Rehearsing the Bridge

Monday morning, peeking through the bedroom blinds. Art Garfunkel and pianist Larry Knectal did 72 takes for the studio version of Paul Simon’s “Bridge Over Troubled Water,” the last of which eventually landed on the best-selling album. Above is an early version which has some different lyrics from the final version, and a lot less orchestral backing. While the lyrics in this version are a bit more filled with college-level angst, especially the cheesy “bedroom blinds” line, I like the simpler music arrangement a whole lot more, with less bombast than the released album version.

Thanks to YouTuber Simon and Garfunkel News

“Summer’s End” Again

I recently posted John Prine singing his song “Summer’s End.” I ran across this cover done by Brandi Carlile who has performed with Prine in the past, and I’ve been playing it non-stop all week, so I thought I’d share it with you. The purity of her voice makes a nice contrast to John Prine’s growl.

Thanks to YouTuber Tu Mouton

What Kind of Fool Am I?: Sammy Davis Jr.

Monday morning, Sammy does Newley. One thing about Sammy, he always delivered when it required a big finish.

I LOL’d when I realized that he undoes his tie as he turns his back to grab the stool. “Cultivated casualness,” is the term Steve Spill coined and recommends for performers.

Thanks to YouTuber JoeWellington

Fascinatin’ Rhythm: Eleanor Powell

And let’s end the year with this amazing clip of Eleanor Powell tap dancing. What she does, just from a percussion point of view, is incredible. I recently interviewed tap dancer Rusty Frank, a tap dance historian and preservationist, and a tap dancer herself, who maintains that it was the tap dancers who moved popular music forward with their taps. The innovative percussive rhythm steps of the tap dancers were picked up by the drummers, pianists and guitar players of the bands who in turn shaped the new ideas in music. Watch and listen to what Eleanor Powell does with this George Gershwin song from Lady Be Good. It’s a long way from “Tea for Two.”

Thanks to YouTuber Ms2doggies

Don’t Think Twice

Monday morning, Billy Strings.

Hokkkkaaaaay.

That feeling when I realize that any plan to learn guitar is totally redundant, and I should just let the adults do the job.

Best YouTube comment: “I can’t even play the radio as well as he can play guitar.”

More at Billy Strings

Sounds of Silence

Mr. Simon, 76 years old, in his last song at the last performance of his farewell tour 2018, Corona, Queens.

When Paul says, “Hello darkness, my old friend,” it’s totally believable.

Stay until the end. “Means more than you can know.”

Thas to YouTuber Josinho1989

Have Yourself A Very Merry Christmas

Monday morning, Carson McKee makes with the crooning, and Josh Turner futzes with his guitar, performing one of my favorite Christmas songs.

And here’s some cheery news. It seems the original lyrics to the song were much darker, but Judy Garland who sung it originally in Meet Me in St. Louis, asked that the lyrics to the song be made more upbeat. Songwriters Hugh Martin and Ralph Blane changed the lyrics to the more upbeat ones heard today.

But for fun, here are the old nasty lyrics. I like them better:

Have yourself a merry little Christmas.
It may be your last.
Next year we may all be living in the past.
Have yourself a merry little Christmas.
Pop that champagne cork.
Next year we may all be living in New York.
No good times like the olden days.
Happy golden days of yore.
Faithful friends who were dear to us.
Will be near to us no more.
But at least we all will be together.
If the Lord allows.
From now on, we’ll have to muddle through somehow.
So have yourself a merry little Christmas now.

See https://www.classicfm.com/discover-music/occasions/christmas/original-lyrics-have-yourself-a-merry-little-christmas-judy-garland/ for more about the change in lyrics.

More Josh and Carson at Josh Turner Guitar

Facing The Music

Nellie McKay stops the music to talk to her audience in a way you probably have not seen before. This was the first in-person concert she had done since the advent of the pandemic. It was an outdoor concert in a small field in a small town in Ohio. If you watch the video of the whole concert (see the link below), you realize that some have walked out, but by the end of the concert she wins the crowd back over again.

Warning: Not Suitable For Work

More at Paula Conklin

“From Sullen Earth Sings Hymns At Heavens Gate”

You’ll never hear a Shakespearean sonnet again in the same way. Folk singer Steve Earle makes a good case for Shakespeare being the Bob Dylan of his era—or vice versa.

Thanks to YouTuber PublicTheaterNY

Blessing Of The Crows: Louise Dessertine

Louise Dessertine, the French-Canadian singer/songwriter who I recently interviewed, sings a lovers-parting-ways song that surprises in several ways both lyrically and musically.

More at Louise Dessertine – Topic and Louise Dessertine

And more Louise Dessertine here:

Louise Dessertine – Home | Facebook

Louise Dessertine | ReverbNation

“Tried To Suffocate Us, But We Are Air”: Louise Dessertine

I was led to Montreal-based singer/songwriter activist Louise Dessertine by poet Steve Bloom who had sent me a YouTube video of her singing her extraordinary song, “Put Your Red Dress On.” I was able to contact her and we had a lovely Zoom talk. You can listen to our conversation as well as some of her wonderful songs by listening to the radio segment I put together, which was broadcast today on the Arts Express radio program on WBAI FM NYC and Pacifica radio affiliates across the country.

Click on the triangle or link above to listen.

More Louise Dessertine here:

Louise Dessertine – Home | Facebook

Louise Dessertine | ReverbNation

Peace Like A River

Leave it to Josh Turner to unearth this Paul Simon gem. Josh’s guitar playing and vocals are so inspiring that I didn’t pay attention to Paul Simon’s amazing lyrics until the third time around.

More at Josh Turner Guitar

Everything’s Good?

Tad McKitterick aka Sidewalk Driver with an anthem for 2020.

Why this doesn’t have a gazillion views on YouTube is a mystery to me.

More at Sidewalk Driver

And thanks to Viv Shalom for passing this on!

I Want To Be With You: Sammy Davis Jr.

Monday Morning, Mr. Wonderful, as Sammy Davis’s character in his first Broadway play was called.

If Sammy Davis were only a dancer he would be known as one of the greatest tap dancers of the 20th century.

If he were only a singer he would be known as one of the greatest male vocalists of the 20th century.

He was both.

Here he is with a song from his second musical, Golden Boy, from 1964, about an African-American boxer who falls in love with a white woman.

Paula Wayne who played Sammy’s lover, Lorna, in the show, said that when the time came during rehearsals for Sammy to kiss her, Sammy was very reluctant to do so. It was the first time an interracial kiss had happened on the Broadway stage; but Paula insisted that there would be no problem. She was soon to find out otherwise—the day after the show opened there were pickets in front of the theatre from white supremacists groups denouncing the show.

But the show ran for 500+ performances and had a great, under-appreciated score by Charles Strouse and Lee Adams—probably the best score they ever created.

Thanks to YouTuber varadero1839

Everybody Eats When They Come To My House: Cab Calloway

The heppest cat ever, Cab Calloway singing a post-Thanksgiving Song.

The song was written by Jeanne Burns who I could not find out too much about except that she was once briefly married to Broadway composer Harold Arlen’s younger brother, Jerry. In the thirties she was a big-band singer and also wrote songs for the Cotton Club revues.

Thanks to YouTuber UbiquitousLazar

Sittin’ On Top Of The World: Carson and Josh

Monday morning Josh Turner’s incredible finger-picking makes this Doc Watson classic a winner. And great singing by Carson McKee in a post-combing-hair world.

More at Josh Turner Guitar