Among the trees we have gracing our acre-plus of yard are three Norway pines, perhaps my favorites with their graceful conical shapes and their clusters of long needles. One of the three is not far from the house and has been the starting point over the years for the seating for our summer picnics. All three are tall and, if you’ll excuse the personification, noble.
But I’m a little worried. All three of them have been shedding branches – some quite large – this winter. The yard is strewn with maybe thirty of them, ranging from a foot to perhaps four feet long. And that seems odd. We’ve had some high winds so far this winter, but nothing more fierce than we’ve had in winters past. (In fact, this has been a fairly mild winter: not that much snow and only one stretch of sub-zero temperatures although there is some chatter about a major storm heading our way at the end of next week.)
So I don’t know why the Norway pines are shedding so many branches this winter when they’ve not done so in winters past. I’m uncertain if the falling branches are harbingers of something wrong with the three Norway pines or if they’re just coincidence. I’d like to think it’s the latter.
The branches also bother me because they’re unsightly. As the snow cover has melted and the temperatures have risen in the past week or so, the Texas Gal and I have talked about getting outside and picking up the branches. I think we’ll be doing that today or tomorrow afternoon, as the temperature is supposed to get into the mid-50s.
That won’t tell us why the Norways are shedding branches, but at least it will make the yard a little more tidy.
And here’s an appropriate tune, a cover of a song originally done by The Band in 1969. Here’s “Whispering Pines” as performed by Boz Scaggs and Lucinda Williams. It’s from Scaggs’ 2015 album A Fool To Care, and it’s today’s Saturday Single.
In one of those things that occasionally bedevil all of us in this digital world, I found myself for about two weeks unable to access my Yahoo! email account, the one that’s used for this blog and for offers to meet incredibly scrumptious women. When whatever gunked up the Intertubes cleared up – and I imagine it was a combination of digital Yahooligans and my own errors – I found a gift from regular reader and friend Yah Shure:
He sent along scans of the WJON/WJJO Starship Sampler from February 9, 1976, detailing thirty-eight top singles on each of the two St. Cloud stations – WJON was Top 40 (or near enough) and WWJO was (and still is) country – along with a list of 30 featured pop/rock albums on the back cover of the sampler. (Yah Shure had intended me to have the sampler in time to write about it on February 9, but whatever went wrong with my email put a dent in that idea, so we’re a little more than a week late, which seems like no big deal after forty-one years.)
The two stations, of course, were right around the corner and across the railroad tracks from my folks’ place on Kilian Boulevard (and they’re still there in a newer building, just down Lincoln Avenue from our current place). For many years, WJON was one of the stations that gave me my evening Top 40 fix. Oddly enough, at the time of this particular sampler, that wasn’t the case: I was living in the Twin Cities, finishing an internship in television sports and getting my Top 40 from KDWB.
Still, it’s fun to know what the folks I left behind me in the Cloud were listening to, even though not much of it is surprising. Here is WJON’s Top Ten from that long-ago week:
“Convoy” by C.W. McCall
“I Write The Songs” by Barry Manilow
“Saturday Night” by the Bay City Rollers
“50 Ways To Leave Your Lover” by Paul Simon
“Evil Woman” by the Electric Light Orchestra
“Squeeze Box” by the Who
“All By Myself” by Eric Carmen
“Fox On The Run” by Sweet
“Breaking Up Is Hard To Do” by Neil Sedaka
“Winners & Losers” by Hamilton, Joe Frank & Reynolds
(I’m going to leave the country side of the sampler alone today except to note that “Convoy” was also No. 1 there.)
The only one of the pop Top Ten I did not recall was “Winners & Losers,” and a trip to YouTube did not impress me. The record, which went to No. 21 on the Billboard Hot 100, was HJF&R’s follow-up to the group’s No. 1 hit, “Fallin’ In Love,” which I also thought was a little flabby. (I’m not alone there. Yah Shure noted in a later email that both “Fallin’” and “Winners” were releases on the Playboy label, the group’s new home, and he noted that “their Playboy output was like listening to their Dunhill singles, minus any air in the tires.”)
The only surprise that Yah Shure pointed out on the Top 40 side of the sampler was the presence of Michael Murphey’s “Renegade” at No. 34, a decent enough record but one that I don’t recall at all. We both expressed amused bafflement that “The White Knight” by Cledus Maggard & The Citizens Band – a sort of rough-edged “Convoy” wannabee – sat at No. 26 on WJON. And he noted – half kidding, I think – that he was surprised that station owner Andy Hilger hadn’t “put the kibosh” on the station’s airing the Who’s naughty joke, “Squeezebox.”
Beyond that, the sampler was pretty much what you’d expect from early February 1976. There were a good number of records I recall fondly, some I love, some I don’t care about, and some I dislike. Beyond “Renegade,” there was only one I did not recall: David Ruffin’s “Walk Away From Love,” which sat at No. 19. A trip to YouTube refreshed my memory, and it fell into the “don’t care” category.
The interior pages from the February 9, 1976, Starship Sampler are here.
We’ll take a look at the list of “St. Cloud’s Top Albums” from February 9, 1976, early next week. And we’ll close today with a record that sat at No. 31 in the Starship Sampler that long-ago week, one that I like a great deal, and one that’s not been mentioned here since April 2007, Helen Reddy’s “Somewhere In The Night.”
Today, finally, we go west, sorting through the digital shelves for four tracks that use the word “west” in their titles.
Sorting in the RealPlayer for the word, we get 613 tracks, but as I suspected, we have some winnowing to do. Numerous tracks have been labeled “West Coast” in the genre slot, and they fall by the wayside, Jackson Browne’s For Everyman, the City’s Now That Everything’s Been Said, and Walter Eagan’s Not Shy among them. Anything titled or tagged as having been recorded at the Fillmore West will be ignored, as will numerous blues joints that came out of West Helena, Arkansas (many of them by Howlin’ Wolf).
Most of Alfred Newman’s soundtrack to the 1962 movie How The West Was Won is lost, as are Ray Charles’ two volumes from 1962 of Modern Sounds In Country & Western Music. The same holds for anything by Cashman & West (with and without Pistilli), and for a group called West, which gets double-docked for its 1968 self-titled album.
We also throw out the fight song from Western Illinois University, and numerous singles, starting with those on the Westbound and EastWest labels. Among the lost singles are “Linda’s Gone” by the West Coast Branch, “Fairchild” by Willie West, “Rave On” by Sonny West, “Smoke! Smoke! Smoke! (That Cigarette)” by Tex Williams & His Western Caravan, “Tennessee Toddy” by Billy Gray & His Western Okies, “Take Me In Your Arms (Rock Me A Little While)” by Kim Weston, “500 Miles” by Hedy West, “Take What You Want” by West Point, and “The Ballad Of Paladin” by Johnny Western.
Still, we have enough to work with.
Trying to tap into the spirit of the music they’d made a decade earlier, the Allman Brothers Band offered “From The Madness Of The West” on its 1980 album Reach For The Sky. In its six-plus minutes, the jam gave the listener the expected: parallel guitar lines playing arching melodies, a percussion solo, modal progressions and a technically precise guitar solo. What it could not offer, of course, were those people and things the Allman Brothers Band lost along the way: the departed Duane Allman and Berry Oakley, the bypassed Jaimoe, and the ability to do things no other band could. “From The Madness Of The West” is decent listening but no more than that. If you let it roll by in the background without thinking about it, it’s pleasant music, but when you stop to think about the arc of the Allman Brothers Band, the track – and in fact all of Reach For The Sky – feels like the part in a novel where you pause and wonder if in fact there can be any revival.
In 1987, when the Grateful Dead released the album In The Dark and pulled from the album the single “Touch Of Grey,” I wonder if Jerry Garcia and the rest of the band were baffled by the result. The album went to No. 6 on the Billboard 200, and the single went to No. 9 on the Hot 100. The group had reached the Top 20 of the album chart a few times before – Blues For Allah had done the best, going to No. 12 in 1975 – but never before had a Dead single hit the Top 40, much less the Top Ten. The group’s highest charting single before “Touch Of Grey” had been 1971’s “Truckin’,” which topped off at No. 64. As it happened, the Dead’s burst of popularity coincided with the rebirth of my interest in buying tunes, and In The Dark became the first Grateful Dead album on my shelves. And one of my favorite tracks from the album – “West L.A. Fadeaway” – qualifies for today’s exercise, bringing along a blues verse that more often than not makes me chuckle: “I met an old mistake walkin’ down the street today/I didn’t wanna be mean about it, but I didn’t have one good word to say.”
With a spare accompaniment – guitars and few strings – Nanci Griffith sings:
Wash away the tears
All the angry times we shared
All the feelings and the sorrows come and gone
We have let them slip away
Because I’m standing here today
And I’m smiling at your old West Texas sun
I remember times When you’d weathered out my mind But you always had a peaceful word to say And you could always bring a smile With the mischief in your eyes Still, I’m glad the miles keep me separate from your games
You know you’re still as wild As those old west Texas plains Standing by the highway do you still call my name? Lord, I can’t believe it’s been such a long, long time Since I’ve seen that Texas boy smile
Well, I’ll be heading out of town I may stop by next time around Hell, it’s raining, but at least that’s something real I came shackled down with fears About our dreams and wasted years And now I know exactly how to feel
Wash away the tears All the angry times we shared All the feelings and the sorrows come and gone We have let them slip away Because I’m standing here today And I’m smiling at your old West Texas sun
The track is “West Texas Sun” from Griffith’s first album, the 1978 release There’s A Light Beyond These Woods. As one might expect for a first album, it’s a little tentative; the confident story-teller that I discovered in the early 1990s has yet to show up. (I think of “Love at the Five & Dime” from The Last of the True Believers in 1986 and “Trouble In The Fields” from Lone Star State Of Mind a year later, just to highlight two great songs that came along very soon.) But even early Griffith is worth a stop this morning.
And we close this morning with a recent version of a song that’s been around for nearly ninety years: “West End Blues.” Written by Clarence Williams and King Oliver and first recorded in 1928 by King Oliver & His Dixie Syncopators, “West End Blues” was one of the tunes that New Orleans legend Allen Toussaint selected for his 2009 album The Bright Mississippi. In his review of the album at AllMusic, Stephen Thomas Erlewine wrote that “although straight-out jazz is uncommon in Toussaint’s work, this neither feels unfamiliar or like a stretch,” adding, “Upon the first listen, The Bright Mississippi merely seems like a joyous good time, but subsequent spins focus attention on just how rich and multi-layered this wonderful music is.” As I listened to the most recent cover of “West End Blues,” I noted that the digital shelves also hold a copy of one of the earliest covers of the song: A 1928 release by Louis Armstrong & His Hot Five.
It’s time for a four-track random walk through the 3,805 tracks on iTunes to find ourselves a Saturday Single:
First up is Muddy Water’s “I Can’t Be Satisfied,” the first single the blues musician released after making his way in 1943 from the Mississippi Delta to Chicago. The track was recorded in December 1947 and released on Aristocrat – a precursor of Chess Records – in 1948. It didn’t hit the Billboard R&B chart, but in September of 1948, Waters’ “I Feel Like Going Home” went to No. 11 on R&B chart. From what I can tell this morning, in more than ten years of blogging here, I have mentioned “I Can’t Be Satisfied” only twice, once in passing and once as one of the records played daily in my mythical roadhouse.
Up pops a Bob Dylan B-side: “Groom’s Still Waiting At The Altar,” released on the flip of “Heart of Mine” in 1981 and then released on the Biograph box set in 1985. A different version of the tune showed up on the Shot of Love album in 1981, but I think I’d have to do a side-by-side, second-by-second comparison to find the differences. In the notes to Biograph, Dylan basically says that he and the band lost their ways in the version that went out as the B-side. I have to admit that I was unaware that “Heart of Mine” was released as a single in 1981; I never heard it, and it never even bubbled under the Billboard Hot 100.
And we stay with Mr. Dylan, moving back fourteen years from Shot of Love to the quiet and understated John Wesley Harding from 1967 and its meditative track “I Dreamed I Saw St. Augustine.” With just a guitar and a harmonica and an understated voice, Dylan tells of the saint “tearing through these quarters” and offering the cryptic words
No martyr is among ye now Whom you can call your own So go on your way accordingly But know you’re not alone.
Next comes the sweet love story of “1927 Kansas City” as told by Mike Reilly, who became a member of Pure Prairie League after a brief solo career. The only remnant of that solo career in the charts is “1927 Kansas City,” which tumbled around the lower levels of the Hot 100 for six weeks, peaking at No. 88 (and at No. 38 on the Adult Contemporary chart). It’s a little gooey, maybe, but it’s got some nice production touches and some nice lyrical turns, and since I’m a sucker for sweet love stories, it’s a favorite.
Well, we’ve got two Dylans, a classic blues and a sweet love story on the table. I’m tempted by the love story, of course, but I featured it here not quite three years ago. I’m also limited by the fact that Dylan’s originals do not stay on YouTube very long at all, and although some nice covers of “I Dreamed I Saw St. Augustine” are available there (including one from last year by Eric Clapton), it was the original that popped up in iTunes this morning. So pretty much by default, we’re going to have to go with Muddy Waters. (That’s not a bad default position to have, you might note.)
Here’s Muddy Water’s 1947 recording of “I Can’t Be Satisfied.” It’s today’s Saturday Single.
All right, gather ’round. Here’s “Frozen Bill” by Arthur Pryor’s Band:
Not amazingly catchy, no, but then, it does come from 1909, when Arthur Pryor’s Band was big stuff. Pryor, according to Joel Whitburn’s Pop Memories, was the first trombonist in John Philip Sousa’s famous band (and actually served as conductor for many of the band’s recordings). His own band, Whitburn notes, became “a major concert attraction in its own right.”
Pryor’s first listed recording in Pop Memories, which covers the years 1900 through 1940, comes from 1904, when his band’s recording of “Bedelia,” a tune from the Broadway musical The Jersey Lily, was at one time the third-most popular recording in the U.S.
(These days, we’d say it went to No. 3, and I’ll likely use that terminology in the rest of this post, but it’s worth noting that Whitburn calculated the overall popularity of records in the book by drawing from a variety of sources. Especially complicated was the task of rating records from the years 1900 to 1909: Whitburn used fourteen different sources, some modern and some historical, to determine popularity.)
And “Bedelia” was just one of twenty-six recordings by Pryor’s band that made the back-dated Top Ten. The best-performing record that Pryor and his band released was “On The Rocky Road To Dublin,” which was assessed to have made it to No. 2 in December of 1906.
What about “Frozen Bill,” which we heard at the top of the post? Well, “Frozen Bill” didn’t make the compiled charts and is not listed in Whitburn’s book. So why am I featuring it today? Well, because it was recorded on February 10, 1909, exactly 108 years ago today.
“Frozen Bill” is one of seven tracks that I have in the digital stacks tagged with today’s date. All but one of those seven come from the years before World War II, because most of the tunes for which I have session data generally come from historical compilations, and many of the compilations I have come from that era. Here are the other six that I know (or at least believe, in a couple of cases where I’ve done some digging myself) were recorded on February 10 over the years:
“Po’ Mo’ner Got A Home At Last” by the Fisk University Jubilee Quartet, 1910
“The Pay Off” by the California Ramblers, 1928
“Things ’Bout Comin’ My Way” by Tampa Red, 1931
“Untrue Blues” by Blind Boy Fuller, 1937
“Deep Purple” by Jimmy Dorsey (vocal by Bob Eberly), 1939
“The House Is Rockin’” by Stevie Ray Vaughan & Double Trouble, 1989
Of the five records from before World War II on that brief list, only one of them is listed in Pop Memories. Dorsey’s “Deep Purple” went to No. 2 on the Billboard charts of the time. The Fisk University Jubilee Quartet, the California Ramblers and Tampa Red, though, all had other recordings that were listed in Pop Memories. Only Blind Boy Fuller was shut out.
Then, of course, there is the Stevie Ray Vaughan tune, which I found on the two-CD set The Essential Stevie Ray Vaughan & Double Trouble. “The House Is Rockin’” did not chart, but the album on which it was released, In Step, went to No. 33 on the Billboard 200.
And we’ll close with my favorite selection from that brief list of February 10 recordings: Tampa Red’s take on “Things ’Bout Comin’ My Way,” recorded in Chicago eighty-six years ago today. The song was originally recorded by the Mississippi Sheiks, and at Second Hand Songs, the Sheiks’ Walter Vincent is credited as its writer. The melody is, of course, similar to “Sitting On Top Of The World,” also first recorded by the Mississippi Sheiks and credited to Vinson, but I have seen a note somewhere – I cannot find it at the moment – that says that portions of the melody of “Sitting . . .” likely came from an earlier composition by Tampa Red. (And as I noted in a 2010 post, Charley Patton’s “Some Summer Day” is also similar.)
In any case, here’s “Things ’Bout Comin’ My Way,” by Tampa Red (and I’m guessing – but it’s only a guess – that the piano work comes from Georgia Tom, who became famous in gospel circles as Rev. Thomas Dorsey).
I’m still regrouping here, doing the minimum necessary to keep the household running, drinking lots of fluids, taking lots of decongestant and other meds and just holding on. But I thought I’d toss out another preview to the feature I hope to start in earnest in the next week or so: Journalism 101.
Last Thursday, I offered a preview of the first of the five W’s: “Who.” Today, we’ll find a tune with “What” in its title, sorting among 1,375 tracks the RealPlayer found. Among the tracks we’ll have to reject are two pretty good albums, the Doobie Brothers’ What Were Once Vices Are Now Habits and the Dramatics’ Whatcha See Is Whatcha Get. (There are more that we must pass by, but – in keeping with the tenor of this post – that’s a preview.)
From the perspective of nearly sixty years, the Coasters’ 1959 track “What About Us” sounds, certainly in the first verse and perhaps in some of the later verses, like a plaint about economic inequality:
He’s got a house made of glass Got his own swimming pool . . . what a gas We’ve got a one-room shack Five by six by the railroad track, well
What about us What about us Don’t want to cause no fuss But what about us
He’s with a beautiful chick Every night of the week, pretty slick We’re two poor hung up souls Girls won’t touch with a ten-foot pole, well
What about us What about us Don’t want to cause no fuss But what about us
He goes to eat at the Ritz Big steaks, that’s the breaks We eat hominy grits From a bag, what a drag
He’s got a car made of suede With a black leather top, got it made If we go out on dates We go in a box on roller skates, well
What about us What about us Don’t want to cause no fuss But what about us
By the second verse, songwriters Jerry Leiber and Mike Stoller are placing the tale clearly in the teen-age milieu, but I wonder if the first verse and some of the later verses had a wider target.
“What About Us” was released in late 1959, and Joel Whitburn’s Top Pop Singles shows it going to No. 47 on the Billboard Hot 100 as the B-side to “Run Red Run,” which went to No. 36. Oddly, perhaps, Whitburn’s R&B book shows “What About Us” as the A-side; it went to No. 17 on the Billboard R&B chart (with “Run Red Run” going to No. 29 on the B-side).
Whether pointed statement or teenage playlet, whether A-side or B-side, the record has the classic Coasters sound: A catchy rhythm, humor-laden lyrics, the low-voice interjections and a sax solo that I assume comes from King Curtis. Enjoy!
I still feel like crap, so I searched the 90,000-odd mp3s in the RealPlayer for the word “headache,” and I came up with one title: “Willies’ Headache,” a 1973 track by Cymande.
Cymande, according to Wikipedia, is “a British funk group that released several albums throughout the early 1970s and . . . recently reunited in 2014 with a European tour.”
“Willies’ Headache” was a track on the group’s second album, Second Time Round, and it brings with it a conundrum: On the album label as offered at Discogs.com, the title of the track is spelled as I have it above. On the video below, it’s spelled “Willy’s Headache,” which makes more sense.
It doesn’t matter, I guess. What matters is that my own headache is soothed this morning by the mellow and funky sounds, and I like the chorus: “Gotta be aware! Don’t get too lost in your dreams.” And all of that makes “Willies’ Headache” a good choice for this week’s Saturday Single.
The Texas Gal headed off to work a few moments ago, sniffling and wheezing from a mid-winter cold that’s been plaguing her for a few days, and I have a feeling I’m not far behind her. (As I typed that sentence, I barked out two or three dry coughs similar to those she began with early this week.)
So I’m going to go take it easy on the couch for a good portion of the day and get back in here tomorrow. But first, I thought I’d mention an idea for a series of posts that I hope to get to very soon. As readers know, I’ve found a number of ways to sort track titles over the years. Two that seemed to work were March of the Integers, looking for numbers in song titles, and Floyd’s Prism, seeking colors. Follow the Directions ignored Horace Greeley’s advice and failed to go west, but that may happen yet.
And I realized as I was pondering the news the other day that my long-ago training in journalism offers me a list of words that should be good sorting material. I think we’ll call it Journalism 101, and we’ll sort for:
As I noted above, I’m going to take the rest of the day off (thought processes are already beginning to get a little gummy), but first, I’m going to offer a preview of the eventual post that will be titled “Who.”
When we sort the 90,000-odd mp3s in the RealPlayer for “who,” we get 714 tracks. (Babe Ruth!) And of course, lots of them aren’t going to work. Everything in the player by the Guess Who goes by the wayside, as do twenty-some tracks by a group called 100% Whole Wheat. And so on. (A more detailed list of what’s lost will be included in the full track, which will run sometime next week, I hope.)
But, as I’d expected, there will be plenty of tracks left with the word “who” in their titles. And we’ll preview the new feature with one of those tracks, a single from a New Jersey group called the Glass Bottle. I don’t recall hearing the single when it came out in late 1971; not a lot of people did, as the record got only as high as No. 87 in the Billboard Hot 100, but I know that if I had heard it, I would have loved it.
Here’s the Glass Bottle with “The Girl Who Loved Me When.”
For a few weeks in January 2007, after I’d gone to Blogspot and reserved a space called Echoes In The Wind, I shared rips of some of my more rare albums and singles, stuff by Bobby Whitlock and Levon Helm, singles and B-sides from the Mystics and Dion, and some other stuff that wasn’t quite as hard to find. And I called it a blog.
Somewhere during the last few days of January and the first few of February – ten years ago this week – I figured out what I did best: Write about music and the way it’s intersected my life. The first time I did that was on Saturday, February 3, when I shared my rip of a Danish single and its effect on me:
“For just a few moments, it is the fall of 1973, and I am walking somewhere inside the old portion of the city of Fredericia, maybe heading to have a beer with a buddy, maybe walking with that long-ago girlfriend, or maybe just walking. It’s a golden day in October, and somewhere, not too far away, Lecia & Lucienne are singing ‘Rør ved mig. Så jeg føler at jeg lever . . .’”
That, to me, was when this blog became what I wanted it to be. And in the past ten years, I’ve generally managed to stay true to that idea. I’ve sometimes sputtered along, throwing out some odd ideas and mediocre posts – almost all with some kind of music – hoping to catch the lightning again if I just kept on writing.
But I’ve hung in there. Two hosting sites evicted me following complaints by artists that I was giving away their music, and I found my own space on the ’Net. Over the past eight years, I’ve been reloading the posts from those first two sites at Echoes In The WindArchives, and I have about 190 posts left to re-up. Taking those into account, and looking at the totals offered by the dashboards here and at the archives site, in the past ten years, I’ve tossed a few more than 2,000 posts at the EITW studio walls, hoping they would stick.
Even though I’m not unbiased about this, some of them have. I think back to the nearly year-long project of the Ultimate Jukebox, winnowing the (then) 40,000 or so mp3s on the digital shelves to the 228 records that made up, as I said, “the jukebox of the mind, the jukebox that I’d have in my living room if my living room were part malt shop, part beer joint, part crash pad and part heaven.” Having inevitably missed some essential records, I later added about a dozen under the label of Jukebox Regrets, and the project of sorting out those 240 or so tracks still pleases me.
I wrote a few concert reviews, detailing evenings spent in the company (sometimes distant, once in the front row) of Bruce Springsteen & The E Street Band, Fleetwood Mac, Glen Campbell, Bob Dylan and Peter Yarrow.
My imaginary tunehead buddies Odd and Pop showed up a few times, guiding me through the conflicting desires to offer, say, Bulgarian choral music or records that everyone knows and loves and might be tired of hearing. And I wrote about the small and large bits and pieces of life, from my early days on Kilian Boulevard and the life that followed with the Other Half into the years when I was waiting for my Texas Gal and the sweet days of now.
There were times when I couldn’t find the groove or the heart of the story, and there were times I got it right. I seem to have gotten it right with a pair of consecutive posts in late October 2008 that each generated large numbers of comments, more than almost any other posts here: the first was “An Hour At Tom’s Barbershop” and the second – “A Halloween Tale” – was a tale of young love found and lost.
I should note as well the friendship of Yah Shure, the occasional contributor, regular reader and frequent commenter who really should have a blog of his own. And in a special place on the list of friends is Jim Kearney, who blogged as Paco Malo at Goldcoast Bluenote. He’s been on the other side for two-and-a-half years now, and I still miss him and his frequent comments and occasional emails.
In other words, the ten years I’ve spent here at Echoes In The Wind have been a lot like life in the real world: I’ve done some things well and some not so well, indulging in some whimsy along the way as I’ve made friends and seen some of them head to the other side.
So on we go into our second decade. And there’s no better time to share once more the track that was Saturday Single No. 1, Cris Williamson’s “Like An Island Rising,” from her 1982 album Blue Rider. As you all might guess, I love the line “Sweet miracles can come between the cradle and the grave.” Because they can.
Wandering through the digital stacks this morning, I found a few tracks tagged as having been recorded on January 28 over the years. (I have session date information for perhaps five percent of the 90,000 mp3s in the RealPlayer.) Let’s take a look at them.
The oldest comes from Frank Hutchison, who recorded “Stackalee” in New York City in 1928. An early version of the tale of bad man Stagger Lee that Lloyd Price turned into a No. 1 hit in 1959, Hutchison’s spare take on the song – with his guitar on his lap and a harmonica in a rack – came to me through the CD box set of the legendary Anthology of American Folk Music compiled by Harry Smith and released in 1952.
Next along the timeline for January 28 are a couple of western swing tracks laid down in Chicago in 1935 by Milton Brown & His Brownies. “Crafton Blues” is an instrumental composed by the band’s Ocie Stockard, and “Who’s Sorry Now” is a cover of the 1920s standard first recorded and released in 1923 by Bob Thompson. The two tracks came my way on Western Swing, a three-CD set that billed itself as “The Absolutely Essential” collection.
On January 28, 1953, most likely in Los Angeles or Hollywood (a judgment based on the fact that the arrangements and backing were from Nelson Riddle), Nat King Cole recorded “Almost Like Being In Love.” The track was released that year on Nat King Cole Sings For Two In Love, an eight-track, ten-inch LP. I found “Almost Like Being In Love” on the compilation CD The Very Best of Nat King Cole.
Big Joe Turner had a busy day on January 28, 1955, in New York City, and four tracks from that day’s session have made their ways to my stacks: “Morning, Noon and Night,” “Ti-Ri-Lee,” “Flip Flop and Fly” and “Hide and Seek.” Of the four, “Ti-Ri-Lee” is a little less frantic but still nowhere near a slow dance, and the other three are your basic (but still enjoyable) Joe Turner joints. I found “Morning, Noon and Night” and “Ti-R-i-Lee” on a Turner compilation titled Big. Bad & Blue, and the other two came from the CD The Very Best of Big Joe Turner (which I happened to be playing in the car this week).
Jumping ahead in the timeline a little bit, two Johnny Cash-related tracks show up. On January 28, 1971, Tammy Wynette appeared on The Johnny Cash Show on ABC. Her performance of “Stand By Your Man” showed up on The Best of The Johnny Cash TV Show. And on January 28, 1974, in Hendersonville, Tennessee, Cash recorded “Ragged Old Flag,” which was released as a Columbia single and was later included in the CD collection The Essential Johnny Cash.
Heading back a few years from that, in 1969, George Harrison brought Billy Preston to a Beatles session at the Apple studios on January 28. Among the results was the single version of “Get Back,” on which Preston provides an electric piano solo and became, if I recall things correctly, the only non-Beatle credited on a Beatles record. The track was included in the Mono Masters CD package.
And last, we’ll head back another year to 1968 and a recording session for the Moody Blues at the Decca Studios in the West Hampstead area of London. The group was working on In Search of the Lost Chord, and among the results of the session was an early version of “What Am I Doing Here?” The track got left off the album, and in November of that year, it was given some overdubs and a new mix. Still, “What Am I Doing Here?” was unreleased until 1977, when the November version was included in the Caught Live + 5 collection.
I found the original version of “What Am I Doing Here” on the expanded CD release of In Search of the Lost Chord, and I prefer it to the overdubbed November version. At any rate, a November track doesn’t meet our requirements today, so the January 28, 1968, recording of “What Am I Doing Here?” is today’s Saturday Single.