Saturday, May 24, 2008

Bob's Record Collection

It's that time of year again. No, not Memorial Day. It's Bob Dylan's birthday. I've had a few people ask me, "What's up with all the Bob Dylan?" Well, he is Bob Dylan, our greatest living songwriter. Even well into his sixties he continues to write songs as good as anyone else. In fact, he may he just be hitting his stride. The last three records contain some of his best songs. Anyway, trying to explain to someone "What's so good about Bob Dylan?" is like trying to explain "What's so good about the pyramids?" My friend Mike says we don't even know how good he is. What he means, is that after we're all dead and gone, people are still gonna be listening to Bob Dylan and talking about his songs - just like someone's gonna be reciting Hamlet's soliloquy somewhere in some production in some park 500 years after the fact. We are not going to listen to Bob Dylan's songs today, rather we're gonna listen to the songs he liked enough to record or make a pass at, at some studio session or in a basement with other like minded souls. In an early interview Dylan referred to himself as "a song and dance man." The best interpretors are often the best songwriters, and the best artists are often the craftiest thieves.

Happy Birthday Bob.


"Big River" mp3
by Johnny Cash and The Tennessee Two, 1957.
available on The Complete Sun Recordings 1955-1958

"I Don't Hurt Anymore" mp3
by Hank Snow, 1954.
available on The Essential Hank Snow

"You Win Again" mp3
by Hank Williams, 1952.
available on 40 Greatest Hits

"Bring It To Jerome" mp3
by Bo Diddley, 1955.
available on I'm a Man: The Chess Masters, 1955-1958

"I'm In The Mood" mp3
by John Lee Hooker, 1951.
available on The Legendary Modern Recordings 1948-1954

"Big River" (Take 2) mp3
"I Don't Hurt Anymore" mp3
"You Win Again" mp3
"Bring It On Home" mp3
"I'm In The Mood For Love" mp3
by Bob Dylan and The Band, 1967.
available on The Genuine Basement Tapes

"Lost Highway" mp3
by Hank Williams, 1949.
available on 40 Greatest Hits

"I Can't Get You Off Of My Mind" mp3
by Hank Williams, 1948.
available on Gold

"(I Heard That) Lonesome Whistle" mp3
by Hank Williams, 1951.
available on 40 Greatest Hits

"Lost Highway" mp3
by Bob Dylan, 1965.
with Joan Baez - Hotel Room Recording
available on 1965 Revisited

"I Can't Get You Off Of My Mind" mp3
by Bob Dylan, 2001
available on Timeless: Hank Williams Tribute

"(I Heard That) Lonesome Whistle" mp3
by Bob Dylan,1963.
available on The Freewheelin' Bob Dylan Outtakes

"Blue Yodel" mp3
by Jimmie Rodgers, 1927.
available on Recordings 1927-1933

"Miss The Mississippi" mp3
by Jimmie Rodgers, 1932.
available on Recordings 1927-1933

"Matchbox" mp3
by Carl Perkins, 1957.
available on Original Sun Greatest Hits

"Step It Up And Go" mp3
by Blind Boy Fuller, 1940.
available on Blind Boy Fuller, Vol. 2

"Blue Yodel" mp3
by Bob Dylan and Johnny Cash, 1969.
available on The Dylan-Cash Sessions

"Miss The Mississippi" mp3
by Bob Dylan, 1992.
available on Fourth Time Around: Genuine Bootleg Series Vol. 4

"Matchbox" mp3
by Bob Dylan, 1969.
w/ George Harrison
available on Almost Went To See Elvis

"Step It Up And Go" mp3
by Bob Dylan, 1992.
available on Good as I Been to You

This post was removed from Blogger without any warning on January 13, 2009 - nearly eight months after it was posted - under the Digital Music Copyright Act. They have failed to inform me which tracks are in question, so I've reposted it. It was one the most popular posts here ever, and one of my personal favorites. All of the mp3 links are no longer active, and I am reposting it only to maintain continuity and for viewing purposes.

Tuesday, May 20, 2008

The Melody Haunts My Reverie

by Jay Sherman-Godfrey

On October 31, 1927, a group of former Indiana University fraternity brothers and remnants of the recently-defunct Jean Goldkette Orchestra convened at the offices of the Gennett Recording Company in Richmond, Indiana to cut a few sides. The ringleader was Hoagland Howard "Hoagy" Carmichael, a newly-minted lawyer, semi-professional piano player, and fledgling songwriter. He was at a crossroads of sorts, just back from a half-hearted attempt at practicing law full time in Florida and now residing with his parents in Indianapolis. He was a little deflated at having slunk back home, and at 28, feeling long in the tooth for a fresh start, he was determined to make another go at music.

The Halloween date was apropos, because a haunting was involved. Not the ghostly kind, mind you. The haunter was an odd little tune. It had first crept into his mind some time ago, and nestled there, nagging at him. It was as much a feeling as a tune, but he knew it was special, and so he nurtured and refined it on any nearby piano whenever he had a moment or two. And now, even though it still felt half finished, he coaxed together a band to cut a rather tentative version that nonetheless showed the promise of a greatness. When quizzed by one of the musicians for a title, Carmichael replied, “Just call it Stardust.” Years later, Carmichael would craft a predictable, Hollywood-buffed story for the origins of "Star Dust" (the title was changed to two words in 1929 when the lyric was added). In it, he received the tune whole-hog from the heavens one steamy summer night, lovelorn, gazing into the sky from atop the campus spooning wall. In truth, the song was the creation of four men (three directly, one in spirit), and transformed into the song we know today by a keen-eared bandleader and fast-rising jazz singer from Tacoma, Washington by the name of Crosby.

In May 1928, Carmichael and His Collegians were back in the studio and took another crack at Stardust (sadly, the recording does not survive). This time it had a lyric, and Star Dust’s peculiar life as a song about a song (indeed about itself) began with Hoagy’s self-penned opening line, “Stardust melody, you hold a charm throughout the years.” I’d like to imagine the power of the tune itself suggested this. "I've been up here in your head so long, Hoagy, what else could I be about?" And a powerful tune it was. Wally Wilson, a saxophonist and fellow IU alum, couldn’t get it out of his head either. He took the Stardust chart with him to med school at USC. The SoCal kids dug it hard, and he found himself playing it half a dozen times at dances by request. Awakened one one night by a nightmare, he jotted down a lyric. His woozy scribblings included these now familiar lines: “I sometimes wonder why I spend my time dreaming of a song. A melody haunts my reverie.”

By 1929, Hoagy was getting established in New York working for publisher Ralph Peer. The original Gennett side hadn't sold much, but it was widely admired by musicians and had begun to spread. Sensing further commercial potential, Peer commissioned veteran Tin Pan Alley lyricist Mitchell Parrish ("Deep Purple," "Sophisticated Lady," "Sleigh Ride," among others) for a proper lyric. He took Hoagy's moonlight-on-campus setting and song-about-a-song concept, kept Wilson’s key lines, and ran with it. He artfully massaged Wilson’s refrain-opening line, extending the pickup from one beat to three, creating the instantly recognizable, rising three-note figure that has become as crucial to the song as Hoagy's rangy, rhythmically supple tune. “Sometimes I wonder why I spend the lonely nights dreaming of a song,” has got to be among the greatest opening lines in pop music. It distills not only the bittersweet detritus of love lost, but also the universal, haunted condition of the songwriter. Indeed, we ask ourselves this question as the notes simultaneously cloud and focus the mind, sending us to our instruments, like Carmichael over those two searching years, to try in vain to purge them through our fingers and out to the world.

In 1930, bandleader Isham Jones made the now-seemingly-obvious choice of refiguring Star Dust as a ballad and took it to #1. Picking up on Jones, Bing Crosby cut the benchmark vocal version the song the next year, amping up the melodrama and taking it another step further from its hot-jazz roots. Swing was in the wind, and the hot and sweet bands would soon be a memory, but "Star Dust" would last.

As Hoagy would tell you, the fourth mind behind Star Dust was Bix Beiderbecke, his close friend and musical idol. And as trumpeter Richard Suldhalter observes in his book Stardust Melody: The Life and Music of Hoagy Carmichael, "Star Dust" is infused with Bix’s structural approach to melody and his musical spirit. In many ways, "Star Dust" could be a transcribed Bix solo. Perhaps that's where the haunting fragment was born. Several years in decline, Bix would die at 28 in Sunnyside, Queens on August 6, 1931, just 13 days before an ascendant Crosby would record his definitive version a few miles away in midtown Manhattan, certifying Carmichael as a bona fide hit songwriter. "Star Dust" was on her own now, but the ghost of Bix would haunt Hoagy for the rest of his life.


"Star Dust" mp3
by Hoagy Carmichael, 1942.
available on Stardust Melody

"Hong Kong Blues" mp3
by Hoagy Carmichael, 1942.
available on Stardust Melody

Here's Hoagy covering himself in 1942, fifteen years on. He lops off the introductory verse – just a short intro and then straight into the refrain, which has become customary. He takes the author's liberty with the melody and puts some blues back into it, channeling Bix for the whistling chorus. The flipside, "Hong Kong Blues" is another beautifully eccentric Carmichael classic.

"Stardust" mp3
by Carmichael’s Collegians, 1927.
(Original Gennett Recording)
available on The First of the Singer Songwriters: Key Cuts 1924-1946

The first tentative take on "Stardust."
Note: Hoagy's modernistic piano chorus.

"Star Dust" mp3
by Isham Jones and His Orchestra, 1930.
available on Swingin' Down the Lane

"Star Dust" mp3
by Bing Crosby with Victor Young and his Orchestra, 1931.
available on The Definitive Collection


"Singing the Blues" mp3
by Frankie Trambauer and his Orchestra, 1927.
featuring Bix Beiderbecke
available on Bix Beiderbecke, Vol. 1: Singin' the Blues

You can hear echoes of Bix's solo here in "Star Dust."

"Hong Kong Blues" mp3
by Laura Cantrell, 2002.
Peel Session
BBC Radio

This arrangement is one Laura, Nancy Lynn Howell, and Robin Goldwasser performed as the Watchbirds. Robin taught it to me when we both played with Laura. That's Jon Graboff counting it in and playing mandolin, Francis MacDonald on drums, Ivor Ottley on fiddle. I can't for the life of me remember the bass player's name. We made this for a Peel session in London in Nov. 2002 at the BBC's Maida Vale studios.


Stardust Melody: The Life and Music of Hoagy Carmichael
by Richard Sudhalter
Oxford University Press © 2002

more on Hoagy Carmichael HERE

Sunday, May 18, 2008

Joe Turner

Today is Joe Turner's birthday. He would've been 97.
Brooks Robinson, Bertrand Russell, and yours truly were also born on May 18th. So, in celebration of this cosmic moment - as we say here in Fluville - back to the shellac.


"Honey Hush" mp3
by Joe Turner, 1953.
with Lee Allen and Fats Domino
available on Joe Turner/Rockin' the Blues

"Crawdad Hole" mp3
by Joe Turner, 1953.
with Lee Allen and Fats Domino
available on Joe Turner/Rockin' the Blues

"Trouble In Mind" mp3
by Joe Turner, 1957.
available on Joe Turner/Rockin' the Blues

"I Need A Girl" mp3
by Joe Turner, 1957.
available on Joe Turner/Rockin' the Blues


two additional Joe Turner tracks re-posted HERE

Thursday, May 15, 2008



"Campaigner" mp3
by Neil Young, 1976.
available on Decade

photograph © Ted Barron, 2008.

Wednesday, May 14, 2008


Okay. It seems the "controversy" over Will's Chris Bell post has died down. So until I can find the time to do a proper post with records and such, I offer you this supplementary listening material from the excellent and newly released, Thank You Friends: The Ardent Records Story.


"Miss Eleana" mp3
by Sid Selvidge, 1969.
available on Thank You Friends: The Ardent Records Story

"Lovely Day" mp3
(early demo version of "Stroke It Noel")
by Alex Chilton, 1974.
available on Thank You Friends: The Ardent Records Story

"Downs" mp3
(demo: pre-marimba)
by Alex Chilton, 1974.
available on Thank You Friends: The Ardent Records Story

"Love You (All Day Long)" mp3
(alternate mix)
by Tommy Hoehn, 1975.
available on Thank You Friends: The Ardent Records Story

top image: William Eggleston Journal, 1978.
© Eggleston Artist Trust

Sunday, May 11, 2008

Happy Mama's Day


"Mama, You Been On My Mind"
by Bob Dylan, 1964.
Publishing Demo
available on The Witmark Years

"Mama, You Been On My Mind" mp3
by The Beatles, 1969.
George Harrison from Let It Be sessions
available on Thirty Days

"Mama, You Been On My Mind" mp3
by Bob Dylan, 1970.
w/ George Harrison
available on Almost Went To See Elvis

photo: Kit and Lincoln, Siena, Italy, 1999. © Ted Barron

Tuesday, May 6, 2008

French Symbolist Rock! (from Cleveland)

Nevertheless, there it was, land with its noises, its passions,

all its wares and its festivities; it was a dazzling, a magnificent

land full of promises, and from which a mysterious perfume of

musk and roses came drifting out to us, like an amorous
the myriad music of life.

Charles Baudelaire
from Paris Spleen, 1869.


"Baudelaire" mp3
by Peter Laughner, 1975.
available on Take the Guitar Player for a Ride
out of print

Saturday, May 3, 2008

It Takes A Lot To Laugh, It Takes The MTA To Make You Cry

Here's a few songs for the New Yorkers among us to listen to on your ipod while you are cursing the MTA this weekend.


"Subway Train" mp3
by The New York Dolls, 1973.
available on New York Dolls

"Coney Island Steeplechase" mp3
by The Velvet Underground, 1969.
available on Another View

"Bled White" mp3
by Elliot Smith, 1998.
available on XO

"Downtown Train" mp3
by Tom Waits, 1985.
available on Rain Dogs

" 'A' Train Lady" mp3
by Mink DeVille, 1978.
available on Cabretta/Return to Magenta

"New York City Serenade" (no strings) mp3
by Bruce Springsteen, 1973.
available on The Geunine Tracks

"It Take A Lot To Laugh, It Takes A Train To Cry" mp3
By Bob Dylan, 1965.
Newport Folk Festival

all photos: © Ted Barron, 2008.