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Morning Song – Hallelujah Lord

“Hallelujah Lord!” is, appropriately, a polyphony of praise from the great Twin Cities choir, Sounds Of Blackness. If you listen to this short (less than two minutes) clip and don’t have some part of your spirit lifted…well, with all due respect, you’re not doing it right.

Morning Song – The Bean Stalks Again

Outsourcing for musical analysis/history to commenter “medjuck” on the jazz forums discussion page:

On the 1941 Metronome All Stars version of “One O’Clock Jump” Coleman Hawkins begins his solo with a 3 note repeated riff that shows up a few months later as the main theme of the Basie band’s “Feedin’ the Bean” with Hawkins sitting in. It’s credited to Basie as composer but on The Hawk In HiFi it’s called “The Bean Stalks Again” and is credited to Hawkins….

Later in that same thread commenter “bichos” traces Hawkins’ use of that riff through 20 years of recorded jazz history—back to a 1937 all-star jam in Paris with Benny Carter and Django Reinhardt and forward to this 1956 recording of “The Bean Stalks Again” with Billy Byers and his orchestra.

It’s the kind of riff that can get in your head and brighten your whole day.




Morning Song – No Diggity

There’s a lengthy and learned socio-anthropological tome to be written about the 16 year journey that took “No Diggity” from the streets of LA to the a capella “battles” of Hollywood…but not here and not now.

This little blog has just two observations to make:

  1. “No Diggity” is some sort of distant cousin to The Beatles’ “I Saw Her Standing There“. In both songs, the narrator—alternately shy and boastful, awed and aroused—is basically just watching a woman and (maybe) dancing with her.
  2. If Chuck Berry’s “Johnny B. Goode” is the origin myth of rock and roll (it is), “No Diggity” at least contains within itself the origins of hip-hop: kids listening to and talking about their parents’ records, searching for that perfect moment—a funky drum break, a jazzy piano riff, pretty much anything by James Brown—and then through the alchemy of human creativity, making something new of it. The perfect moment “No Diggity” producer Teddy Riley found was Bill Withers’ opening “mm-hmm” from his 1971 single, “Grandma’s Hands“.

And yeah, it’s pretty much perfect.

I can’t get her out of my mind;
I think about the girl all the time;
East side to the west side…

I like the way you work it;
No diggity, I got to bag it up….

Morning Song – You Don’t Have To Be A Star

You know what else the ’70s had? More flutes in pop songs. (What’s happened to all the flutes?)

Billy Davis Jr. and Marilyn McCoo didn’t write “You Don’t Have To Be A Star”, but they’ve lived it, having successfully navigated the perils and temptations of dual-show biz careers while staying together as a couple for four decades (and another one before that) since having a #1 hit with this sweet, buoyant and rock-solid love song.

Morning Song – I Will Always Love You

You’d be forgiven for thinking that Dolly Parton (who also wrote the song) and Whitney Houston had explored every nook and cranny of the heartfelt, aching and beautiful “I Will Always Love You“.

But not quite. Check out this stunning acoustic solo version by the late Chris Cornell, lead singer for Soundgarden, Audioslave, and Temple Of The Dog. Cornell brings all the delicacy, nuance, power and raw emotion that made him (as much as anyone) the voice of Seattle grunge, and one of the great rock vocalists, period.

Morning Song – Black Dog

Here’s how Robert Plant, speaking 45 years ago to an American concert audience, explained the genesis of “Black Dog”, one of Led Zeppelin’s most popular and instantly recognizable songs:

Let me tell you ’bout this poor old dog because he was a retriever in his early days, and the only thing he could ever find in his late days was his old lady who lived two houses away from where we were recording. And he used to go see the old lady quite regularly, but after he’d “boogied” and everything else he couldn’t get back. And we used to carry him back.

It’s one thing for a young man, trying to imagine what it’s like to be old and, well…horny, to sing that song. It’s another to sing it 40 years later, after that young man has grown into an old man and has…let’s call it a “deeper appreciation” for the situation of that old dog. That’s what Plant does here, dueting with the great Alison Krauss on a hushed, wry, sexy, playful, countrified-yet-still-rocking version of “Black Dog”.

“All I ask for, all I pray,
Steady rolling woman gonna come my way;
Need a woman, gonna hold my hand,
Won’t tell me no lies, make me a happy man

Morning Song – Instant Groove

Now everybody got a thing; we want you to come on out here and do it now.

King Curtis speaks; you listen.