Monday, October 8, 2012

Some Happy Songs #3

This is the third in a series of posts to feature happy songs, and it is more annotated than the first two.  Although limiting these happy-playlists to ten songs, I have added four more here (#s 5, 6, 9, 13) for History's sake.

1. "Wonderful World" (1960), by Sam Cooke: One of the great songs of the 20th century, it was #373 in the 2004 listing of Rolling Stone magazine's 500 Greatest Songs Of All Time.  But the subsequent 2010 listing shows it losing ground, now being #382.  It could have been worse: The Kinks' “Lola" (1970), previously #422, fell off the list entirely, as did Little Richard's "Keep A Knockin’" (1957), previously #442, and Fleetwood Mac's “Rhiannon" (1975), previously #488.

2. "The World Is What You Make It" (1995/2002), by Paul Brady.

3. "Have You Seen Her Face" (2010), by Chris Hillman & Herb Pedersen: A live version of a song written by Hillman, which first appeared on the Byrds' 1967 album Younger Than Yesterday.  His friend and fellow country-rock pioneer Herb Pedersen joins him here at a charity fundraiser in Nipomo, California.  In his introduction to the song, Hillman comes across as a nice guy.  (See Los Angeles Times for interesting write-up.)

1976 Album Cover by R. Crumb
4. "Make My Cot Where The Cot-Cot-Cotton Grows" (1976/1993), by R.Crumb: Crumb is better known as the transgressive artist, illustrator, cartoonist who did the art work for Cheap Thrills, the 1968 album by Big Brother & The Holding Company (and lead singer Janis Joplin), and who created the iconic underground comix figure, Mr. Natural.

Mr. Natural
Some may recall how widespread Mr. Natural's image and "Keep On Truckin'" adage were in the 1970s. That phrase first appeared in a mid-1930s Blind Boy Fuller song, "Truckin' My Blues Away,” but acquired a truckin' momentum of its own via Mr. Crumb's adaptation and artwork.

Keep On Truckin' (Zap Comix No. 1, 1968)
5. "Truckin' My Blues Away" (c.1935-36), by Blind Boy Fuller: The source song for R. Crumb's popularization of "Keep On Truckin’." Crumb also did the album cover for a 1978 compilation of Fuller's music titled Truckin' My Blues Away.

6. "Make My Cot Where The Cot-Cot-Cotton Grows" (1927/2008), by Red Nichols' Stompers : The original 1927 version, and another source for R. Crumb.  Red Nichols recorded with bands which went through many name changes despite similar personnel.  As Red Nichols' Stompers, they recorded "Make My Cot Where The Cot-Cot-Cotton Grows" for the Victor label, whereas they were the Arkansas Travelers on the Okeh label, and Red Nichols & His Five Pennies on Brunswick Records, etc. The Victor Encyclopedic Discography lists the horn-heavy instrumentation on “Make My Cot ..." as 4 saxophones, 2 cornets, 2 trumpets, tuba, banjo, piano, and traps.  (Curious about "traps" or the role of the trap-drummer in early jazz?  Click here, type "ragtime and early jazz” in search window, and access "Changing Styles in Light Music,” Appendix 3 in Percussion Instruments and Their History [1970/2005], by James Blades.)

7. "Lucky Day" (1974), by Jonathan Edwards.

8. "If You Wanna Be Happy" (1963), by Jimmy Soul.

Roaring Lion
9. "Ugly Woman" (1934), by Roaring Lion: This song is the ancestor of "If You Wanna Be Happy.”  Roaring Lion was a calypso singer from Trinidad; he wrote this song as well as "Mary Ann," a mid-20th century calypso widely performed at the time.

10. "I Wonder Why" (1958), by Dion & The Belmonts: The first big hit by Dion DiMucci, Carlo Mastrangelo (of that bass-baritone intro), Fred Milano, and Angelo D'Aleo –– to be followed in 1959 by a bigger hit, “A Teenager In Love.”

Dion & The Belmonts were a prime example of Italian American doo-wop, and in early 1959 they nearly lost their lead singer.  Traveling with the Winter Party tour, DiMucci turned down an offer to fly by charter from Clear Lake, Iowa to Fargo, North Dakota for the next concert in Moorhead, Minnesota.  He hadn't wanted to spend the $36.00 for the fare and opted for the tour bus.  Then in the early morning of February 3, 1959, that plane crashed in a snowstorm, killing all on board: pilot Roger Peterson, and passengers Buddy Holly, Richie Valens, The Big Bopper  (J. P. Richardson).

Nor was Dion the only one spared.  Country singer Waylon Jennings was to have been on the plane. Newly hired as Holly's bass player, he had given up his seat to the flu-stricken Richardson.  And Wikipedia notes:

    When Holly learned that Jennings wasn't going to fly,
    he said in jest, "Well, I hope your ol' bus freezes up."
    Jennings responded, also in jest, "Well, I hope your ol'
    plane crashes," a humor-driven but ill-considered
    response that haunted Jennings for the rest of his life.

11. "Just One Look" (1963), by Doris Troy.

12. "I Will Move On Up A Little Higher" (1954), by Mahalia Jackson: This is a re-recording of a song Jackson first recorded in 1947 as “Move On Up A Little Higher.”  That 1947 song sold eight million copies.

13. "Move On Up A Little Higher" (1947), by Mahalia Jackson: And here it is, the original.

14. "Hilda's Cabinet Band" (1990), by The Watersons.  The song satirizes the Conservative cabinet of Margaret Thatcher (1925 – 2013), British Prime Minister from 1979 to 1990.  Thatcher’s middle name was Hilda.

1 comment :

Anonymous said...


Comments are appreciated: