Friday, July 27, 2012

warnie lewis | the furniture of heaven

I was glad to finish breakfast and get out on the road. Sitting on a well, I found myself looking at a stone posted gate into a field, with some dim stirring in my mind of having looked at a very similar gate when I was a small boy at some seaside place, and enjoying its unfamiliarity. It suddenly occurred to me that the warning, "unless ye are like little children" etc., may not refer to one's moral state at all, but may mean that heaven is only for those who retain something of, or at worst the remembrance of, a child's infinite delight in ordinary things in the days when the whole world was a magical place. I can imagine for instance that wallflowers and flowering currants, as they were when I first became conscious of them - when the former grew knee high, and the latter was a large tree - may very well be part of the furniture of heaven, and produce the same indescribable delight.

Diary of Warren Lewis,
brother of C.S. Lewis
Wednesday 21st September, 1949

Saturday, July 21, 2012

luci shaw | the wind blows wherever it pleases

How secretly the bones move
under the skin
and the veins thread their way
through their forests, the trees
of bones, the mosses of cells,
the muscle vines.
How privately the ears
tune themselves to music heard
only in the echoing cave of the head.
And the tongue in its grotto tests
the bitterness of unripe fruit, and wine,
the mouth feel of honey
in the comb. How cunningly our shadows
follow us as we walk.
And our breath, how it moves in
and out without great thought.
Even rain, which needs no summons from us
but flows, a gift from heaven,
as the grasses rise greenly, shivering.
Just so, beauty besieges us
unannounced, invading us, saving our souls.
So it is with the spirit.

stephen adly giurgis | the familiar dance

the familiar dance: avoidance, procrastination. struggle, desperation, disgust, panic, prayer -- writing.

stephen adly giurgis
facebook, thursday july 19, 2012

Monday, July 09, 2012

Groovy Greats

The received wisdom? That "groovy" is strictly Sixties, man.

Not so. It goes back this far at least...

Groovie Movie, which premiered February 19 1944.

"20th Century Words: The Story of New Words in English Over the Last 100 Years" (John Ayto) dates the first usage circa 1937, and offers these definitions; "1) MARVELOUS, WONDERFUL, EXCELLENT. 2) HIP."

The "Dictionary of American Slang (Wentworth & Flexner) provides the following;
"groovy 1) In a state of mind or mood conductive to playing music, esp. swing music, well; in rapport with the piece, esp. of swing music, being played. Orig. c1935 swing use, by musicians and devotees. Some resuurrected cool and far out use since c1955. From 'in the groove.' " Which they go on to define thusly; "1) Playing swing music intensely, with excitement, adroitly, in such a gratifying way as to elicit a strong response from the listeners; in rapport with or enraptured by the swing music being played. Common swing use late 1930's and early 1940's. When a phonograph plays, its stylus or needle is in the groove of the record. Archaic."
Apparently the word's history is fully explained on pages 55-57 of "Flappers 2 Rappers: American Youth Slang" (1996) by Tom Dalzell. When I track me down a copy, I'll let you know what it says. What says is
"The first to be in the groove were African-American jazz musicians, early in the 1930s. They are no longer around to tell us where this groove came from, but scholars have speculated. Maybe it began with that relatively new invention, the phonograph, whose sound came out right when the needle was in the groove; maybe the musicians--virtually all of them men--were creating yet another metaphor for sex. No matter. What matters is the Cool (1949) sound when a player is really in the groove, not forcing the music but letting it flow. "The jazz musicians gave no grandstand performances," wrote an admiring reviewer in 1933, "they simply got a great burn from playing in the groove."
It could be summed up with the word groovy, defined in 1937 as a "state of mind which is conducive to good playing." Before long, there were groovy audiences as well as groovy performers, and by the 1940s things in general could be groovy. Love was groovy, skating was groovy, even pitching a no-hit baseball game was groovy. (By the way, since the early 1900s, the center of the strike zone in baseball has been known as the groove, and a pitcher who throws a fastball there is said to be grooving.)
Groovy was in the air everywhere in the hip, laid-back counterculture of the 1960s, when feeling groovy was the ultimate ambition and praise, as well as the title of a hit song. To groove was "to have fun." "Life as it is really grooves," declares a fictional letter from a group of groovy young dropouts in a 1969 short story by John Updike. Later generations have not always felt so groovy, but they know how to use the word when they want to speak so their elders can understand.
But on with the music. "Groovy Greats" are songs that feature The Word in either the title or the lyric. Here's a rundown of tunes I've managed to track down so far: you know of any others, please email me at

Let Me Off Uptown
Gene Krupa Band
"Hey Joe!"
"What do you mean Joe? My name's Roy."
"Well come here Roy, and get groovy!"

May 5 recording date, I think? In 1941. If so, this usurps both Charles Brown and Slim Gaillard as Groovy Great Numero Uno. "O'Day's first appearances in a big band shattered the traditional image of a demure female vocalist by swinging just as hard as the other musicians on the bandstand, best heard on her vocal trading with Roy Eldridge on the Gene Krupa recording Let Me Off Uptown." Our thanks to Mr Robert ZImmerman for turning us on to what is presently, apparently, The Birth Of The Groovy.
Recorded: 5/5/1941 ?

"Groovie Movie" premiered February 19, 1944. No explicitly groovy tune title or lyric here: a Jimmy Dorsey rendition of Count Basie's signature tune "One O'Clock Jump" forms the soundtrack. Here's the straight dope on the flick, from;
"In the 1930s, MGM was forced to create a lot of material to fill the programs of its vast empire of movie houses. At that time, an evening at the movies included two features, interspersed with various short subjects which included newsreels, travelogues, cartoons, documentaries, and other items. One of the most successful producers of shorts was a man named Pete Smith who had a quirky, nasal voice. His shorts were almost surrealistic, featuring a wide variety of experts (archers, bowlers, horsehoe pitchers, etc) doing seemingly impossible tricks. Instead of being a diversion, the Pete Smith Specialties came to be major attractions. People would come to see a picture that was a real stinker if the marquee said "New Pete Smith Short."
In 1942, Smith took on Jitterbug in a film short called Groovie Movie, a comical look at the world of swing dancing, starring Jean Veloz, Arthur Walsh, Chuck Saggau and Irene Thomas. The 9 minute film spoofs both dance instruction and efforts to find high culture in jitterbug. Taking on the Arthur Murray visual techniques, Jean and Arthur appear in uniforms that are half black and half white with foot- and hand-prints to show proper position. An animated sequence of footprints begins logically and soon becomes a hopelessly complictaed mess. Through the parody and comedy, Groovie Movie shows some of the finest examples of the Hollywood Style of Lindy Hop that have ever been filmed. Today, Swing dancers continue to mine this cult film for dance moves and techniques.

Charles Brown
"Hepcats gather round when fine jive hits the town
Crave a cheek that's fine with a fella's line that's groovy..."

Which obviously isn't exactly what Charles is singing. Eventually I'll figure it out. But "If you want to feel real groovy" is definitely in there. As is "I'm groovy as a pass (?) to a ten cent movie," three or four times. Don't know the exact date of recording, but it's on "Charles Brown, Vol. 1," a CD of tunes from 1944/1945. Won't know if it's actually our first true Groovy Great until we get more specific with the date - Slim Gaillard is also a contender - but for now we'll let it claim pride of place, if only because it may date from '44, and for the elegant simplicity of the title. Terrific tune!

Groove Juice Jive
Slim Gaillard
"If you want to feel real groovy,
Like a five and ten cent movie,
Don't need much chaser on the side
With a groove juice jive."

The opening lyric, more or less. Fact is, Mr Gaillard claimed to have invented the term "groovy," and it's not unlikey - Slim was famous for "viper talk," the slangiest of cannabis-stoked hip talk. This track is found on the 1998 cd Slim Gaillard Selected Hits, Vol. 2, a collection of tunes recorded in December of 1945 for the Cadet, Atomic and Bel-Tone labels. Dig.

That's The Groovy Thing
Earl Bostic
We might play fast, we might play slow,
We might play hot, we might play cool,
But when we swing, that's a groovy thing...

They're right.

(Art by John McLeod.)

There's Good Blues Tonight
Hal McIntyre Orchestra
"I'm a-tellin' you jack great days are back, 
Take the word of a bird with an ear
Get around the stand, listen to the band,
It's the jive you've been waiting to hear...
Ah yes there's good blues tonight, there's groovy blues tonight..."
A swell post-war radio broadcast by the impeccable Glenn Miller-spawned McIntyre ensemble, from the Century Room of the Hotel Commodore, New York City. Lots of other versions out there too, all from 1946, making it the grooviest year of them all, pre-1967; Tommy Dorsey, Les Brown, Lucky Millinder, Martha Tilton, The Pied Pipers, Erskine Hawkins, Buddy Sherwood and their various Orchestras, to name but a few. (on 'S Wonderful, Collectors' Choice Music #1037)
Recorded 5/8/46

Groovy Movie Blues
Johnny Moore's Three Blazers featuring Charles Brown
"I was sitting in a movie, wishing for someone to love,
When suddenly out of nowhere it came as a gift from above.
I said 'Baby let's get groovy, don't you know I love you so,
She whispered "Alright Daddy," I knew she couldn't say no...
Groovy as a movie, ham and eggs will come your way..."
(Okay, I'm pretty sure I don't have that last line right. That's part of the appeal.)
Johnny was big brother to Oscar, who played guitar with the incomparable Nat King Cole Trio. Well, I guess they were comparable - to Johnny Moore's Three Blazers, at the very least. Such a great sound

Groovy Boogie Woogie Boy
Webb Pierce & His Southern Valley Boys
I know a young feller down in the deep South,
Everybody listens when he opens his mouth,
A little disc jockey but he's awful loud,
They call him "Groovy Boy"...
Quite a departure from the hep-cat jive of Charles, Slim, Earl and Johnny, or the slicker swing rendered by Gene Krupa or Hal McIntyre. I found it on a disc called "Roots of Rockabilly," the guy who posted it on YouTube dubs it "Easy going Hillbilly Boogie," and I think that's just about right.
Recorded 3/25/1950

Dot's Groovy
Chet Baker Sextet, "Chet Baker's Big Band"
Our first groovy tune where the "groovy" is all in the tune. And the title. A fine west coast jazz instrumental - it moves, it swings, but still echoes the Cool School in the arrangement. Check out the line-up; Bob Brookmeyer, Bud Shank, Shelly Manne, and one of my favourite pianists, Russ Freeman. There's also a swell Jack Montrose / Bob Gordon recording, recorded 5/11/1955: once again, Shelly Manne on drums.
Recorded 9/9/1954

Happy Baby
Bill Haley & His Comets, "Shake, Rattle and Roll"
"She's a cutie little smoothy and she sure is groovy..."
A track from Bill Hailey's first long-player, when it was still all 78's. Part of the protracted birth of rock and roll, recorded twelve days after Chet's groovy number.
Recorded 9/21/1954
Released September 1955

That's The Groovy Thing
Red Prysock, "Rock 'n Roll"
That's Red on the tenor sax, covering Earl Bostic's vocal version from a decade before. "It's the beat that does it. If it's got the beat, the kids dance."

Red Garland, "Groovy"
No actual tunes with groovy title or lyric, but an album so named. By Miles Davis' pianist.

Groovy Tonight
Bobby Rydell, "Bobby's Biggest Hits"
Yikes. Sounds like a particularly cheesy radio ad. Rydell played Conrad Birdie in "Bye Bye Birdie" in 1963. B-side of "Swing," which got as high as #14 on the Billboard charts.
Billboard 1960/12/5 #70 2

Groovy Samba
Cannonball Adderley, "Cannonball's Bossa Nova"
Written by Sergio Mendes, who plays on this recording (as he does on the Herbie Mann recording in 1964). Darn fine jazz pianist. I prefer Adderley's tenor sax to Mann's flute, which I find a bit manic. (Pickwick later chopped a few tracks and reissued it as "Quiet Nights of Quiet Stars.") 
Recorded 12/7-12/1962

A Picture Of You
The Beatles
In the night, there're a thousand groovy scenes
'Cause I do own a cloud of green

But the only sight I want of you is that wonderful picture of you.
Joe Brown's Brit-country-flavoured original (UK hit, May '62) is almost groovy.  But leave it to George to tweak - or fumble - those lyrics just a bit. I don't know what he's singing, but it's clear enough he tossed in a "groovy" in the opening line when they covered it on the BBC radio programme "Here We Go." The "real" lyrics, as recorded by Joe Brown and the Bruvvers;
In the night, there are sights to be seen
Stars like jewels on the crown of a queen
But the only sight I want of you is that wonderful picture of you.
(Okay, I'm making that up, mostly. Once you hear the original, it's pretty obvious that The Shy Beatle merely mumbles, rather than tweaks or fumbles, the original lyrics. But hey - don't you think the Fabs belong amongst such groovy company? I do. And it's my blog.)
Recorded 6/15/1962

Groovy Baby
Billy Abbott & The Jewels
"Once I had a love (groovy baby)
She was my only love (groovy baby)
I'll take her back again if she'll be true (she'll be true / groovy baby)..."
Soulful vocal with a cool, kind of primitive drum and organ arrangement. From Philadelphia, apparently.
Billboard 7/20/1963 #55 8


Groovy Baby
George Kingston, "Nat King Cole and His Trio"
"Once I had a love (groovy baby)
She was my only love (groovy baby)
I'll take her back again if she'll be true (she'll be true / groovy baby)..."

Okay, you're thinking that's the wrong graphic. That's not George Kingston, you're thinking, that's Nat King Cole.
Tell it to the folks at Wyncote. They were a subsidiary label of Philadelphia's Cameo-Parkway Records that released their extensive back catalog on budget LPs. (I don't just know this kind of stuff. You can be as smart as me if you click here...) One of their dodgy ploys to move product was to put, say, four obscure Nat King Cole tunes they (maybe) had rights to on the front side of a record, and fill out the rest of the disc with half a dozen by somebody nobody'd ever heard of. Say, George Winston.
Only I'm thinking that nobody had ever heard of George Winston, because George Winston didn't exist. The sound-alike cover of "Groovy Baby" that "George" contributed to the Nat King Cole LP? That's no cover: that's the original. And that's no George Winston: that's Billy Abbott, who recorded the original on the Parkway label. Though apparently The Jewels weren't actually The Jewels, even in the first place: they were The Tymes.
Confused yet? I think that was the point. Wyncote sounds like a crazy joint.
I love this record. It's just so darn weird. Also, because "Let's Pretend" is really great - one of my favourite Nat King Cole tracks, one that doesn't turn up a lot of places. And hey - Billy "George Kingston" Abbott's version of "Groovy Baby" is pretty far out, too. Sounds just like the original.

Yeh! Yeh!
Lambert, Hendricks & Bavan
Scroll down a bit and you'll find Georgie Fame's chart-busting version that dislodged The Beatles' "I Feel Fine" from the UK singles chart. But it was hepcats Lambert, Hendricks and Bavan (what happened to Ross?!) who first put lyrics to Mongo Santamaria's 1963 Latin soul instrumental, introducing their "vocalese" version at the 1963 Newport Jazz Festival (with Coleman Hawkins and Clark Terry).

Little Oovy Groovy Ten Cent Movie
In 1955, George Clinton (later of the Funkadelics) put together a Frankie Lymon-inspired doo woo group in the back of the barber shop where he worked as a hair straightener. The Parliaments didn't have a hit until 1967 but they tried, and one of the many demos they cut was this one. Well, maybe. It's not clear if it was recorded, let alone released in any form, ever. But there's a fine Thomas Sayers Ellis poem commemorating it all - The Black Silk Palace, Plainfield, New Jersey (1964-1970);
"In 1964, George gave
Billy a job putting petroleum jelly
And mineral water in hair prior
To the application of the process,
So the scalps wouldn't burn.
A year earlier, George White,
The man who hired Clinton, died
And Ernie Harris bought
A fifty-percent share in the shop.
Together they wrote "Little Oovy Groovy
Ten Cent Movie" for Billy to sing."
There's more about the song in liner notes for the cd "Music For Your Mother," but I'm afraid that's a cd I don't have.

Groovy Samba
Herbie Mann, "Latin Fever"
Written by Sergio Mendes, who plays piano here, as he did on Cannonball Adderley's 1962 recording (which I prefer: Mann's flute sounds a bit shrill and frantic to my ears).
Released 1964

Little Honda
Beach Boys
"It's not a big motorcycle, just a groovy little motorbike..."

Do You Believe In Magic
Lovin' Spoonful
"And it's magic if the music is groovy,
And makes you feel happy like an old time movie..."

Yeh! Yeh!
Georgie Fame & The Blue Flames
Amped-up pop version of the Lambert/Hendricks/Bavan tune from 1963. Later covered by They Might Be Giants, Matt Bianco (1985) and eventually Diana Krall - performing the tune with none other than Georgie Fame himself!
"Every evening, when all my day's work is through
I call my baby, and ask him what shall we do.
I mention movies, but he don't seem to dig that
And then he asks me, why don't I come to his flat
And have some supper and let the evening pass by
By playing records besides a groovy hi-fi
I say yeh yeh..."
studio recording | Ready Steady Go
(Thanks, Mr Stahl...)

Groovy Samba
Cannoball Adderley & Sergio Mendes

The Ric-O-Shays
A Tucson band first dubbed The Gents, renamed The Travelers after recording the instrumental single "Spanish Moon" but before becoming The Ric-A-Shays in 1965. The multi-monikered musical aggregation's website boasts, "The single was picked up for national release by Vault Records, topping The Beatles on KAFYs Fabulous 55 (Bakersfield, CA) chart for one week in April 1964" - which The Ventures ripped off and recorded under the retitle "Tomorrow's Love." Cruel and shallow money trench, indeed.
In 1965 the group became The Ric-A-Shays with the release of their single, Turn On, which never charted. Neither did Groovy, though you can find it on the Hot Rockin' Instrumentals compilation. One reviewer calls Groovy a "Surfie Midwest style tune. A bit reminiscent of Gene Gray & his Stingrays stylistically, but not as vital or edgy." Then again, what is?
Eventually, The Gents/Travelers/Ric-A-Shays (hey, even The Quarrymen took a while to come up with a name) drifted apart after high school.
Think Of The Good Times - The Tucson 60s Sound (2002), liner notes: "Although their musical style had become too dated for the mid-Sixties music scene, history shows The New Travelers/Ric-A-Shays were ahead of their time, using terms like 'groovy' and 'turn on' in their song titles years before they became hippie-culture catch phrases." Well, not many years, but still.

We've Got A Groovey Thing Goin'
Simon & Garfunkel

Simon & Garfunkel
"Blessed are the penny rookers, cheap hookers, groovy lookers..."

Ain't That A Groove
James Brown

Somebody Groovy
The Mamas & The Papas

Wild Thing
"Wild thing
You make my heart sing
You make everything

Groovy Kind Of Love
Wayne Fontana & The Mindbenders

A Groovy Kind Of Love
Petula Clark, "I Couldn't Live Without Your Love"

Turn Down Day
"It's much too groovy a summer's day
To waste runnin' round in the city..."

Come Fly With Me
Frank Sinatra
"Weather-wise it's such a groovy day..."
"The Sands is proud to present a wonderful new show, 'A Man And His Music.' The music of Count Basie & His Band. And the man is Frank Sinatra!"

The 59th Street Bridge Song (Feelin' Groovy)
Simon & Garfunkel

Good Thing
Paul Revere & The Raiders
No one around to bring you down
Well it's a groovy world, girl
Let me bring you to a good good good good thing...

Huh? Paul and the boys trying to sound tough, like the Stones, with maybe a bit of Mamas & Papas, and definitely some Beach Boys, thrown in for good measure. Quite odd, actually - maybe even oddly effective. This one's growing on me. But whatever the final verdict, at least they say "groovy."

It Sure Is Groovy
Marlena Shaw

Hang On Groovy
Van Morrison
Hang on groovy, groovy hang on...
Contractual obligation throwaway. 57 seconds of guitar strumming (along the lines of Hang On Sloopy) with improvised lyrics. 57 seconds too much.

Sunny South Kensington
"If I'm a-late waitin' down the gate,
it's such a 'raz' scene,
A groovy place to live..."

So what the heck's a 'raz' scene, anyhow? It's alright, ma, everybody must get stoned. Vintage psychedelia from the "Mellow Yellow" album.

(If You Think You're) Groovy
P.P. Arnold, "The First Lady of Immediate"
"If you think you're groovy
You don't even move me..."

Pretty big hit in the UK, evidently. Maybe a bit of a Jefferson Airplane vibe, with some Janis Joplin at the climaxes.  The Definitive Anthology of the Small Faces also includes "a previously unissued version credited to The Lot, which was soul singer P.P. Arnold fronting The Small Faces." Different?

Beautiful People
Kenny O'Dell
No one can say that you're a wallflower
'Cause you've always got something groovy to say..."

Classics IV
In the cool of the evening when everything is getting kind of groovy
I call you up and ask if you'd like to go with me and see a movie..."

Groovy Summertime
Love Generation
Billboard 6/24/1967)

Out And About
Tommy Boyce & Bobby Hart (7/15/1967)
Out and about, bumping into friends and laughing
Out and about, what a groovy time we're having...

I Dig Rock & Roll Music
Peter, Paul & Mary
The message may not move me or mean a great deal to me,
But hey! it feels so groovy to say,
I dig the Mamas and the Papas at "The Trip," Sunset Strip in L.A...."


Something Happened To Me Yesterday
Rolling Stones, "Between The Buttons"
Something happened to me, 
Something oh so groovy... 
Billboard debut (album): 2/18/67 #2 47

Hey Baby, They're Playin' Our Song
The Buckinghams, "Portraits"
It made us feel so groovy,
We fell in love, just like in the movies...
Billboard debut: 9/9/67 #12 10

Making Every Minute Count
Spanky & Our Gang
"Making every minute count,
Making it groovy
Making love, making it now
If you know a better way of goin'
You know you'd better show me how"
single | Hollywood Palace
(Thanks, Bill!)

Esquivel, "1968 Esquivel!!!"
According to Wikipedia, the theme song for "Sex And The City." Guess I need to get caught up on my pop culture.

Country Girl – City Man
Billy Vera & Judy Clay
Gotta be some soul between a country girl and a city man
We could find, we could find it's groovy just to cross the line

Reach Out In The Darkness
Friend & Lover
I think it's so groovy now
that people are finally gettin' together...

The Story Of Rock & Roll
Rock & roll music, sweet groovy music
Well, it's the only kind of music
That reaches right to your soul...

Treat Her Groovy
New Colony Six

Turtles, "The Battle Of The Bands"
I really think you're groovy
Let's go out to a movie
What do you say now, Elenore, can we?

Okay, I was eleven. I didn't notice the tongue in the cheek. "Your looks intoxicate me, even though your folks hate me..." Or "Elenore, gee I think you're swell, and you really do me well, You're my pride and joy, et cetera..."  The "Battle Of The Bands" was an idiosyncratic concept album, with a series of tracks supposedly by a crazy variety of musical acts, culminating in the saccharine pop of "Elenore."  Best joke of all: most of us didn't notice the sarcasm, and the song climbed as high as Number Six.  Even then, the shelled ones were en route to Frank Zappa.
Billboard: 9/21/68 #6 12
live (dig the guy with the tambourine) | studio

A Little Less Conversation
Elvis Presley
Baby close your eyes and listen to the music
Dig to the summer breeze
Its a groovy night and I can show you how to use it
Come along with me and put your mind at ease

Your Groovy Self
Nancy Sinatra, "Speedway"
I've never seen an Elvis Presley movie. Judging from this clip, I need to. In small doses.

Do You Feel It Too?
Andy Kim (5/1968)
Oh baby, life is like a cartoon movie
Being with you makes it groovy
Everything you do is new to me

The Monkees (well, half of The Monkees, anyhow) covered this one on their comeback album (well, half of a comeback, anyhow) in 1986. I'll take Andy's version any day.

Your Wires Have Been Tapped
Pigmeat Markham
"Pretty soon you'll feel so groovy of the thing that you been thinking
You feel so bold, bold as can be, at the spirits you've been drinking..."
Here's what Bob Dylan has to say; "Pigmeat Markham. He was born Dewey Markham in 1904 in Durham, North Carolina. He got his nickname from a song he used to sing called 'Sweet Papa Pigmeat.' You might have recognized him when he appeared on tv on the Rowan & Martin Show doing 'Here Come The Judge.' This is from the backside of the fifties, when he was doing a romantic song about wiretapping." (Theme Time Radio Hour #22: "Phone")  
Bob's vague "backside of the fifties" comment notwithstanding, it seems more likely that the recording was released in the wake of Pigmeat's Laugh-In success, though I've not managed to find a specific date anywhere. And though the YouTube video shows the "Mr. Vaudeville" album cover, no, it's not on that particular slab of vinyl.

Cool and Groovy
Duke Ellington, "Private Collection, Volume 9: Studio Sessions, New York, 1968"
"The ninth of ten volumes of music from Duke Ellington's Private Collection of unknown tapes, this CD captures Ellington in 1968 shortly after clarinetist Jimmy Hamilton left the band and tenor saxophonist Harold Ashby joined up. There are a few obscurities such as the somewhat dated Trish Turner vocal on Cool and Groovy." AMG Any relation to...

Be Cool and Groovy For Me
Duke Ellington, "Duke Ellington Masters 1969, Vol. 2: The Second Set From Tivoli's Concert Hall"
Tony Bennett, "The Complete Collection" Disc 2
"Randy Newman's We Belong Together is not the absolute worst song written in the history of music. It is not even the worst song ever written by a great and important composer (or songwriting team) who should never have subjected the public to such pandering trash. That distinction still goes either to All Dark People Are Light on Their Feet by Rodgers and Hart, or Be Cool and Groovy for Me by Duke Ellington, with lyrics by Tony Bennett. I can’t make up my mind. What’s troubling in the case of Randy Newman—unlike Rodgers and Hart, who might have been blinded by the racism of their day when they wrote Dark People, or Ellington and Bennett, who were grossly out of touch with the hippie culture when they did Cool and Groovy —is the fact that Newman knows better." The New Republic
Here's an interview with the guilty party himself - who may have been out of touch with the times, or may just fundamentally have very little grasp of time in general. Tony Bennett: "I was on the road with Duke in the early ’70s.... So he said one day, 'Write a song with me.' I explained that I couldn’t really write words too well but that I sometimes could come up with a good melody. And he said, “If you write the music, I’ll write the words.” So I worked on it. And it took me a month on the road with him to meet Duke’s standards. After a month I just sang out a melody to him, he listened for a moment and said, 'That’s Cootie Williams.' I had lifted a riff from a Cootie Williams solo and didn’t even know it. I thought it was my idea. Over the years, I had forgotten about that tune. Then when I was getting this Ellington project together, Will Friedwald gave me a whole bunch of Ellington tapes to check out. One of the tunes I came across was this thing called Be Cool and Groovy for Me, and the composer credit reads: Duke Ellington-Tony Bennett-Cootie Williams. I had no idea that I wrote the song." JazzTimes

Grazing In The Grass
Friends of Distinction
All gratitude to groovy great correspondent Bill Stahl, who introduces one of my favourite late-sixties tunes into the collection. I never heard The Word in the lyrics before he pointed it out:
"There are so many groovy things to see while grazin' in the grass
(Grazin' in the grass is a yes, baby, can you dig it...)"
Such a great cover of the probably even greater Hugh Masekela instrumental original - though the cover's addition of the word "groovy" does much to level the playing field. (That said, Hugh has more cowbell...)

Working On A Groovy Thing
The 5th Dimension
So very Laura Nyro. (Thanks, Bill! By the way, is that you she was singing about?)

It's Getting Better
Mama Cass
Why would you release a song with that title, two years after Sgt Pepper's? Oh well. At least this one says "groovy"...
"There's something groovy and good
'Bout whatever we got
And it's getting better..."
(Oh. What do you know. This Mann-Weill sunshine pop number had been previously recorded by The Vogues (Aug 1968), Pierre Lalonde (Sep 1968), Spock (AKA Leonard Nimoy, 1968), The Will-O-Bees, Ronnie Buskirk, Freddie Gelfand, and P. K. Limited (all in 1969). And it's not even that good a song! One man's opinion...

Groovy Movies
The Kinks, "The Great Lost Kinks Album"
A Dave Davies recording intended for his ill-fated solo album.
(sorry about the video)

Groovy Grubworm
Harlow Wilcox

Groovy Little Suzy
Little Richard, "Good Golly Miss Molly"
Also check out "Little Richard Featuring Jimi Hendrix"?

Groovy Gravy
Quincy Jones, "Quincy Jones and Bill Cosby: The Original Jam Sessions 1969"
"The groove is loose and deep on these studio sessions recorded as backing music for the original Bill Cosby Show" AMG.  Including the very funky Hikky-Burr. Personnel includes Ray Brown, Joe Sample, Les MeCann, Monty Alexander, Milt Jackson, Eddie Harris, Ernie Watts, Jimmy Smith on various tracks.

What A Groovy Day
Harmony Grass

Workin' On A Groovy Thing
5th Dimension

No One For Me To Turn To
Spiral Starecase (8/30/1969)

Grooviest Girl In The World
Fun & Games

Groovy Situation
Gene Chandler
Billboard 11/7/1970

Nothing Can Touch Me
Original Caste

Groovy Spirit
Jackie Mittoo, "Wishbone"
Jamaica-born Toronto musician who "had some chart success with the infectious instrumental Wishbone (based, it would appear, on the central riff from The Beatles' Carry That Weight) in 1971, and released the supporting album that same year. A cosmopolitan mix of soul, funk, gospel, jazz and fusion with a subtle and compelling Jamaican underside - a rare and sought-after collector's classic."

It's A Groovy Idea
Barbara Acklin

The Lady Is A Tramp
Frank Sinatra
She likes the free fine wild knocked out koo-koo groovy wind in her hair...

Party Is A Groovy Thing
People's Choice
Thanks to Bill Stahl for this fine sample of pure groove. In the words of one YouTube commentator, "cold-blooded and down-right-funky."

Groovy, "Man In The Hills"
Released 8/18/1976

Groovy People
Lou Rawls

Another Town, Another Train
Abba (1976/9/18 album)
You and I had a groovy time
But I told you somewhere down the line
You would have to find me gone
I just have to move along
Just another town, another train

Steely Dan, "Aja"
Peg, it will come back to you,
Then the shutter falls, you see it all in 3-D,
It's your favorite foreign movie,
Okay, this is a real cheat, but a delicious one. No, you're right, the original recording didn't include our word. But it did include the most-frequently-occurring-in-songs-that-also-include-the-word-groovy word that there is. And this really swell remix does include our word! Near the end, right around the 5:32 mark. If you're impatient, jump to about the 5:55 mark and listen close! And then go back and dig the whole track. Groovy. Foreign movie.

Groovy Times

Groovy Little Hippie Pad
ZZ Top, "El Loco"

Such A Groovy Guy
Weird Al Yankovic

Groovy Train
The Farm
Perhaps one YouTube commentator says it best: "Vons grocery store music led me here."
Videos have come a long way...

Green Tinted Sixties Mind
Mr. Big, "Lean Into It"
You be lookin' groovy in a sixties movie
Maybe tell the press you died...
Billboard debut (album): 1991/4/20 #15 38

L'Trimm, "Groovy"

Groovy Little Things
Ted Hawkins

Groovy Little Thing
Beres Hammond

Cantaloop (Flip Fantasia)
Groovy groovy jazzy funky
pounce ounce dance as we
Dip in the melodic sea,
the rhythm keeps flowin, it drips to MC...

Groovy Kind Of Love
Neil Diamond, "Up On The Roof: Songs From The Brill Building"

I'm An Errand Girl For Rhythm
Diana Krall
"You can always find me down at Smokey Joe's,
That's where all the hip and groovy people go..."

Unfortunately, in the Nat King Cole Trio original (1945), Smokey Joe's is merely "the place where every gal and gator goes." (Girls dancing with alligators? Groovy.)

Becky Sharp, "Becky Sharp"
Released 10/10/1995

Spiraling Shape
They Might Be Giants
The spiralling shape will make you go insane
(Everyone wants to see that groovy thing)
But everyone wants to see that groovy thing
(Everyone wants to see that thing)

Drinking In L.A.
Bran Van 3000
Feeling kind of groovy,
Working on a movie.
Yeah right...

Beat Outlaws, "Feel The Bass"
Released 10/21/1997

Saliva, "Saliva"
Released 8/26/1997

Sonia Leigh, "Laundry"
Released 4/11/2000

The Groovy Thang
Minimal Funk, "Fatboy Slim's Live on Brighton Beach"
Released June 25, 2002

Groovy Cafe
NRBQ, "Music's Been Good To You"
"...previously unearthed live and studio nuggets spanning nearly three decades. The Dadaist Groovy Cafe is a fun throwaway tune." AMG
Compilation released 8/6/2002

A Groovy Affair
Martin Sasse

Treble Clef, "Don't Stop Dreaming"
Released 8/3/2004

Groovy Day
Mark Rivers

Groovy Christmas

Groovy, "Heretic 1.0"

She's Groovy!

You're Groovy (For Boy Blue)
Shawn Amos

Alien Project

Chris Laubis, "Autumnsongs"

Patrick Riley, "Some Other Time... Perhaps"

Perry Rose, "Happy Live" and "Hocus Pocus"

Billie the Vision & the Dancers, "I Used To Wander These Streets"

Colour Me Groovy
The Rich Morton Sound, "The Theme That Never Was: Fictional Film & Imaginary TV '66 - '73"
Released 1/8/2009

Paul Goddard, "2AM Flight"
Released 5/19/2009

Simon Osler, "The Mix"
Released July 31, 2012 (?)

 first posted March 2007

to be added...
The Eleventh Song (What A Groovy Day!) – by the Fifth Dimension (also ’68, written by Jimmy Webb)
Feelin' Groovy (59th St Bridge Song) – Southwest FOB (Texas band from ’69, doing a medium heavy version. Group included England Dan and John Ford Cooley), plus Paul Desmond (sax instrumental), Al Kooper, Simon and Garfunkel, and Garfunkel dueting with his son.
Golf Is Groovy – Parry Grip (recent recording; more of a parody)
Goodbye Groovy – The Herd (probably ’68 – Peter Frampton’s band pre-Humble Pie and solo success)
Groovy - Joe Dodo & The Groovers (New Orleans fifties recording. Sax instrumental with the term ‘Groovy’ sung many, many times over)
Groovy Baby - Billy Abbot And The Jewels (1963, from Philadelphia, lamenting the fact that somewhere there’s a guy ‘making love to my groovy girl’)
Groovy Date – Jimmy Smith (1957 jazz instrumental)
Groovy Grubworm – Sandy Nelson (instrumental version by ‘Teen Beat’ drummer)
A Groovy Kind of Love –seven versions by as many artists
Groovy Lady – The Meters (New Orleans instrumental funk from 1970)
Groovy Little Suzie – Bo Peep (an alias for Harry Nilsson from 1964)
Groovy Little Thing – original by Ted Hawkins, plus obscure cover from Vancouver’s Bruce Nauer
Groovy Little Trip – Marshmallow Overcoat (retro garage psychedelic from ’86)
Groovy Little Woman – Wilson Pickett (1969)
Groovy Motions – The Fireballs (from ’68, pop with sitar)
Groovy Movies – the Kinks (1969)
A Groovy Place – The Mike Flowers Pops (British parody/spoof on lounge music from 1996)
Groovy Relationship – Kenny O’Dell (1970. Yes; the same guy who sang ‘Beautiful People.’ Features a sitar. Very groovy)
Groovy Summertime – Love Generation (1967 – great pop, group later sang backgrounds for the Partridge Family)
Groovy Times – The Clash (rockin’ punk/pop)
Groovy Tuesday - The Smithereens (late 80s power pop)
(If You Think You’re) Groovy – P.P. Arnold (with Small Faces backing), The Tremeloes or The Flames, a South African band with 2 members who eventually joined the Beach Boys.
My Old Man’s A Groovy Old Man – Easybeats (mid 60s Australian pop)
Somebody Groovy – Mamas & Papas
Treat Her Groovy – New Colony Six (catchy ’67 single from Chicago combo)
The Weddin' March (I Feel Groovy) – Friend & Lover (groovy duet that conservatives can dig)
What A Groovy World – no artist given; it’s on an anthology of Sharon Sheeley demos
Where Is Groovy Town? – Young Fresh Fellows (80s power pop)
Workin’ On A Groovy Thing – original by Patti Drew a year earlier than Fifth Dimension in 1969
3625 Groovy Street – The Wildcats (1963)

Friday, July 06, 2012

clive "staples" lewis: the untold story

One is appalled at the dearth of attention afforded Clive Staples Lewis's seminal role in the popularization of gospel music. Even in musicological circles, little mention is made of "Grandpops" Staples, clear proof that even in the latter half of the 20th century the colour of a man's skin was still reason enough to have him and an essential aspect of his life's work excised from at least two sets of history books.  (C.S. can be clearly heard on this early Staples recording of Uncloudy Day, singing low harmony and playing tremelo guitar.) 

not pictured: Clive Staples Lewis

One's mind boggles at the fact that so-called Lewis "scholars" still subscribe to the "Jack is dead" theory, conflating the death of John F. Kennedy and the release of the Beatles' second record with Clive's decision to go on the road with Roebuck, Cleotha, Pervis and Mavis, late in 1963. Coming at the end of a particularly prolific year in the lives of these artists, the tour was in support of the recently recorded albums Swing Low, Hammer and Nails, The 25th Day of December, Letters To Malcolm, and The Discarded Image: An Introduction to Medieval and Renaissance Literature, all of which were released on the Riverside label over the course of the following year (1964). Even the most definitive Lewis biographies make no mention of "Jack" scribbling away on his manuscripts for Screwtape Proposes A Toast  or Of Other Worlds (published under the pseudonym "Walter Hooper") backstage between sets at the Apollo, or during sessions at Checker Records.  

not pictured: Clive Staples Lewis

It is no coincidence that Lewis's literary output dwindled once the Staples crossed over into the mainstream with their recordings for Epic and Stax Records in 1967/68: the escalating pressures of television broadcasts and public performances, and the fact that the group was increasing in demand as session musicians with high-profile acts like Booker T & The MG's, The Band, Ike & Tina Turner increasingly eclipsed the low-paid literary efforts of Lewis's youth. 

not pictured: Clive Staples Lewis

His last known studio work was on Mavis Staples' 2010 recording You Are Not Alone, to which Clive contributed celeste, mellotron, organ, piano, tambourine, vibraphone, Wurlitzer organ and background vocals, credited as Patrick Sansone - a clear reference to Elwin Ransom, Lewis's literary alter-ego. Clive "Staples" Lewis was 111.

by Ronald K. Reed, B.A. (General Studies) photo credit: Andrea Loewen

Thursday, July 05, 2012

c.s. lewis | serious pleasures

I quite agree with what you say about buying books, and love all the planning and scheming beforehand, and if they come by post, finding the neat little parcel waiting for you on the hall table and rushing upstairs to open it in the privacy of your own room. Some people - my father for instance - laugh at us for being so serious over our pleasures, but I think a thing can't be properly enjoyed unless you take it in earnest, don't you?

C.S. Lewis,
letter to Arthur Greeves,
March 7, 1916