Archive for the ‘1930’ Category

Saturday Single No. 738

Saturday, May 29th, 2021

Short of ideas this morning, I asked the RealPlayer to find tracks that were recorded on May 29 over the years, and we ended up with a few. (A reminder: I have that level of detail for perhaps ten percent of the 82,000 tracks available in the player.)

The oldest of the tracks listed for today’s date is from 1930, when bluesman and songster Blind Blake recorded “Diddie Wa Diddie No. 2” in Grafton, Wisconsin, for the Paramount label. As is true of many tracks I’ve heard on the early Paramount label, the copy I have is hard to listen to. Until relatively recent advances in sound restoration, the poor quality of the early Paramount recordings along with, I would guess, their rarity, made it a challenge to listen to them through the hiss and crackle. And the version I have of “Diddie Wa Diddie No. 2” is no different. The first verse goes (I think):

A gangster shot his pal today
As they carried him away
He say “Diddie wa diddie”
He say “Diddie wa diddie”
I just found out what “diddie wa diddie” means . . .

The last line of that verse refers to the original “Diddie Wa Diddie,” in which Blake sings “There’s a great big mystery” and goes on to tell us that the mystery is the meaning of the words “diddie wa diddie.”

The lyrics to “Diddie Wa Diddie” are widely available online, but oddly enough, in an era when it seems like everything and its puppy dog has been transcribed and uploaded to the ’Net, the lyrics to “Diddie Wah Diddie No. 2” seem to be absent.

A little bit of digging tells me that “Diddie Wa Diddie No. 2” was the B-side of Paramount 12994, which featured “Hard Pushing Papa” on the A-side. From what discogs tells me, the best current source for the song is the 2000 release from Yazoo titled The Best of Blind Blake.

I’m pretty sure my copy didn’t come from there, as the sound quality of the videos showing that album’s cover at YouTube – including videos of “Diddie Wa Diddie No. 2” – is much better than the sound of the clip in my collection (though still a bit challenging). So where did my digital copy come from? I have no idea, but it must have been in my early days of scavenging music online, as its bit rate is poor.

All of that is of no matter, I guess, except that if I want a better copy of “Diddie Wa Diddie No. 2,” I now know where to find it. Will I? I doubt it. (I am a bit surprised that the track hasn’t shown up on the numerous anthologies of vintage music that already take up space on my shelves.) All that matters this morning is that ninety-one years ago today, Blind Blake recorded “Diddie Wa Diddie No. 2” in Grafton, Wisconsin. And it’s today’s Saturday Single.

‘I’ll See You In My Dreams . . .’

Wednesday, November 20th, 2013

As noted in a couple of recent posts, the lovely Isham Jones/Gus Kahn song “I’ll See You In My Dreams” first showed up in 1925, recorded by Jones with the Ray Miller Orchestra, with Frank Besinger handling the vocal. According to Joel Whitburn in A Century Of Pop Music, the record was No. 1 for seven weeks starting the first week of April and wound up as the No. 3 record for the year (behind “The Prisoner’s Song” by Vernon Dalhart and “Yes Sir, That’s My Baby” by Gene Austin).

Covers naturally followed. While I don’t think that “I’ll See You In My Dreams” is necessarily one of the most-covered songs of all time, it’s nevertheless a song that’s stayed in the public ear: The list of covers at Second Hand Songs – a listing that’s not necessarily comprehensive but which probably provides a good cross-section and starting point – shows versions of the song from every decade since but the 1940s, and I’m not sure if there’s a reason for that gap or not. Add to those versions the other covers I’ve found at YouTube, and the song is clearly one that’s remained popular.

Since the middle of last week, I’ve been wandering through many versions of the song, and I’ve found quite a few I like. My pal Larry, who hangs his hat at the fine blog, Funky 16 Corners, recommended the 1930 cover by Ukulele Ike, otherwise known as Cliff Edwards. (Edwards, perhaps better known as the voice of Jiminy Cricket in Disney’s Pinnochio, covered the song again in 1956 on his album, Ukulele Ike Sings Again.) Another early cover that caught my ear was the 1937 version by Guy Lombardo. And jazz guitarist Django Reinhardt  gave the song a whirl in 1939.

Perhaps the most surprising of the covers I found was the nimble-fingered instrumental version by Jerry Lee Lewis, recorded during a session for Sun Records in 1958; the take was finally issued on a Sun collection LP in 1984 and since then on CD. Other versions I generally like from the 1950s and 1960s included covers by Henri René & His Orchestra (1956), the Mills Brothers (1960), The Ray Conniff Singers (1960), Cliff Richard (1961), the Lettermen (1963) and my man Al Hirt (1968).

The only version of the song to hit the modern charts was an unsurprisingly bland take from Pat Boone, whose 1962 cover went to No. 32 on the Billboard Hot 100 in and No. 9 on what is now called the Adult Contemporary chart.

Some versions baffle me (and you can easily find these – and others mentioned but not linked – at YouTube). I mean, the Mormon Tabernacle Choir (1980)? Then there’s some very odd percussion and production in a 1965 effort by Vic Dana. And in 1975, the Pearls took the song to the disco.

There were some other interesting versions. I found a cover by the Paul Kuhn Orchestra that was released on LP in 1980, but it sounds very much like something Bert Kaempfert would have released in 1965 or so. (Kuhn passed on in September, and his death inspired one of the great headlines: “Paul Kuhn, German jazzman who lamented Hawaii’s lack of beer, has died.”) Chet Atkins, recording with Merle Travis, did a nice cover for the 1974 album, Atkins-Travis Traveling Show, although the linked video offers what seems to be a shorter version of the tune, as included on a later compilation.

Howard Alden did a very nice guitar version of “I’ll See You In My Dreams” ghosting for Sean Penn’s character Emmet Ray – a 1930s jazz guitar player – in Woody Allen’s 1999 film, Sweet and Lowdown.

And finally, one version that I like among the more recent covers is the faux-vintage and slightly rough-edged take from 2005 by folk singer Ingrid Michaelson along with singer (and ukulele player) Joan Moore.