Archive for the ‘Single’ Category

What’s At No. 100? (11/30/74)

Friday, November 30th, 2018

Okay, so it’s the last day of November, and our time-waster today is to take a look at the Billboard Hot 100 from this date in 1974, looking at the Top Ten and then taking a chance on whatever might be sitting at No. 100.

Here’s the Top Ten from that chart forty-four years ago today:

“I Can Help” by Billy Swan
“Kung Fu Fighting” by Carl Douglas
“When Will I See You Again” by the Three Degrees
“Do It (‘Til You’re Satisfied” by B.T. Express
“Longfellow Serenade” by Neil Diamond
“Everlasting Love” by Carl Carlton
“My Melody Of Love” by Bobby Vinton
“You Ain’t Seen Nothin’ Yet/Freewheelin’” by Bachman-Turner Overdrive
“Cat’s In The Cradle” by Harry Chapin
“Angie Baby” by Helen Reddy

Boy, there are some clinkers in there: The records by Carl Douglas, Bobby Vinton and Harry Chapin are pretty much guaranteed to make me wince (and if I’m in the car, punch a button for another station). I’m not all that fond of “I Can Help,” either, having heard it too many times on the Atwood Center jukebox at St. Cloud State forty-four years ago. (Someone who hung out in the snack bar must have really liked the record because it felt back then as if I heard it every day at The Table.) And after forty-four years, I still go back and forth on “Longfellow Serenade.”

Of the others, the records by the Three Degrees and Helen Reddy and the A-side of the Bachman-Turner Overdrive are on my iPod, and the Carl Carlton record should be (and will be within minutes). I took a few minutes this morning to listen to the B-side of the Bachman-Turner Overdrive record – Joel Whitburn notes in Top Pop Singles that the track, an instrumental, is dedicated to Duane Allman – and was not impressed.

What about B.T. Express? Well, maybe I should pop it into the iPod; it might be good for a kitchen dance or two.

As usual these days, though, we have business at the lowest end of the chart. We’re going to see what’s at No. 100.

And we find a classic track that I heard almost daily in September and October of 1974 while I sipped coffee at The Table: “Then Came You” by Dionne Warwick and the Spinners. By the end of November, the record was in its last of its nineteen weeks in the Hot 100. A little more than a month earlier, it had been at No. 1. It’s a gem polished by a lot of good memories.

‘Oh, The Good Life . . .’

Wednesday, November 21st, 2018

I ran an errand the other day for the Texas Gal, something so routine that I’ve forgotten what the errand was, but it brought me near the new home of Uff Da Records, St. Cloud’s only real record store. So I spent some time leaning over the CD tables.

Much of what I saw fell into two categories: Stuff I already had and stuff that didn’t interest me. But I persevered, looking for stuff that will fill small gaps. And I filled a couple. I scored What Is Hip, a two-disc Tower of Power anthology, and I found a greatest hits disc by Tony Bennett.

During the Great Vinyl Selloff a couple of years ago, I kept all ten my Tower of Power LPs, and I think I have all of the group’s 1970s work on the digital shelves. On the other side of the equation, I only ever had two Tony Bennett LPs, and they’re no longer here. Nor have I gathered much of his early work for the digital shelves (although I have his 1994 MTV Unplugged and his 2002 Playin’ With My Friends CDs). So the Bennett CD from Uff Da truly filled a gap, bringing me most of his hits from 1951 to 1972.

And I’ve realized over the past week that the sound of Bennett’s voice is one of the sounds of my childhood. Whether it was my interest in the easy listening sounds of the time or whether it was hearing the music in the background from adults’ radios and record players, Bennett’s 1960s work pulls me back; I hear “I Wanna Be Around” or “Who Can I Turn To,” and I feel the tug of years handing me memories and feelings that seem so distant and yet so immediate.

Oddly enough, Bennett’s most famous tune, “I Left My Heart In San Francisco,” doesn’t trigger that nostalgia. I guess I’ve heard it too many times in too many places for it to have the kind of weight that many of his other tracks do.

One of those heavier tracks was, for some reason, not on the CD I picked up the other day. The CD, released in 1997, is simply a repackaging of his 1972 two-LP hits album, with the tracks rearranged in chronological order. And it did not include “The Good Life,” which, for whatever reasons, is for me one of the most evocative of Bennett’s singles, as well as one of the more successful: During the summer of 1963, it went to No. 18 on the Billboard Hot 100 and to No. 7 on the chart now called Adult Contemporary. I must have heard it a lot, because it takes me back to the early 1960s, not to a specific moment but to a sense of the times.

And I never really realized until this week, when I saw “The Good Life” was absent from the CD and I found a copy and then listened to the words, how melancholy a song “The Good Life” really is:

Oh, the good life, full of fun seems to be the ideal
Mm, the good life lets you hide all the sadness you feel
You won’t really fall in love for you can’t take the chance
So please be honest with yourself, don’t try to fake romance

It’s the good life to be free and explore the unknown
Like the heartaches when you learn you must face them alone
Please remember I still want you, and in case you wonder why
Well, just wake up, kiss the good life goodbye

It’s bittersweet, like so much else that’s attracted me over the years. Either I internalized the words without really knowing it, or else life just hands me these things because I need them. Anyway, here it is:

One From 1969

Friday, November 9th, 2018

The RealPlayer has been offering tunes from 1969 as I looked at some news online this morning, pondering at the same time what I might write about today. With nothing really shiny coming to mind, I guess I’m going to click through at random and when we land on the tenth click, that’s our tune for the day. Here we go!

And we land on Joni Mitchell’s “Chelsea Morning” from her second album, Clouds:

Woke up, it was a Chelsea morning, and the first thing that I heard
Was a song outside my window, and the traffic wrote the words
It came a-reeling up like Christmas bells and rapping up like pipes and drums
Oh, won’t you stay
We’ll put on the day
And we’ll wear it till the night comes

Woke up, it was a Chelsea morning, and the first thing that I saw
Was the sun through yellow curtains, and a rainbow on the wall
Blue, red, green and gold to welcome you, crimson crystal beads to beckon
Oh, won’t you stay
We’ll put on the day
There’s a sun show every second

Now the curtain opens on a portrait of today
And the streets are paved with passersby
And pigeons fly
And papers lie
Waiting to blow away

Woke up, it was a Chelsea morning, and the first thing that I knew
There was milk and toast and honey and a bowl of oranges, too
And the sun poured in like butterscotch and stuck to all my senses
Oh, won’t you stay
We’ll put on the day
And we’ll talk in present tenses

When the curtain closes and the rainbow runs away
I will bring you incense owls by night
By candlelight
By jewel-light
If only you will stay
Pretty baby, won’t you
Wake up, it’s a Chelsea morning

Mitchell was not the first to record the song: According to Wikipedia, the first recording of “Chelsea Morning” was likely “its interpretation by Dave Van Ronk on his 1967 album Dave Van Ronk & The Hudson Dusters.” Fairport Convention included the song on the group’s self-titled 1968 debut album, and – again from Wikipedia – Jennifer Warnes recorded it for her 1968 release, I Can See Everything. That version was released as a single, but did not chart.

Clouds was released in May 1969. It went to No. 31 and earned Mitchell a Grammy for Best Folk Album. Reprise released a promo single of Mitchell’s version of “Chelsea Morning” (with “The Fiddle & The Drum” on the B-side), but the record failed to chart. The only charting single of “Chelsea Morning” came from Judy Collins, whose version went to No. 78 on the Billboard Hot 100 in August 1969 (and to No. 25 on the magazine’s Easy Listening chart).

An Hour At Tom’s Barbershop

Wednesday, October 24th, 2018

I haven’t been down Wilson Avenue on the East Side recently – I don’t get back to the East Side very often – so I don’t know if the little square building where Tom had his barbershop is still vacant. Tom hung up his clippers on the advice of his doctor about two years ago, and I wonder how he is. I also sometimes wonder where his other customers head for their haircuts now. And then I think of this piece from October 2008 when Tom’s place was pretty busy.

I spent a pleasant hour late yesterday morning at Tom’s Barbershop, waiting behind three other guys as Tom trimmed their hair and then mine. We waited on two long benches along the wall, gazing at Tom’s collection of model cars and nodding in approval as classic country songs came and went from the CD player: Hank Williams (the original one, not the son or grandson), Johnny Cash, Ferlin Husky and some we didn’t recall.

“Don’t remember who did that one,” one of the fellows across the way from me said as the music played. “Heard it for the first time back in about ’48, I think.” One of the other two waiting men nodded.

“Yeah,” said the white-haired fellow next to me, as he headed for the now-empty barber chair, “country was what there was back then. We didn’t have all this rock and roll.”

“Not in my house, either,” said the fellow who’d heard music in 1948. “It was country music at home.”

“And polkas,” said the customer now easing his way into the chair.

Four other heads, including Tom the Barber’s and mine, nodded. I’ve never listened to polka music voluntarily, but down at Grampa’s farm, there was often a polka program playing on one of the two television channels available.

“Yah,” said the dark-haired guy sitting across from me, near the CD player. Up to now, he’d only nodded. “I remember Whoopee John. And the Six Fat Dutchmen.”

The guy in the chair spoke as Tom trimmed his hair: “Used to be lots of those ballrooms around, where those bands would play on Saturday night,” he said, talking carefully so as not to disturb Tom’s work. “Not many of them left, you know.”

Heads nodded again. Tom held his clippers in the air as the man in the chair began to talk with a little more animation. “We used to go up to the ballroom at New Munich on Saturday nights, there.” (New Munich is a burg of about 350 souls forty miles northwest of St. Cloud, smack in the middle of Stearns County, doncha know?) “There’d be all them Stearns County farm boys standing around the edge of the dance floor ’til, oh, close to midnight, each one of ’em holdin’ a bottle of beer.

“Finally, around midnight, just before the band was gonna shut ’er down for the night, them boys would get out on the dance floor and find some gal to dance the polka with.”

We all laughed. “They had to have some Dutch courage, huh?” I asked him.

He nodded. “Yah,” he said, “right out of the bottle.”

I spoke up, told them I’d seen the same things – reluctant guys holding drinks ringing the dance floor until it got late – in the bars in downtown St. Cloud when I was in college thirty years ago. “Take away the drinks,” I said, “and I saw the same thing in the junior high cafeteria as the records played during our dances!”

They laughed.

“Boy,” said the fairly quiet fellow sitting by the CD player, “thirty years ago, I’d have been there, too. Might dance, might not, but just past midnight, it’s ‘See you next week,’ and on out the door.”

“For a while in college,” I said, “it was ‘See you tomorrow.’”

“Yah,” said one of them, amid general laughter, “I done some of that, too!”

The fellow in the chair stood, his white hair now trimmed. The dark-haired guy near the CD player rose, about to take his turn. “Boy,” he said, “I remember when Whoopee John and his band come to town. They used to come in three, four new Chevrolets. They got a bus a little later on, but when they come into town in those shiny new Chevies, boy, that was somethin’!”

The CD changed, with the classic country being replaced by Tom’s beloved country-tinged gospel music. The white-haired fellow headed to the door. “See you boys later,” he said as he opened the door. “Don’t go dancin’ too much now.”

We all laughed as the door closed. And then the only sounds in the barbershop were the strains of “Amazing Grace” coming from the CD player, the buzz of Tom’s clippers, and the very faint sound of Tom singing along under his breath.

Even though they might have preferred a polka, here’s a suitable track for the guys who were at Tom’s that morning: “Put Your Dancing Shoes On” by Danny Kortchmar, a guitarist who’s been one of the best-known session musicians for years. It comes his 1973 album Kootch.

Edited slightly on reposting.

‘Sail On, Silver Girl . . .’

Wednesday, October 17th, 2018

We spent a pleasant evening with Rob and his sister Mary Ellen the other Saturday, taking in a show by a local group called the Fabulous Armadillos. The show, titled “What’s Going On – Songs From The Vietnam War Era,” was remarkable, with the very familiar tunes – starting with the Animal’s “We Gotta Get Out Of This Place” and ending with Ray Charles’ version of “America the Beautiful” – being performed as closely as possible to the original recordings.

(Interspersed between many of the tunes came memories and commentary from three veterans of the armed forces, two who served in Vietnam and one who served in Iraq, giving the evening a sense of gravitas.)

Performing the songs as closely as possible to the originals means, of course, finding local talent able to perform in a broad range of styles. I would guess the most difficult thing about a band like the Armadillos is finding vocalists. Not to downplay the instrumentalists – especially the guitarist of the group who replicated Jimi Hendrix’ famed Woodstock performance of “The Star-Spangled Banner” just before intermission – but somehow vocal matching seems harder.

Which is why I wondered a bit when one of the group’s vocalists took his place in a spotlight during the first half of the show and the keyboard player in the shadows behind him moved into the familiar and beautiful introduction to “Bridge Over Troubled Water.” It’s one thing for a keyboard player to master Larry Knechtel’s astounding piano arrangement, and it’s quite another to find a singer who can match Art Garfunkel’s range and purity of tone.

Of course (well, perhaps I shouldn’t be so matter of fact about it, but having seen the Armadillos a couple of times, nothing they do really startles me beyond, occasionally, the choice of material), he nailed it, leading to one of several standing ovations the crowd gave the band during the two-and-a-half hour show.

And since then, in odd moments, I’ve found myself thinking about and assessing Paul Simon’s masterpiece, and not for the first time. Nearly ten years ago, when offering the 228 tracks of my Ultimate Jukebox, I thought about “Bridge Over Troubled Water,” writing:

I suppose there’s little argument about which record was the best thing that Simon & Garfunkel ever did. “Bridge Over Troubled Water” is an extraordinary song and record. But as much as I’ve loved it over the years, I found myself uneasy sliding it in among the other records in this mythical jukebox. As well as looking for good records, I guess I was also looking for flow, for a collection of songs that would make interesting combinations and patterns as the tunes played. And I decided as I considered the work of Simon & Garfunkel that “Bridge” just brings a little too much weight along with it, stopping the show.

Well, it did stop the show the other week, at least for a few moments, and it touched a memory for me of a bicycle ride through the streets of Fredericia, Denmark, a ride that took place forty-five years ago this month. I was falling in love, and after spending an evening with the young lady, I was biking sometime after midnight to the home where I lived with my Danish hosts. As I wrote in a memoir a few years ago:

I was so enthralled, so immersed in the joy of falling in love, and one night, as I rode that big black bicycle home to Vejrøvænget, I sang the third verse of “Bridge Over Troubled Water,” the verse that goes, “Sail on, silver girl. Sail on by. Your time has come to shine – all your dreams are on their way. See how they shine.”

I could not make the young lady in question shine as much as she deserved. And, not quite fifteen years later, when the same verse became a beacon in another chance at love, another woman and I learned that maintaining the luster is hard work, and we failed. Even with all that attached to it, that third verse of the song is still my favorite, and – after truly listening to the song for the first time in a long time – I find myself loving the song again.

Here it is, the title track of Simon & Garfunkel’s brilliant 1970 album:

What’s At No. 100? (October 10, 1970)

Wednesday, October 10th, 2018

Time for another episode of What’s At No. 100? Today’s date – 10/10 – pretty much begged for that, and a quick look at my files of the Billboard Hot 100 showed that during the years we’re pretty much interested in around here, only twice did a Hot 100 get published on October 10.

The first was in 1964, and the second was in 1970. Now, the former of those two years would be a fun year to go digging around in, but the latter, well, anyone who knows me is aware that 1970 is a rich vein of gold in the mine of my memory. But before we go deep into the Hot 100 published forty-eight years ago today – and can it really be that long ago? – let’s look at that week’s Top Ten:

“Cracklin’ Rosie” by Neil Diamond
“I’ll Be There” by the Jackson 5
“Candida” by Dawn
“Ain’t No Mountain High Enough” by Diana Ross
“All Right Now” by Free
“Julie Do Ya Love Me” by Bobby Sherman
“Lookin’ Out My Back Door/Long As I Can See The Light” by Creedence Clearwater Revival
“Green-Eyed Lady” by Sugarloaf
“We’ve Only Just Begun” by the Carpenters
“(I Know) I’m Losing You” by Rare Earth

Now there’s a fine forty minutes or so of late-night listening, perhaps after minimal attention to the demands of my senior-year classes or maybe after a football game. There’s nothing there that would make me move the tuner dial or hit the button in the car in search of better sounds. I did like the B-side of the CCR record better than that A-side, which has always seemed just a little bit silly.

And, as often happens, I’m a little startled to see Sugarloaf’s “Green-Eyed Lady” in 1970. The record always sounds to me – nearly a half-century distant from those radio waves – as if it should fall in 1976, where it would be, for some reason, a companion piece to Lighthouse’s “One Fine Morning.” (It works the other way, too: When “One Fine Morning” pops up in my listening routine, I always think it belongs in 1970, next to the Sugarloaf single, or the longer album track.)

A thought occurred to me as I write this: As my late-night listening in the autumn of my senior year of high school came from WLS in distant Chicago, what did that station have as its Top Ten as October 10 passed by? The answer comes from Oldiesloon:

“Cracklin’ Rosie”
“All Right Now”
“I’ll Be There”
“Indiana Wants Me” by R. Dean Taylor
“Candida”
“Do What You Want To Do” by Five Flights Up
“Out In The Country” by Three Dog Night
“Looking Out My Back Door”
“(I Know) I’m Losing You”
“Julie, Do Ya Love Me”

Not all that different. Two of the three listed in the WLS Top Ten and not in the Billboard Top Ten are familiar. The Three Dog Night single is a favorite, but I can live without R. Dean Taylor’s hit (although I kind of liked it back then). I didn’t recognize by its title the record by Five Flights Up, but as soon as I heard the chorus this morning, it came back to me. I never heard it much – not surprising, as it only got to No. 37 in the Hot 100. And a quick glance at Oldiesloon makes me think that the record never reached the surveys of either of the Twin Cities’ Top 40 stations, KDWB or WDGY.

We’ll end the Chicago digression and get back to our business here, which is heading toward the bottom of that Hot 100 from  October 10, 1970, and seeing what’s at No. 100. And we run into a tuneful, tough and clanking instrumental by Brian Auger & The Trinity: “Listen Here.”

Not long ago, as our pal jb was visiting St. Cloud and we were driving near the St. Cloud State campus, a track by Auger with vocals by Julie Driscoll came on the car radio courtesy of WXGY in nearby Sauk Rapids. It was, I think, “Season Of The Witch.” (It could have been “Road To Cairo” or “This Wheel’s On Fire.”) And jb, who hangs his blogging hat at The Hits Just Keep On Comin’, motioned to the speaker and said something like “This stuff is almost forgotten, and I cannot figure out why!”

Nor can I.

“Listen Here” showed up as a nine minute-plus version on Befour, a 1970 album by Auger and his band. I don’t know if the single is an edit, a shortened remix or an entirely different recording, but here it is. It spent two weeks at No. 100, and was the only record Auger ever got into the Hot 100 (although the previously mentioned “This Wheel’s On Fire” – with vocals by Driscoll – Bubbled Under for four weeks and got to No. 106).

Imprinted

Friday, October 5th, 2018

So last evening, as the small music group from our Unitarian-Universalist fellowship got some music ready for Sunday, our conversations wandered all over our musical landscapes. Three of us are about the same age, and we know pretty much the same songs (although the other two have a better grasp on folk while I know more pop and rock). Our occasional old fogeyness is leavened by our fourth member, who is a graduate student in her twenties.

Anyway, we were working on a couple of tunes to accompany a program on a local social justice initiative. We settled on Ben E. King’s “Stand By Me” and “The Hammer Song (If I Had A Hammer),” written, of course, by Pete Seeger although we’re performing it more in the style of Peter, Paul & Mary. And we came to a quandary as we worked on the latter.

I was running through the chords on the keyboard, playing from memory and by ear while Jane was following along with guitar, using the chord sheet she’d found in her binder. And at one point, we were playing different chords. So I pulled out my phone to jump onto YouTube to give a listen to Peter, Paul & Mary.

“It’s going to be in a different key,” said Tom, who was working out a bass line for the song.

“I’ll still be able to tell if they’re going to the tonic or to the dominant,” I said. (I’m kind of the music theory geek among the bunch.) And we soon found that the chords on Jane’s sheet were right and my ears (and memory) had been in error. And along the way we ran across Trini Lopez’ 1963 version of the Seeger song, a very rapid live version that went to No. 3 in the Billboard Hot 100.

I laughed, telling the others that I have the 45, which came to me from my sister. She got it in 1963 from one of those grab bags you could get at record stores, something like twelve records for a buck. And I mentioned that I liked the flip side – Lopez’ take on “Unchain My Heart” a little bit better.

Then we went back to work, getting a handle on the two songs for this coming Sunday. We’re still a little shaky on “Stand By Me,” but we’re okay on “If I Had A Hammer.” As we began to pack away guitars and close up the keyboard, our young friend Cassie headed out for home and sleep – a precious commodity for a grad student.

The rest of us chatted for a few minutes. We talked about our early records: children’s 78s, classical 78s and early 45s. Jane recalled having a copy of Sheb Wooley’s “The Purple People Eater” (No. 1 for six weeks in 1958), and Tom recalled David Seville’s “Witch Doctor” (No. 1 for three weeks, also in 1958).

And then we three old fogies found ourselves singing “Ooo eee ooo ah ah ting tang walla walla bing bang! Ooo eee ooo ah ah ting tang walla walla bing bang!”

And we laughed and marveled at how music imprints itself on us, the marvelous, the mundane, and sometimes, the just plain silly.

‘Gather Up The Brokenness . . .’

Friday, September 28th, 2018

I’m feeling pretty bruised today. Yesterday was a hard day; the events in Washington stirred up a whole lot of stuff that I keep on a back shelf in my emotional closet.

Today is a day for healing.

Here’s “Come Healing” by Leonard Cohen. It’s from his 2012 album Old Ideas.

O gather up the brokenness
Bring it to me now
The fragrance of those promises
You never dared to vow

The splinters that you carry
The cross you left behind
Come healing of the body
Come healing of the mind

And let the heavens hear it
The penitential hymn
Come healing of the spirit
Come healing of the limb

Behold the gates of mercy
In arbitrary space
And none of us deserving
The cruelty or the grace

O solitude of longing
Where love has been confined
Come healing of the body
Come healing of the mind

O see the darkness yielding
That tore the light apart
Come healing of the reason
Come healing of the heart

O troubled dust concealing
An undivided love
The heart beneath is teaching
To the broken heart above

Let the heavens falter
Let the earth proclaim
Come healing of the altar
Come healing of the name

O longing of the branches
To lift the little bud
O longing of the arteries
To purify the blood

And let the heavens hear it
The penitential hymn
Come healing of the spirit
Come healing of the limb

O let the heavens hear it
The penitential hymn
Come healing of the spirit
Come healing of the limb

‘No Knives For You!’

Tuesday, September 25th, 2018

I came into the EITW studios this morning and found Odd and Pop, my imaginary tuneheads, playing mumblety-peg on the carpet with a letter opener. It wasn’t going well.

“Did too!”

“Did not!”

After a few more rounds of that – I didn’t bother to find out what issue was under debate – I confiscated the letter opener, an ornate steel and brass Spanish weapon my sister got for me in Barcelona in 1968. Replacing it in its sheath, I told the two tuneheads that mumblety-peg was a game for outdoors.

They were aghast. “In the dirt?”

Yep, I told them. Outside in the dirt. Not in the carpet.

Both of them wrinkled up their noses and muttered “Ew!” (I didn’t tell them that with that exclamation, they’d successfully used one of the new words that the Hasbro company has authorized for Scrabble.)

Anyway, I said, a letter opener is not a knife. And I reminded them that they were not allowed to play with sharp objects. “No knives for you!”

“Well,” said Pop, “can we play a song about a knife?”

“And I bet I know which one you have in mind,” said Odd, with a sour face.

Pop nodded. “Mack the Knife,” he said.

Odd heaved a major sigh and shook his head wearily. “Go ahead. Tell me,” he said to Pop.

Pop nodded and began reciting: “First of all, Bobby Darin’s version was the top pop record for all of 1959, spending twenty-six weeks in the Billboard Hot 100, nine of them at No. 1, and it also went to No. 6 on the magazine’s R&B chart.”

Pop took a breath and then continued. “Seven other versions have reached the Hot 100.”

Odd shook his head wearily, and then said, “All right. List ’em.”

From somewhere, Pop materialized his perpetual legal pad and its accompanying marker and then wrote for a few minutes. He then handed the list to Odd:

Dick Hyman Trio, No. 8 in 1956
Richard Hayman & Jan August, No. 11 in 1956
Lawrence Welk, No. 17 in 1956
Louis Armstrong, No. 20 in 1956
Billy Vaughn, No. 37 in 1956
Les Paul, No. 49 in 1956
Ella Fitzgerald, No. 27 in 1960 (and No. 6 on the R&B chart)

Odd scanned the list and look at his pal. (They do get along, most of the time. They just have differing tastes in music – and pasta, for that matter.)

“There’s more, I assume,” Odd said.

Pop nodded and told us that the original version of “Mack the Knife” was actually “Moritat von Mackie Messer” from Die Dreigroschenoper (The Three Penny Opera) by Bertolt Brecht and Kurt Weill. It was originally performed – according to Second Hand Songs – by Kurt Gerron in 1928. Pop added helpfully that many sources erroneously claim that Lotte Lenya sang the song in her role as Jenny, “but that’s likely because she recorded the song as ‘Moritat’ for her 1955 German album Lotte Lenya singt Kurt Weill.”

“Okay, okay,” said Odd. “So how many recorded versions are there?”

“Well,” Pop said, “at least three hundred and twenty-five. That’s how many Second Hand Songs lists. Lots of them in German, many in English, lots of instrumentals. And some in other languages, too: Croatian, Czech, Dutch, Finnish, French, Greek, Italian, Norwegian, Swedish and Welsh.”

Odd was beginning to smile. “You had me at ‘Croatian’,” he told his pal. And he turned to me. “Have we ever posted a song in Croatian?”

“Well, no,” I said, “but I guess we could.”

Odd beamed. Pop pouted a little, but I reminded him that a huge proportion of what we listen to here is on one chart or another. He nodded, a little grudgingly, then looked at Odd and shrugged his shoulders.

And we turned our attention to the speakers to listen to the vocal group Optimisti, which – according to Second Hand Songs – was based in the city of Ljubljana. During the group’s recording years (1958 to 1963), the city was in Yugoslavia; it is now the capital of Slovenia. The group Optimisti, says the website, sometimes performed and recorded as a quartet and sometimes as a quintet.

Here’s Optimisti’s version in Croatian of “Mornar Mackie,” released in 1962 on the EP Chanson d’amour. The vocal group is backed by the Ljubljanski Jazz Ansambel.

2,397,000

Thursday, September 20th, 2018

That’s a hefty number, 2,397,000 is. Where’d it come from?

Well this morning, I looked at the number of pages in the Word file for this blog. Since sometime early this year, I’d been stacking new posts on the top of the file, letting it get longer and longer until editing within it started to get a little unweidly.

The file was sitting at 139 pages with a word count of 58,575. It was time to start a new file. Back in the early days of this blog, I was zipping condensed files of albums to share here and at a couple of boards, so when I began writing blog posts, I called the first file “Zipped & Shared No. 1.”

(The zipping and sharing of files ended early in 2010, when WordPress escorted me from its premises for violations of its policies, just as Blogger had done some time earlier. Being out in the cold of Blogworld, as it were, spurred me to open my own domain, as well as to change the way I offered music: embedding or linking to YouTube videos, some of them my own creation. But I continued to title the Word files I used “Zipped & Shared No. XX.”)

Today, I opened a new file, one titled “Zipped & Shared No. 52.” And I wandered back into the folders that hold the first fifty-one similarly named files, wondering if the lengths of each individual file were about the same. They were, averaging something more than 47,000 words each. The vast majority of those counted words were, in fact, text for this blog, but there were some things counted as words that were detritus, stuff that shouldn’t count toward a blog’s word count.

That detritus included notes to myself about this post or that, lists of links to include in posts and the coding for the embedding of videos. So, in a ham-handed bit of statistical division – my statistics instructor at the University of Missouri School of Journalism would have winced – I took that average of 47,000-plus and sliced it down to 47,000.

Then I multiplied 47,000 times 51 – the number of filled Word files – and came up with 2,397,000. And that’s approximately the number of words I’ve written for this blog since early 2007.

Remember the detritus that includes notes to myself? There’s a little bit of that right at the top of each of the last twenty or so Word files. There’s a note reminding me that the width I use when I embed YouTube videos on the blog is 455 whatevers. That’s also where I keep examples of the three characters in the Danish alphabet that we do not have in the English alphabet – ø, æ, and å – in both lower and upper case. I also keep the entire Danish exclamation “Skål!” so I can post it on Facebook after the Minnesota Vikings win.

And there are four notes about blog posts. One of them reminds me that this year, I am rerunning the 2008 series First Friday – looking at the mad year of 1968 – only this time, it’s as First Wednesday. Another note reminds me that I should consider doing a blog post about the musical (and romantic) duo of Cymbal & Clinger. A third offers the Derek & The Dominos track “Keep On Growing” as a subject for one of my covers posts. And a fourth suggests the song “Guantanamera” as a topic for a similar post.

But I keep looking back at that number: 2,397,000. That’s a lot of words, sentences, paragraphs and posts, many of which were not nearly as good as I’d hoped they’d be.

So where do we go with that? There are about a hundred tracks in the RealPlayer with the word “words” in their titles. And after a quick scan of the titles possible for a tune, I’ve settled on “Encouraging Words” by Billy Preston, the title track from his 1970 album.