Sunday, January 27, 2013

The Greenbriar Boys

There is an alternate universe for groups like The Greenbriar Boys. Read about them and they were legends, seminal figures in the bluegrass / folk world of the early to midlate 60s. If you lived in that universe, and many did (do?), they were major.

If you lived in the other universe, or any other universe, you probably never heard of them. It’s that way in the musical reality.

I only have one track. It’s from a collection called Troubadours Of The Folk Era, Volume Three: The Groups. If there were any justice in this (musical) universe, I’d have a compilation album, and it wouldn’t be hard to acquire. One visit to Amazon would do it. But if I got compilations for all these groups that I don’t have, I wouldn’t have enough money left for anything else. It’s a simple case of too many groups, too few funds.


The Greenbriar Boys:

Stewball – It’s the mandolin that does it. This song was done by others, most famously by Peter, Paul & Mary, and most differently by Lonnie Donegan (that may not even have been the same song), and each version has different lyrics from each other version. No matter how you cut it, Stewball was some horse.

Saturday, January 26, 2013

Jimmy Dean

Not to be confused with James Dean, the dead actor, Jimmy Dean was a country singer and TV host. He had 11 hits on the pop charts between 1957 and 1 more in 1976.

What I have here is Jimmy Dean’s Greatest Hits, which has 7 of those 11 Columbia hits, and 3 more songs besides.

Jimmy Dean:

Big Bad John – The enigmatic good guy / bad guy. A loner. If you spoke at all you just said “hi” to Big John. He killed a fellow in New Orleans over a girl, and he saved the lives of a few dozen miners, sacrificing his life in the process. Superman never had to die, neither did Batman. But Big John, to be the consummate hero, he had to die. I wonder. The song was number 1 in the fall of 1961. 
The Cajun Queen – She had a cameo role in Big John. Now here she is again. “He started breathin’…” They couldn’t leave the legend alone. From the winter of 1962.
Harvest Of Sunshine – A countrypolitan singalong. This is just south of what Dean Martin was doing a few years later.
Little Black Book – Proof that not all songs about romantic breakup are sad or angry. Big question: is the chirpiness real or put-on? I don’t know, but it sounds real enough to me. From the fall of ’62.
Steel Men – A major scale industrial tragedy set to music. Think The Wreck Of The Edmund Fitzgerald done by someone with Asperger’s Syndrome. Apparently a true story, from Vancouver, 1958. I don’t know if that was Vancouver, B.C. or Vancouver, Washington. From the summer of 1962. 
The First Thing Ev’ry Morning (And The Last Thing Ev’ry Night) – An I-miss-you song, and another Dean Martin knock-off, even down to the vocal inflection in this case. From the summer of 1965, this was the last hit Dean would put on the pop chart for 11 years.
Sam Hill – Some country dude meets his girl every night for a bit of cha cha, and everyone’s a-flutter, wonderin’ “what in Sam Hill’s goin’ on.” What an innocent age it must have been.
P. T. 109 – Historical pop, right out of the Johnny Horton stylebook. The song was about the wartime adventures of John Kennedy, who was president when this song was a hit (spring, 1962). I bet the radio stations never played it again after November, ’63. 
To A Sleeping Beauty – A father-to-daughter recitation, and an unbearably hokey one. This was the B-side of A Cajun Queen and a hit in its own right, in the winter of 1962. I have a version by Jackie Gleason, and it’s no better.
The Farmer And The Lord – Done in the same style as the sleeping beauty song – that is Jimmy reciting the lyrics, with an angelic male chorus in the background, barely discernable instrumentation.
I Won’t Go Huntin’ With You Jake (But I’ll Go Chasin’ Wimmin) – Awesome. This is the most country of anything on this collection, its obvious parody status notwithstanding. I mean… this is a parody… right?

Dave Brubeck

The restaurant is built to look like a train station and it was the first time I was there though I’d walked by it enough times. The table was outside and we had a parasol. We had a salad between us that no one was eating and a Corona each.

Is that a clarinet on Take Five, she asked me. No I said. An alto sax I believe. Looks like a clarinet, I said, showing off. (I was wrong though; it’s a soprano sax that looks like a clarinet, straight.)

I will probably never see her again. It was the only evening we spent together, though we ate lunch together nearly every day. I shared music with her, random stuff. And so maybe she wanted me to know that she actually listened to it, that she was paying attention.

This is Dave Brubeck’s Greatest Hits. Brubeck was one of those unusual jazz artists who actually put records into the top 100 (3 in his case) so the concept of “Greatest Hits” isn’t that off.

When Brubeck died, recently, I IM’d her. He was part of our history.


Dave Brubeck:

Take Five – One of the most recognized jazz anthems, this was actually written by Brubeck sideman Paul Desmond, who plays the signature (alto) sax. Brubeck, as usual, plays piano. The song reached number 25 on Billboard in the fall of 1961. 
I’m In A Dancing Mood
In Your Own Sweet Way
Camptown Races – Jazz version…
Trolley Song – Judy Garland did this, but it sounded different.
It’s A Raggy Waltz
Bossa Nova, U.S.A. – Not to let Stan Getz outdo anyone. From the winter of 1963. 
Unsquare Dance – How cool would it have been to have heard this on top 40 radio? From the winter of 1961 / 1962. 
Blue Rondo A La Turk – Mozart.
Theme From “Mr. Broadway”
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