Archive for the ‘1923’ Category

‘It Ain’t Gonna Rain No More’

Thursday, October 12th, 2017

Okay, follow the bouncing ball and – if you wish – sing along with this cartoon from 1949:

I recall seeing short features like this – sing-a-longs with the bouncing ball – before movies during the late 1950s and early 1960s. I’d go – maybe with Rick and Rob or maybe with my sister – to kids’ matinees at the Paramount (or the Eastman or the Hays) here in St. Cloud, and there would be two or three animated features before the main event.

And I think I saw bouncing ball sing-a-longs on TV on Saturday mornings, watching and trying to keep the volume down on the old Zenith set while my parents slept in.

Anyway, what caught my ear about this particular sing-a-long was the song itself, “It Ain’t Gonna Rain No More,” which I’ve heard here and there forever. But I never thought about the song’s origins until this morning. Why this morning?

Because a search through the 97,000 mp3s in the RealPlayer brought up Wendell Hall’s version of “It Ain’t Gonna Rain No Mo’,” which he recorded for Victor in New York City on October 12, 1923, ninety-four years ago today. And Hall’s recording was a success: It was the No. 1 record in the U.S. in 1924, according to Josh Whitburn’s A Century of Pop Music.

The song itself, according to a brief entry at Wikipedia, had been around in various forms since some time during the 19th Century. Poet and folk musician Carl Sandburg included verses of the song in his 1927 volume American Songbook and suggested, Wikipedia says, that the song had been around since the 1870s. As with almost all folk songs, there are multiple variants, and the verses offered in the cartoon above are not all the same as those recorded by Wendell Hall in October 1923.

(I should note that the second line of the chorus also has variants. Hall sang, “How in the world can the old folks tell that it ain’t gonna rain no mo’?” The one I recall most clearly, perhaps from Boy Scout camp or Bible camp, went, “Now how in the heck can I wash my neck if it ain’t gonna rain no mo’?”)

Here are the verses as Hall recorded them:

Oh, the night was dark and dreary,
And the air was full of leaks.
Well the old man stood out in the storm,
And his shoes were full of feet.

Well the buttererfly flits on wings of gold,
The junebug wings of flame.
The bedbug has no wings at all,
But he gets there just the same.

Oh, mosquitee he fly high,
Oh, mosquitee he fly low.
If ol’ Mr. Skeeter light on me,
He ain’t a gonna fly no mo’.

Well, a bull frog sittin’ on a lily pad,
Looking up at the skies.
Oh, the lily pad broke and the frog fell in,
Got water all in his eyes.

Well, here’s a verse about a man and a trombone.
Well, the words to it are few.
He blew, he blew, he blew, he blew,
He blew, he blew, he blew.

Well, a man lay down by a sewer,
And by the sewer he died, he died.
And at the coroner’s request,
They called it sewer-cide.

A little black and white animal out in the woods.
I says, “Ain’t that little cat pretty?”
I went right over to pick it up,
But it wasn’t that kind of a kitty.

Oddly enough, Wendell Hall’s version of the song is the only one on the digital shelves here, even though a cursory search at YouTube turns up numerous versions of the song – old, modern and in between, including a take on the song by Nick Cave & The Bad Seeds. Some of those versions may yet show up on the shelves here, but for today, we’ll content ourselves with Hall’s version, recorded ninety-four years ago today.

Tallying Losses & Gains

Thursday, June 27th, 2013

As I noted earlier this week, we came out of last week’s major storm pretty well. The final toll seems to be: A couple of trees down along with a few large limbs and lots of small branches, some groceries lost from the refrigerator, and a clutch of fried electronic devices, most of which we will eventually replace. (Some friends of ours have already helped that task along by pulling out of their storage space and giving to us a television for my study and a CD player/radio that we’ll install in the bedroom; their generosity humbles us.)

Were there any benefits from the three days without power? Well, yes. We can start with the minor benefit of getting the refrigerator cleaned out, discarding a lot of sauces and dressings that we’d tried once and pushed to the back. (We had the refrigerator and the upright freezer in the basement running three or four hours a day on a generator our landlord provided, but the refrigerator compartment was compromised by the surge, and we figured it was better to be safe when dealing with egg-based foods and dairy products.) And we were reminded how tied we are to electricity, something we should realize day to day but tend to forget.

For the first two evenings, the Texas Gal and I sat in our accustomed spots in the living room, she in the easy chair and I on the couch, pretty much pointed at the entertainment center and its blank-faced and useless TV. An emergency candle glowed on top of the entertainment center, and a battery-powered radio on the coffee table provided music. We were able to read, the first night by wielding small flashlights we’d once bought in a miracle of forward thinking, the second night by the brighter light of LED camping lights we’d found that day during a walk through the local Fleet Farm store. And we retired early, something neither of us tends to do on weekend evenings.

(The third evening, Sunday, we had lights but no television, cable or regular telephone, as the cable company had not yet gotten to us.)

We chafed at not being able to get online. We’ve become so accustomed over the past decade to being connected to a wide-ranging group of friends through email, instant messaging and social media that to be sundered from the digital world was disorienting. Our only connection to the rest of the world was a go-phone the Texas Gal keeps in her purse, so we were at least able to tell our families we were all right. The thought crossed our minds that we should dig into our boxes of stuff in the basement and find one of our old phones that did not need to be plugged into an electrical outlet; it was, of course, too dark in the basement to do so. We may yet do that digging to have the old phone on hand for the next outage.

(I should note that during the heat of Saturday afternoon, we took refuge in a local coffee shop, having a snack and taking advantage of the shop’s Wi-Fi to tell our online friends we were okay.)

As I related the other day, services and comforts came back in stages: Electricity Sunday evening; air conditioning, cable/internet/phone and hot water on Monday; and the new refrigerator Tuesday. And with the household nearly returned to normalcy – some small restorative tasks remain for today – we can look at the balance sheet.

What did we lose? Two trees – a sixty-foot pine and an old oak on the northeast corner of the house – and some food and some home electronics. I’ll miss the living room CD/record player designed to look like an old radio (even though it was confusing to program), and the Texas Gal will miss the rather expensive iPod dock that we had in the bedroom. And we’ll have to cope without a microwave oven for a while, but all we’ve used it for lately is to reheat food and to make popcorn.

What did we gain? The knowledge that we can work together in a minor crisis without getting too cranky with each other. A reminder that things are things and not all that important as long as we and the cats are whole and healthy. And the awareness that after thirteen years of sharing tales and lives, we enjoy each other’s company more than ever.

I will miss the pine tree out front. After the tree trimming crew finished its work Sunday, leaving the stump for later, we did an estimate of the tree’s age. The rings at the outside of the stump were so close together that utter accuracy is impossible, but we’re pretty sure the tree was between eighty and a hundred years old.

Let’s split the difference and call it ninety years. If we do that, we get to 1923. And here’s the song that was No. 1 on June 23 of that year, when the pine tree that fell to last week’s storm was a seedling with ninety years ahead of it. Here’s Art Landry’s “Dreamy Melody.”

Instrumental Digging: 1900-1949

Thursday, May 23rd, 2013

Having caught the instrumental bug with Tuesday’s post about Paul Mauriat’s “Love is Blue,” I’ve continued in the past few days to dig into A Century of Pop Music, Joel Whitburn’s cataloging of the top records for each of the hundred years from 1900 through 1999. I wondered which instrumentals had ranked highest in the year-end listings in each of the decades of those hundred years.

So I did some digging in the book and at YouTube to satisfy my curiosity, and I thought I’d share the results here. We’ll look at the years from 1900 to 1949 today, and early next week, we’ll pick up the much more familiar years of 1950 through 1999.

There won’t be any in-depth commentary here today, because I really wouldn’t know what to say about, for example, Paul Whiteman, whose name shows up a couple of times in the 1920s. I know a very little about Artie Shaw, who shows up in the 1930s, and I know a bit more than that about Glenn Miller, who had (utterly unsurprisingly) the highest ranking instrumental of the 1940s, but I thought it better to leave this as simply a listing.

I will note that, again unsurprisingly, the music generally becomes more interesting to my ears the closer we get to mid-century. The one exception to that might be “Dardanella,” from 1920, which is a charming piece of music (and I found the photos used in the “Dardanella” video embedded below to be fascinating).

Here, then, are Billboard’s highest ranking instrumental from each decade’s year-by-year listings. Each record is also, I believe, the most popular instrumental of its decade (with the exception of the two Whiteman records listed below, which ranked second and third for the decade of the 1920s), but I’m not entirely sure; I’ve cross-checked the lists in Whitburn’s book, but I could have missed something. I’ve added in parentheses each record’s ranking for the decade if it showed up in Whitburn’s listing of that decade’s Top 25.

“The Stars and Stripes Forever” by [John Philip] Sousa’s Band, No. 7 in 1901*.

“Poor Butterfly” by the Victor Military Band, No. 3 in 1917 (No. 32).

“Dardanella” by Selvin’s Novelty Orchestra, No. 1 for 1920 (No. 2).
“Wang Wang Blues” by Paul Whiteman, No. 1 for 1921 (No. 24).
“Parade of the Wooden Soldiers” by Paul Whiteman, No. 1 for 1923 (No. 18).

“Begin the Beguine” by Artie Shaw, No. 3 for 1938** (No. 20).

“In the Mood” by Glenn Miller, No. 1 for 1940 (No. 3).

I believe the videos all offer the original recordings, though I cannot be certain as there could be multiple versions. For example, Miller and his band seem to have recorded “In the Mood” several times, and Miller’s band also recorded the song after Miller’s death in 1944. I’ve dug through my library and compared versions, and I think that the version of “In the Mood” linked here is the original version, recorded in August 1939. I would not swear in court the same for the other tunes.

*I could not find a video at YouTube that offers the 1901 version of “The Stars and Stripes Forever.” There are versions of the march from a recording session in 1911 and from a few other years available there. One thing I learned about the 1901 version – at several websites and forums – is that the recording is credited to “Sousa’s Band” and not to “John Philip Sousa” because Sousa disliked recording and was rarely present to conduct when his band and his works were being recorded.

**“Good-night, Sweetheart” by Wayne King, the No. 2 record for 1931, is listed by Whitburn as an instrumental, but the listings also credit Ernie Birchill for a vocal. I gave it a listen, and the record does close with a vocal, so that’s a rare error by Whitburn.

Amended slightly after first posting.