Archive for the ‘Saturday Single’ Category

Saturday Single No. 673

Saturday, January 11th, 2020

I’ve got a bunch of music stored on my phone, stuff that I put there a year ago so the phone could be my mp3 player while I was in the hospital, and every once in a while, as I take a rest, I lay the phone near the pillow and let the music lull me to sleep.

Except not all of the tunes on the phone are lulling. The other day I was roused when Long John Baldry began graveling his way through “Let’s Burn Down The Cornfield,” the Randy Newman tune Baldry covered on his 1971 album It Ain’t Easy.

I wrote briefly about the song in 2008, quoting the assessment of Newman’s original recording of the song found at All-Music Guide:

A sinewy ballad built around a fine bottleneck guitar riff, “Let’s Burn Down the Cornfield” is a love song, basically, but the slightly demented lyric content is what gives it the edge.

Slightly demented? Well, yeah. Take a read:

Let’s burn down the cornfield,
Let’s burn down the cornfield,
And we can listen to it burn.

You hide behind the oak tree,
You hide behind the oak tree,
Stay out of danger ’till I return.

Oh, it’s so good on a cold night
To have a fire burnin’ warm and bright.

You hide behind the oak tree,
You hide behind the oak tree,
Stay out of danger ’till I return.

Let’s burn down the cornfield,
Let’s burn down the cornfield,
And I’ll make love to you while it’s burning.

At the time, more than eleven years ago, I had access to two covers of the song, those by Baldry and by Alex Taylor, and I noted that I planned to soon rip to mp3s Etta James’ version of the tune from her 1974 album Come A Little Closer.

Well, I must have done that, because James’ version of the song is now in the RealPlayer stacks, as are additional versions by Lou Rawls, Sam Samudio and the Walkabouts. There are others out there, but we’re not going to look any further afield this morning. Instead, we’re just going to make Etta James’ take on “Let’s Burn Down The Cornfield” today’s Saturday Single.

Saturday Single No. 672

Saturday, January 4th, 2020

Having started and discarded in extreme dissatisfaction two posts this morning (my sinus infection and needy cats have been no help at all), I’m just going to punt and do right from the top the same thing we did here two days ago as we noted that 1970 is now fifty years distant:

I’m going to sort the releases in the RealPlayer from 1970 by running time, drop the cursor in the middle, and click on random ten times.

And we fall upon “Rosy Shy,” a track from Jesse Winchester’s self-titled debut album, a work produced by Robbie Robertson of The Band. And it’s today’s Saturday Single. (I hope to have more to say come next week.)

Saturday Single No. 671

Saturday, December 28th, 2019

So if I had taken the time during the last weekend of 1969 – smack in the middle of a two-week break from school – to turn on my old RCA radio, what would I have heard?

Well, here’s the top fifteen from the survey that the Twin Cities’ KDWB would release on December 29, 1969, the last Monday of the year, a date that come tomorrow morning will be fifty years in the past:

“Leaving On A Jet Plane” by Peter, Paul & Mary
“Raindrops Keep Fallin’ On My Head” by B.J. Thomas
“Someday We’ll Be Together” by Diana Ross & The Supremes
“Fortunate Son/Down On The Corner” by Creedence Clearwater Revival
“Na Na Hey Hey Kiss Him Goodbye” by Steam
“Cherry Hill Park” by Billy Joe Royal
“Holly Holy” by Neil Diamond
“Heaven Knows” by the Grass Roots
“La La La (If I Had You)” by Bobby Sherman
“Eli’s Coming” by Three Dog Night
“Take A Letter Maria” by R. B. Greaves
“Yester-me, Yester-you, Yesterday” by Stevie Wonder
“Come Together/Something” by the Beatles
“Evil Woman Don’t Play Your Games With Me” by Crow
“Jam Up Jelly Tight” by Tommy Roe

That’s actually seventeen, of course, given the two double-sided singles, and man, what a great way to end the year! Well, that’s with the exception of the Tommy Roe single, which I never much cared for (although it does have a place on the digital shelves here while the Bobby Sherman single is the only one of those seventeen records that is absent).

Seeing the Supremes’ record in the list reminds me of a moment now thirty years in the past, when 1989 was turning into 1990. I was living in Anoka, Minnesota, just northwest of Minneapolis. A ladyfriend and I had gone through a series of rapid changes in 1989 – a “now we’re good, now we’re not” kind of thing – and sometime around New Year’s Day, after another exasperating conversation, I got into my car to run an errand just across the Mississippi River in the city of Champlin. As I started my car, I played with the idea that the first record I heard on the oldies station would give me a guide to that relationship and 1990.

The next record was, of course, “Someday We’ll Be Together.” That amused and pleased me. Twelve months, three moves and some adventures with pesticide later, I was living alone in Columbia, Missouri, and I concluded that radiomancy was inaccurate. But at least it was hopeful. The first record on the oldies station could have been “Timothy” by the Buoys.

Beyond that, KDWB’s top seventeen at the end of the year when I discovered Top 40 radio brings back the sense of that long-ago time. None of those records spoke to my main personal concern at the time, which was how to turn the friendly attentions of a violin player in the high school orchestra into something more than friendship, but reading that list of titles and performers still reminds me viscerally how my life felt as 1969 was heading rapidly toward 1970.

And, of course, as a nearly life-long practitioner of nostalgia and curator of memories, most of those records are still part of my life today. How much so?

Well, fourteen of those seventeen are among the 3,900-some tracks in the iPod, meaning they’re part of my day-to-day listening. The ones that are absent are those by Bobby Sherman and Tommy Roe (which does not surprise me) and by B.J. Thomas, which kind of does.

And I wonder, as I often do, how much of me still lives in that long-ago time, a time when I was gawky, awkward, pretty much clueless about a lot of things, and artless about many as well. Maybe more than is healthy, though I am far more present in my life these days than I was, say, twenty years ago. But I’m still fairly clueless about a lot of things, sometimes still artless, and sometimes still awkward. I am, however, likely too rotund to be very gawky.

As Paul Simon wrote in one of his versions of “The Boxer,” after “changes upon changes, we are more or less the same.” And I’m never sure if that should be depressing or reassuring.

So what do we listen to from among those records on the last Saturday of the year? Well, a quick search through the archives here tells me – almost unbelievably – that we’ve never featured “Someday We’ll Be Together” in this space.

I recall a discussion of the record, but that came in the comments on a post that featured a record by Johnny Bristol, with a commenter noting that it’s Bristol who supplies the male portion of the call-and-response interplay at the end of the record.

So the record – which probably should have been in my long-ago Ultimate Jukebox but wasn’t – has never been featured here. That neglect ends today, as “Someday We’ll Be Together” by Diana Ross & The Supremes* becomes what I would guess will be the last entry in my Jukebox Regrets and becomes as well the final Saturday Single for 2019.

*Yes, I know that the other female voices on the record may not actually have been members of the Supremes, but we’re going to let that concern go this morning.

Saturday Single No. 670

Saturday, December 21st, 2019

Here, updated with a few minor changes, is a post that ran here eleven years ago.

We’re about to come out of the darkness.

The December Solstice is upon us. At 10:19 this evening (Central Standard Time) the sun will go as far south in the sky as it goes, and it will begin to make the slow trek north toward spring and summer.

That’s good news for those of us who find the winter grim and gloomy. I’m certain I have a touch of seasonal affective disorder. When the shortness of the days becomes truly noticeable in November, I find a melancholy surrounding me. My awareness of its source means that the melancholy need not be debilitating, but there is a touch of sadness that lingers from then into February.

Lingering, too, is just a hint of dread, a sensation that – as I’ve mentioned here before – is likely a remnant passed down through generations from my Nordic forebears. We know about the tilt of the Earth, we know how that brings the solstices and the seasons, and we know that the daytime light will now increase bit by bit every day, leading us toward springtime and then summer. In the dark forests of northern Europe a couple of thousand years ago, there was no such assurance, and as each day brought less light than the one before it, there must have been dread every year that this year would be the time when the light continued to diminish, leading eventually to permanent darkness leavened only by the faint stars and the pale moon.

We know that will not happen. Tomorrow will bring us slightly more daylight than we had today, and the next day and all the next days until June will do the same. Eventually, we will sit once more in a warm, bright evening with the sun lingering late, and the winter’s gloom will be, if not forgotten, at least set aside.

We’re about to come out of the darkness.

Here are the Traveling Wilburys with “Heading Toward The Light.” It’s from their first album, Volume One, released in 1988. It’s today’s Saturday Single.

Saturday Single 669

Saturday, December 14th, 2019

I missed putting up a Saturday Single the other week. We were a little busy around here, and I was lagging behind because of a cold. Legitimate reasons, both, but I don’t like leaving this space blank on a Saturday. I would guess that’s happened less than ten times since this blog began in late January 2007.

So I’m here mostly to fill space today. I’m still fighting the cold, which is morphing into one of my frequent sinus infections. And my attention is at least partly on a football game between North Dakota State University and Illinois State, a national quarterfinal game. (My affection for NDSU’s Bison is one of the remnants of my two-year stay in Minot, North Dakota, in the late 1980s.)

So here, by default, is a track titled “Dakota” by the band Swampwater. (It’s a song about a dancing bear named Dakota instead of about North Dakota or South Dakota, but never mind.) It’s from the group’s 1971 self-titled album, and it’s today’s Saturday Single.

Saturday Single No. 667

Saturday, November 23rd, 2019

Let’s take a look at the top ten LPs in the Billboard 200 during this week in 1969, fifty years ago:

Abbey Road by the Beatles
Led Zeppelin II
Green River by Creedence Clearwater Revival
Tom Jones Live in Las Vegas
Puzzle People by the Temptations
Crosby, Stills & Nash
Blood, Sweat & Tears
Johnny Cash at San Quentin
Santana
I Got Dem Ol’ Kozmic Blues Again Mama! by Janis Joplin

At the time the chart came out – on November 29, 1969 – three of those albums were in the house on Kilian Boulevard. I had the Beatles and BST on cassette and the Johnny Cash album on LP. I was far more in tune with current trends than I had ever been (even though that didn’t take much movement).

These days, I can do without the Tom Jones, I never really liked the Kozmic Blues album, and I never had the Temptations’ album (getting along with anthologies of their singles instead). The other seven, I like just fine, and they all showed up eventually – along with the Joplin – in the vinyl stacks and on the digital shelves. Four of them – the Beatles, CSN, BST and Cash – are also on the CD shelves here.

Singles from at least eight of those albums – all except the Jones and the Joplin – were coming out of my radio speakers that autumn, and I liked most of them. (I still care very little for CCR’s “Down On The Corner.”) Still new to Top 40 listening, one of the singles from that group of albums startled me the first time I heard it, and I was also startled on second and third hearings to realize that I liked it.

And just that little bit of memory is enough this morning to make Led Zeppelin’s “Whole Lotta Love” today’s Saturday Single.

Saturday Single No. 666

Saturday, November 16th, 2019

Well, look at that number! Just as some builders skip the thirteenth floor when they plan their buildings, I imagine some folks might just skip by that unsettling integer when it comes to them. License plates in Minnesota have three letters and three digits, and I wonder if there are drivers who ask for a different plate number if the one they’re issued carries 666. I imagine so.

It is, of course, “the number of the beast” as told in the book of Revelation of the Christian Bible. Here’s what Wikipedia has to say about it:

In the Textus Receptus manuscripts of the New Testament, the Book of Revelation (13:17–18) cryptically asserts 666 to be “man’s number” or “the number of a man” (depending on how the text is translated) associated with the Beast, an antagonistic creature that appears briefly about two-thirds into the apocalyptic vision. Some manuscripts of the original Greek use the symbols χξϛ chi xi stigma (or χξϝ with a digamma), while other manuscripts spell out the number in words.

In modern popular culture, 666 has become one of the most widely recognized symbols for the Antichrist or, alternatively, the devil. The number 666 is purportedly used to invoke Satan. Earnest references to the number occur both among apocalypticist Christian groups and in explicitly anti-Christian subcultures. References in contemporary Western art or literature are, more likely than not, intentional references to the Beast symbolism. Such popular references are therefore too numerous to list.

It is common to see the symbolic role of the integer 666 transferred to the digit sequence 6-6-6. Some people take the Satanic associations of 666 so seriously that they actively avoid things related to 666 or the digits 6-6-6. This is known as hexakosioihexekontahexaphobia.

We’re not skipping past the number today. And there are plenty of tunes about the devil to choose from. (We’re going to ignore 666, the 1971 album by the Greek progressive rock group Aphrodite’s Child.) A RealPlayer search for “devil” brings us 286 tracks, and after the usual winnowing – ignoring, for instance, everything here by the Hoodoo Rhythm Devils and most of the 1988 album Devil’s Slide by Bob Brozman – there are plenty of tracks to work with.

Some come in multiples, of course: Four versions of “Devil & My Brown Blues,” six of “Devil Got My Woman” (plus a gender-flipped version, “Devil Got My Man” by Rory Block), four of “Friend Of The Devil,” nine of “Me & The Devil” or “Me & The Devil Blues,” four of “Sympathy For The Devil” (with one of them, a 1971 take by Blood, Sweat & Tears, appending an opening instrumental called “Symphony For The Devil”), three of “Preachin’ Blues (Up Jumped The Devil),” plus a few other titles that show up more than once.

So we’re going to pull up one of the versions of “Me & The Devil Blues,” and if we’re going to do that, we may as well as go straight to the source of the song, Robert Johnson. He recorded two takes of the tune during a June 20, 1937, session in Dallas. The first take, offered here, was released as Vocalion 4108.

Saturday Single No. 665

Saturday, November 9th, 2019

We’re going to pick up where we left off yesterday, scanning the list of about 350 tracks with the word “midnight” in their titles. We’ll take a look at three of them randomly and then choose one to be our featured single of the day. So let’s see what happens as take what we’re calling a Midnight Cruise.

And we start with “Way After Midnight” by Billy “Red” Love, an unissued track recorded for Sun Records in Memphis in 1954. According to the website Black Cat Rockabilly, Love’s career began when he recorded his composition “Juiced” only to see Sam Phillips release the track on the Chess label under the name of Jackie Brenston as a follow-up to “Rocket 88.” A couple of Love’s recordings were released on Chess, but – the website says – got little promotion and had little success. “Way After Midnight” and “Hey Now” came out of a January 1954 session at Sun, but were never released. The former of those two came my way in the JSP box set Memphis Blues: Important Postwar Blues. Love, who was born in Memphis in 1929, died in 1975 in Colorado Springs, Colorado. As to the track, it’s a reed-heavy moaner with a decent vocal and a nice sax solo.

Next up is “Midnight In Memphis,” an instrumental track by J. J. Cale. It’s an outtake from some 1972 sessions in Muscle Shoals when Cale was working on his second album, Really. It’s a nice mid-tempo shuffle that features some nice solos, especially Cale’s laconic guitar work. It was included on the 1997 release Anyway The Wind Blows: The Anthology. I’m not sure how it came my way.

And we come to “Midnight Train” by a group called Brethren, an early-1970s country-rock band. The track was the leadoff to the group’s self-titled 1970 debut, and it sounds a lot like that year, with the caveat that the intro sounds a lot like “Jessica” by the Allman Brothers Band, which came out three years later. There doesn’t seem to be a lot out there about Brethren; even the page at discogs is pretty light on facts beyond the band members’ names, although it does tell us that “Midnight Train” was released as a promo single that evidently went nowhere. The group released a second album, Moment Of Truth, in 1971. I’m not sure how the group’s first album showed up on the shelves here, probably from some blog looking at out-of-print stuff from the Seventies.

So, where do we go? Well, I think we’ll head to Memphis and Billy “Red” Love’s unreleased session. “Way After Midnight” is today’s Saturday Single.

Saturday Single No. 664

Saturday, November 2nd, 2019

When we look on the digital shelves here in the EITW studios for tracks recorded on November 2, we find more than we anticipated as well as a broader variety of styles and genres than might be expected.

Our harvest starts in 1939 with “Jersey Belle Blues” by Lonnie Johnson. The Bluebird release recorded in Chicago was a piano-based blues ostensibly lamenting the loss of livestock:

My nights is so lonely, days is so doggone long
My bedroom is so lonely, every doggone thing is wrong
You know I ain’t had no milk and butter since my Jersey Belle been gone

We shift to New York City in 1954, when Dinah Washington recorded two tracks for the Mercury label that have ended up here: “Teach Me Tonight” and “I Just Couldn’t Stand It No More.” The first of those two was a sizable hit for Washington in early 1955, placing in the top eight on three of the various R&B charts Billboard compiled at the time, with its peak performance being No. 4 on the Best Seller chart. “I Just Couldn’t Stand It No More” wound up as a B-Side to Washington’s “The Show Must Go On,” which did not reach the charts.

Tony Bennett pops up on our November 2 list with “Love Look Away,” recorded in 1958. Released as a single by Columbia, the lush ballad has the velvet-voiced stylist rejecting love: “After you go, I cry too much. Love, look away, lonely though I may be. Leave me and set me free.” The record did not chart.

Country singer Tommy Collins had some sizeable hits for Capitol on the Billboard country chart in the mid-1950s, reaching No. 2 with “You Better Not Do That” and No. 4 with “Whatcha Gonna Do Now” in 1954 and getting to No. 5 with “It Tickles” in 1955. He charted again with a track recorded on November 2, 1965; “If You Can’t Bite, Don’t Growl” – another light-hearted record, this one on Columbia – went to No. 7 on the country chart in early 1966. It bubbled under the Billboard Hot 100 for seven weeks, peaking at No. 105.

The insistent “(I Know) I’m Losing You” by the Temptations is another track recorded November 2. Written by Norman Whitfield, Eddie Holland and Cornelius Grant and produced by Whitfield, the record was No. 1 for two weeks on the Billboard R&B chart and peaked at No. 8 on the Hot 100. (One of my regrets as a music listener is that the first version I heard of the song was the 1970 cover by Rare Earth instead of the original version by the Temptations.)

The last tune we’ll think about this morning is a Bob Dylan track titled “Nobody ’Cept You.” It comes from the 1973 sessions in Los Angeles that Dylan held with The Band for the Planet Waves album. The box set notes from The Bootleg Series, Vols. 1-3 indicate that “Nobody ’Cept You” was headed for the album but was knocked out at the last minute by “Wedding Song.” To me, that seems like a poor decision, but then, I’ve never liked “Wedding Song” and would have much preferred the sprightly love story of “Nobody ’Cept You” for the admittedly uneven album.

So, seven tracks to consider this morning. I think we can dismiss without quibbles the Lonnie Johnson and Tommy Collins tracks, as well as the Dinah Washington B-side. And as good as the Tony Bennett track is, it is a little overdone. Then, even though the Dylan tune is a bit of a rarity, I likely post his stuff too often, as least as compared with the Temptations and Dinah Washington.

Let’s do some digging: Since moving to my own site in early 2010, I’ve posted two tracks by Washington and eight tracks by the Temptations alone plus four additional tracks by them with the Supremes. In contrast, I’ve posted tracks by Dylan – with and without The Band – twenty-two times.

That decides it. “Teach Me Tonight,” recorded November 2, 1954, by Dinah Washington is today’s Saturday Single.

Saturday Single No. 663

Saturday, October 26th, 2019

As of today, we’ve been married twelve years now, the Texas Gal and I. She’s been a Minnesota (or at least a Texan in exile) for nineteen years this month. And in just a few months, we’ll mark twenty years since our avatars popped up on the same day in the listings of a Lycos chat room devoted either to social issues or music. (We think it was the former, but we frequented both, so we’re not entirely sure.)

We thought about those tales of years the other day as we sat on the couch ignoring something on TV, and we agreed that it doesn’t feel like twelve years since we walked out of the Stearns County Courthouse as married folks; nor does it feel like nearly twenty years since we met. That, I guess, proves two truisms: My dad’s long-ago warning that time would go faster and faster the older I got, and the universal warning that time flies when you’re having fun.

Conversely, it seems as if we’ve been in each other’s lives forever (and karmically, we think that’s so for this life and others that have gone on elsewhen).

Here’s what I posted here twelve years ago, as we reached one of those markers noted in today’s first paragraph:

Sometimes the Texas Gal and I look at each other and marvel that we ever met, that our lives took the turns they did to bring us together, first in a small corner of the Internet and then – in a leap that took courage and faith for both of us – in a small corner of Minnesota.

Other times, we smile and acknowledge that, well, where else could we have ended up? As I’ve written before, we find the places and the people we are meant to find, no matter how crooked our paths might have been. And she and I are where we belong.

We’re not young, but there were reasons – ones we’ll never know – that our meeting was delayed until midlife. We find solace in knowing that the lives we led before we met are what made us each who we are. Those lives – we hope – have provided us with some level of wisdom that has guided us during the seven years we’ve known each other and will continue to guide us.

If this sounds solemn, it is. This afternoon, we’re going to go down to the courthouse, where we’ll formalize the marriage that took place long ago in our hearts. It’s something we’ve been planning to do for a while, and it’s time.

So here are some of the songs that have been important to us during the past seven years (with one ringer that I threw in). This is a Baker’s Dozen for the Texas Gal, who from today on will be my wife.

“Loving Arms” by Darden Smith from Little Victories, 1993
“Kiss Me” by Sixpence None the Richer from Sixpence None the Richer, 1998
“Rest of My Days” by Indigenous from Circle, 2000
“Don’t Dream It’s Over” by Crowded House, Capitol single 5614, 1988
“I Knew I Loved You” by Savage Garden from Affirmation, 1999
“If I Should Fall Behind” by Bruce Springsteen from Lucky Town, 1992
“Precious and Few” by Climax, Carousel single 30055, 1971
“Truly Madly Deeply” by Savage Garden from Savage Garden, 1997
“This Kiss” by Faith Hill from Faith, 1998
“Levee Song” by Darden Smith from Little Victories, 1993
“Two of Us” by the Beatles from Let It Be…Naked (recorded 1969)
“Wedding Song” by Tracy Chapman from Telling Stories, 2000
“Into the Mystic” by Van Morrison from Moondance, 1970

All of those still matter to us, though we hear some of them much less frequently than the others. But it’s Saturday, and we must choose one. It comes down, then, to either the first of that list or the last, perhaps the first two recordings we chose as ours. (I think I introduced her to Darden Smith and “Loving Arms,” and I know she pointed us toward Van Morrison and “Into the Mystic.”)

I think I know what her choice would be, so I’ll defer to that. Here’s Van Morrison’s “Into The Mystic,” today’s Saturday Single.