Sunday, March 4, 2018

1000 SONGS - DAY 369 SONG #400

DAY 400: Allons Danser, Colinda!

"Colinda" is a relatively well known Cajun-Song, at least for being part of the soundtrack of the movie "The Big Easy" in a more or less Reggae-ized version by Zachary Richard. I do like the version by the Tail Gators but could not find it on the internet (but I have it at home, on vinyl). The song was made popular by the 1962 version of Rod Bernard, with its mix of French (Cajun) and English lyrics. There has been a recording of the song with English lyrics only, by Jimmy Davis, the man who allegedly wrote "You are my Sunshine", two-times Governor of Louisiana.
Originally, this seems to have been a song with French lyrics. The song is about a girl called "Colinda", the best one on the Bayou. Nevertheless, as scholarship has shown, it has formerly been a song about "Calinda", a dance of Afro-Americans in Haiti and elsewhere. So, initially, "Allons danser Colinda" has meant "Let us dance the Calinda" and not "Let us dance, Colinda". It has been "poped" later to the one and only theme of "boy and girl".

If you want to know more about that, read the paper:
Shane Bernard and Julia Girouard,  "Colinda": Mysterious Origins of a Cajun Folksong. In: Journal of Folklore Research, Vol. 29, [1992], 37-52.

Here is the version by the Lawtell Playboys, true Cajun (I prefer that one), and - for the sake of inclusiveness (it doesn't match up to the Lawtell Playboys' version in any way) the one by Rod Bernard, the "swamp-pop" version, or so…

Sunday, February 25, 2018

1000 SONGS DAY 368 - SONG #399


In the northern part of Upper and Lower Austria, there is a not too benevolent saying: „a Czech is either a thief or a musician“. The first prejudice being the usual prejudice of people living at the border held on people on the other side of the border, we can (and have to) ignore it.  The later one is not so much a prejudice, but has a sound basis in the abilities of our friends from Moravia and Bohemia. Many of them had to immigrate to the Americas in those harden times, when they were severely challenged by bad labour conditions, draught, economic downfall and Austrian politics. Some of them went to the region now known as Texas. They took their popular music with them and “syncretised” it with other forms of popular music available. Trikont records did a 3 volumes edition of songs from this musical tradition. Here are three tracks from Vol. 1.

First one is Corn Cockle Polka by Vrazels & Majecks & Bobby Jones Czech Band

Next one is: Oh Susanna Schottische by Ray Baca and His Orchestra

Third one: Krasna America by Adolph Hofner

Monday, February 19, 2018

1000 SONGS DAY 367 - SONG # 398


On p. 153 of their book "Spiritual Churches in New Orleans" (Knoxville 1991), Claude F. Jacobs and Andrew J. Kaslow mention that in healing services held in those churches, "popular gospel songs [...] are among the most powerful conveyors" of the idea, that these churches are capable of "solving people's problems". One of the gospel songs they mention in this context is "Jesus on the mainline", a song explaining that whatever trouble one might face, trust in Jesus will solve all the problems - by a simple act of faith. As I read that yesterday evening, some fine versions of this gospel song in a style you could more or less call "blues" came to my mind.
First one featured here is by Mississippi Fred McDowell, from his 1969 album I Do Not Play No Rock 'n' Roll. One version of the song is part of Ry Cooder's 1974 album Paradise and Lunch. As Ry has done a lot of live-versions of that song, here is a very fine one, with Eldridge King, Terry Evans and Bobby King; finally, among all those other versions available, I chose the one by the Staple Singers, as arranged by Pop Staples - it is the one version that took the song out of church and into popular music.

Monday, February 12, 2018

1000 SONGS DAY 366 - SONG # 397


Among the interesting things on the Mardi Gras in New Orleans, since the olden times and not just with respect to today's tourists' expectations are those Indian masks - African-Americans that dress up as native Americans for the occasion. 
As Carolyn Morrow Long has it in her book on Marie Laveau (Gainesville 2006, 131f.), there was a similar masquerade at St. John's  Eve ceremonials, so that one could find an "interesting link between the dances performed at St. John's Eve and the practices of today's 'Mardi Gras Indian' gangs. The 'Indians' first appeared during carnival around 1885". There is a lot of music referencing the Mardi Gras in New Orleans, by Professor Longhair, Dr John and others. And there is that wonderful album by The Wild Tchoupitoulas, named after a group of those Mardi Gras Indians, led by George "Big Chief Jolly" Landry. He did that one record with the help of some very fine musicians from the region, among them his nephews as vocalists, who later came to fame as the "Neville Brothers". The rest was mostly done by members of "The Meters". Here are two songs:

Big Chief Got a Golden Crown

Hey Hey (Indians Comin')

Friday, October 27, 2017

1000 SONGS- DAY 365 SONG 396

DAY 365: One really GREAT cover-version 

So, in a way, I have finished the first year in my 1000 songs challenge, as this is post #365, altough there are more songs than days in this here blog.
Today I stick to one song in two versions. The good cover-versions of a song bring out convincingly something that is in the song that nobody would have expected to be in it. In my opinion, The Leftover Cuties do such covers like nearly nobody else (o.k., Nick Cave is also good at it, but his is another genre).
I am aware of the fact that not everybody loves Coldplay, but their early work still remains against all the disputes on their overall merits. And as far as I am concerned, “Parachute” is still an album worth listening to. One of the fine songs on it undoubtedly is “Trouble”, even if you think, that this song is somewhat whimsical. To me, Leftover Cuties took that whimsicalness out of the song and made it a truly beautiful one.

Here is their version:

And here is the original one:

Friday, September 1, 2017

1000 SONGS - DAY 364 SONG # 395

DAY 364: A Woman's Blues

Lizzie Douglas, known as Memphis Minnie, was born in Algiers, Louisiana, as one of 13 kids to her parents. She was aged 76 when she died in 1973. One of the great female Blues-Singers, she is remembered as one exemplary self-confident woman who is said to have chewed tobacco all the time (even when performing). It seems to me, that the Doctor Doctor Blues has something to do with her addiction to tobacco (but, as far as I understand, booze is also rendered here):

Lucinda Williams, one of the greatest female musicians of our time, has somewhat brought Minnie back to limelight in our days, as she has recorded a beautiful version of her wonderful song "Nothing in Rambling". Minnie's version and the one done by Lucinda, here they are:

Sunday, May 14, 2017

1000 SONGS: DAY 363 SONG # 394

DAY 363: The Blues 

"Another Man Done Gone" is a traditional southern blues in call and response style about a man who escaped a "chain gang". It was first recorded by US-American ethnomusicologist Alan Lomax in 1940, in the a cappella version rendered by Vera Hall. Vera Hall came to be known to a wider audience at the end of the 20th century because a man who calls himself "Moby" featured her version of "Trouble so Hard" in one of his recordings (mixed it in, in some way or another). The song in question, about the man done gone has a slight change in the lyrics in the later versions, as Vera sings "he killed another man" and in later versions, this is mostly rendered as "they killed another man". I am not going to indulge in a theory of that circumstance. I just give a few renderings of that often recorded song. Naturally, I start with Vera Hall. Then, there is the only true call and response version done by the master himself, the great Johnny Cash, with Anita Carter in response (allegedly the one person of the Carter family with the most beautiful voice). Then there is the version of the Carolina Chocolate Drops to show that one could do this also with harmony singing. Last, not least, the version of Odetta that initially made this song known to a wider public. I wonder why Nick Cave never did a version of that song (if Johnny could do, ever other baritone in the world should …)

Friday, February 10, 2017

1000 SONGS - DAY 362 SONG # 393

DAY 362:  Preaching the Blues

Gonna be a Baptist Preacher, so I don't have to work

Jeffrey Lee Pierce (1958 - 1996) was one of my musical heroes in the 80ies and 90ies and I still very much appreciate his music, as recorded and performed with the legendary Gun Club in various line-ups. Although I tend to think of Mother Juno as his masterpiece (there has to be an entry on that somewhere on this here blog), there is no one single album (ha!) by The Gun Club I would not like. For example, their first  album, called "The Fire of Love". I own a vinyl copy of it, on whose sleeve it is printed, that copyright is 1981. The line-up is Ward Dotson (who later started the Pontiac Brothers) on guitar and slide guitar, Jeffrey Lee on vocals and slide guitar, Bob Ritter on bass and Terry Graham on drums. There is many a fine song featured on that album ("Sex beat", "She's like heroin to me", "For the Love of Ivy [co-written by Kid Congo Powers]), and then there is "Preaching the Blues", credited to Robert Johnson (arr. by Pierce). Obviously, this song is heavily based upon the famous Robert Johnson song "Preachin' Blues"; nevertheless, in the lyrics, Jeffrey Lee brings in another blues classic of the same title, by Son House, and, he adds some of his own words.

Here is (1) The Gun Club (with lyrics), (2) Robert Johnson and (3) Son House.

[Robert Johnson]
I was up this morning, blues walking like a man
I was up this morning, blues walking like a man
Worried blues, give me your right hand

And the blues fell mama's child, tore me all upside down
Blues fell mama's child, tore me all upside down
Travel on ol' Jeffrey Lee, ya know, can't seem to turn him around

[Jeffrey Lee]
So, preach the blues
Preach the blues now

[Robert Johnson]

Blues, is low down shaking chill
Blues, is low down shaking chill
You ain't never had them, I don't believe you will

Blues is an achin' old heart disease
Blues is an achin' old heart disease
It's like consumption, baby, killing me by degrees

[Jeffrey Lee]

So, preach the blues
Preach the blues now

I had religion, Lord on this very day
I had religion, Lord on this very day
But the womens and the whiskey, they would not let me pray

[Son House]

Gonna get me religion, gonna join the Baptist church
Gonna get me religion, gonna join the Baptist church
Gonna be a Baptist preacher, so I don't have to work

Sunday, January 29, 2017

1000 SONGS - DAY 361 SONG # 392

DAY 361: An Americana Song

Since I came to know Willy Tea Taylor I am a fan of his music, as readers of this here blog might already know. Willy Tea is not only a gifted song writer and a fine musician in his own right, but also a member of an Americana-, Country- or whatever band, called "The Good Luck Thrift Store Outfit". Really fine music. There is only one objection to this band: wtf did you make up a band's name that nobody will be able to remember? 
On Willy Tea Taylor's homepage we can read about TGLTSO: "The Good Luck Thrift Store Outfit has been recording and performing original music since 2005. They have two successful record releases under their belts, and their third Album "Old Excuses" just released and getting rave reviews. The contagious enthusiasm of their live show, however, is what keeps their fans coming back to see them over and over again. Playing and selling out venues such as Slim's, Great American Music Hall, and The Independent in SF, as well as playing festivals like, The Strawberry Music Festival, and Kate Wolf Music Festival, and touring through several states consistently over the last few years, their fan-base continues to grow. Their choice instrumentation, original material, and strong cohesion on stage has left many spectators with the lasting impressions of both fine song-craft and a rare live-music experience." 

From their aforementioned 3rd album: One Yard 

Saturday, January 7, 2017

1000 SONGS - DAY 360 SONG # 391


"Cry to me" is widely known because of its inclusion in a movie called "Dirty Dancing". I never saw that film. I came to know the song by the version recorded in 1965 by the Rolling Stones with kind support by Jack Nitzsche. It was written by Bert Russell (Bertrand Russell Berns - he also wrote songs like "Under the Boardwalk", "Twist and Shout" and "Hang on Sloopy") and first recorded by Solomon Burke in 1962 (or 1961, sources differ). The Solomon Burke version was arranged by Klaus Ogerman from Germany. Some sources have it, that Ogerman wrote the song, and Berns arranged it. But normally, credits for songwriting are given to Russell on the records featuring the song. There are many versions of it, f.e. by The Pretty Things or Betty Harris (also arranged by Bert Berns).  Here is the "original" recording by Solomon Burke, the ultra-cool rendering by Professor Longhair from New Orleans and a very fine "Bayou-style" version by Marc Broussard featuring his father Ted Broussard on electric guitar. 

Solomon Burke:

Professor Longhair:

Marc Broussard and his Dad: