Archive for the ‘1941’ Category

‘White’

Friday, January 31st, 2014

And so, after several delays, we land on “White,” the last of nine chapters in Floyd’s Prism, looking at songs whose titles feature the seven colors of the spectrum plus black and white.

As with nearly all of the previous entries, when we sort the tracks in the RealPlayer, we get a total of 766. That’s many more than we need, but many of them, we cannot use. Some show up, as I noted the other day, because they’re tagged with the notation, “Ripped from vinyl by whiteray.” But others, equally unuseable, show up for other reasons.

Some have words in their titles that are close to “white,” including eleven versions of “A Whiter Shade of Pale.” And we’ll also pass on “Whitestone Bridge,” a 1973 tune from the Irish band Tír na nÓg; “Whitewash,” a 1976 outing by the Gin Blossoms; and two versions of Curtis Mayfield’s 1971 offering, “Mighty Mighty (Spade And Whitey).”

Out goes everything by the Average White Band, Tony Joe White, country singer Joy Lynn White, vintage singers Bukka White, Josh White and Georgia White, harp legend Charlie Musselwhite, Edgar Winter’s White Trash, current performer Jack White and country singer Lari White. We also dismiss the great “Ain’t No Stoppin’ Us Now” by McFadden & Whitehead, a few vintage tracks by Paul Whitehead & His Orchestra and two tracks from Lavelle White, one on Duke from 1958 and the other from her 2003 album, Into the Mystic. And we pass by every track in the collection by Barry White; we could have kept his “Rhapsody in White,” but we decided against it.

What else? Three albums titled Black & White, by the BoDeans, the Pointer Sisters and the previously mentioned Tony Joe White, fall by the wayside, as do Shawn Phillips’ 1973 album Bright White (we posted the title tune here the other week), Michael Omartian’s 1974 effort White Horse, most of David Gray’s 200 album White Ladder and Gene Clark’s 1971 offering White Light. We also pass by the Cowboy Junkies’ 1986 album Whites Off Earth Now!! and numerous singles on the White Whale label.

So we take what’s left, which turns out to be plenty for our purposes this morning.

I mentioned David Gray’s 2000 album White Ladder above. It’s a CD that’s truly not strayed far from our player during the years since it came out, a tuneful and literate album. The best-known track on the record is no doubt “Babylon,” which made seven different Billboard charts, reaching No. 57 on the Hot 100 and No. 8 on the Adult Top 40. While the title track is nowhere near as well-known (and doesn’t have nearly as great a hook as “Babylon,” to be honest), “White Ladder” is still a good track from an artist whose body of work has sometimes been uneven (and sometimes gets a little repetitive, to be honest).

Nearly seven years ago, during the first weeks of this blog’s existence, I told the tale of my grandfather and his buying a birthday present for my sister, a 45 rpm record that turned out to be the tales of the Three Little Pigs and Little Red Riding Hood written by Steve Allen and then told by Al “Jazzbo” Collins in early 1950s jazz and hipster lingo. The 1953 record was an unlikely hit, and it spun off more such performances. Today’s selection is “Snow White & The Seven Dwarfs” as told by Collins later that same year. The story came from the pen of Douglas Jones, whose ear for the hipster argot was, to my own ears, not as sharp as was Allen’s. Still, it’s a fun trip through the woods to the dwarves’ rib shack.

There’s not a lot more for me to say about the late Levon Helm. Today’s sorting brought up Helm’s take on the Carter Stanley tune “White Dove,” from Helm’s 2009 album, Electric Dirt. The album went to No. 36 on the Billboard 200 and was awarded a Grammy as the Best Americana Album in 2010.

From 2009 we drop back sixty-eight years to what is certainly the most sentimental song in this set of six. But then, wartime can do that, and “(There’ll Be Bluebirds Over) The White Cliffs of Dover” is one of the quintessential songs of World War II. Written in 1941 by Walter Kent and Nat Burton, the tune reflects the unease of Britons facing Nazi Germany alone and expresses hope for a return to normal life after the war. Though other versions might have become better known on this side of the Atlantic, especially the version by the Glenn Miller Orchestra, the version by Vera Lynn – the original, I believe – is the one that the Brits loved, despite the sad fact that bluebirds are not indigenous to the British Isles and have never flown over the tall white cliffs. Lyricist Burton, notes Wikipedia, was an American who seemingly didn’t know any better, but no matter: Since 1941, “(There’ll Be Bluebirds Over) The White Cliffs of Dover” anyway.

Chad Mitchell was, as his name reminds us, the founder of the Chad Mitchell Trio, a folk group that placed eight albums in the Billboard 200 between 1962 and 1965 (the last two charting after Mitchell left and the group was renamed just the Mitchell Trio (and included among its members at that time John Denver). Mitchell at that point embarked on a solo career, and one of the artifacts of that rather unsuccessful effort is the 1969 album Chad. The album, writes Richie Unterberger at All Music Guide, was “an odd match of Mitchell’s crooning folk vocals with covers of then-recent folk-rock-ish songs by Joni Mitchell (‘Both Sides Now’), Dino Valente (‘Let’s Get Together’), and far more obscure titles like Tim Buckley’s ‘Goodbye & Hello,’ H.P. Lovecraft’s ‘The White Ship,’ Jim & Jean’s ‘What’s That Got to Do with Me,’ and the Association’s ‘Bus Song’.” It’s the Lovecraft tune that draws us in this morning. The album-opener, “The White Ship” is, in its weird and unmarketable (but oddly compelling) way, 1969 summed up in three minutes and thirty-eight seconds.

From 1969’s folk-rock self-indulgence, we head to 1957 and a concise country anthem, “A White Sport Coat & A Pink Carnation” by Marty Robbins. The tale of the young fellow all spiffed up for the dance only to have his gal waltz off with someone else was No. 1 on the Billboard country charts for five weeks in mid-1957. It was one of a remarkable eighty-three records Robbins placed in the country Top 40; the record also went to No. 2 on the Hot 100, where Robbins had thirty-six records in or near the chart over the years.

Some Walkin’ Goin’ On

Tuesday, March 27th, 2012

A few weeks ago, I decided I wanted to get back – if only in a small way – to writing and editing for actual compensation. So I began thinking and writing down ideas. As I wondered where I might find a market for editing and proofreading, I realized that across the river there is a state university with something like 16,000 students, the vast majority of whom will have to write one or two research papers a semester.

So I put together a one-page promotion piece with the bottom edge of the page turned into tear-off slips with an email address. And I spent two hours yesterday morning walking around the campus of St. Cloud State, pinning my promotional piece to public billboards. I learned that some classroom buildings – generally those recently constructed or remodeled – have no public bulletin boards. In the buildings that have generally retained their purposes and designs since I was a student at SCS a good many years ago, however, the bulletin boards remained.

I probably put up about thirty-five pieces yesterday in six different buildings, and I likely walked a little more than a mile to do so (maybe more; I had to double back several times in buildings to get to all the corridors, and several of the buildings had two or three stories). It’s been a while since I walked that far. Now, I have no doubt that being more active is a good thing, and a few aches and pains in the long run will be a small price. But this morning, it’s a little hard to move.

So here are a few tunes about walking.

“Walkin’ Up Hip Street” by Tower of Power. This lively and funky instrumental comes from TOP’s 1975 album Urban Renewal. The album went to No. 22.

“Walking Out On You” by Spencer Wiggins. I’ve mentioned Wiggins before, who recorded a series of lively soul singles for the Goldwax label without having much, if any, of a chart presence. This 1966 track was released as Goldwax 312.

“Walk On” by the Reindeer Army. I know nothing about the Reindeer Army although I can make two assumptions: First, the group found its name in a line from Bob Dylan’s “It’s All Over Now, Baby Blue.” Second, the group sounds like a collection of studio musicians. Other than that, this 1970 release on Laurie is a blank. I found the track in one of the massive Lost Jukebox collections that one still might be able to find by hanging around blogs and boards.

“A Walk in the Black Forest” by Horst Jankowski. This instrumental with the jaunty solo piano was a No. 12 hit in 1965 for German jazzman Jankowski. (Say those last three words real fast, if you can!) He reached the Hot 100 again later that year when “Simpel Gimpel” went to No. 91.

“Walk On Water” by Ambergris. I wrote about Ambergris and shared the band’s lone album – from 1970 – five years ago, which is something like a hundred years in blogtime. For those who love horn bands, the group is still a fun listen. Back then, I wrote that “Walk On Water” was one of the album’s highlights, a judgment that still holds.

“Walking Blues” by Son House (with Willie Brown on guitar, Joe Martin on fiddle and LeRoy Williams on harmonica). This is one of the classic songs in the blues canon, and this take was recorded by folklorist Alan Lomax near Memphis in 1941. House first recorded his version of the song in 1930 for Paramount, and that performance was pretty strong although it’s difficult to listen to because of the poor quality of the surviving recordings. House’s performance here for Lomax is pretty powerful, too.