Friday, November 6, 2015

The Friday Five (Plus Five!): Some Songs for Other States

FridayFive

You might remember that the Thursday Ten from yesterday started out as a list of songs with the names of states in the title, but there were so many with Georgia in the title that I changed it to just Georgia songs. I still have the other list of ten, and said, what the heck, it doesn’t take that long to build a playlist. Here are ten (five PLUS five!) songs with the names of other states in the title.

  1. Stars Fell On Alabama – Ella Fitzgerald and Louis Armstrong: The state song of the state net door, they had it on their license plates a few years ago, but evidently not any more (it was better than “Heart O’ Dixie,” that’s for certain). Ella and Louis do their usual fine job on this Frank Perkins-Mitchell Parish standard.
  2. Hawai’ian War Chant – Spike Jones and his Wacky Waikikians: Wikipedia tells us that this was written by Prince Leleiohoku in 1860, and that the original lyrics were about a clandestine meeting between two lovers. Ralph Freed wrote new lyrics for it in 1936, and Tommy Noble modified the melody to accommodate them. Tommy Dorsey and his Orchestra recorded it in 1938, and later versions featured drummer Buddy Rich and trumpeter Ziggy Elman. Spike’s version was recorded in 1946, complete with all the attendant madness.
  3. California Girls – The Beach Boys: I was really tempted to use David Lee Roth’s cover, but in the end common sense won out. Brian Wilson evidently wrote this during his first acid trip. It reached #3 on the Hot 100 in 1965. The Rock & Roll Hall of Fame considers it one of “The 500 Songs That Shaped Rock & Roll,” Rolling Stone ranked it #71 on their list of “500 Greatest Songs of All Time,” and it was inducted into the Grammy Hall of Fame in 2010.
  4. Kentucky Rain – Elvis Presley: Any excuse to play this one, I say. This gorgeous song was written by Eddie Rabbitt and Dick Heard and features Ronnie Milsap on piano. It was released in January 1970, and it reached #16 on the Hot 100, #3 on the Adult Contemporary Chart, and #31 on the Country chart. It did better in Canada, where it hit #10 on the RPM Top Singles chart, #4 on the Adult Contemporary, and #1 on the Country chart.
  5. Indiana Wants Me – R. Dean Taylor: I was surprised that Canadian singer-songwriter Taylor recorded this in 1970; I’d have figured it for later in the 1970’s. Anyway, it was a Top Ten single in the US and UK, and Cash Box had it at #1.
  6. Massachusetts – The Bee Gees: Written by the Brothers Gibb, and sung by Robin (the one who was always holding his ear), this was their first #1 hit in the UK and Australia and was one of the biggest-selling singles of all time when it came out in 1967. In the US, it reached #11. It’s still a great song.
  7. Moonlight in Vermont – Jo Stafford: This was written by John Blackburn and Karl Suessdorf in 1944 and has become a standard. None of the lyrics rhyme, and each verse (but not the bridge) is a haiku. Jo Stafford recorded it for her album Ski Trails in 1956.
  8. Mississippi Queen – Mountain: This rock classic was on their 1970 debut album Climbing! It reached #21 on the Hot 100 in 1970. Drummer Corky Laing wrote part of the song and shared it with lead guitarist Leslie West (a mountain of a man if ever there was one), who helped him finish it. Bassist and producer Felix Pappalardi and lyricist David Rea also received credits. Pappalardi insisted on doing the song over and over again, and a frustrated West started banging on a cowbell to count off the song. Pappalardi liked it, and a legend was born.
  9. North To Alaska – Johnny Horton: The theme song for the 1960 movie of the same name, starring John Wayne and Stewart Grainger. The single reached #4 on the Hot 100 and #1 on the country chart in 1960-61. Horton died not long after the song was recorded.
  10. Louisiana Blues – Muddy Waters: One of Muddy’s early (1950) electric songs, it was written (or inspired) by Robert Johnson. His backup band was Little Walter on harmonica, Ernest “Big” Crawford on bass, and Elgin Edwards on washboard.

And that’s your Friday Five PLUS Five for November 6, 2015.




from The Sound of One Hand Typing

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