Every Friday night we smooth our way into the weekend with music, the universal language. These selections demonstrate that despite what is being passed off as art today, there is plenty of really good music available. Come along and enjoy.
The pandemic be damned. It can’t, won’t stop Mother’s Day. Oh, we’ll have to adapt, that’s for sure. And we will.
My music blog annually has a Mother’s Day theme. This year is no exception. Let’s get started.
Beatles music is quite diverse, fitting quite nicely in several genres. Paul McCartney wrote this opening song in an old-fashioned music hall style with an intended theme of touching on barriers between the generations. Not surprising given it was 1967.
“I’ve always hated generation gaps,” said McCartney years later. “I always feel sorry for a parent or a child that doesn’t understand each other. A mother not being understood by her child is particularly sad because the mother went through pain to have that child, and so there is this incredible bond of motherly love, like an animal bond between them, but because we mess things up so readily they have one argument and hate each other for the rest of their lives. So I was advocating peace between the generations. In ‘Your Mother Should Know,’ I was basically trying to say your mother might know more than you think she does. Give her credit.”
The following ensemble was a group of studio musicians who recorded a series of easy listening instrumental albums for Capitol Records at the peak of the British Invasion era. The band of musicians covered tunes from just about anybody who was big.
No lyrics in this Hollyridge Strings version. But you may recall:
Let’s all get up and dance to a song
That was a hit before your mother was born
Though she was born a long long time ago
Your mother should know (your mother should)
Your mother should know
BTW, if you listen to The Beatle Brunch Radio Show on WRIT-FM in Milwaukee every Sunday morning at 8:00 for an hour of music and interviews with The Beatles you’ll often hear the “Hollyridge Strings” being played underneath as background music while host Joe Johnson narrates certain segments.
OK. So far in this early start we’ve got John, Paul, George, and Ringo with a hit before “your” mother was born. In my case that would be somewhere prior to the mid 1920’s.
But there was good music way back then. Oh yes.
How about 1913.
There was this dance number that was quite popular called “Ballin’ the Jack.”
Say “Ballin’ the Jack.”
Uh, ‘scuse me’ Kev, but that sounds kinda, you know, dirty to me.
NO IT’S NOT!
Well then WTH?!
I’ll tell you. “Ballin’ the Jack” is basically just a sensual, gyration dance with bumps and grinds.
Are you serious?!
YES I’M SERIOUS! You think there weren’t bumps and grinds in the 19-teens?
Look, this blog isn’t dirty.
‘Ballin’ the Jack” referred to a train going at full speed. “Balling” alluded to the balled fist a railroad engineer used to signal to his crew to pour on the coal so the train would travel faster. The “jack” was the train itself.
Let’s look at this historically, educationally, with some innocent dance instructions, shall we?
First you put your knees together, close up tight.
Got that? Pretty simple.
Then you sway ’em to left , then you sway ’em to the right.
Not too tough, is it? We move on.
Step around the floor kind of nice and light, Then you twis’ around, and twis’ around with all your might.
Style and Grace, Swing your foot way round, then bring it back,
Now that’s what I call “Ballin the Jack.”
What do you mean you can’t handle it? You need some professional help?
I think this footage from “For Me and My Gal,” the first film Judy Garland and Gene Kelly made together in 1942 can show you.
OK. This warrants a …
In 1976 when every dance song imaginable was brought back to life, so was “Ballin’ the Jack.” While I was watching an “American Bandstand” program in 1976, so was Mom who noticed a brief clip of the following in a medley of tunes at the time.
“Oh that’s ‘Ballin’ the Jack,'” Mom reacted.
“Say what?” I said.
The tune was by an obscure artist and recording that was way beyond remembering.
Dick Clark was wise to just include a few seconds of the recording on his hit TV show. But as big as it was on radio and the movies 50-60 years earlier, it went nowhere in the 1970’s. Personally, I think this recording was produced at too slow of a pace. Certainly wasn’t too dirty. No way. We’re talking my mother here!
My goodness gracious everybody. This is a wholesome music blog. Could we all get hold of ourselves?
Now, please check out this list of popular singers:
Nat King Cole
Frank Sinatra Jr.
All great crooners. All are now gone.
So who’s left?
Tony Bennett will turn 94 on August 3. He’s still performing, doing duets, cranking out albums and winning Grammy Awards.
Isn’t it funny how some memories just seem to never be forgotten? Back in the 60’s our family was visiting I believe at my uncle’s house. How the subject of Bennett came up I don’t recall. Maybe he was on the television. What I clearly remember is Mom was all smiles.
“He can put his slippers under my bed anytime!”
Everyone had a good laugh, except my father who wasn’t all that thrilled.
Relax, Dad. You never had to worry.
“Our Love is Here To Stay” was the last song ever written by George Gershwin who we wrote about last week. Gershwin died in July of 1937 from a brain tumor. He was 38.
YOUR ATTENTION PLEASE! YOUR ATTENTION PLEASE!
The following contains language you might find…OMG…naughty.
At the end of the 1970’s and just into the 1980’s I had a sweet job. Ushering at what is now the Marcus Center for the Performing Arts in reality could hardly be considered a job. Taking tickets, instructing patrons how to get to their seats, handing out programs…but also having a chance to see some great performances and working with lovely young ladies. Hard labor it wasn’t.
In those days obtaining tickets was a lot different. There was the box office and then there was the box office. If I wanted to get seats for Mom and Dad (and I did) I had perfect access (didn’t get them free). One of the shows my parents saw, “A Chorus Line,” turned out to be one of the most famous and longest running Broadway productions ever.
One thrilling combination, every move that she makes
One smile and suddenly nobody else will do
You know you’ll never be lonely with you-know-who
I really need this job
Please God, I need this job
I’ve got to get this job
And everybody’s going “woosh… woosh… I feel the snow, I feel the cold, I feel the air…”. And Mr. Karp turns to me and he says: “Okay, Morales, what did you feel?”
And I said… “Nothing
I’m feeling nothing,”
And he says “‘nothing’ could get a girl transferred.”
They all felt something
But I felt nothing
Except the feeling that this bullshit was absurd!
But everything was beautiful at the ballet
Graceful men lift lovely girls in white
Yes, everything was beautiful at ballet
I was happy… at the ballet
Tits and ass
Bought myself a fancy pair
Tightened up the derriere
Did the nose with it
All that goes with it
Tits and ass
Had the bingo-bongos done
Suddenly I’m getting national tours!
Tits and ass won’t get you jobs
Unless they’re yours
Kiss today goodbye
The sweetness and the sorrow
Wish me luck, the same to you
But I can’t regret
What I did for love, what I did for love
Every little step she takes
Every move that she makes
One smile and suddenly nobody else, will, do
You know you’ll never be lonely with
You know who
Moment in her presence
And you can’t forget the rest
For the girl is second-best
To none, son
Give her your attention
Really have to mention
Bebe Neuwirth was a cast member in 1980.
The website Broadway World has compiled the 101 Greatest Musical Theatre Characters from 1940-2020. At #98, Diana Morales from “A Chorus Line.” She’s the lead singer on “What I Did for Love.”
That’s it for this week.
Have a great weekend.
Of all the big bands that were famous, Mom’s favorite was clear. Jennifer and I took her to see the contemporary version of this orchestra at the Riverside Theater. We had front row center seats and the bandleader at the time, Larry O’Brien would often look down at Mom and smile. Mom wasn’t the gregarious type but thought the “flirting,” however innocent, was nice. Tears of joy and sweet memories seemed to emerge with every number that night.