One of the things I like about modern TV is the number of music channels that you don’t watch, just listen.
Television has had music programs for decades, and you could just listen, but you’d lose the vicarious concert experience. The old shows rarely came on at the same time, so Dick Clark and Lloyd Thaxton didn’t clash with Lawrence Welk and Arthur Murray.
Today, there are still concerts on TV but the plain old radio-style programming is what I turn to when I’m doing light household chores or I’m simply tired of regular, daily stuff loaded with chatter, clatter and woe.
So it was the other day that I heard “You Can’t Always Get What You Want” by The Rolling Stones for the forty-leventh time. I thought of song titles that give advice or make philosophical statements when, somewhat later, I heard “You Can Make It If You Try” by the Stones.
They must be good at giving advice since most of them are my age or older and they’re still drawing enormous crowds whenever and wherever they play.
Many songs make statements, but few song titles actually deliver a message. Here are some examples:
“Don’t Sleep in the Subway” by Petula Clark. Well, duh!
“You Can’t Roller Skate in a Buffalo Herd” by Roger Miller.
“Don’t Let Your Deal Go Down” by The Foggy Mountain Boys (and bunches of others).
“Mamas Don’t Let Your Babies Grow Up To Be Cowboys” by Willie Nelson.
You get the picture. Here are some song titles you may not know.
“The Man That Wrote Home Sweet Home Never Was A Married Man” by Charlie Parker and Mack Woolbright. I doubt that’s on satellite radio.
“Six Feet of Earth Makes Us All One Size.” This song was copyrighted in 1878 by F.W. Helmick. The last recording I’m aware of was by Sonny Burns back in the 1950s.
You know this song if you’re a Blues fan. “If You Can’t Lie No Better Than That, You Might As Well Tell The Truth” by Etta James. The song is fine. She’s great.
I have TV and satellite radio channels dedicated to blues. Pieces of heaven. It is one of life’s great pleasures that I can indulge in blues and still have plenty of time for all the other kinds of music I love.
It’s nice to be able to carry thousands of songs in your shirt pocket.
One of the hallmarks of great musicians is their ability to cross over into other genres. You never really know what a great performer might do next. However, there are boundaries formed by specific songs.
Here are 10 songs I probably will never hear on my favorite blues channels —by the original artists or anyone else.
“Blue On Blue” (Bobby Vinton).
“Blue Hawaii” (Elvis Presley).
“Sheila” (Tommy Roe).
“I’ll Never Work There Anymore” aka “I Used To Work In Chicago” The recording I have is by Spike Jones. I think it was originally recorded by Larry Vincent.
“We’ll Sing In The Sunshine” (Gale Garnett).
“Popsicles, Icicles” (The Murmaids).
“Goodtime Baby” (Bobby Rydell).
“Don’t Drop It” (Tommy Sands version) One of the worst recordings I ever heard, and Sands was ordinarily a fine singer.
“The Piper” (ABBA).
“Pressed Rat and Warthog” (Cream).
I can’t imagine Jay Hawkins, John Lee Hooker or Memphis Minnie singing any of these songs. But, again, you never know. I started to put “Come On A My House” on the list, but then I thought of Little Esther and what she could do with the song.
I couldn’t find a connection between the Rosemary Clooney number and Esther, but Della Reese recorded it.
Well, the first time I heard a Huddie Ledbetter recording, he was singing “When It’s Springtime In The Rockies.” You can’t live long enough to say you’ve heard it all, even from the music you know best.
Reach Larry Clark at email@example.com
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