Where Song Titles Come From: Part 1
Faine Books - Jazz Blog
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6M ago
Song titles come to songwriters in mysterious and unanticipated ways. Sometimes composers spot a road sign, a marquee, or a license plate, and—kapow!—a song title. And from titles come verses, choruses, and songs.  Read on for some examples.  ​ ​ A cinema across the street from Black Sabbath’s rehearsal room was showing the 1963 horror film Black Sabbath starring Boris Karloff. While watching people line up to see the film, bassist and lyricist Geezer Butler noted that it was strange that people spend so much money to see scary movies. ​Hence, the band’s name, the first rec ..read more
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Alternative National Anthems: What They Have in Common
Faine Books - Jazz Blog
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8M ago
At various times people, have declared both “God Bless America” and “This Land Is Your Land” as alternatives to the “Star Spangled Banner.” Whether one would be a better choice over the other is not the focus here, but rather, what the songs have in common: Once written, both songs were shelved—20 years in the case of “America” and four years for “This Land.” After they were resurrected, their original lyrics were tweaked for the better. “God Bless America” (Irving Berlin) ​ Irving Berlin, 1948. The US Army drafted Broadway composer Irving Berlin in 1918 and assigned him to Camp Upton (th ..read more
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Unusual Musical Instruments
Faine Books - Jazz Blog
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8M ago
As long as there are kitchen utensils and leftover glassware in the recording studio, who would ever need to hire a band? ​ ​THE DIXIE CUPS The Brill Building songwriting team of Jeff Barry and Ellie Greenwich brought the singing Dixie Cups, a New Orleans girl group, into the studio to touch up a song they were working on with songwriting producer Mike Stoller. The principals gathered in the booth when by chance the engineer opened the mics to the studio. Just for fun, the Dixie Cups were singing an old Mardi Gras song called “Iko Iko.” It knocked everybody out. ​The decision was made to ..read more
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Joni Mitchell Joins the Geographical Incongruity Song List
Faine Books - Jazz Blog
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10M ago
Joni Mitchell, 1974. Wikimedia Commons. ​In Serendipity Doo-Dah: True Stories of Happy Musical Accidents, Book Two, we learned of songwriters who, in the dead heat of a California summer, wrote about the opposite: winter in the distant north. These were no fly-by-night tunesmiths either: Sammy Cahn and Jule Styne (“Let It Snow! Let It Snow! Let It Snow!”), Bob Wells and Mel Tormé (“Christmas Song”), Irving Berlin (“White Christmas”), and Jay Livingston and Ray Evans (“Silver Bells”). Ted Gioia referred to this songwriter peculiarity as “geographical incongruity.”[1] ​Well, here’s an ..read more
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Tribute to Wayne Shorter 1933–2023
Faine Books - Jazz Blog
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1y ago
Wayne Shorter. 2006. Photo credit: Tom Beetz. LISTEN TO PODCAST When most jazz fans think of Wayne Shorter, they are likely to conjure up one or more of his Blue Note albums (e.g., Juju), and/or one or more of his Miles Davis albums (e.g., Miles Smiles), and/or one or more of his Weather Report albums (e.g., Heavy Weather). My first thoughts, however, run to Native Dancer, that hybridized, outlier collaboration with musicians from Brazil. When the LP came out in 1975, I bought six copies and gave five to friends—I loved it that much. Wayne had featured several Brazilian rhythm tracks on pre ..read more
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Brubeck Takes the “A” Train to Moscow
Faine Books - Jazz Blog
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1y ago
Left (from left to right): Dave Brubeck, Eugene Wright, Ronald Reagan, Mikhail Gorbachev in 1988 (credit: Dave Brubeck); right: Dave Brubeck Quartet Take the “A” Train album, 1962. ​​In May 1988, President Ronald Reagan traveled to Moscow to meet with Soviet leader Mikhail Gorbachev to begin the fourth nuclear disarmament summit held in the previous three years. ​Accompanying him, at the request of First Lady Nancy Reagan, was the Dave Brubeck Quartet (Bill Smith, clarinet; Randy Jones, drums; Chris Brubeck, electric bass; and guest bassist Eugene Wright from the 1960s classic quartet). Th ..read more
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From Whence Came Philip Glass?
Faine Books - Jazz Blog
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1y ago
Spike Jones and His City Slickers. Credit: discogs.com ​NPR All Songs Considered host Bob Boilen once asked modern classical composer Philip Glass to name the song that dramatically changed his life.  Glass said the William Tell Overture (1829) by Italian composer Gioachino Rossini. [1] ​ Philip Glass in Italy. 1993. Wikipedia ​No surprise there, most would think. After all, Glass had written 10 symphonies, hundreds of sonatas, and 12 operas. But—and here’s the rub—he wasn’t referring to the version rendered by the New York Philharmonic or the Italian La ..read more
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The Doobie Brothers’ First Hit
Faine Books - Jazz Blog
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1y ago
Left: The Doobie Brothers in 1976. Right: What Were Once Vices Are Now Habits album, released 1974. Credit: Wikipedia As we learned in Serendipity Doo-Dah, Book Two, record industry officials are more often wrong than right when it comes to picking a hit single off an album. Here’s another instance: a Doobie Brothers single, somewhat early on, from their fourth album, What Were Once Vices Are Now Habits. The songs include “Another Park, Another Sunday” and “Black Water.”[1] Highly qualified and very experienced producer Ted Templeman put “Another Park” on the A-side of the single fig ..read more
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Ella Fitzgerald: The Accidental Singer
Faine Books - Jazz Blog
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1y ago
Ella Fitzgerald performing at the Helsinki Culture Hall in Helsinki, Finland. April 1963. Credit: Wikipedia ​Is it possible that singer Ella Fitzgerald’s career was the result of a happy musical accident? You bet. Read on.             It was 1934, and 16-year-old Fitzgerald found herself backstage at the Harlem Opera House, nervously shifting from one foot to the other as she waited to take part in an amateur contest as a dancer. She hoped to dance professionally one day, and this was her first opportunity to strut her stuff. Behi ..read more
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Jazz Book Collection
Faine Books - Jazz Blog
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1y ago
Left to right: Duke Ellington (1954), Miles Davis (1955), Louis Armstrong (1955). Wikipedia/Wikimedia Commons In the fall of 2019, I profiled my jazz LP collection (see October / November blogs) and in the summer of 2022, my jazz CD collection (see May / June / July blogs). ​Hence, it is only logical and reasonable that I do the same for my music book collection: 709 books strong, with 441 jazz books and 268 non-jazz books (pop, rock, Broadway, other). Here I present the jazz books, the first of which I purchased in 1965, and the bulk of them I acquired during the 1970–2000 time ..read more
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