Archive for the ‘Covers’ Category

‘Don’t Be Concerned . . .’

Wednesday, April 11th, 2018

A little while back, I looked at one of the Billboard Easy Listening charts from 1968 – fifty years ago – and was surprised to learn that I didn’t know as much as I thought I did.

I’ve been getting lessons like that for nearly sixty-five years, so my pride wasn’t wounded all that much. And, given a little more thought about how I came to hear easy listening tunes when I was in my early teens, I thought I’d take a look at another one of the magazine’s easy listening charts from the mid-1960s.

In that earlier post, I ascribed my exposure to – and my continuing love of – easy listening to the fact that we frequently listened to the Twin Cities radio giant WCCO at home. And we did. But there’s another source I didn’t think about as I wrote: my sister’s transistor radio.

I think I’ve told the tale, but if I did, it was some time back, so here goes: In either 1963 or 1964 – probably the latter – my folks gave my sister a transistor radio as a gift (Christmas, I think, though it could have been for her birthday). She evidently didn’t use it all that much, for not long afterward, my dad commandeered it for his nightstand, and every evening (save perhaps Saturdays), he would play the radio for about twenty minutes before we all closed up shop for the night.

And his station of choice was St. Cloud’s KFAM, an outfit located over on the south side that played easy listening music at that time of the evening. I clearly remember, for example, hearing Frank Sinatra’s “Summer Wind” – No. 1 on the easy listening chart for one week during October 1966 – coming from Dad’s transistor radio more than once. So I thought – even though it’s April – I’d take a look at that mid-October chart from 1966 and see what’s familiar and what’s not. Here are the top fifteen from that long ago Billboard Easy Listening chart:

“Summer Wind” by Frank Sinatra
“Born Free” by Roger Williams
“Summer Samba (So Nice)” by Walter Wanderley
“In The Arms Of Love” by Andy Williams
“Dommage, Dommage (Too Bad, Too Bad)” by Jerry Vale
“The Wheel Of Hurt” by Margaret Whiting
“I Can’t Give You Anything But Love” by Bert Kaempfert & His Orchestra
“Flamingo” by Herb Alpert & The Tijuana Brass
“Mas Que Nada” by Sergio Mendes & Brasil ’66
“A Time For Love” by Tony Bennett
“Free Again” by Barbra Streisand
“I’m Getting Sentimental Over You” by the Glenn Miller Orchestra
“Lookin’ For Love” by Ray Conniff
“Elusive Butterfly” by Jane Morgan
“Once I Had A Heart” by Robert Goulet

I think I do better with this set of fifteen than I did with the earlier grouping about six weeks ago. The top three are on the digital shelves here, as are “Mas Que Nada” and the record by Tony Bennett. I know “Dommage, Dommage,” likely from Vale’s version; I know “Elusive Butterfly” from Bob Lind’s original; and I know “I’m Getting Sentimental Over You” from multiple versions (chiefly the Tommy Dorsey recording from 1935). And for what it may matter, I did refer to Whiting’s record in a post last September.

The rest would be mysteries, even “Flamingo” and “Lookin’ For Love,” despite my enjoyment of the work of both Herb Alpert and Ray Conniff.

Having dipped a toe into most of the unfamiliar tunes in the list above, I find myself liking Morgan’s sprightly take on “Elusive Butterfly.” It turned out to be her most successful record on the magazine’s easy listening chart, reaching No. 9.

Morgan’s chart history is interesting: Massachusetts-born (in 1920) and Florida-raised, she had ten records in or near the Billboard Hot 100 between 1956 and 1967, and seven records in the magazine’s easy listening chart between 1965 and 1968, but – if I’m reading things correctly – only two records showed up in both charts. Her best-performing record was “Fascination,” credited to Jane Morgan & The Troubadors, which went to No. 7 in 1957 in one of the several charts Billboard compiled at the time.

Here’s her take on Bob Lind’s “Elusive Butterfly.”

Chart position corrected after first posting.

‘Float Upstream . . .’

Wednesday, March 28th, 2018

I woke up yesterday with the strains of the Beatles’ “I’m Only Sleeping” running through my head. They stayed there most of the day, and this morning – no doubt because I’ve been thinking of the tune – those strains are still there.

As is the case with most of the Beatles’ catalog, there is no video of the tune available, but I think that – like me – most fans of the band can pretty much play the tune in their heads, kind of a cranial on-demand. We’re going to go look for covers in a minute, but first, I thought I’d see what one of the books on my shelf – Beatlesongs by William J. Dowlding – has to say about the song and its recording.

Before that, though, I should note that American Beatle fans of similar vintage as I will remember the track as coming from the album Yesterday . . . and Today, an album made up of material previously unreleased in the states and several tracks from the upcoming Revolver. The three tracks thus displaced from Revolver in the American market – at least until the advent of CDs and the concurrent reissues – were “Doctor Robert,” “And Your Bird Can Sing,” and “I’m Only Sleeping.”

Thus, notes Dowlding, the U.S. version of Revolver had more of a Paul McCartney flavor than did the longer British version, as the three tunes shifted to Yesterday . . . and Today came mostly from the pen of John Lennon. “I’m Only Sleeping” and “And Your Bird Can Sing,” Dowlding notes, were entirely Lennon’s creation. As for “Doctor Robert,” Dowlding offers a quote from Lennon: “I think Paul helped in the middle.”

Dowlding says that “I’m Still Sleeping,” was recorded in late April and early May 1966. Perhaps the most notable thing about the record – beyond its utterly drowsy atmosphere – is the backward guitar section. Dowlding offers a lengthy quote from producer George Martin about how that was accomplished:

In order to record the backward guitar on a track like “I’m Only Sleeping,” you work out what your chord sequence is and write them down in the reverse order of the chords – as they are going to come up – so you can recognize them. Then you learn to boogie around on that chord sequence, but you really don’t know what it’s going to sound like until it comes out again. It’s hit or miss, no doubt about it, but you do it a few times, and when you like what you hear you keep it.

It wasn’t as easy as Martin makes it sound, according to a note from another volume on my shelf: Here, There and Everywhere by long-time Beatle engineer Geoff Emerick and collaborator Howard Massey. Emerick writes that getting that solo for “I’m Only Sleeping” made him wish “we had never come up with the concept of backwards sound.”

And then Emerick takes aim at Beatle George Harrison’s musical abilities (something he does regularly throughout the book):

At the best of times, [Harrison] had trouble playing solos all the way through forwards, so it was with great trepidation that we all settled in for what turned out to be an interminable day of listening to the same eight bars played backwards over and over again. . . . I can still picture George – and later, Paul, who joined him to play the backwards outro in a bizarre duet – hunched over his guitar for hours on end, headphones clamped on, brows furrowed in concentration.

Assessing the finished track, Dowlding offers a comment from Lennon’s long-time friend, Pete Shotton, who said the song “brilliantly evokes the state of chemically induced lethargy into which John had . . . drifted.”

Having known the track for almost fifty years – I got the U.S. version of Revolver as a birthday present in September 1970, four years after it came out – and having it run through my head for most of the last two days, I concur with Shotton’s assessment.

Since the original is not available to us this morning, let’s see about covers. Second Hand Songs lists thirty-seven covers, ranging temporally from the Lettermen’s shimmering 1972 version to a jazzy 2016 take on the tune by Brit singer Will Young. A couple of other names in the list are easily recognizable, like Lobo and Shawn Mullins, and there are a lot of names I do not know (though perhaps I should).

Another recognizable name in the list is that of Rosanne Cash, who released her version of “I’m Only Sleeping” on her 1995 album Retrospective. It showed up again on the 1999 compilation New Horizons: An Essential New Country Collection and once more on the 2005 compilation Yesterday (A Country Music Tribute To The Beatles). Here’s Cash’s version, which is not all that far removed from the original. I like it a lot.

Checking Out Ms. Jordan

Thursday, March 22nd, 2018

Okay, so: Sass Jordan. She’s a Canadian singer who’s had some decent successes on the north side of the border and a few bits of the same on this side. The most notable moment for her came, most likely, when her vocals were added to join Joe Cocker’s on a tune called “Trust In Me.” The resulting “duet” wound up on the soundtrack to the 1992 Whitney Houston film The Bodyguard.

On the southern side of the border, two of her seven albums have edged into the lower portions of the Billboard 200: Her 1992 album Racine went to No. 174, and Rats, released in 1994, went to No. 158. Both were Top Ten on the magazine’s Top Heatseekers chart, which highlights “new and developing” artists, according to Wikipedia.

I knew nothing of that when I began poking around today, checking out Ms. Jordan’s background. So why was I poking? Well, the other day, the Texas Gal and I were somewhere – having lunch, likely – when I heard from the overhead speakers the strains of the Eagles track “Ol’ 55.” It’s a decent track that was the B-side to “Best Of My Love” in 1974 and showed up on the group’s album On The Border.

And having heard the track for the first time in a while, I wondered about covers. I knew the Eagles’ version was itself a cover, as the song came from the pen of Tom Waits and was on his 1973 album Closing Time. So I began to look around the Interweb for information about covers. (I already knew of one; Richie Havens covered the tune on his 1980 album Connections.)

And I found Sass Jordan’s cover of the tune. It was on her 2009 album From Dusk ’Til Dawn:

And we’ll leave it there today, planning to check out a few more covers of “Ol’ 55” in the days to come (and to check out more of Jordan’s music, too).

‘Shooting Star’

Tuesday, January 9th, 2018

I was glancing this morning at the Billboard Hot 100 from the second week of 1968, staying in our recent mode of fifty years ago. I was thinking about doing a post about the Bottom Ten from that list, a selection of records that would start with “United (Part 1)” by the Music Makers and end with “Funky Way” by Calvin Arnold.

(Joel Whitburn tells me in Top Pop Singles that the Music Makers evolved into M.F.S.B., which is not a surprise after seeing that the record, which Whitburn notes is an instrumental version of the Intruders’ “(We’ll Be) United,” was written and produced by Kenneth Gamble and Leon Huff and was released on the Gamble label. As to “Funky Way,” Whitburn has less information, noting only that Arnold was a Detroit-based performer. Neither record did much, with “United (Part 1)” peaking at No. 78 and “Funky Way” getting to No. 72.)

But one of the records in that Bottom Ten diverted my train of thought. I was pretty sure I’d written before about the record at No. 93, “A Little Rain Must Fall” by the Epic Splendor. And, in fact, I had, in a Chart Digging post in late January 2011. Having refreshed my memory about the Epic Splendor, I idly clicked past that post down to the next post, one written a couple days earlier, and I found myself re-reading my tale of some college friends who claimed to have gone into a bar in a rural area west of Minneapolis during the autumn of 1975 and encountered Bob Dylan, who got on stage and sang a few songs with a local performer.

In that post, I pondered what song I’d want to sing with the Bard of Hibbing if I ever got such an unlikely opportunity. I settled on “Shooting Star,” a melancholy memoir from the 1989 album Oh Mercy.

Still looking for a topic for this morning, I checked out my post from January 9, 2008, ten years ago today, a post in which I looked at what the world had been listening to in 1989 and what I was listening to that same year. The two lists were markedly different, which should be no surprise to anyone who knows me or who’s read even a few things here. And one of the tracks listed in my version of 1989 in that post was “Shooting Star.”

Bemused, I wondered how often I’ve mentioned “Shooting Star” in the nearly eleven years I’ve been throwing stuff at the wall here. It turns out to be three times. The third time was in a March 2009 post as I considered which ten tracks I’d play as my first ten if I had a radio show. For what it’s worth, here’s that list:

“(Don’t Fear) The Reaper” by Blue Öyster Cult
“Don’t the Moon Look Sad and Lonesome” by Joy of Cooking
“You Don’t Have To Cry” by Crosby, Stills & Nash
“Bare Trees” by Fleetwood Mac
“Valdez In The Country” by Cold Blood
“Anyday” by Derek & the Dominos
“A Woman Left Lonely” by Janis Joplin
“Blue River” by Danko/Fjeld/Andersen
“Shooting Star” by Bob Dylan
“The Promised Land” by Bruce Springsteen

So in the course of 2,000-and-some posts, I mention “Shooting Star” three times, and this morning, looking for other stuff, I stumble on two of those mentions. Clearly the universe is at work.

I went to YouTube. As might be expected, Mr. Dylan keeps a tight rein on his music, and only two tracks from Oh Mercy are available there: “Political World” and “Most Of The Time.” There’s no point in my making a video for “Shooting Star” and putting it up; it will be taken down shortly and I’ll get a little note from the website.

So let’s look at covers. The website Second Hand Songs lists four. I only checked out one of them, finding a pleasant take on the tune by the duo of Andy Hill & Renée Safier. It’s from their 2001 album of Dylan covers, It Takes A Lot To Laugh.

Before we listen, though, remember that I called the song a melancholy memoir? Here are the lyrics:

Seen a shooting star tonight
And I thought of you
You were trying to break into another world
A world I never knew
I always kind of wondered
If you ever made it through
Seen a shooting star tonight
And I thought of you

Seen a shooting star tonight
And I thought of me
If I was still the same
If I ever became what you wanted me to be
Did I miss the mark or overstep the line
That only you could see?
Seen a shooting star tonight
And I thought of me

Listen to the engine, listen to the bell
As the last fire truck from hell
Goes rolling by
All good people are praying
It’s the last temptation, the last account
The last time you might hear the sermon on the mount
The last radio is playing

Seen a shooting star tonight
Slip away
Tomorrow will be
Another day
Guess it’s too late to say the things to you
That you needed to hear me say
Seen a shooting star tonight
Slip away

And here are Hill and Safier:

Saturday Single No. 570

Saturday, December 23rd, 2017

The last days of Christmas busy-ness are upon us. We’ll spend much of the day finishing holiday-related tasks: mailing packages and cards (yes, they will arrive late), buying provisions for our own celebration Christmas Eve and for the family dinner at my sister’s in Maple Grove Monday.

We’re meeting a friend for lunch, and we’ll also take time to attend a memorial service for the husband of a fellow member of our Unitarian Universalist Fellowship. Add in some necessary household tasks – given my difficulties with my legs, the Texas Gal needs to spot me when I climb a ladder to replace light bulbs in the kitchen’s ceiling fixture – and we have a busy and demanding day.

So I’m just going to wish a Merry Christmas to all out there. May you spend these days with those you love in whatever place you consider home. And amid all the hubbub, be good to one another.

Here’s one of the two or three Christmas tunes we ever post here, John Lennon’s “Happy Xmas (War Is Over),” performed this time in Swedish by Linda Andrews with the Malmö Symphony Orchestra and Dobbletkvartetten (the male vocal group, I assume). It’s from Andrews’ 2009 album Husker du julen . . . (Do You Remember Christmas), and it’s today’s Saturday Single.

Hucklebucking

Friday, December 15th, 2017

So, I thought, what do I have in the digital stacks that was recorded on December 15?

And the RealPlayer brought me a few tracks: Lena Horne’s “Stormy Weather” from 1941, the King Cole Trio’s version of “Sweet Lorraine” from 1943, Deanna Durbin’s “Always” from 1944, Dion’s “Ruby Baby” from 1962 and three copies of “The Huckle-Buck” by Paul Williams & His Hucklebuckers, recorded in 1948.

And I stopped right there, because the tag on one of those three copies said the track was recorded in New York, while the tag on another said Detroit. The third had no location listed. And between the three copies of the same track, I had four catalog numbers, all on the Savoy label. But before we go any further, let’s listen to “The Huckle-Buck” as Williams and his band recorded it in December of 1948:

The record was a major hit in 1949, topping the Billboard Best Seller chart for twelve weeks and the magazine’s Juke Box chart for fourteen weeks. You’ll note that the catalog number in the video is Savoy 683, and that’s the number that Joel Whitburn has listed in Top 40 R&B and Hip-Hop Hits, so we’ll go with that. But according to the data at The Online Discographical Project, Savoy did in fact issue the record with three other catalog numbers as well.

But where was it recorded? Where did I find Detroit and New York mentioned? Well, I found New York listed as the recording site on the two-LP set The Roots Of Rock ’N Roll, a 1977 release on the Savoy label. And Detroit was listed as the site in the very detailed notes supplied with The Big Horn, a four-CD set from England of 106 tracks featuring saxophone, released in 2003 by Proper Records.

And I’m uncertain. Part of me says that the New York location make sense, because Savoy should know where one of its biggest hits was recorded. And part of me tends to think that Detroit is correct, because the notes in the booklet accompanying The Big Horn are so very detailed and could contain information found during the intervening years. I’d like to know, but I’m not going to let the discrepancy get in the way of the music. Because there’s a lot of stuff about “The Huckle-Buck” that I found interesting.

First, Paul Williams pretty much stole the song. The website Second Hand Songs notes that the tune was first called “D’ Natural Blues.” It was written by Andy Gibson and it was first performed by Lucky Millinder & His Orchestra in September of 1948. The website then notes:

Paul Williams heard Lucky Millinder and His Orchestra perform “D’ Natural Blues” and decided to perform this song too. He called it “The Huckle-Buck.” The reactions turned out to be very positive and he decided to record it (December 15th, 1948). Lucky Millinder recorded it a few weeks later (beginning of January 1949) . . .

Here’s Millinder’s “D’ Natural Blues.”

Soon enough, lyricist (and occasional composer) Roy Alfred wrote some words for the tune, and Roy Milton & His Solid Senders recorded a vocal version in January 1949 that went to No. 5 on the R&B chart. And the covers kept on coming: Big Sis Andrews & Her Huckle-Busters, Frank Sinatra, Lionel Hampton (No. 12, R&B), Homer & Jethro with June Carter (as the B-side of a 1949 record titled “The Wedding of Hillbilly Lily Marlene”), Benny Goodman, Pearl Bailey and on through the 1950s until we get to the 1960s and the only version of the tune that’s been a hit in the Billboard Hot 100: Chubby Checker’s cover went to No. 14 (and No. 15 on the R&B chart) in the autumn of 1960, just months after “The Twist” went to No. 1 for the first time:

The list of covers at Second Hand Songs – instrumentals and vocals alike – is pretty lengthy, and includes a lame 1961 vocal version by Annette Funicello, an instrumental version by a 1988 edition of Canned Heat*, and a wicked version by Otis Redding, recorded in September 1967 and released post-humously on The Dock of the Bay in 1968. And that’s where we’ll close today’s proceedings. Hucklebuck, ya’ll!

*That 1988 edition of the band has two original members, according to Wikipedia: Fito de la Parra and Larry Taylor. That’s pretty thin gruel from this side of the table. My sense is that once Al Wilson and Bob Hite were gone (1970 and 1981, respectively), so was Canned Heat.

Sorting & Gathering

Friday, March 3rd, 2017

I spent a bunch of time yesterday messing around with a file folder full of mp3s. The folder is labeled “Temp,” and it’s where I dump albums of stuff when they first land here and I haven’t got time at the moment to check titles and tag before I filter them into the RealPlayer.

Of course, stuff settles to the bottom of the folder and sits there, and every once in a while, I look at one or another of the folders at the bottom of the Temp folder and wonder, “When the heck did I get that?” Windows 10 helpfully sorts the stuff in the Temp folder into categories that range from “Today” to “A Long Time Ago.” And there’s lots of stuff in that last category.

Well, there’s less now than there used to be. I checked titles and tags in a lot of folders yesterday including a U.K. collection of soul hits (about thirty of which I did not already have); the first volume of The Complete Goldwax Singles; and albums by Ferrante & Teicher, Redwing, Andrea Marr, Slim Harpo, the Motels, and the Sutherland Brothers, with and without Quiver.

I also spent some time mining some out-of-print easy listening albums from the nifty blog In-Flight Entertainment, including stuff by Sounds Orchestral, Bert Kaempfert, Hugo Montenegro, Henry Mancini, Billy Strange, and the Button Down Brass.

But the best find of the past two days was likely the two CDs I grabbed for $1 each at the local library’s bookstore Thursday: Daniel Lanois’ 1993 release, For the Beauty of Wynona, and John Marytn’ 1998 album, The Church With One Bell.

I’ve liked Lanois’ production work with U2 (The Joshua Tree) and Bob Dylan (Oh Mercy and Time Out of Mind), and I love his own albums, Acadie, Belladonna and Shine. I heard Wynona long ago but – amid the many, many albums I said I’d get to later – I’ve never heard it since.

As for the later British singer/songwriter Martyn, I don’t know as much about him. I have one album on the digital shelves, Stormbringer, a 1970 release that he recorded with his wife, Beverly, and I’m looking forward to digging into The Church With One Bell.

I’d already heard one track, however. The Bobby Charles tune “Small Town Talk” is one of those songs I love enough to gather into my digital shelves any version of it I can find. A while back, I came upon Martyn’s version from The Church With One Bell and liked it a lot. And when I found the CD at the library Wednesday and was reminded of Martyn’s version of the song, well, there you go!

Saturday Single No. 529

Saturday, February 25th, 2017

Puttering in the EITW studio the other evening with half an eye on a hockey game and half an eye on Facebook, the remaining eye was wandering through mp3s in the RealPlayer, and for some reason, I searched to see how many versions of “The Girl From Ipanema” are stacked on the digital shelves.

I actually searched just for the term “Ipanema,” so I’d be certain to catch the gender-flipped versions – it turns out I have eight tracks titled “The Boy From Ipanema” – and those titled in a foreign language. And I learned that I have eighty-four versions of the tune, a fact that I idly shared on Facebook.

I got a few reactions, mostly chuckling face emoticons. The Texas Gal jokingly responded, “Delete them all!” And Jeff, the Green Bay-based proprietor of AM Then FM, warned me of an impending visit by the Completist Police. Well, I certainly didn’t do any deleting, and I don’t think I have to worry about the police quite yet: According to Second Hand Songs, at least 273 versions exist of the song written by Antônio Carlos Jobim and Vinicius de Moraes and first recorded by Os Cariocas in 1962.

(From what I can tell at SHS, the first version to use the English lyrics crafted by Norman Gimbel was the 1964 release by Stan Getz and João Gilberto with Astrud Gilberto supplying the vocal.)

So, while the Completist Police may be some distance from my door, I do have plenty of Ipanema to keep me company while I wait for the (no doubt) musical knock on the door. The versions range along the timeline from Os Cariocas’ 1962 original to a cover released in 2013 by Andrea Bocelli (a version I got at Any Major Dude With Half A Heart, where the Half-Hearted Dude is celebrating his tenth anniversary). Now, Bocelli isn’t always to my taste, but when one begins to collect versions of a classic tune, one sometimes steps in unanticipated directions.

And those directions have brought me versions from the breathy Anita O’Day (1963), the horn of my man Al Hirt (1964), the pianos of Ferrante & Teicher (1964), the very easy listening of the Ray Charles Singers (1964), the vibraphone of Freddie McCoy (1965), the sax of King Curtis (1966), the Hammond organ of Denny McClain (1969), the a capella sounds of the Swingle Singers (2002), and many more.

Do I have a favorite? Probably the Getz/Gilberto/Gilberto version. (The entire Getz/Gilberto album never strays far from one or another of the CD players.) Of more recent vintage, though with a similar sense, is the 1998 version by Brazilian singer (and pianist) Eliane Elias, who recorded “Garota De Ipanema” for her album Eliane Elias Sings Jobim. And it’s today’s Saturday Single.

‘Let Me Tell The Story . . .’

Friday, August 19th, 2016

I was pondering this morning the transition during the 1960s of the place of record albums: If you look at the weekly Top Ten in the Billboard 200 from 1963 to, oh, 1969, you’ll see the top-selling albums went from being mostly the province of folk, easy listening and soundtracks to the land of pop, rock, R&B and soul.

That in itself is pretty old news, and I was trying to cobble together something interesting by comparing the top ten album charts from mid-August of 1963, 1966 and 1969. But as I examined the top ten albums from this week in 1963, I got sidetracked.

The top album that week was Little Stevie Wonder/The 12 Year Old Genius but as I had expected, most of the albums listed – seven of the ten – were soundtracks, comedy, folk or easy listening. One of the other exceptions was the immortal Live At The Apollo by James Brown.

The third outlier was Shut Down, a collection released by Capitol of tunes mostly about cars and motorcycles by various artists. That album offered two tracks by the Beach Boys, a bunch of tracks by groups with short shelf lives (the best of those might be the “Brontosaurus Stomp” by the Piltdown Men) and one track from actor Robert Mitchum. And it was that last track that grabbed my attention. Here’s “The Ballad of Thunder Road” by Robert Mitchum:

The scenes used in the video are from the 1958 film Thunder Road, which Mitchum co-wrote and produced (and perhaps partly directed, according to Wikipedia). Mitchum also co-wrote – with Don Raye – the song. But Mitchum’s version was not used in the movie. Instead, a folky version of the tune was recorded for the movie by Randy Sparks, who a few years later would be the founder of the New Christy Minstrels. Here’s Sparks’ version of the tune, which was titled “The Whippoorwill.”

As “The Ballad of Thunder Road,” Mitchum’s version of the theme was released as a single in 1958 and went to No. 62 in the Billboard Hot 100. Capitol tried again in early 1962, and the single topped out at No. 65. And then it showed up in 1963 on Shut Down, which was at its peak at No. 7 in that Billboard album chart from this week in 1963. (Mitchum would hit the Hot 100 one more time: “Little Ole Wine Drinker Me” went to No. 96 during the summer of 1967.)

As to the 1958 movie, I’ve read in various places that it’s a cult classic, and beyond Mitchum’s single, it does have a place in music history: During a 1978 concert, Bruce Springsteen said that the poster for the film was the source of the title for his song “Thunder Road” although Springsteen evidently never saw the movie.

And all of that is enough for today.

‘Open The Door, Richard . . .’

Friday, July 29th, 2016

Just to show that I’m upright – and to celebrate that there’s a working handle on the door of the Versa – I thought we’d consider Bob Dylan’s “Open The Door, Homer” as covered by Thunderclap Newman.

Best known for the No. 37 hit “Something In The Air,” which was used in the 1969 movie The Magic Christian, Thunderclap Newman was a group assembled by the Who’s Pete Townshend in what Wikipedia says was “a bid to showcase the talents of John ‘Speedy’ Keen, Andy ‘Thunderclap’ Newman and Jimmy McCulloch.” (Townshend played bass for the group under the name of Bijou Drains.)

“Open The Door, Homer” showed up on the group’s 1970 album Hollywood Dream. I love Newman’s herky-jerky piano solo, similar to the one he supplies on “Something In The Air.” And not being interested in digging even lightly into Dylanology today, I’ll just say that I don’t know why the song title is addressed to Homer when the lyrics address Richard.