Showing posts with label music. Show all posts
Showing posts with label music. Show all posts

March 06, 2011

Brother can you spare a dime

I just thought I'd draw everyone's attention to a radio program about one of the great songs of the thirties- Brother can you spare a Dime. First heard on Rudy Vallee's radio program in 1932 (two weeks before Roosevelt was elected), or at least first heard on broadcast there, it was performed by performer after performer- Ad Colson did one version which is on youtube and Bing Crosby's is on my ipod. It gets into the context of the song- that most of the men in the Great Depression had fought in the Great War. That generation was one of those generations that seem to be afflicted by all the slings and arrows that fortune might throw at them: in their twenties they fought in the Trenches, in their forties they were sacked from their jobs and in their fifties they watched their sons go off to war. Its a fantastic program which strays into discussing the difference between Vallee's version and Crosby's version- the music of the twenties and the thirties and also the opposition between that and other songs of the Depression, particularly the fantastic 1933 song from Golddiggers, 'We're in the Money'. The latter is worth appreciating in its youtube version.

Contrast that with Brother can you spare a Dime, written a year earlier and in a version which the radio program doesn't include.

And you can see quite how shocking the latter's sentiments were.

September 21, 2008

Dancing Nina

I promised Nina Simone's version of Mr Bojangles here a couple of weeks ago- listen this is beauty in words- she had the most amazing voice of almost any singer I have ever heard and I think this is her song as much as it is Jerry Jeff Walker's who wrote it or Sammy Davis Jr. who popularised it. The pity that she puts into her rendition, the sadness in her voice, the nostalgia- is the kind of thing that only the spoken word can capture. This is beauty captured for all time in a recording. The last movement- Mr Bojangles dance- captures the reason that I love this song as much as any other song I have ever heard. It captures that moment, the moment of performance, the moment of loss. Mr Bojangles really existed- he was a man that Jerry Jeff Walker saw dance in a cell- he wrote this song in his memory- but it exists as a testament to art and things of beauty wherever they live. A thing of beauty is a joy forever, said Keats- the lying poet, thanks to these words and Simone's beautiful delivery of them we get a sense of what we've lost.

September 05, 2008

Sammy Davis Jr and Mr Bojangles

One of the great performers- one of the great songs- I admit that I love Nina Simone's version too and one day will post that- but this is still amazing. Its such a moving story- the fact that it is true is another matter- and the way that Davis sings it makes it even more moving.