We’ve already said “goodbye”…

Initially recorded by Bessie Banks, wife of New York based soul singer Larry Banks, who wrote the song in 1962, “Go Now” hit Number 40 on the Cashbox R&B Singles Chart when record producers Leiber and Stoller released it in 1964.  Then an English beat group recorded it and the song hit Number One on the UK charts the following year and, with the British Invasion in full swing, Number Ten in the States.

 LISTEN TO TODAY’S SELECTION – Thursday 1 November

Formed in Birmingham, the group had patterned its name after a potential sponsor, the M & B Brewery, first going with the M B’s then the M B Five. When the sponsorship fell-through, and inspired by Duke Ellington’s “Mood Indigo,” they opted for a name that has stuck with them now for nearly half a century…the Moody Blues.

With more changes in personnel early-on than they had in band names, the Moody Blues had little success with later singles after “Go Now”, which was subsequently included on the group’s debut album, “The Magnificent Moodies”…until… they began to write their own material and released their next LP two years later, “Days of Future Passed” (the first concept album to be released by a British rock band) that included their next two hits “Tuesday Afternoon” and a little-remembered number (unless you’ve ever been to a high school dance) called “Nights in White Satin”. 

In the years that followed the still-active group would sell in excess of 70 million albums, but back in 1965 they needed all the help they could get to get themselves launched, including this short film clip that was used to promote what would be their one and only Number One single, its interesting visual style pre-dating a similar promotional video by Queen (for its “Bohemian Rhapsody” release) by a full decade.

Go Now

 We’ve already said ‘Goodbye’

Since you’ve got to go

Oh you had better go now

Go now, Go now, Go now

Before you see me cry

I don’t want you to tell me

Just what you intend to do now

‘Cause how many times do I have to tell you

Darling, darling,

I’m still in love

With you now?

 We’ve already said ‘So long’

I don’t want to see you go

Oh you had better go now

Go now, Go now, Go now

Don’t you even try telling me

That you really don’t want me to end this way

‘Cause, darling, darling,

Can’t you see I want you to stay?

 We’ve already said ‘Goodbye’

Since you’ve got to go

Oh you had better go now

Go now, Go now, Go now

Before you see me cry

I don’t want you to tell me

Just what you intend to do now

‘Cause how many times do I have to tell you

Darling, darling,

I’m still in love,

Still in love,

With you now?

I don’t want to see you go

But, darling,

You’d better go now

Phantom melody…Playing soft and low

Although there was nothing supernatural about the show’s initial episodes in 1966, by early 1967 it had become the first daytime television program to introduce ghosts.  Then, a full year into its run, its best remembered character finally flapped-in and the half-hour gothic soap opera took off when its predominately teenaged viewing audience began to hurry home from school to watch it every weekday at 4 p.m. EST, 3 p.m. Central.

Originally aired in black and white, by the time Jonathan Frid began to portray vampire, Barnabas Collins, “Dark Shadows” had switched to glorious (living?) color. The werewolves, witches and zombies soon followed, all played by a small company of “vividly melodramatic” actors whose comings and goings amongst the somewhat rickety sets also meant that various characters were played by more than one actor.  On a show that incorporated time travel and then an entire parallel universe into the story-line, it was all taken in stride.

With a five year run (“Dark Shadows” was cancelled in 1971) the series’ writers borrowed freely from the likes of: Mary Shelly’s Frankenstein, Henry James’ The Turn of the Screw, Arthur Miller’s The Crucible, Emily Brontë’s Wuthering Heights (and her sister Charlotte’sJane Eyre), Dickens’ Nicholas Nickelby, Oscar Wilde’s Picture of Dorian Gray, Robert Louis Stevenson’s Dr. Jekyll and Mr. Hyde, Shirley Jackson’s The Lottery, and lets not forget Orpheus in the Underworld among others. But the main go-to guy was (naturally) Edgar Allan Poe with purloined plot themes from The Pit and the Pendulum, The Tell-Tale Heart, The Premature Burial and The Cask of Amontillado.

At least Robert Cobert’s music score was relatively original with the soundtrack hitting Number 20 on Billboard’s Album Chart in 1969. Also composed by Cobert, and recorded by the Charles Randolph Grean Sounde, today’s instrumental selection, “Shadow’s of the Night” (aka “Quentin’s Theme”) earned a Grammy nomination and peaked at Number 3 on the Easy Listening Chart that same year.

As you may recall, the time traveling “Cousin Quentin” was a ghost, and then a werewolf and finally a Dorian Gray knock-off.  His song also had lyrics that were narrated by the actor who played him, David Selby.

Hey, Andy Williams actually sang and recorded them, as featured on the fifth track of his album “Get Together” … just prior to his version of “Good Morning Starshine” with the Osmond Brothers… And with that truly scary thought, I bid you a Happy Halloween…


Shadows of the Night

Shadows of the night…

Falling silently

Echo of the past…

Calling you to me

Haunting memory…

Veiled in misty glow

Phantom melody…

Playing soft and low

In this world that we know now

Life is here, then gone

But somewhere in the afterglow

Love lives on and on

Dreams of long ago…

Meet in rendezvous

Shadows of the night…

Calling me to you

Calling me to you

…Still runnin’ against the wind

It is ironic that “Like a Rock” became a Chevy truck slogan, since Bob’s dad worked for Ford. Then again maybe not, Dad abandoned the family when he was ten, leaving them in financial straits.

Born in Dearborn in 1945, Robert Clark Seger managed to pull through and as a musician he became a ’60s Detroit favorite with his raspy, shouting voice custom-made for local “roots rock” bands. In 1973 he put together The Silver Bullet Band and finally hit it big with his 1976 album “Night Moves”.

With Hurricane Sandy ramping up outside, how could I not turn to this selection from Seger and the band’s 1980 album of the same name?  Hard to believe that the man has been running “Against the Wind” for 32 years now. That’s Glen Frey of The Eagles singing background.  Here’s to an evening of warmth and safety.


Against the Wind

 It seems like yesterday

But it was long ago

Janey was lovely; she was the queen of my nights

There in the darkness with the radio playing low

And the secrets that we shared

The mountains that we moved

Caught like a wildfire out of control

Till there was nothing left to burn and nothing left to prove

 And I remember what she said to me

How she swore that it never would end

I remember how she held me oh so tight

Wish I didn’t know now what I didn’t know then

 Against the wind

We were runnin’ against the wind

We were young and strong, we were runnin’

Against the wind

And the years rolled slowly past

And I found myself alone

Surrounded by strangers I thought were my friends

I found myself further and further from my home

And I guess I lost my way

There were oh so many roads

I was living to run and running to live

Never worried about paying or even how much I owed

Moving eight miles a minute for months at a time

Breaking all of the rules that would bend

I began to find myself searchin’

Searching for shelter again and again

Against the wind

A little something against the wind

I found myself seeking shelter against the wind

Well those drifter’s days are past me now

I’ve got so much more to think about

Deadlines and commitments

What to leave in, what to leave out

 Against the wind

I’m still runnin’ against the wind

Well I’m older now and still runnin’

Against the wind

And did the countenance divine, shine forth upon our clouded hills

Bound for “old Blighty” which ever brings to mind two humbly born artists who ‘though they lived in different epochs, were famously far ahead of their times.  And if only in spirit, they were brought together by this high-reaching choral piece.

William Blake, poet and painter…

London born in 1757 he was considered mad while in his prime (his visions of angels hugely influencing his work) but is now recognized as a seminal figure in both the poetry and visual arts of the Romantic Age.  None other than William Rossetti would later describe him as a “glorious luminary… not forestalled by predecessors, nor to be classed with contemporaries, nor to be replaced by known or readily surmisable successors”.

Paul Leroy Robeson, Renaissance man…

Princeton, NJ born in 1898, the son of a slave, with his passport revoked in 1950 he was ostracized for his political activism during the burgeoning civil rights movement.  Yet we remember him as a distinguished linguist, writer, All-American athlete and professional football player, Phi Beta Kappa scholar and Rutgers valedictorian, Columbia Law graduate, star of Broadway and West End stages and Hollywood’s first black movie star.  With his alluring bass-baritone voice he was also a world-class recording artist and concert recitalist.

And the piece that brought them together…

“And Did Those Feet In Ancient Time” written by Blake in 1804, as part of the preface to his prophetic book, “Milton” in which he proffers a civilization freed of the inter-related chains of Commerce, Imperialism and War.  Nearly forgotten for a century, it was included in an anthology edited by Milton scholar and British Poet Laureate, Robert Bridges.  Entitled “The Spirit of Man” and published in 1916 when Britain was in the depths of the Great War, the anthology contained patriotic verse compiled to “brace the spirit of the nation…and accept with cheerfulness all the sacrifices necessary.”

Bridges felt that Blake’s lines would be especially appropriate as hymnal text and asked composer Sir Charles Hubert Parry to put it to “suitable, simple music … music that an audience could take up and join in.”  When King George V heard the resulting choral song, “Jerusalem” he claimed to have preferred it to “God Save the King.”

Many variations have since been performed (and yes, this is how the film “Chariots of Fire” received its name) including Robeson’s soothing recording from 1939…



 And did those feet in ancient time

Walk upon England’s mountains green

And was the Holy Lamb of God

On England’s pleasant pastures seen

 And did the countenance divine

Shine forth upon our clouded hills

And was Jerusalem builded here

Among these dark satanic mills

Bring me my bow of burning gold

Bring me my arrows of desire

Bring me my spears o’clouds unfold

Bring me my chariot of fire

 I will not cease from mental fight

Nor shall my sword sleep in hand

‘Til we have built Jerusalem

In England’s green and pleasant land

But there’s a heart, a heart that lives in New York

I was having a pint at The White Horse (yes, I know, where Dylan Thomas downed his final drinks) near my West Village hotel last night, while doing my level best to eavesdrop on the commentary of a couple of waiters about the actress Julia Stiles, who had recently left the premises.  While their observations are safe with me, I was very much reminded of this passage from a famous essay E. B. White wrote in 1948, entitled “Here is New York.”

“New York is the concentrate of art and commerce and sport and religion and entertainment and finance, bringing to a single compact arena the gladiator, the evangelist, the promoter, the actor, the trader and the merchant. It carries on its lapel the unexpungible odor of the long past, so that no matter where you sit in New York you feel the vibrations of great times and tall deeds, of queer people and events and undertakings. 

I am sitting at the moment in a stifling hotel room in 90-degree heat, halfway down an airshaft, in midtown.  No air moves in or out of the room, yet I am curiously affected by emanations from the immediate surroundings. I am twenty two blocks from where Rudolph Valentino lay in state, eight blocks from where Nathan Hale was executed, five blocks from the publisher’s office where Ernest Hemingway hit Max Eastman in the nose, four miles from where Walt Whitman sat sweating out editorials for the Brooklyn Eagle, thirty four blocks from the street Willa Cather lived in when she came to New York to write books about Nebraska…(I could continue this list indefinitely)…

…and for that matter I am probably occupying the very room that any number of exalted and somewise memorable characters sat in, some of them on hot, breathless afternoons, lonely and private and full of their own sense of emanations from without…”

Eventually I wandered back to my room (okay, after an engaging discussion with an Irishman at Peter McManus Café) and especially considered that last bit, about memorable characters once occupying one’s very room, in light of the fact that my riverside hotel once housed the survivors of RMS Titanic (for quite a while actually, as there was an inquest) in 1912.

Love it, as I do (…sports teams aside) or Hate it, as my son does (just because…), you can’t deny that (again in E.B. White’s words)  “…New York is peculiarly constructed to absorb almost anything that comes along, whether a thousand foot liner out of the east or a twenty thousand (person) convention out of the west…”

Featured on Art Garfunkel’s 1981 album, “Scissors Cut” (and later sung at the historic Concert in Central Park with Paul Simon the following year, a mere four miles north of… oh never mind), “A Heart in New York” was written by hard-core New Yorkers Benny Gallagher (born in Ayrshire, Scotland) and Graham Lyle (born in Lanarkshire, Scotland)…

LISTEN TO TODAY’S SELECTION – Thursday 18 October 

A Heart in New York

New York, to that tall skyline I come

Flying in from London to your door

New York, looking down on Central Park

Where they say you should not wander after dark

 New York, like a scene from all those movies

You’re real enough to me

But there’s a heart

A heart that lives in New York

A heart in New York, a rose on the street

I write my song to that city heartbeat

A heart in New York, a love in her eye

An open door and a friend for the night

New York, you got money on your mind

And my words won’t make a dime’s worth a difference

So here’s to you New York

New York, now my plane is touching down…

“To Reggie”

For nearly two decades now I have donned the ‘ol school tie and driven to Manhattan for a semi-annual board meeting of the American chapter of Friends of King’s College London, a 501(c) organization with a mandate to review grant applications for a variety of KCL related research.

Founded by King George IV and the Duke of Wellington in 1829, King’s holds claim to being the third-oldest university in England (after the very old indeed Oxford and Cambridge universities).  It would later become (along with University College) one of the two founding colleges of the University of London, its initial prospectus permitting “nonconformists of all sorts to enter the college freely.”  That certainly described yours truly who wandered in off the Strand one late-August day in 1981 with a vague notion of accomplishing some graduate work.

Decades (and an ocean) apart from completing that degree finds me on my way to a final board meeting (16 October), after serving five years as Friends of KCLA president.  As ever, in addition to working through our worthwhile agenda, I very much look forward to seeing old friends and to one final opportunity to raise my glass “in honour of Reggie,” the King’s College mascot, whose initial incarnation was a copper lion purchased for £7 from a junkyard off Tottenham Court Road in 1923.

“Your beginnings will seem humble,” says the psalm…“so prosperous will your future be.”

Of course, when toasting to a lion, there is but one song that comes to mind, and it too had humble beginnings.  “Mbube” (Zulu for “lion”) was written in the 1920s by Solomon Linda, a black South African of Zulu origin, who worked as a record packer for the Gallo Record Company in Johannesburg.  Linda regularly performed it with his choir, The Evening Birds, and when witnessed by a talent scout in 1939, a 78 recording was issued by Gallo and marketed to black South African listeners.

By 1948 more than 100,000 copies of the record had been sold throughout the continent, some of them brought to the UK by South African immigrants.  The song was so popular that a new style of African a cappella music (popularized by Ladysmith Black Mambazo) had even adopted the name “Mbube”. 

In time the record was brought to the attention of Pete Seeger and his hard-driving folk group, The Weavers, who recorded their own version, calling it “Wimoweh” (a mishearing of the song’s original chorus of “Uyimbube” which is Zulu for “You are a lion”).  “Wimoweh” hit the Billboard top ten in 1951 and was soon covered by a number of other folk groups.

Then, in 1961, lyricist George David Weiss was contracted to fashion a pop arrangement of the song for the Brooklyn teen doo-wop group, The Tokens. Weiss added additional lyrics to “In the jungle, the mighty jungle…” and brought in opera singer Anita Darian to hit the high notes.  The single topped the Billboard Charts and has been continually recorded ever since.



 In the jungle, the mighty jungle

The lion sleeps tonight

In the jungle, the quiet jungle

The lion sleeps tonight

 Near the village, the peaceful village

The lion sleeps tonight

Near the village, the quiet village

The lion sleeps tonight

 Hush my darling, don’t fear my darling

The lion sleeps tonight

Hush My darling, don’t fear my darling

The lion sleeps tonight.

Where troubles melt like lemon drops

Whoever Gabby is, she’s been immortalized…

Initially deleted as a film track after MGM Chief, Louis B. Mayer thought the song “slowed down the picture” it came down to the persistence of Judy Garland’s vocal coach and an associate producer before the black-balled Harold Arlen and Yip Harburg number was re-included in “The Wizard of Oz”.

Of course that persistence paid off.  Not only did “Over the Rainbow” win the 1939 Academy Award for Best Original Song, it was later rated as the American Film Institutes’ “Greatest Movie Song of All Time” while topping the RIAA’s list of “Songs of the Century.”

But despite Garland’s signature rendition, along with memorable covers by Eva Cassidy, Livingston Taylor and others, by century’s end it was 750 pound Hawaiian born and bred Israel Kaʻanoʻi Kamakawiwoʻole (“Iz for short) who would come to own it, with  his gently-pitched vocals and warm ukulele playing, while melding in a verse from Bob Thiele and George David Weiss’ 1968 “What a Wonderful World” for good measure.

All that weight on his 6′ 2″ frame invariably ushered in his passing, from respiratory problems, at the age of 38.  But the man had clearly struck a chord with his fellow native Hawaiians and he became only the third person ever to lie in state in the Capitol Building in Honolulu so that over ten thousand people could come to pay their final respects.


Somewhere Over The Rainbow

 Somewhere over the rainbow

Way up high

And the dreams that you dreamed of

Once in a lullaby ii ii iii

Somewhere over the rainbow

Blue birds fly

And the dreams that you dreamed of

Dreams really do come true ooh ooooh

Someday I’ll wish upon a star

Wake up where the clouds are far behind me ee ee eeh

Where trouble melt like lemon drops

High above the chimney tops thats where you’ll find me oh

Somewhere over the rainbow bluebirds fly

And the dream that you dare to,why, oh why can’t I? i iiii

Well I see trees of green and

Red roses too,

I’ll watch them bloom for me and you

And I think to myself

What a wonderful world

Well I see skies of blue and I see clouds of white

And the brightness of day

I like the dark and I think to myself

What a wonderful world

The colors of the rainbow so pretty in the sky

Are also on the faces of people passing by

I see friends shaking hands

Saying, “How do you do?”

They’re really saying, I…I love you

I hear babies cry and I watch them grow,

They’ll learn much more

Than we’ll know

And I think to myself

What a wonderful world (w)oohoorld

Someday I’ll wish upon a star,

Wake up where the clouds are far behind me

Where troubles melt like lemon drops

High above the chimney top that’s where you’ll find me

Oh, Somewhere over the rainbow way up high

And the dream that you dare to, why, oh why can’t I? I hiii ?

I Like That

“Where Armstrong’s playing was bravura, regularly optimistic, and openly emotional, Beiderbecke’s conveyed a range of intellectual alternatives. Where Armstrong, at the head of an ensemble, played it hard, straight, and true, Beiderbecke, like a shadow boxer, invented his own way of phrasing “around the lead.” Where Armstrong’s superior strength delighted in the sheer power of what a cornet could produce, Beiderbecke’s cool approach invited rather than commanded you to listen.”   ~The Oxford Companion to Jazz~

Born in Nineteen-hundred-and-three, in Davenport, Iowa, he was the grandson of German immigrants. Leon Bismarck “Bix” Beiderbecke, now considered one of the two most influential figures in the early history of jazz. The other, of course, was the grandson of slaves, Louis “Satchmo” Armstrong, out of New Orleans.

Beiderbecke was shown how to play the piano at the age of two by his church organist mother and by the age of ten he was sneaking aboard riverboats to play their calliopes.  When his older brother came home from active duty in 1918 with a Victrola and an armload of early jazz records, Bix taught himself to pay cornet.

By the age of 20 he had joined the Midwestern Wolverines jazz ensemble, with whom he made his first records, prior joining the Detroit-based Victor Recording Orchestra with saxophonist Frankie “Tram” Trumbauer.  In 1926 “Bix” and “Tram” leapt at the chance to join the most prestigious dance orchestra anywhere, the New York based Paul Whiteman Orchestra.

Not long before, a crooner out of Tacoma, Washington named Harry Lillis “Bing” Crosby had become one of Whiteman’s Rhythm Boys and in 1928 Beiderbecke played on four Number-One Records with Crosby featured on vocals. With scores of hindsight, those absorbing performances  featuring “Bix” ‘n “Bing” still have a popular following to this day.

Meanwhile, Louis Armstrong who was then based in Chicago was also making a name for himself, recording with Duke Ellington, Bessie Smith, Sidney Bechet and Fats Waller.  But racial integration was unheard of in the 1920s and when the Paul Whiteman’s Orchestra was in town Armstrong would sit in the blacks-only balcony of the Chicago Theater to listen to Beiderbecke.

“When Bix started to play, I would let those notes just float over me, and I thought I was in heaven,” he said.  The two had met years before, but now in their prime they each considered the other to be the best player out there.  In fact (as most jazz critics now agree) Armstrong, who played both cornet and trumpet, was the virtuoso greatly influenced by the blues. While Beiderbecke, who was largely self-taught on cornet is remembered for his “unusual purity of tone” and improvisation “that presaged a ‘cooler’ age.” His greatest influences were Impressionist composers, like Ravel and Debussy.

Although they never performed together on stage (unlike Crosby, who had memorable appearances with each), Armstrong once admitted to catching up with Beiderbecke after a performance and ushering him to a warehouse that had been intentionally left unlocked.  Once the coast was clear… “We blew and blew, all the way to dawn.”

Sadly the relentless touring and recording regimen, coupled with an unbridled consumption of booze that stretched back to his younger days of sneaking onto river boats, started to overtake Beiderbecke.  By 1929 he was showing up drunk for performances and beginning to miss his cues.

Paul Whiteman, who at 300 pounds  (according to a “New Yorker” profile) was “a man flabby, virile, quick, coarse, untidy and sleek, with a hard core of shrewdness in an envelope of sentimentalism,” instructed the horn player next to him to pencil in a note on the music score just before his solo that said “Wake up Bix.”

Still, by 1931 Bix Beiderbecke was dead at the age of twenty-eight. Louis Armstrong, who was two years his elder, would outlive him by 40 years.

But Bix’s story doesn’t quite end there. His early death soon became one of the original legends of jazz (…and of later popular music) and he was portrayed in print and on the silver screen as the romantic “Young Man with a Horn” dying as a martyr for the sake of his art.

Never mind the art; and even though it’s not “Bix ‘n Bing” today’s uplifting selection, recorded in 1929, at least features an instrumental by “Bix ‘n Tram.”  If it’s new to your listen intently. Perhaps you too will sense the….allure.

 LISTEN TO TODAY’S SELECTION – Saturday 13 October

I Like That


Candy is dandy but liquor is quicker

“Champagne don’t drive me crazy,” I suppose is a highly subjective statement but as a detached observer of Disco, that (cough) singularly individualistic, distinctively high-brow musical genre that was all the rage towards the end of the ‘70s, the follow-up line “Cocaine don’t make me lazy” is rather…axiomatic.

By the time the Spanish Conquistadors arrived in South America in the 16th Century, the native populations had been chewing the leaves of “Erythroxylum coca” for a thousand years.  Not only were these leaves nutritious, they contained highly stimulating alkaloids that provided them with extra energy.  At first the Spanish colonists declared the practice the “work of the Devil.”  But when they realized how much work the locals could get done (on their behalf) they taxed the leaf, which it was discovered could induce “great contentment” when mixed with tobacco.

By the 19th Century a Corsican chemist named Angelo Mariani saw economic potential when he blended red Bordeaux wine with coca leaves and produced a “tonic” called cocawine. The beverage was especially popular among urbane American consumers… including those in Atlanta, Georgia.

But in 1885 when Fulton County (Atlanta is the county seat) enacted temperance legislation, John Stith Pemberton, an Atlanta druggist who had been marketing his own cocawine clamored to create a non-alcoholic coca drink.  The result, of course was Coca-Cola, the pause that refreshes, which was originally sold as a patent medicine.  In 1906, with the passage of the Pure Food and Drug Act, the firmly established Coca-Cola Company began to use a cocaine-free coca leaf extract, although there remained plenty of refreshment through the caffeine found in kola nuts, the second half of that famous hyphenated name.

In addition to the 1906 Food and Drug Act, the Harrison Narcotics Tax Act of 1914, the Jones-Miller Act of 1922 and the Controlled Substances Act of 1970 have made the mere possession of cocaine a Schedule II indictable offense with a penalty of up to five years in prison. Yet after marijuana it remains the second most popular recreational drug in America, which by far is the world’s largest consumer.

Just as it was back in the ‘70s when Henry Saint Claire Fredericks combined a popular blues standard, written by Porter Grainger (Bessie Smith’s accompanist) in 1922, with some sentiments that, among other things, echo Cole Porter’s “I Get a Kick Out of You” (to wit, “I get no kick from champagne” and “Some, they may go for cocaine”).

Born in Harlem in 1942 and raised in Springfield, Massachusetts, Fredericks adopted the name, Taj Mahal after it came to him in a dream about India.  Self-taught on guitar, banjo and harmonica, he has now been a recording artist for nearly 50 years, always maintaining the belief that the blues has nothing to do with despair.   “You can listen to my music from front to back,” he once said, “and you don’t ever hear me moaning and crying about how bad you done treated me.”

Having worked on a dairy farm in Palmer, Mass. as a teen, Taj Mahal is said to have developed a passion for farming that rivals that of music and regularly performs at Farm Aid concerts to this day.  Actually he claims to prefer outdoor performances, where people can dance, in general. That’s how we saw him (pre-Farm Aid), at a free concert outside of Boston City Hall, not long after he had first recorded this song on his 1976 album, “Satisfied ‘n Tickled Too”.


Nobody’s Business But My Own

 Champagne don’t drive me crazy

Cocaine don’t make me lazy

Ain’t nobody’s business but my own

Candy is dandy and liquor is quicker

You can drink all the liquor down in Costa Rica

Ain’t nobody’s business but my own

 You can ride a great big pink Cadillac to church on Sunday

You can hang around the house with your old lady on Monday

Ain’t nobody’s business but your own

Man, I don’t care what in the world that you do

As long as you do what you say you going to

Ain’t nobody’s business but your own

 Now, I know some of you cuties

You real fine cuties, you go stepping downtown

Just to hang around

Standing on the corner

So the fellows will stare and say

“Oh, ain’t she sweet?”

 Champagne don’t drive me crazy

Cocaine don’t make me lazy

Ain’t nobody’s business but my own

Candy is dandy and liquor is quicker

You can drink all the liquor down in Costa Rica

Ain’t nobody’s business but my own

You can walk downtown in your birthday suit

I can see you coming out of the Bank Of America with a whole lotta loot

Ain’t nobody’s business but your own

Now, you know that cocaine’s for horses now it ain’t for men

The doctors said it’ll kill me but they didn’t say when

Ain’t nobody’s business but your own

 Now, you know sometime I put on my straw hat

And my striped pants, my spats baby

You know I go trucking downtown

Standing on the corner so the fellas can stare and say

Hey man, ain’t you the brother in the ’57 mercury

With the turnpike skirts and the chrome reverse wheels

The white wall tires and lights running the skirts

Was painted lime green with reversible license plates

With windows that you can see out, can nobody see in

With four on the floor, 745 horsepower and a big stereo

Listening to Wolfman Jack say, “Ain’t this X C I B, baby”

 Champagne don’t drive me crazy

Cocaine don’t make me lazy

Ain’t nobody’s business but my own

Candy is dandy and liquor is quicker

You can drink all the liquor down in Costa Rica

Ain’t nobody’s business but your own, but my own

 Come on now let’s try it,

here we go, one, two, three

 Now, champagne don’t drive me crazy

Cocaine don’t make me lazy

Ain’t nobody’s business but my own

Sing it out

Candy is dandy and liquor is quicker

You can drink all the liquor down at Costa Rica

Ain’t nobody’s business but my own

 Once again

Champagne don’t drive me crazy

Cocaine don’t make me lazy

Ain’t nobody’s business but my own

Candy is dandy and liquor is quicker

You can drink all the liquor down in Costa Rica

Ain’t nobody’s business but my own

And the moon and the stars were the gifts you gave…

Let’s get all torch-y, shall we? Although New York-based folk singer Margaret “Peggy” Seeger had a legendary half-brother (folk singer, Pete Seeger) she had become very well-known in her own right in 1955, when at the age of 20 she and her brother Mike recorded the 94 track “American Folk Songs for Children” which remains the best-selling collection of children’s songs ever.

But as was the case with her half-brother’s group, The Weavers, the progressive-minded Seeger ended up on the entertainment industry blacklist in that era of McCarthy and, accompanied by her banjo, soon embarked on a protracted performance tour of Europe. While in London she met and fell in love with English folk-singer, songwriter, actor, playwright (and father of Kirsty MacColl) Ewan MacColl and it was after her return to the States that today’s selection was written.

Back in New York in 1957, Seeger needed a love song for a production she was working on and placed a transatlantic telephone call to MacColl back in London, who reportedly wrote “The First Time Ever I Saw Your Face” in less than an hour and taught it to her over the phone that very same evening. Released as a single by the Kingston Trio in 1962, the song quickly became a folk/pop staple, covered by The Brothers Four; Peter, Paul and Mary; The Chad Mitchell Trio; Johnny Mathis, We Five, the Smothers Brothers and Engelbert Humperdinck among dozens of others.

MacColl professedly considered each of these versions to be “travesties: bludgeoning, histrionic and lacking in grace.”  And when Elvis Presley recorded the song he claimed the resulting cover was “like Romeo at the bottom of the Post Office Tower (once the tallest building in London) singing up to Juliet.”  However, according to Peggy Seeger, who married and remained with MacColl until his death in 1989, there was at least one singer who he thought caught the right voice.

Born in Black Mountain, North Carolina, Roberta Flack, so excelled at classical piano as a young girl that she entered Howard University on a full music scholarship at the age of 15.   She later changed her major from piano to voice and after graduating at 19 taught junior high school in the Washington area for the next decade, while performing evenings at various DC nightspots until her “overnight” discovery when she was offered a record contract…after a three hour audition in which she played 42 songs.

Flack’s 1968 debut album, “First Take” was recorded in 10 hours and although she later had a minor hit with a cover of “Will You Love Me Tomorrow” none of her recordings seemed to strike a successful chord until… In 1972 Clint Eastwood, who was making his directorial debut with “Play Misty for Me”, paid $2,000 to use Track Number Six from “First Take” for his film.

Suddenly Roberta Flack’s hastily recorded version of Ewan MaColl’s hastily written song was an enormous hit, spending six consecutive weeks at the top of the Billboard Charts (it peaked at Number 14 in the UK) while pushing the four year-old record it came from to the top of the album charts.  By the time it won the Grammy Award for Record of the Year in 1973, “First Take” had gone platinum and Roberta Flack was a star.

LISTEN TO TODAY’S SELECTION – Wednesday 10 October 

The First Time Ever I Saw Your Face

 The first time ever I saw your face

I thought the sun rose in your eyes

And the moon and the stars were the gifts you gave

To the dark and the end of the skies

 And the first time ever I kissed your mouth

I felt the earth move in my hand

Like the trembling heart of a captive bird

That was there at my command, my love

 And the first time ever I lay with you

I felt your heart so close to mine

And I knew our joy would fill the earth

And last, till the end of time, my love

 The first time ever I saw your face

Your face

Your face

   Your face…