the other day, I’m hungry for more of it.



(I’ve edited the 2008 post slightly.)

Saturday Single No. 560

Saturday, October 14th, 2017

In the spring of 1964, when I was ten and in fifth grade, a kindly, older gentleman came to Lincoln Elementary School and asked if anyone wanted to learn to play a band instrument. I was interested, and when I met with that gentleman, he looked at my teeth – which would never need braces – and suggested that I might want to play a brass instrument. He suggested trumpet.

Not long after that, my folks took me on a Friday evening to Weber’s Jewelry & Music, a store on the further downtown reaches of St. Cloud’s St. Germain Street, and we looked at horns. My folks opted to buy me a cornet. It had the same fingering and same scale as a trumpet, but with a slightly different construction, which made it shorter but taller than a trumpet. It also may have made it slightly cheaper; I’m not sure.

My folks laid out $165 for my cornet, which – considering the things that it brought me over the years – was a small investment for a very large return. Actually, it wasn’t such a small investment. Although $165 might not seem like much now, an online inflation calculator tells me that spending $165 in 1964 was like spending a little more than $1,300 today. Nevertheless, the return over the years has been huge.

The kindly gentleman turned out to be Erwin Hertz, the band conductor at St. Cloud Tech High School, and during sixth grade, he stopped by Lincoln School once a week to give me (and the other Lincoln students who’d chosen to play band instruments) lessons, and once a week, as well, we all went over to Tech to be members of a district-wide sixth grade band.

I played my cornet – playing parts written for trumpet, which was in practical terms, the same thing – in band from sixth grade through my sophomore year of high school. I also played in the district’s orchestra program, starting with summer orchestra after eighth grade and continuing during the school year for all three years of high school. I was pretty good, with a good ear, but I didn’t practice near enough, so when I headed to college, I learned after one quarter in band that, like a minor league pitcher moved up to the bigs, I wasn’t good enough anymore.

But that was okay. Those seven years of playing in those large groups had been enough. And along the way, I’d gotten some gifts I’d not at all anticipated. One of them was the music of Al Hirt. His only Top Ten hit, “Java,” went to No. 4 in Billboard in early 1964 and was No. 1 for four weeks on the magazine’s easy listening chart. My appreciation for “Java” led my sister to give me Hirt’s Honey In The Horn for my eleventh birthday in September 1964, when my work on the cornet was only a few months old.

And that album is one of formative albums of my musical life. Among its tracks were the first tunes I remember hearing from what we now call the Great American Songbook: Gershwin & Duke’s “I Can’t Get Started” and Bart Howard’s “Fly Me To The Moon,” along with other tunes like Hank Snow’s “I’m Movin’ On,” Ray Charles’ “Talkin’ Bout That River,” Boudleaux Bryant’s “Theme From A Dream” and more. The next Hirt album I got – That Honey Horn Sound from 1965 – brought me, among others, Rogers & Hart’s “You Took Advantage Of Me,” Chip Taylor’s “Long Walk Home,” Tchaikovsky’s “None But The Lonely Heart” and Hoagy Carmichael’s “Star Dust.”

From there, I dug into the rest of that mythical songbook and then into film scores, learning songs that kept me largely out of step with what my peers were listening to during the mid- to late 1960s. I didn’t always like being out of step at the time, but now – looking back fifty years – I wouldn’t change it.

Playing my horn also brought me a sense of melody that I think informs my songwriting to this day, and it brought me something I didn’t quite understand at first, even as I embraced it: I realized as I listened to Hirt’s records (and others’), that as a melody played, I knew how to finger it on my horn. It wasn’t perfect pitch, but it was close, a gift of relative pitch that I also use to this day.

So all of that is what my 1964 Conn cornet brought me. Now it has the chance to bring its gifts to another student. I took my horn – unplayed for many years – over to St. Cloud Tech yesterday and gave it to the band conductor there, a man named Gary Zwack. He said – confirming something my sister told me last week – that Tech, like almost all high schools in the state, often has students who want to play but who cannot afford an instrument. One of those students will now have a cornet to play.

When I arrived at Tech, Gary took me on a tour of the building. Renovations and additions made portions of the campus unfamiliar, but some doorways and corridors were recognizable. I carried my horn with me through the hallways, as I had done hundreds of times so long ago, and then I left it in the band office, giving its case a final pat and thanking it silently for the gifts it brought me.

And here’s one of those tunes I first heard long ago from the horn of Al Hirt. It’s Tchaikovsky’s “None But The Lonely Heart” from Hirt’s 1965 album That Honey Horn Sound, and it’s today’s Saturday Single.

‘It Ain’t Gonna Rain No More’

Thursday, October 12th, 2017

Okay, follow the bouncing ball and – if you wish – sing along with this cartoon from 1949:

I recall seeing short features like this – sing-a-longs with the bouncing ball – before movies during the late 1950s and early 1960s. I’d go – maybe with Rick and Rob or maybe with my sister – to kids’ matinees at the Paramount (or the Eastman or the Hays) here in St. Cloud, and there would be two or three animated features before the main event.

And I think I saw bouncing ball sing-a-longs on TV on Saturday mornings, watching and trying to keep the volume down on the old Zenith set while my parents slept in.

Anyway, what caught my ear about this particular sing-a-long was the song itself, “It Ain’t Gonna Rain No More,” which I’ve heard here and there forever. But I never thought about the song’s origins until this morning. Why this morning?

Because a search through the 97,000 mp3s in the RealPlayer brought up Wendell Hall’s version of “It Ain’t Gonna Rain No Mo’,” which he recorded for Victor in New York City on October 12, 1923, ninety-four years ago today. And Hall’s recording was a success: It was the No. 1 record in the U.S. in 1924, according to Josh Whitburn’s A Century of Pop Music.

The song itself, according to a brief entry at Wikipedia, had been around in various forms since some time during the 19th Century. Poet and folk musician Carl Sandburg included verses of the song in his 1927 volume American Songbook and suggested, Wikipedia says, that the song had been around since the 1870s. As with almost all folk songs, there are multiple variants, and the verses offered in the cartoon above are not all the same as those recorded by Wendell Hall in October 1923.

(I should note that the second line of the chorus also has variants. Hall sang, “How in the world can the old folks tell that it ain’t gonna rain no mo’?” The one I recall most clearly, perhaps from Boy Scout camp or Bible camp, went, “Now how in the heck can I wash my neck if it ain’t gonna rain no mo’?”)

Here are the verses as Hall recorded them:

Oh, the night was dark and dreary,
And the air was full of leaks.
Well the old man stood out in the storm,
And his shoes were full of feet.

Well the buttererfly flits on wings of gold,
The junebug wings of flame.
The bedbug has no wings at all,
But he gets there just the same.

Oh, mosquitee he fly high,
Oh, mosquitee he fly low.
If ol’ Mr. Skeeter light on me,
He ain’t a gonna fly no mo’.

Well, a bull frog sittin’ on a lily pad,
Looking up at the skies.
Oh, the lily pad broke and the frog fell in,
Got water all in his eyes.

Well, here’s a verse about a man and a trombone.
Well, the words to it are few.
He blew, he blew, he blew, he blew,
He blew, he blew, he blew.

Well, a man lay down by a sewer,
And by the sewer he died, he died.
And at the coroner’s request,
They called it sewer-cide.

A little black and white animal out in the woods.
I says, “Ain’t that little cat pretty?”
I went right over to pick it up,
But it wasn’t that kind of a kitty.

Oddly enough, Wendell Hall’s version of the song is the only one on the digital shelves here, even though a cursory search at YouTube turns up numerous versions of the song – old, modern and in between, including a take on the song by Nick Cave & The Bad Seeds. Some of those versions may yet show up on the shelves here, but for today, we’ll content ourselves with Hall’s version, recorded ninety-four years ago today.

Saturday Single No. 559

Saturday, October 7th, 2017

Autumn, that most melancholy and sweetest of the four seasons, is here in full. I should be appreciating the glint of sunshine on golden and red leaves as they fall. I should be watching great V’s of waterfowl as they make their ways across the skies heading south. I should be nodding in appreciation as a song of loss and growth and hope plays in the car or the study.

I should be enjoying autumn as I have almost always done.

But this has been a dismal season so far. We have had many more days of rain and cloud than of sunshine in the past four weeks, and most of the leaves that have fallen from the oaks and the basswood here lie sodden on the lawn. One cannot kick one’s way joyfully through wet leaves.

My physical ailments – my cramping and stiffening legs – make it difficult as well for me to find joy in the season. Neither physical therapy nor a wealth of advice drawn from numerous sources seem to be helping, and I am worried.

And this autumn is different in at least one other way. My sister and I both have September birthdays, and when I wished her well during a phone call the other day, she noted that this year’s birthdays were our first without either of our parents. She said our mom often called her about 7:30 in the morning on her birthday, as that was the time of day she was born. I said that Mom often called me at 7:50 in the evening on my birthday for the same reason. And then neither of us said much for a few moments.

Not all the leaves have fallen yet, and we may still get the sunny days that have always leavened autumn’s melancholy for me in years past. My ailments may subside; if they do not, I will find ways to live with them. My grief will never disappear, but it will fade to a level that I can both tolerate and embrace.

And if it still turns out that this autumn is not one I can celebrate or cherish, well, I have had similarly sad autumns before, and I may have them again. Likewise, I may still have one or more gloriously bittersweet autumns waiting for me in the years to come. And as I ponder those things, I remind myself that here in this human plane of joy and woe, we are granted those things we need at the times we need them.

And that tells me that I must embrace this season with all its disappointments and worries just as fully as I have embraced the seasons that were sweet and thus more easily embraced.

As for music this morning, here’s the wistful and lovely “Early Autumn” by Toots Thielemans. It’s from his 1958 album Time Out For Toots, and it’s today’s Saturday Single.