In the absence this morning of anything more interesting – and I’ve spent about forty minutes alternately staring at a blank page and wandering through various websites in search of inspiration or an idea – we’re going random this morning.
(I was tempted to write about Popular Crime, a book by Bill James – better known for his work on baseball analysis and history – that examined how some crimes become American obsessions. But I just finished the book yesterday and want to let it settle in some, so I’ll put that off until maybe next week.)
So here’s a hop and skip trip through six tracks from the years 1950 to 2000 or so, with the usual caveat of skipping over something that’s been discussed here recently or something that excessively reflects my eccentricities – like a track from the two-CD set The Best of the Red Army Choir.
First up is “Nothing Left To Move Me” by Anne Linnet from 1979. Linnet is a Danish performer who has been making and recording music since the early 1970s. The track comes from You’re Crazy, one of the few albums Linnet has recorded of songs in English. That, of course made the work more accessible for a wider audience but, to my mind, made Linnet’s work too much like some middle-of-the-chart Adult Contemporary fare.
From there, we jump to 1962 and “There Is No Greater Love” by the Wanderers, an R&B group about whom I know nearly nothing. In Top Pop Singles, Joel Whitburn lists the names of the group members but gives no indication of where the group originated. The record, which was the third that the group got in or near the charts, sounds a lot like something the Platters would have done. “There Is No Greater Love,” which was released on MGM after being first released on Cub (which released the two earlier mentioned records), went to No. 88, the highest any of the three records got. It’s nicely done, but as I said, sounds very much like the Platters (or maybe a hundred other groups).
And then we get a nice and very familiar slice of the late summer and early autumn of 1969: Neil Diamond’s “Sweet Caroline.” The record went to No. 4, and as soon as I heard the introduction, I had a brief flash of memory: Rick and I are pulling into the parking lot of the Country Kitchen restaurant here on the East Side and the song’s intro comes out of the radio speaker. We haven’t heard it for a while – I’m driving, so this took place sometime after I got my license in the autumn of 1970 – and we debated sitting in the car to listen instead of going straight inside. I don’t recall what we decided, but as soon as that bit of memory flashes past, another one pops up: St. Cloud State students and hockey fans adding their antiphonal chant of “So good! So good! So good!” to the chorus as the record plays during a Husky hockey game.
Fourth up this morning is “Stay On” by Wisconsin’s BoDeans, from 1993. Found on the group’s Go Slow Down album, the track has a slight jangly sound above the group’s Midwestern foundation that very much echoes the 1990s (as it likely should). It’s a good album track from a CD that I think is very likely the group’s best release (although their first, Love & Hope & Sex & Dreams from 1986, is pretty darned good, too).
We move on, and find ourselves in an arena somewhere with Paul McCartney and his band on stage. After a little noodling on the electric piano, McCartney launches into “Carry That Weight.” The track is from Back In The U.S., the 2002 live release recorded during the ex-Beatle’s tour that year. The Texas Gal and I were lucky enough to see McCartney in St. Paul during that tour, and the two-CD package is a nice after-the-fact souvenir, but on the night we saw him, McCartney was in better voice than he was during whatever performances were used for the live CD, so Back In The U.S. is a little bit of a bring-down.
And our final destination is a 1962 collaboration between Frank Sinatra and Count Basie, “I’m Gonna Sit Right Down (And Write Myself A Letter),” part of the sessions that ended up on the album Sinatra-Basie: An Historic Musical First. From what I understand, various members of Basie’s orchestra had long been involved in Sinatra’s sessions, but the 1962 sessions were the first with the full Count Basie Orchestra, with Basie at the piano. Here’s a video that gives a little bit of an idea how the recording of “I’m Gonna Sit Right Down (And Write Myself A Letter)” went down, and it’s today’s Saturday Single: