Childhood favorites: Johnny Horton

This is one of those that’d never happen to me nowadays. I just happened to be young and impressionable when I heard Johnny Horton’s album of historical songs. I know it sounds corny as all get-out, but looking back I think this was one of the events that sparked my interest in history. I soon started putting together plastic models of warships, airplanes, and cool cars.

City of New Orleans

As some of you know I’m visiting Louisiana in a couple months. It’ll be the first time since around 2008 I’ve been back and I am SO. VERY. PSYCHED. In honor of the visit I’m sharing some of my favorite childhood songs from growing up in Louisiana. First up: the Coasters. A fine vocal group of the 50s and 60s with a better sense of fun than darn near anyone out there. Here they are paying tribute to classic melodrama.

Anatomy Of a Murder

It’s odd that I’ve never actually seen this film because it has one of the best soundtracks ever. Duke Ellington, a wise elder by this time in his career, wrote the music for Otto Preminger’s Anatomy Of a Murder along with longtime collaborator Billy Strayhorn. It’s a courtroom drama starring Jimmy Stewart, Lee Remick, Ben Gazzara, and George C. Scott in one of his very first roles. You can watch the whole thing on YouTube, at least for now.

This is the first big Hollywood picture with a score from black composers, and what an impression it makes. This is Ellington and Strayhorn at their most mature and subtle, with decades of experience crafting evocative sound poems. While the harmonies here are never unfriendly, they’re unexpected and original enough to provide thesis material for a legion of music theory majors. You can listen to the whole thing on Spotify.

Radio episode from the dawn of time (1992)

So first, for anyone who doesn’t know me, I’ve been dealing with mild chronic pain issues. Nothing awful but it rarely goes away and I’ve felt like I needed all my concentration to make it through my work day and not go insane. That’s why so few posts lately. While doing some cleaning I came across a couple of old radio playlists from when I was a program director at my college radio station back in the early nineties. I decided to recreate those, not just to stroke my own ego but to preserve a snippet of the early days of alternative rock.

There are casualties in popular music. There have to be; we can’t remember everything that comes out, every week, for decades on end. Some of those songs are boring and go nowhere; there are great bands with a dedicated following who never quite hit the mainstream; there’s the occasional burst of genius, a song or an album that fires on all cylinders, but the marketing isn’t there or the band drifts apart or any number of things. There was a place and time where I really dug every song playing here and it’s cool that modern technology let me find these and remember them. So if you’re so inclined revisit music from EXACTLY 22 years ago: Jul 29, 1992.

Dedication: Siobhan Perricone

Siobhan is kind, dedicated, and sharp as a tack. We found her and Frank through a “gamers wanted” poster in Hunger Mountain Co-op many years ago and they’ve become some of our best friends. To Siobhan I dedicate this little number from the brilliant Tim Minchin.