Tuesday, March 30, 2010

It's Raining

It's raining today, a lot.  I find myself listening to rainy-day music, and drawn to two pieces.  The first is "Rainin' In My Heart" by Slim Harpo (1961), not to be confused with a 1959 Buddy Holly song with a similar title.

I first heard Harpo's song on one of Bob Dylan's Theme Time Radio Hour shows.  The song is easygoing and bluesy; Harpo's singing and harmonica are foreground while percussion is pleasantly muted.

Born James Moore in Louisiana, Harpo's name was an amalgam of his nickname Slim and a reference to the harmonica.  His first song, "I'm A King Bee," was recorded in 1957, then covered by the Rolling Stones on their 1964 debut album.  It was an obvious influence on Mick Jagger.

The second piece I am appreciating is "Rainy Morning," by Tom Kitching and Gren Bartley (2007).  As rainy-day music, this qualifies: a spare, melancholy tune with Kitching playing fiddle and Bartley on guitar.  Kitching and Bartley are English and have two fine albums, my favorite being Rushes (2007).

As can be the case, deeply satisfying music may lie outside popular-culture radar, in part because time marches on.  Slim Harpo is not widely remembered today, although "I'm A King Bee" is in the Grammy Hall of Fame.  (Worth noting is that John Belushi sang it on Saturday Night Live in 1976 while dressed in full bee regalia.)

Time has not marched on for Tom Kitching and Gren Bartley, it just wasn't paying sufficient attention.  Kitching and Bartley are currently listed # 79,714 on the music website Lala.  A bright red arrow sits beside that disheartening number and, as final insult, it points downward.

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