Sunday Morning Coming Down

Before I go any further, a thank you to you all. You are quite the politest bunch of readers that I could ask for.

What makes me say that? Well, last week I posted John Prine’s “Yes I Guess They Oughta Name A Drink After You”, despite having posted the very same song in the very same thread about six weeks earlier, and not one of you was impolite enough to mention it. So, spry about that, and thank you.

Now, to today’s song, which has most definitely never appeared here before.

The other night, BBC4 once again showed “Last Orders”, the documentary about Chas & Dave. If you’ve never seen it before, then try and catch it sometime if you can, irrespective of whether you like their music or not.

Because one of the most fascinating things that you’ll learn is the history that the duo had before they found fame.

Take Chas Hodges, for example: for many years a jobbing session musician, he worked with legendary producer Joe Meek, played with Mike Berry and The Outlaws along with Richie Blackmore in pre-Deep Purple/Rainbow days, with Cliff Bennett and the Rebel Rousers, and toured with Jerry Lee Lewis and Gene Vincent.

Chas is best known for playing the piano, but he’s also an accomplished guitar, bass, violin and banjo player. And it was the bass and the violin that he played whilst in Heads Hands & Feet, along with guitar legend Albert Lee.

And this is them:

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More soon.

Sunday Morning Coming Down

Of course, when I bemoaned the lack of good songs about Easter the other day, I was intentionally overlooking the wealth of songs which can be found in Country music.

This shouldn’t really come as much of a surprise, given the history of Country music is irrevocably entwined with that of Gospel music, so here’s a couple to enhance your Easter Sunday.

“Were You There (When They Crucified My Lord)” is believed to have been composed by African-American slaves, for it can be traced back to 1899, to the source of many  such songs: William Eleazar Barton’s “Old Plantation Hymns”.

It’s also reported to be one of Mahatma Ghandi’s favourite songs.

So, y’know, what’s good from the source is good for the Ghandi.

(I know, it doesn’t quite work, that one, does it?)

Here’s the biggest star that Country music ever produced covering it:

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Johnny Cash – Were You There (When They Crucified My Lord)

Cash was of course a deeply spiritual and religious man, so it’s no surprise either to find this standard nestling in his back catalogue:

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Johnny Cash – The Old Rugged Cross

I’m guessing that whoever drew that picture of Cash was probably the same person who designed the bust of footballer Cristiano Ronaldo which made the news recently. See if you can spot the difference… :

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More soon.

Sunday Morning Coming Down

This morning, another entry into the canon of song titles that you would only find in Country music, by a chap whose back catalogue I am still exploring (not a euphemism).

I think this is probably more of a Saturday night than a Sunday morning song, unless you start early, that is:

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John Prine – Yes I Guess They Oughta Name A Drink After You

That is all.

More soon.

Sunday Morning Coming Down

We’re travelling back to 1979 this morning, and to a song which was the only UK hit for a Country artist more renowned for penning songs made famous by others.

Mind you, Hoyt Axton came from prestigious song-writing stock: his mother, Mae Boren Axton co-wrote “Heartbreak Hotel” with Tommy Durden.

As for Hoyt, he wrote such songs as “Greenback Dollar” for The Kingston Trio, “The Pusher” for Steppenwolf, which featured on the soundtrack of “Easy Rider” and “Joy to the World”, a number one hit in the US for Three Dog Night.

But the most famous of his own recordings must be this one:

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Hoyt Axton – Della and the Dealer

I’d love to say that the most famous thing about Axton was his music, but for many folks of a certain age there is something he is perhaps more well known for.

Some of you may be looking at that picture, scratching your head and trying to work out where you know him from.

I imagine, it’s from this:

I think we can safely say my next hour and a half is going to be spent watching “Gremlins”, yet again.

More soon.

Sunday Morning Coming Down

It’s my least favourite day of the year today.

Mother’s Day.

Just kidding! Today is the day that the clocks go forward an hour here in the UK, meaning I get an hour less in bed.

Actually, that’s not true, and I’ve never really understood people who say that. Stay in bed for the same amount of time as usual, and let the hour be taken out of the rest of the day.

Anyway, it is also Mother’s Day, so here’s something appropriate which has featured here before, but when I started trying to think of an appropriate track to play on this Mother’s Day, I couldn’t get this, from the much missed Merle Haggard, out of my head:

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Merle Haggard & The Strangers – Mama Tried

More soon.

Sunday Morning Coming Down

I received a really lovely couple of emails from long-time viewer George this week.

George and I have been in touch for many months now, since I was first unable to source a track for The Chain which he helped me out with. Since then, we’ve exchanged emails every now and then, often talking about politics or current affairs, but more often than not, about music.

The first email I got from him this week advised me that he had ordered a copy of an album I’ve featured a couple of times before here; the second was telling me it had arrived, he was listening to it and loving it, and thanking me for bringing it to his attention.

I replied that since I knew of the record because my dad owned a copy when I was a kid, it should be him George thanked, and that I’d pass on his thanks to him.

Which I did yesterday, and he seemed pretty chuffed that someone else had bought an album as an indirect result of him purchasing it forty-odd years ago.

So I figured it would be appropriate to post something else from the album in question. Perhaps the most well-known version of today’s track is performed by The Whites and appears on the soundtrack of the Coen brothers’ 2000 movie “O Brother, Where Art Thou?”, and is a song recorded many times by the Carter family dynasty – in fact, it’s practically The Carter Family’s theme tune. A.P. Carter’s tombstone even has a gold record of the song embedded in it.

Here’s the version from The Nitty Gritty Dirt Band’s “Will The Circle Be Unbroken” triple album, complete with explanatory introduction by none other than Mother Maybelle Carter:

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The Nitty Gritty Dirt Band – Keep on the Sunny Side

If that doesn’t put a smile on your face, then I don’t know what will.

More soon.

Sunday Morning Coming Down

First making her name in the Pacific Northwest, where she’s been called “Seattle’s Emmylou,” and heralded as one of the best songwriters to come out of Washington State, Zoe Muth began by playing bars and cafes as a young pre-school teacher, saving up her minimum wage earnings and beer bucket tips to pay for her 2009 debut album, Zoe Muth and the Lost High Rollers.

Today’s song comes from the follow-up album, 2011’s “Starlight Hotel” and sits nicely in that category: “Song Titles Which You Would Only Find in Country Music”, and describes that moment when you find that someone you’re attracted to turns out to have bloody awful taste in music:

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Zoe Muth and the Lost High Rollers – If I Cant Trust You With a Quarter (How Can I Trust You With My Heart?)

More soon.