I don’t know what Charles Mingus had against trumpets, but in the mid-1950s he put out a series of albums with small bands that featured sax and trombone players, along with an unexceeded rhythm section. “My Jelly Roll Soul” is a throwback and tribute to one of Mingus’ great musical heroes, Jelly Roll Morton.
The Zombies were one of thousands (or so it seemed at the time) of boy bands that made up the British Invasion. They lasted longer (until 1967) than most groups and had a few big hits (e.g., “She’s Not There”, “Time Of The Season”). “She’s Coming Home” wasn’t one of them.
You can hear why. The tempo wobbles. The lyrics don’t scan, let alone rhyme well. The beat never settles into a solid groove for more than a couple of measures.
But on the fadeout as the chorus repeats, there’s a moment when the minor chord progression catches a groove, the backing harmonies blend and lift the song to a higher plane, and lead singer Colin Blunstone’s voice catches as he reaches for the high note on “She’s coming home to me” that just about makes the song all by itself.
Matt Nathanson looks and sounds like a sweet, sensitive folk-rock singer-songwriter, but make no mistake. “Come On Get Higher” is about Topic A; and the song’s narrator is—in his own nice, polite, suburban, prep school grad kind of way—as intoxicated by the object of his desire (and his own hormonal surges) as any number of more “explicit” singers and rappers from other musical genres.
Not that there’s anything wrong with that*.
Country singer Eddy Raven’s career peaked in the late 1980s when he had 17 consecutive Top Ten hits. “Right Hand Man” was one of them, reaching #18 on the Country charts in early 1987.
Raven’s “Right Hand Man” is—at least in his telling of the story—a faithful and disappointed lover (not unlike Cee-Lo Green’s in “Forget You”) who “can be replaced by another, who’s carrying the gold“.
*that I’m starting right now.
In Lin-Manuel Miranda’s Hamilton, “Right Hand Man” tells the story of how Alexander Hamilton came to be George Washington’s chief assistant for improving the operations of the ragtag Continental Army.
Joan Osborne’s “Right Hand Man” is performing an entirely different kind of operation.
I’ve been on the floor lookin’ for a chair;
I’ve been on a chair lookin’ for a couch;
And I’ve been on a couch lookin’ for a bed…
Lookin’ for a bed,
Lookin’ for my, my…my right hand…my right hand man.
A longtime reader writes:
“If you’re ever looking for a morning song from Hamilton, I’ve got to say ‘Right Hand Man’ is one of my favorites in terms of musical mixing and brilliant storytelling.”
And not just any musical mixing. Exhilaratingly wild and crazy musical mixing that bumps Gilbert & Sullivan references (“Now I’m the model of a modern major general, the venerated Virginian veteran whose men are all, lining up to put me on a pedestal”) up against Jay-Z and Busta Rhymes, Sondheim with Flavor Flav and the Bomb Squad.
I’ll rise above my
your information, ‘til
we rise to the occasion
of our new nation.
I guess we’re all going to have to reckon with the unlikely-in-the-extreme possibility of an Irish-Catholic vice-president who not only sings in a gospel choir (shout out to St. Elizabeth’s Church in Richmond VA) but—according to a 2012 Washington Post article—solos on “Taste & See” (written by James E. Moore, Jr. who grew up just down the road from Richmond, in the little town of La Crosse, VA).
The age of miracles is not yet past.