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Morning Song – More Than You Know

(One in a series of posts inspired by Rumble: The Indians Who Rocked The World.)

Mildred Bailey didn’t exactly “rock the world“. Her heyday was in the 1930s, when she and then-husband Red Norvo were known as “Mr. & Mrs. Swing”.

On the other hand—in addition to giving Bing Crosby one of his first breaks and introducing him to Louis Armstrong’s music a few years after she’d left her home on the Coeur D’Alene reservation near DeSmet, Idaho—she apparently did thoroughly rock the world of an adolescent Anthony Dominick Benedetto.

From 16 to 20 years old, that’s the only thing I listened to was Mildred Bailey. I just said, ‘I want to learn to sing like her’.” — Tony Bennett

Listen to her lovely, precise, sweet and swinging version of “More Than You Know” and you’ll know why.

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Beauty All Around Me – Fuzzy Bush

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Morning Song – Red Dirt Boogie, Brother

(One in a series of posts inspired by Rumble: The Indians Who Rocked The World.)

I just play the notes that sound good.”  — Jesse Ed Davis

Maybe it really is just as simple—and profound—as that. At the least, it’s as good an explanation as any for Kiowa guitarist Jesse Ed Davis’ incredible and all-too-brief career.

For a decade or so in the 1960s and 70s, it’s almost easier to say who Davis didn’t play with. Check it out: He played with all four Beatles and the Rolling Stones and the Faces. Eric Clapton played backup on Davis’ first album. He started out with country legend Conway Twitty, played the blues with John Lee Hooker, Albert King and Lightnin’ Hopkins, and a little bit of everything with Taj Mahal. In 1973 Davis went from one session job with glam art rocker/Roxy Music alum Bryan Ferry to another with folkie Arlo Guthrie. Duane Allman decided to learn slide guitar after hearing Davis play “Statesboro Blues”. And that’s just a small sampling of Davis’ far-ranging and profound influence on a generation of popular music.

Here’s Davis’ Okie/Indian-pride anthem “Red Dirt Boogie, Brother” from his second solo album, Ululu. (Backing him up: on piano, Dr. John; on bass, Donald “Duck” Dunn; on drums, Jim Keltner. Told you he played with everybody.)

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Beauty All Around Me – Glorious Morning

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Morning Song – Mahk Jchi

(One in a series of posts inspired by Rumble: The Indians Who Rocked The World.)

Pura Fé was born to sing.

It’s not just that her mother was a classically trained opera singer who worked with Duke Ellington. It’s also that she’s descended from 8 generations of Tuscarora singing women in New York and North Carolina.

Her “Mahk Jchi” (I suspect something of the meaning gets lost in the translation to “Heartbeat Drum Song”) has a power that lingers…and sustains.

Our hearts are full and our minds are good;
Our ancestors come and give us strength;
Stand tall, sing, dance and never forget who you are,
Or where you come from.   (English translation)

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Beauty All Around Me – Muddy River, Sunny Day

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Morning Song – Country Road

Listen to a lot of James Taylor songs—and know a little about his struggles with drug addiction and with mental illness—and you realize how much of his artistry is driven by the need to keep himself sane, sober, and centered.

Take “Country Road”, for example.

Taylor’s been singing it for nearly 50 years now, and he sings it almost exactly the same way. It’s built around the same chord progressions and picking patterns that pretty much every song you think of as a quintessential “James Taylor” song (e.g., “Something In The Way She Moves”, “Carolina In My Mind”, “Fire & Rain”) is built around. It’s about the need for solitude. (The need for love is his other great theme.) And his arrangement of the song hasn’t changed, except to dig deeper into and stretch out on the bridge, on live performances like this one from 1993 with his touring band (many of whom are still with him).

I guess my feet know where they want me to go….”