Archive for the ‘1983’ Category

‘For Your Love’

Friday, June 26th, 2020

I imagine that the first time I heard the Yardbirds’ “For Your Love” was on a friend’s radio sometime after summer vacation began in late May or early June 1965. The KDWB surveys at Oldiesloon tell me that the record debuted at No. 40 in the station’s “Fabulous Forty” on May 22 that year, just a week after it reached the Billboard Hot 100.

It moved quickly at KDWB, reaching No. 34 and No. 14 during the next weeks and then peaking at No. 8 in the June 12 survey. It then hung around for another six weeks before falling out of the KDWB survey at the end of July.

Sometimes when I hear the record these days, I have a quick vision of the halls of South Junior High, and it’s possible I heard the record there or at least nearby, as that was the summer between sixth and seventh grades, and I went to a couple of so-called enrichment classes – beginning Spanish and cooking, I think – at South during June and July.

Anyway, I was aware of the record, and I liked it, though like almost all pop rock at the time, I would not have known whose record it was. (A quick look at the June 12 KDWB survey – when “For Your Love” peaked – shows only two or three records for which I might have been able to name the performer: the Beatles’ “Ticket To Ride,” Glenn Yarbrough’s “Baby The Rain Must Fall,” and maybe the Seekers’ “A World Of Our Own.”

The first version of the tune I ever owned came a bit later when my sister gave me – for my birthday or Christmas; it’s a bit foggy – a copy of Herman’s Hermits’ On Tour album. The Hermits’ cover of “For Your Love” was recorded only a few months after the Yardbird’s version and is quite a bit less intense than that original.

(It’s worth noting here that the song was written by Graham Gouldman, who, among other things, was a member of 10cc.)

Other covers followed, of course, from Gary Lewis & The Playboys in August 1965 to – according to Second Hand Songs – a group called Cracks last year. A search with the RealPlayer finds six tracks titled “For Your Love” on the digital shelves here. Two of them – by Gwen McRae (1975) and by the Romantic Saxophone Quintet (2005) are not Gouldman’s song.

Otherwise, we find the versions by the Yardbirds and Herman’s Hermits, a lackluster cover of the tune by Fleetwood Mac from the 1973 album Mystery To Me, and a cover by the London Symphony Orchestra. That last is one of numerous tracks of pop rock songs the orchestra recorded beginning – from what I can tell – in 1983. There were in total five CDs worth of such work, I think, and I somehow came across a compilation pulled from those five CDs.

Here’s the London Symphony Orchestra’s take on “For Your Love.” It’s from the 1983 album Classic Rock: Rock Symphonies (repackaged later as part of a five-CD set).

‘North’

Friday, March 11th, 2016

When we sort the 88,000 or so mp3s on the digital shelves for the direction “north” – beginning, as we do so, our “Follow the Directions” journey promised a few weeks ago – we run into several obstacles.

First of all, numerous mp3s have been tagged by their rippers over the years as “Northern Soul,” a designation that, as I’ve noted before, tends to baffle me because it’s more reliant on the reaction of the listener than it is to anything intrinsic to the music. But never mind. We’ll have to ignore those.

We also lose tunes by those performers and groups that have “north” as part of their names, like Charlie Poole & The North Carolina Ramblers, a 1920s string band; the North Mississippi Allstars, a current blues ’n’ boogie band; Northern Light, the band that released “Minnesota” in 1975; Canadian singer-songwriter Tom Northcott (without intending to, I’ve gathered eleven of his recordings); and a current folky group called True North.

Then we have to cross off our list a live 1982 performance by Jesse Winchester in Northampton, Massachusetts; and almost every track from many albums, including the Freddy Jones Band’s 1995 album North Avenue Wake Up Call, the Michael Stanley Band’s North Coast (1981), Dawes’ North Hills (2014), Sandy Denny’s The North Star Grassman & The Raven (1971), The Band’s Northern Lights/Southern Cross (1975) and Ian & Sylvia’s Northern Journey (1964). But we still have enough to choose from to find four worthy tunes pointing us to the “N” on the compass.

Regular readers know my regard for the late Jesse Winchester, and I think I know his catalog fairly well, but every now and then, his whimsy surprises me all over again, as happened with his tune “North Star” this morning. It starts like a serene, folky meditation:

Heaven’s got this one star that don’t move none
And that’s the place you want to aim your soul
Set you on a spot that knows no season
And be satisfied just to watch old Jordan roll

And then Winchester leaps:

Now, does the world have a belly button?
I can’t get this out of my head
’Cause if it turns up in my yard
I’ll tickle it so hard
’Til the whole world will laugh to wake the dead

Surprises me every time. It’s on Winchester’s 1972 album Third Down, 110 To Go.

If the North had ever had a poet/musician laureate, for years that place would have been filled by Gordon Lightfoot, and just three of his songs would have cemented him there: “The Wreck of the Edmund Fitzgerald,” “Canadian Railroad Trilogy” and “Alberta Bound.” And it seems to me that Lightfoot summed up all of his Canadian lore in one last good Northern song: “Whispers of the North” from his 1983 album Salute:

Whispers of the north
Soon I will go forth
To that wild and barren land
Where nature takes its course
Whispers of the wind
Soon I will be there again
Bound with a wild and restless drive
That pulls me from within
And we can ride away
We can glide all day
And we can fly away

Back in the late 1980s, a ladyfriend and I included Lightfoot on our list of essential musicians; even so, I’ve never been driven to pull together a complete Lightfoot collection, as I’ve done with Bob Dylan (with the exception of his Christmas album). The urgency wasn’t there, I guess, although the shelves – both wooden and digital – hold plenty of Lightfoot. And “Whispers of the North,” though it might not rank with the other three Canadian anthems I mentioned above, is pretty high on my list. The loon call at the start doesn’t hurt, of course.

The song that shows up most frequently – twenty-two times – in my sorting of “north” is Bob Dylan’s “Girl From the North Country.” Beyond five versions by Dylan himself and four by Leon Russell (one of those with Joe Cocker and one with the Tedeschi Trucks Band), I have versions by the Country Gentlemen, Hamilton Camp, Howard Tate, Margo Timmins, Rosanne Cash, Mylon Lefevre, Jimmy LaFave, Leo Kottke and several other folks, including the previously mentioned Tom Northcott. A Vancouver native, Northcott had several charting singles in Canada in the late 1960s and early 1970s and got into the Billboard Hot 100 in the U.S. once, when his cover of Harry Nilsson’s “1941” went to No. 88 in early 1968. (A cover of Donovan’s “Sunny Goodge Street” had bubbled under at No. 123 during the summer of 1967.) His pleasant take on “Girl From the North Country” went to No. 65 on the Canadian charts in 1968.

And we end today with “Lady Of The North” by Gene Clark, the closer to his 1974 album No Other. According to the tales told at Wikipedia, Clark – after some years of indulgence – was sober when wrote the bulk of the album’s songs at his home in Mendocino, California. After heading to Los Angeles to record, though, he more than dabbled in cocaine, and his wife, Carlie, took the couple’s children back to Northern California. Whether it was a direct response, I’m not certain, but Clark, with help from Doug Dillard, wrote “Lady Of The North” for Carlie and used it as the album’s closer. Wikipedia notes that the album was a “critical and commercial failure,” that the time and resources used to record were “seen as excessive and indulgent,” and that Asylum did little to promote the album. Two CD releases of the album in recent years have been met with better critical and commercial response.

Random In The ’80s

Wednesday, February 10th, 2016

Simply because we don’t visit the decade very often around here, we’re going to make a four-stop trip through the 1980s this morning. When I sort for the decade, the RealPlayer offers us somewhere around 6,200 tracks. (I have to estimate because of things like catalog numbers – Buddy Holly’s “Rave On,” Coral 61985, for example – and releases from box sets and other re-releases that note a date in the 1980s for things recorded earlier.) So here we go:

First up is Wynton Marsalis with “Soon All Will Know” from his 1987 album Marsalis Standard Time, Vol. 1. Modern jazz is not a territory I know well or travel in confidently, but a while back – after Marsalis and Eric Clapton recorded a live blues album – I grabbed some Marsalis CDs from the library and dropped them into our mix here, figuring I might learn something. I’m not sure I have so far, but I keep letting the tracks fall here and there as I roll on random. After seeming to wander around for a while, “Soon All Will Know” grabs a decent groove and offers a nice intro to today’s wanderings.

Steve Forbert’s music has been for years on the margins of my interest. Folks might recall that his 1979 single “Romeo’s Tune” showed up in my Ultimate Jukebox six years ago, but that was more a consequence of its getting radio play at a time when I wasn’t hearing much I liked on the radio. This morning, we land on “Laughter Lou (Who Needs You)” from Forbert’s 1980 album Little Stevie Orbit, a work whose tracks pop up on occasion but on which I’ve not focused much attention. The album went to No. 70 on the Billboard 200, clearly following on the success of 1979’s Jackrabbit Slim, which hit No. 20. But there was no interest in any singles from the album, even though Nemperor released “Song For Katrina” as a promo. As to “Laughter Lou (Who Needs You),” the lyrics have some nice putdowns for poor Lou and the music drives along quite nicely. I probably wouldn’t have changed the station if it had come on the radio back in 1980, but I don’t know that I would have anxiously waited to hear it again.

We move on to “Crazy Feeling” a track from The “West Side” Sound Rolls Again, a 1983 album by Doug Sahm and Augie Meyers, the guys who years earlier were the heart of the Sir Douglas Quintet and its hit, “She’s About A Mover.” Sahm has shown up in this space a number of times over the years (as has Meyers, though almost always unmentioned while Sahm’s music played), and “Crazy Feeling” is a remake of a 1961 Sahm single that hews very, very close to the original; the major difference seems to be that the 1961 version doubled up on the crazy and was titled “Crazy, Crazy Feeling.” As to the album, there’s not a lot out on the Interwebs about it (and I’m not at all sure how it came to be in the digital stacks), but I do note this morning that a copy of the LP is going for $219 at Amazon. (That’s the asking price, of course; how much it actually sells for could be an entirely different matter.)

Anyone trying to keep track of the various unreleased works by Bruce Springsteen that end up bootlegged in the corners of the ’Net would have an impossible task. I don’t try to keep track; I just listen to the boots when they show up and keep some of them (well, most of them). One of the tracks that I’ve come across that way is “Sugarland,” which showed up on a board somewhere as part of a collection called Unsatisfied Heart, a group of outakes from the Born In The U.S.A. sessions in 1983 and 1984. According to Setlist.fm, Springsteen has performed the song live twice, two days apart in Ames, Iowa, and Lincoln, Nebraska in November 1984. It’s a plaint about the prospects of a farmer (and that makes sense of the locales of its performances):

Grain’s in the field covered with tarp
Can’t get a price to see my way clear
I’m sitting down at the Sugarland bar
Might as well bury my body right here

Tractors and combines out in the cold
Sheds piled high with the wheat we ain’t sold
Silos filled with last year’s crop
If something don’t break, hey, we’re all gonna drop

Taking Some Time

Thursday, September 18th, 2014

As autumn approaches – the equinox is next Monday, September 22 (at 8:29 p.m. Central Time, if I’ve done my calculations correctly) – we’re going to take a few days off here. We’ll visit some friends, play with the cats, drive a little and relax.

There’ll be no Saturday Single this week for one of the few times since this blog started in 2007, but I will be back Tuesday. In other words, I’ll see you next autumn.

But I’ll leave you with this, the title track from Jonas Fjeld’s 1983 album Living For The Weekend. See you Tuesday!

‘You Done Your Daddy Wrong . . .’

Tuesday, May 13th, 2014

Back when I was a little horn-playing sprout, listening to my Herb Alpert and Al Hirt records on our RCA stereo, I found myself wanting to dance every time the needle got to the last track on Hirt’s 1963 album, Honey In The Horn. With its rapid tempo, its lip-rippling horn riffs, and its background singers chants of “Go along, go along,” I loved Hirt’s cover of Hank Snow’s “I’m Movin’ On.”

Of course, at the age of twelve or so, I had no idea it was a cover. I had no idea who Hank Snow was. And I had no idea that Snow’s 1950 original had topped the country chart for a record-tying twenty-one weeks, matching the performance of Eddy Arnold’s 1947 release, “I’ll Hold You in My Heart (Till I Can Hold You in My Arms).” (In 1955, Webb Pierce tied Arnold and Snow when his “In The Jailhouse Now” was No. 1 for twenty-one weeks, and in 2013, notes Wikipedia, the three records were dropped from their record-holding positions when “Cruise” by Florida Georgia Line spent twenty-four weeks at No. 1.*)

I’m not sure when I learned about Snow’s original – sometime between 1965 and 2000, I guess – but it’s without a doubt one of the classics of country music:

The record came to mind the other day when I heard a version of “I’m Movin’ On” by Johnny Cash with Waylon Jennings that was recently released on Out Among the Stars, a collection of recently discovered Cash recordings from 1981 and 1984. And I wondered what other covers might be out there, expecting the list to be lengthy.

And I was right: Second Hand Songs lists more than fifty covers of the Snow song, and there are others at Amazon (though many of those listings are the Rascal Flatts song with the same title). And Wikipedia references a few other covers. I don’t entirely trust that list, however, as it cites covers by Bob Dylan and Led Zeppelin, and I can find no indication that either Dylan or Zep recorded the song. (Dylan’s official website does note that he performed the song in concert nineteen times between 1989 and 1993.)

Some of the covers have hit the various charts. On the country chart, Don Gibson took the song to No. 14 in 1960, and a live version by Emmylou Harris went to No. 5 in 1983. (The Harris version linked here is from an anthology, and I believe it’s the single version from the live Last Date album, though I imagine the single might have had the introduction trimmed. If it’s the wrong performance, I’d appreciate knowing about it.)

Three versions of the tune have also hit the pop chart: A jaunty cover by Ray Charles went to No. 40 (and to No. 11 on the R&B chart) in 1959, singer Matt Lucas took the song to No. 59 in 1963 in his only appearance on the chart, and John Kay saw his Steppenwolf-ish cover of the tune go to No. 52 in 1972.

And that’s enough for today. We’ll be back later this week with some more.

*Based on what I read at Wikipedia, I have some reservations about “Cruise” holding the record for most weeks at No. 1, as some of those twenty-four weeks belong to the original release and some of them belong to a remix by hip-hop artist Nelly. If there’s a remix, is it the same record?

Six At Random

Thursday, December 5th, 2013

Well, being a little tired from shoveling the first portion of a six-inch or so snowfall, and with the second portion waiting on the sidewalk for my attention, I’m going to let the RealPlayer do the work today and walk us through six tunes at random. (I will skip stuff from before, oh, 1940, as well as the truly odd). So here we go:

First up is “Treat Me Right” from Nothing But The Water, the 2006 album from Grace Potter & The Nocturnals that was, I think, the first thing I heard from the New England group that’s become one of my favorites. The slightly spooky groove, the organ accents and Potter’s self-assured vocal remind me why I’ll listen to pretty much anything that Ms. Potter and her bandmates offer to the listening public. I have five CDs, some EPs, and some other bits and pieces of the band at work, and I find that all of that scratches my itch in the way that only a few groups and performers – maybe ten, maybe fifteen – have since I started listening to rock and its corollaries in late 1969.

I came across the North Carolina quartet of Chatham County Line via County Line, their 2009 collaboration with Norwegian musician Jonas Fjeld. Today, we land on the cautionary “Sightseeing” from the group’s 2003 self-titled debut album. In reviewing the album, Zach Johnson of All Music Guide writes: “Centered around a single microphone, the band plays acoustic bluegrass instruments in the traditional style, but there’s a sly wink in the music – like in the trunk of their 1946 Nash Rambler there may be some Lynyrd Skynyrd and Allman Brothers records underneath the Bill Monroe and Flatt & Scruggs LPs. Any nods to rock & roll are successfully stifled in their songwriting though, as the band specializes in purely honest and irony-free honky tonk bluegrass, earnestly sung and expertly picked as if ‘marketing strategies’ and ‘the 18-24 demographic’ never existed.”

The 1980s country group Southern Pacific featured a couple of ex-Doobie Brothers – guitarist John McFee and drummer Keith Knudson – and by the time the group got around to recording its second album – the 1986 effort Killbilly Hill – one-time Creedence bassist Stu Cook joined the group. Still, on “Road Song” and the rest of the group’s output (and there were a few more membership changes along the way), there’s less of a rock feel and more of a 1980s country polish that doesn’t always wear well nearly thirty years later. That would be more of a problem if we were listening to full albums here; one song at a time, it’s easy to overlook. And the group was relatively successful: Thirteen records in the Country Top 40 between 1985 and 1990, four of them hitting the Top Ten.

In early 1967, the Bob Crew Generation saw its instrumental “Music To Watch Girls By” go to No. 15 on the Billboard Hot 100. The tune, written by Sid Ramin, originally came from a commercial for Pepsi-Cola and was popular enough in that arena that it quickly attracted recording artists. Second Hand Songs says that the first to record the tune was trumpeter Al Hirt, whose version bubbled under the chart at No. 119, while Andy Williams saw his version – with lyrics by Tony Velona – go to No. 34. Other covers followed, one of them from a studio group called the Girlwatchers. Their version was the title track to a quickie album in 1967 that also included titles like “Tight Tights,” “Fish-Net Stockings,” “Tiny Mini-Skirt” and so on. “Green Eyeliner” is the track we land on this morning. I’m not sure how the album found its way onto my digital shelves, but it’s an interesting artifact, and I imagine I’d recognize the names of quite a few of the studio musicians who helped put it together.

Speaking of members of the Doobie Brothers, as we were earlier, during one of the band’s quieter times, guitarist Patrick Simmons released a solo album, Arcade, in 1983.To my ears, it sounds very much like early 1980s Doobies, with a glossy blue-eyed soul sound that – like the glossy country of Southern Pacific mentioned above – works fine as individual tracks go by but tends to work less well as an entire album. Simmons released two singles from the album: “So Wrong” went to No. 30, and “Don’t Make Me Do It” went to No. 75. A pretty decent record titled “If You Want A Little Love” was tucked on the B-side of “So Wrong,” and that’s where our interest is this morning.

And we close our morning wanderings with a tune from Frank Sinatra’s Songs For Swingin’ Lovers! That’s a 1956 effort that sometimes finds its way into the CD player late at night here in the Echoes In The Wind studios. The album came from the classic sessions that paired Sinatra with arrangements by Nelson Riddle, and “It Happened In Monterey” is pretty typical of those sessions: brass and percussion accents, the occasional swirling strings and more, all in service of one of the greatest voices and one of the greatest interpreters of song in recording history.

‘Scarf Now!’

Thursday, December 27th, 2012

I have – as we all do – consistent patterns and habits.

The Texas Gal first noticed that soon after we met, when our daily contact was still limited to computer chat and telephone calls. “What’s for lunch?” she asked one morning. Chili beans over hot dogs, I told her.

“You had that yesterday,” she said.

“Yes, and the day before that,” I replied.

There were reasons for the sameness of my lunch menu, I told her. First, I like chili beans over hot dogs. And then, I was at the time on a very limited budget. Chili beans were cheap, and a couple weeks earlier, the grocery store where I shopped had filled a small freezer in the meat department with one-pound packages of John Morrell’s German Brand hot dogs. They’d been frozen upon their arrival at the store some time earlier and had been forgotten in the main freezer until they were past their so-called freshness date. There was nothing wrong with the hot dogs, a sign assured shoppers; they’d been frozen since their arrival. But because of the date on the packages, the store was selling them at a dollar per one-pound package.

I’d never tried the brand, so I bought a package and had two or three that noon. Having approved, I went back to the store that afternoon and stocked up on, oh, fifteen pounds of German Brand hot dogs. And that became my preferred brand until the Morrell company discontinued them about five years ago. So I found another brand, and even with the addition to my lunchtime options earlier this year of several varieties of Chef Boy-Ar-Dee pasta, a bowl of chili beans over hot dogs still shows up frequently on my noontime table.

So what brought habits and patterns to mind this morning? My breakfast.

For a couple of years now, my breakfast has been the same. It starts with coffee, of course. (I’ve lately been drinking Gevalia’s Traditional Roast, my most recent attempt to find a regular coffee since the McGarvey Flame Room blend has once more disappeared from the shelves of the nearby supermarket.)

To represent the beginning of my breakfast, here’s Squeeze with “Black Coffee in Bed,” which went to No. 103 in 1982. The record isn’t much, but the video is entertaining for both the 1980s fashions and for the seeming disinterest with which the members of Squeeze go through the motions.

Once coffee is brewing, I head to the bread. If I ever took the time to make toast in the mornings, I could dig up a video for “Toast to the Fool” by the Dramatics or maybe “Toast and Marmalade For Tea” by Tin Tin, but I go with plain bread. So here’s a clip from the television show Solid Gold of Robert John performing his 1983 cover of the Newbeats’ “Bread & Butter.” The Newbeats’ version went to No. 2 in 1964, while John’s cover went to No. 68.

Speaking of habits, John made a habit of covering older hits. His 1972 version of “The Lion Sleeps Tonight,” which went to No. 3, was a cover of the Tokens’ No. 1 hit from 1961. (The Tokens’ version was reissued in 1994 and went to No. 50 after the song was recorded by South African artist Lebo M. as part of the soundtrack to the Disney film The Lion King.)* John also covered the doo-wop classic “Hushabye” in 1972. That cover went to No. 99; the Mystics’ version had gone to No. 20 in 1959. And in 1980, John released a version of “Hey There Lonely Girl,” which went to No. 31. That was, in fact, a cover of a cover: Eddie Holman’s take on the song went to No. 2 in 1970 while the original, Ruby & The Romantics’ “Hey There Lonely Boy,” had gone to No. 27 in 1963.

Anyway, once I have my bread (and I suppose we should be grateful that no record ever seems to have come close to the Billboard Hot 100 that has the words “whole grain” in its title), I slather it with peanut butter. Here’s the Marathons (who also recorded as the Olympics, as I noted in a post some time ago) with “Peanut Butter,” which went to No. 20 in 1961.

That takes care of one slice of bread. These days, the other gets a good coating of apple butter. (I used to use grape jam but switched for some reason a couple of years ago). There are no records that I could find specifically about apple butter (and I quickly dismissed the idea of pulling anything out of the “Apple Jam” portion of George Harrison’s All Things Must Pass), but there are plenty about apples. Here’s a pretty good one from Badfinger, “Apple of My Eye,” which went to No. 102 in 1974 (and was released, happily enough for our purposes this morning, on Apple).

*The tangled history of the songs “Mbude” and “The Lion Sleeps Tonight” is told well at All-Music Guide.

‘You Better Start Savin’ Up . . .’

Tuesday, November 13th, 2012

Quiet times here in the past few days, as the Texas Gal buried her nose in her textbooks and I stayed out of the way. She’s studying employment law and supervisory management this quarter, and although I’ll help where I can – I routinely review and edit papers quite gladly – I’ll have little to add to the conversation. (That’s not always been the case as she heads toward her paralegal degree; her several courses in constitutional law brought us some truly fascinating discussions.)

Anyway, as she studied, I did the minimum required housework and some cooking, watched a lot of football and continued to fight off a sinus infection that’s perplexing both me and Dr. Julie. As a result, I’ve done even less prep work for a post than my usual minimum. But something caught my eye Sunday as I read Jon Bream’s review at the Minneapolis Star Tribune website of Sunday night’s concert in St. Paul by Bruce Springsteen & The E Street Band.

Bream noted that a sign in the audience requested the band play “Savin’ Up,” a tune Springsteen wrote for the first album recorded by the now-departed Clarence Clemons, an album titled Rescue, credited to Clarence Clemons & The Red Bank Rockers. Springsteen quickly taught the basics of the song to the band, the background singers and the horn section and then let loose a pretty darned good performance on the crowd at the Xcel Energy Center.

After listening to the live version by Bruce and the gang, I went digging, pretty sure I had Rescue. And I found it in the stack of LPs waiting to be ripped to mp3. But something else nagged at me, so I ran a search through the 65,000 mp3s. And there was “Savin’ Up,” collected as one of twenty-eight tracks on the 1997 two-CD set titled One Step Up/Two Steps Back: The Songs of Bruce Springsteen. And a quick search at YouTube saved me some time.

Personnel on the Clemons’ version of “Savin’ Up” are: Clarence Clemons, saxophone and background vocals; John “J.T.” Bowen, lead vocals; David Landau, guitars; Bruce Springsteen, rhythm guitar; Ralph Schuckett, keyboard; John Siegler, bass; and Wells Kelly, drums.

‘Two’

Tuesday, September 4th, 2012

A couple weeks back, I offered a post titled “One,” looking at songs/recordings that have the word “one” in their titles. As readers might reasonably infer from the title of this post, today’s we’ll take a look at “Two.”

(We’re never unwilling here at Echoes In The Wind to test a good idea’s elasticity. Over the next couple of months, I can see us stretching this particular brainblip as far as “Ten,” and depending on source material, we may then go back to “Zero” before calling it quits.)

It’s not impossible to figure out how many tunes in the mp3 library have the word “two” in their titles. But it would be time consuming. A search for the word brings up 756 tracks, but I’d have to account for – among others – the twenty-eight tracks of the 1997 album One Step Up/Two Steps Back: The Songs of Bruce Springsteen and the forty tracks in the soundtrack to Season Two of the cable series The Tudors. I’d also have to ignore the soundtrack by Trent Reznor and Atticus Ross for the 2010 film The Social Network, the entire catalogs of Fleetwood Mac and of a 1970s countryish band called Heartwood and a lot of single tracks, including “Driftwood” by the Moody Blues and “Ki Demon Sa-a” by Haïti Twoubadou (from the Putomayo collection of music from the French Caribbean). That combination of “two” sneaks into many places.

So I don’t know how many tracks lie in the library with “two” in their titles, but it’s plenty for our purposes this morning.

I may have said this before, but I’ve never quite known how I feel about Joe Jackson. From the time he showed up with Look Sharp! in 1979 through today, Jackson has seemed to shift from genre to genre, style to style, sometimes sounding accomplished and sometimes sounding tentative. I’ve listened to some of his stuff, and I can never quite figure him out. One thing I did like was 1983’s “Breaking Us In Two,” which went to No. 18:

The opening seconds of the Moments’ “Love on a Two-Way Street” provide one of the best introductions in 1970s pop soul. The guitar chords alternating with the piano followed by the thrumming strings (cellos, I would guess) set up the song perfectly. The 1970 record, the Moments’ first Top 10 hit, peaked at No. 3 on the pop chart, while over on the R&B chart, “Love on a Two-Way Street” was No. 1 for five weeks. The record was the peak of a pretty decent chart career, one that lasted  from 1968 into 1975 as the Moments and continued as Ray, Goodman & Brown to 1980 on the pop chart and to 1987 on the R&B chart.

A native of Windsor, Ontario, Jack Scott put nineteen records into the Billboard Hot 100 between 1958 and 1961. In Top Pop Singles, Joel Whitburn describes Scott as a “rock and roll ballad-singer/songwriter/guitarist,” which doesn’t sound very distinctive. Scott’s “Two Timin’ Woman” came out in 1957 and showed up in That’ll Flat Git It, the multi-CD collection of obscure country and rockabilly records, and “Two Timin’ Woman” probably falls best in the latter category. The record did not make the charts; Whitburn lists it as a “Classic Non-Hot 100” record in Scott’s entry.

Staying with plaints about women from 1957 for a moment, I came upon “Two Headed Woman” from Junior Wells. Wells, writes Bill Dahl of All Music Guide, “was one bad dude, strutting across the stage like a harp-toting gangster, mesmerizing the crowd with his tough-guy antics and rib-sticking Chicago blues attack.” Though it was not one of Wells’ better-known outings, “Two Headed Woman” is a pretty good romp. I’m struck by the record’s odd rhythmic structure.

A few months back, the Texas Gal and I were lucky enough to see the Jayhawks when they came through town. I’d read plenty about the Minneapolis-based group over the years, but I hadn’t heard nearly enough of their recorded output, so I’ve been catching up lately. “Two Hearts” comes from 1995’s Tomorrow the Green Grass and provides a good example of the softer side of the band’s alt. country/Americana persona.

For this morning’s closer, I found a neat clip on YouTube. By the time March 1970 rolled around, the Beatles had broken up, but they hadn’t yet told the rest of the world. To promote (one assumes) the upcoming release of both the film and the album titled Let It Be, the group provided a clip to The Ed Sullivan Show of the group performing “Two Of Us,” which turned out to be the album’s opening track (and one of the best things on the album).

‘Let The Sentence Fit The Crime’

Thursday, April 26th, 2012

The real world calls me away today: There are towels to wash, counters to clean and menus to plan, among other things. I’ll be back briefly Saturday morning, and I hope to return to this space next week with some new things to share both in text and music.

In the meantime, here’s another cover, though not one as unlikely as Tuesday’s. In 1983, a year after Bruce Springsteen released the song on Nebraska, Johnny Cash made “Johnny 99” the title track for an album on Columbia during the performer’s last years with that label. It was little noticed at the time, but in the years since, according to comments I’ve seen in numerous places, the album has become somewhat of a collector’s item, especially among Springsteen fans looking for the title track as well as Cash’s take on Springsteen’s “Highway Patrolman,” also from Nebraska.

Those are the two tracks that interested me when I first read about the album as few years ago, and after a little bit of digging, I learned that Koch Records had released a CD edition of the album in 1998. I also soon learned that copies of the CD were going for prices of anywhere from $25 to more than $100 online. (A few copies of the original 1983 vinyl available through Amazon are priced at $75 or more.) So I bided my time, and about a month ago, I spotted a copy online for about $12.

I still haven’t absorbed all of the CD yet, but Cash’s take on “Johnny 99” – and I’ve heard quite a few covers of the tune as well as Springsteen’s original – might be definitive.