Harry Raab (or Harry ‘The Hipster’) was rocking and rolling decades before Elvis. He was a genius at the piano, master of boogie woogie, Dixieland, bop, blues, classical, ragtime, stride, Bach, and styles of his own. He composed songs that got his records banned from radio stations…drugs, adultery, drinking, murder, and frantic freaks, they were all included. What a man!
It has been one of those weeks that left me feeling emotionally, creatively and spiritually drained and I think some serious cheering up is in order. The stand-out laugh of the week came when my long-suffering housemate shared a surprising version of William Shatner (yep, Captain Kirk himself) ‘singing’ Pulp’s huge hit ‘Common People’.
Today, i’m featuring three songs from the 1970s that cover the same theme – gender bending. I was a young gay man when these songs hit the charts, and I couldn’t believe what I was hearing. The gay community of the time lapped them up, which is understandable, but the popularity wasn’t restricted to the underground minority and went on to become international hits.
I was taking a look at some of the original stories behind some of our most popular songs recently and realised that the subject was far too big for a three-part feature. There are far too many great examples. I’ve decided to turn this ‘strange beginnings’ idea into a main feature and select a couple of extracts for the Facebook page and group.
I was transported back to a very different era of my life recently when South Africa’s Music Guru, Sean Brokensha, played Judy Collins singing Bread and Roses during his excellent weekend show on Johannesburg’s Mix 93 FM. Some may not remember who Judy Collins is, and fewer will know what the Bread and Roses movement was about, but it is an interesting bit of musical history that did so much for the social consciousness of the era’s music lovers. We’ll start with a little background about the movement’s driving force, Mimi Fariña.
I nearly didn’t write this article. When I saw a snippet informing me that it was the anniversary of the first Bubblegum Music chart-topper, I almost didn’t follow through. The song was Green Tambourine from The Lemon Pipers, and although not my favourite song of the era, it definitely beat some of the bubblegum crud we were expected to chew on the weekly hit parade. However, when I had a deeper look at this sugary-sweet genre I found it was quite an interesting topic and well worth some blog space.
During the 50s and early 60s a morbid fad took hold in popular music with the event of the teen tragedy song, often termed ‘death discs’ or (my favourite) ‘splatter platters’. Doomed lovers and teen death stories have been popular for hundreds of years with Romeo and Juliet definitely being the most famous, but I doubt the oldest. The obvious rhyming of the words good-bye, cry and die may have something to do with it, but that’s just a guess!
The cover version is a contentious issue. Nowadays, a cover version immediately puts itself in the firing line of music lovers, and especially the musical press, all keen to judge and critique every note and nuance. Some offerings make it through the battlefield of personal scrutiny to be heralded as genius, while most are dissed across the various media platforms and consigned to the ‘don’t bother’ list. But this wasn’t always the case as we will find out in this fascinating look at the history of the cover version.
As it is my brother, Rob’s, birthday I thought I would share a few covers that have meant a lot to us both over the years (and in honour of him being such a wonderful person and such a special brother). I know it’s a bit indulgent on my part but I think this selection makes for some good listening, and apart from that, Rob is such a nice person I think he deserves to be honoured!
Last year I published a version of this blog article under the name ‘When I’m 64’. Well, today I turned 65 and seeing that our group and page have grown so much since last September, I have decided to bring 1955 back to life with this reworked and edited version. Consider it my birthday present to you!
I’m visiting South African entertainment history today with some of the classic TV theme songs and the programs they were written for. This has been a lot of fun to research and compile and brought back a load of memories.
25th October 2020 I’ve visited this theme before and, although the definition of one-hit-wonder is a debatable topic, It always surprises me at the songs on the various lists that are out there. Today’s batch contains one song that you may not have heard of, but the other two are very well known. When last,Continue reading “Loving the Music: One-Hit-Wonders”