Archive for the ‘1939’ Category

Saturday Single No. 742

Saturday, June 26th, 2021

Blame it on Amazon Prime.

I had plans for a post today, one that would require a little time and thought, but last evening, we dined out, then came home and watched a couple of episodes of The Killing, a series on Amazon Prime. Add another hour-long show and the necessary tasks prior to retiring for the night, and we got to bed very, very, late. (Cue “Around Here” by Counting Crows.)

So I wound up sleeping late, having odd dreams as I did. The one salient detail I remember from the last dream was a sign on the wall that said, “For help, call Boogie Boy 28.” And today’s partly planned post will wait for another day.

But the RealPlayer will bail me out, somewhat. It tells me that on this date – June 26 – in 1939 in Chicago, Roy Shaffer recorded “The Matchbox Blues,” later released as the B-side of Bluebird 8234. His version is one of eight tracks with similar titles on the digital shelves here, ranging in time from Blind Lemon Jefferson’s 1927 version to Bob Dylan’s 1970 take on the version of the song called simply “Matchbox.”

(The website Second Hand Songs lists Jefferson’s “Matchbox Blues” and “Matchbox” as two different tunes, crediting Carl Perkins with authorship of the latter. That surprises me, and I may look into it next week. If they’re not the same song, they’re at least cousins.)

As to Shaffer, discogs tells me he was a cowboy singer born in Mathiston, Mississippi, in 1906 who was active from the 1930s into the 1950s. recording for Decca and Bluebird in the mid- to late 1930s. He died in 1974 in Greenville, Mississippi, and is buried in nearby Cleveland, Mississippi.

Here’s Shaffer’s version of “The Matchbox Blues.” It came my way via the tenth disc – East Virginia Blues – of the eleven-disc series When The Sun Goes Down: The Secret History of Rock & Roll released in the early 2000s by Bluebird and RCA. 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.