I stopped teaching two weeks ago but my contract ended today. I could explain the two week gap but it’s not interesting. So today was the last day that I got paid to work. It’s also more than 6 weeks since I drank some beer so I thought I’d celebrate by having a pint of Old Speckled Hen. It was delicious. Unfortunately it gave me the munchies so I’ve been scoffing for two hours now. At 8 o’clock I stopped eating and went outside to clap the NHS workers. Some of my friends , understandably don’t like the affirmation that our seriously incompetent government assumes onto itself by this national outpouring of gratitude. While I respect that, I don’t want to be bullied into stopping something that I think is a nice thing to do. Obviously, my applause makes not one iota of difference to anyone but myself.
As I was clapping, I was reminded of the track “Hand Clappin'” by Red Prysock which I have on this compilation.
Over Easter 2008, Paddy and I went on a fantastic holiday to the USA. After getting ill in Forth Worth and Amarillo, we visited San Antonio, Las Vegas (in New Mexico, not Nevada), Durango (in Colorado, not Mexico), Monument Valley, Flagstaff and Los Angeles. At one point, we stopped at a Starbucks for coffee and Paddy bought this CD. After playing it non stop in the car, I was intensely jealous of his purchase and after searching several more Starbucks’ shops, I found another copy and bought it. We did play the CD a lot and it’s really excellent. You can still buy it from Amazon if you’ve got £70 to spare. It was only available to buy at Starbucks’ shops.
It is subtitled “Music That Matters To Him”. On the sleeve, he writes “When I was asked to put together this collection of songs, I wasn’t sure what to do. So I grabbed a bunch of things I was into recently. Some people have favourite songs, but I’ve got songs of the minute – songs that I’m listening to right now. And if you ask me about one of these songs a year from now, I might not even remember who did it, but at the moment it’s everything to me. There’s a lot of different ways a record can get under your skin. Sometimes it’s the way they sound, sometimes it’s the words. Maybe it’s a guitar riff or horn line or maybe you feel like the singer is talking right to you. Some people say it’s chemistry but chemistry is too much of a science. A great record is more like alchemy. Here’s a bunch of folks who somehow managed to turn lead into gold for a couple of minutes. I hope you enjoy them as much as I do.” Well, there’s me, using these blogs to try and describe how much music means to me and all the time, sitting on my shelf, the human race’s greatest artist has put it quite succinctly.
The first track is “Doo Unto Others” by Pee Wee Crayton. In the sleeve notes Bob writes “I bet that John Lennon heard this record at a party once and probably didn’t even know who did it, but that guitar just stuck in his head. The song was released in 1954. The ‘B’ side of Hey Jude by The Beatles is called “Revolution” and it was released in 1968. The start of both of these recordings is identical.
The third track is “The Fields Have Turned Brown” by The Stanley Brothers. It was recorded in 1950. Bob writes “I used to have a really scratched up copy of this record; sounded like they were singing in a windstorm. Someone gave me a real clean version on CD a few years ago. I miss the wind.” I need to have a good chat with Bob about this. It’s a lovely song with the spooky vocals but beautiful harmonies that The Stanley Brothers are well known for along with some fantastic fiddle playing.
In the notes for “Flambee Montalbanaise” by Gus Viseur, Bob writes about the great accordian playing and how it makes him feel that “suddenly I’m on a rain-soaked street in France underneath an awning drinking an espresso noir with a beautiful raven-haired Parisian.” Presumably a Parisienne? Red Prysock anticipated the need for “Hand Clappin'” by 65 years. He plays really excellent up tempo saxophone which he learned while serving in the US Army in World War II.
The craziest song on the CD is “I’se A Muggin’ (Part 2)” by Stuff Smith & His Onyx Club Boys. In it, he explains the game of buzz where for numbers with a 7 or a multiple of 7 you must say “uh uh”. Anything with a cipher at the end of it you have to say “woof woof”. However, his mate argues with him about saying cipher when he means zero. And then they count up to 80 saying huh huh and woof woof with a ridiculous piano riff and a crazy backing vocal from his mate. Maths on old jazz records. Who’d have thought it?
Track 14 is “I Gotta Know” by Wanda Jackson. It’s a really odd song because it keeps switching between straight medium tempo country and fast rockabilly. Bob writes that “Joe Maphis’ guitar solo sends this song into the stratosphere.” I’ve never heard of Joe Maphis but June Carter Cash and Johnny Cash admired him so much that he was buried in the same burial plot as her mother, Mother Maybelle Carter.
There’s a good website that I use a lot for these blogs called http://www.songlyrics.com and when you enter “Hand Clappin'” by Red Prysock you get these words “When I find myself in times of trouble, mother Mary comes to me, speaking words of wisdom, let it be.” Seeing that Paul McCartney’s mother was a nurse, this is poetically propitious.