112 Words About The Holidays (Writers Workshop)

I can’t believe that next Thursday will be Thanksgiving. It seems like the year has sped by. We have a casual attitude toward the holidays. For example, we don’t do a turkey on Thanksgiving, because we have turkey a few times the year. We’ll probably have ribs and side dishes, mashed potatoes for Mary, mac & cheese for me. Oh, and pie. We don’t decorate the house for Christmas because of the cats. We’d just as soon drive around the neighborhood and look at everyone else’s Bacchanalias. We love the week between Christmas and New Year’s, because it’s quiet. We have pizza rolls on New Year’s Eve. Neither one of us remembers why.

Wow, that was quick…

BATTLE OF THE BANDS: “Poinciana” Again

I know, “Didn’t you just do ‘Poinciana’?” Well, yeah, I did, and ended up with a lopsided result. When I saw that The Four Freshmen were running away with it and some of the negative comments Vulfpeck received, I realized it was a terrible miscalculation on my part. So, I’m going to choose another challenger for The Four Freshmen and run the battle again. OK? OK!

First, here’s The Four Freshmen’s version. This is the 1953 single, so it’ll sound a little different from the version I used in the first battle.

Their challenger this time is Manhattan Transfer. They recorded this for their 1976 album Coming Out.

So, if you’d be so kind, listen to the two covers of the song, decide which you prefer, and vote for it in the comments below. If you’d like, I’d be interested to know why you chose that one, but it’s not important. Then, take a quick hop over to Stephen’s blog and vote in the battle I’m sure you’ll find there. He has a list of the other BotBsters in his right-hand column, and I’m sure they’d be just as happy if you’d stop at their blogs and vote in their battles, too. Remember, you don’t need to have a Battle of the Bands on your blog to vote. (You don’t even have to have a blog to vote.)

I’ll announce the winner of this battle next Wednesday, November 21, because Thursday is Thanksgiving and Friday is Black Friday and I’m sure you’ll all be busy celebrating the holiday. Be sure to get your vote to me before then.

The lines are now open. Good luck to The Four Freshmen and Manhattan Transfer!

Two For Tuesday: Grover Washington, Jr.

Saxophonist Grover Washington, Jr. is considered another smooth jazz pioneer. His career was relatively short, from 1970 until his untimely death at 56 in 1999, but he created a lot of great music in that short span of time.

Washington’s fourth album, 1975’s Mister Magic, was his breakthrough. It reached #10 on the Hot 200 album chart and #1 on the Jazz Album and R&B Album charts. The title track reached #16 on the R&B chart and #54 on the Hot 100.

“Just The Two Of Us” reached #2 on the Hot 100 and #3 on the R&B chart in 1981. From his 1980 Winelight album, it was sung by Bill Withers and won the Grammy for Best R&B Song in 1981.

Washington had a preference for black nickel-plated saxophones made by Julius Keilworth. He appeared on The CBS Morning Show in December 1999, and while waiting in the green room afterwards, suffered a massive heart attack and died. He left a considerable body of work behind.

Grover Washington, Jr., your Two for Tuesday, November 13, 2018.

Monday’s Music Moves Me: Some ’60’s Songs I Like

Freebie week, so I chose some not-quite-as-frequently played songs from the ’60’s I like. There are a dozen here, but they’re short.

  1. Hedgehoppers Anonymous, “It’s Good News Week” Hedgehoppers Anonymous was a British folk-rock band. This was written by Jonathan King, who intended it as a protest song against the media’s obsession with bad news. It was a #5 in the UK on Decca, and a #48 in the US on Parrot in 1964. The line “Lots of blood in Asia now, they’ve butchered off the sacred cow, they’ve got a lot to eat” was changed in the British version of the song to “families shake the need for gold by stimulating birth control, we’re wanting less to eat.”
  2. Keith, “98.6” James Barry Keefer, a/k/a Keith, was and evidently still is a singer from Philadelphia. This song was written by Tony Powers and James Fischoff and reached #7 in the US and #24 in the UK. This was his biggest hit, but not his only Top 40 song.
  3. The Box Tops, “Neon Rainbow” The Box Tops were a blue-eyed soul band from Memphis that had two Top 10 hits, “The Letter” (#1 in 1967) and “Cry Like A Baby (#2 in 1968). This song came in between them, and failed to reach the Top 40. A shame, too, becaue I thought it was a great song.
  4. Nancy Sinatra, “Sugar Town” I remember my dad went around singing this (or at least the refrain), thinking the name was “Sugar Fly.” It’s one of the fonder memories I have of my dad. Anyway, Nancy Sinatra, Frank’s daughter (who was mighty chagrined that his daughter resorted to cheesecake album jackets to sell records), had a Top 10 hit with this (#5 on the Hot 100 and #1 on the Adult Contemporary chart) in 1966.
  5. Jimmy Gilmer & The Fireballs, “Sugar Shack” The Fireballs started as an instrumental band in the late ’50’s and had a couple of minor hits before Jimmy Gilmer joined on piano and vocals. They took this to #1 in 1963, and had another hit in 1967 with “Bottle Of Wine” (#9).
  6. Oliver, “Jean” I liked this song because well, I had my eyes on a girl named Jean (actually Jeanne) at the time (I was what, 13?). From the movie The Prime of Miss Jean Brodie, it was written by Rod McKuen (who later wrote “Seasons In The Sun”) and sung by Oliver, who had had a #3 with “Good Morning, Starshine” earlier that year. This did even better, reaching #2.
  7. Kyu Sakamoto, “Sukiyaki” This song has nothing whatsoever to do with food. Its actual name is “Ue O Muite Arokou” (“I Look Up As I Walk”), but the record company, probably thinking “they’re gonna go in and ask for ‘oo ee oo ah ah ting tang walla walla bing bang’,” chose to rename it “Sukiyaki.” The words are listed in the video, and I think you’ll agree they’re quite lovely. It peaked at #1 in 1963.
  8. Terry Stafford, “Suspicion” Doc Pomus and Mort Shuman wrote this for Elvis, but Terry Stafford, who sounds a lot like Elvis, recorded it and reached #3 nationally, breaking the death grip The Beatles held on the Top 5 in April and May 1964. It peaked at #2 and #4, respectively, on LA’s Top 40 stations, KRLA and KFWB.
  9. Lou Christie, “Rhapsody In The Rain” A song that was banned from a lot of stations because of the controversial nature of the lyrics, this nevertheless reached #16 on the Hot 100 and #10 in Canada in 1966.
  10. The Statler Brothers, “Flowers On The Wall” Tomorrow is Kip’s birthday (happy birthday, Kip!), and I know he likes this song. “Playing solitaire ’til dawn with a deck of 51” and “smokin’ cigarettes and watching Captain Kangaroo” could describe my summer one year. Anyway, this reached #2 on the Hot Country Singles chart and #4 on the Hot 100 in 1966.
  11. The Hombres, “Let It All Hang Out” This 1967 song was the title track for The Hombres’ one and only album. It was a “a deadpan, southern-fried parody” of Bob Dylan’s “Subterranean Homesick Blues,” according to AllMusic’s Stewart Mason. Trivia time: The Box Tops’ Bill Cunningham and The Hombres’ B. B. Cunningham were brothers. During the week of October 20-27, 1967, “The Letter” and “Let It All Hang Out” were #1 and #2 on the WLS Silver Dollar Survey. More trivia: The way the song starts (“A preachment, dear friends, you are about to receive on John Barleycorn, nicotine and the temptations of Eve”) is the same way the 1947 song “Cigareets, Whuskey and Wild Women” starts.
  12. Slim Harpo, “Baby Scratch My Back” This 1966 hit was blues singer Slim Harpo’s attempy at crossing over from the R&B chart to the pop chart, and in addition to reaching #1 on the R&B chart, he reached #16 on the Hot 100.

And that’s Monday’s Music Moves Me for November 12, 2018.

Monday’s Music Moves Me is sponsored by X-Mas Dolly, Callie, Cathy, Alana, Michelle and Stacy, so be sure and visit them, where you can also find the Linky for the other participants.