The Ballad of “Eight Days A Week”

(Ballad: “A poem or song narrating a story in short stanzas, or verses.”)

Verse 1

Most likely it was in late September or on a day in very early October, 1964.

Paul McCartney excitedly arrived at John Lennon’s house with an idea – maybe a title – for a new song.

He’d been chatting with his chauffeur on the way there. “How’ve you been?,” Paul inquired. “Oh, working hard,” the driver replied. “Working eight days a week!”

Paul told John, “Hey, this fella just said, ‘eight days a week’.”

John replied, “Ooo, I need your love, babe…”

And so “Eight Days A Week” was born.

Years later, Paul recalled in The Beatles Anthology…

“We were always quick to write. We would write on the spot. I would show up, looking for some sort of inspiration; I’d either get it there, with John, or I’d hear someone say something.”

Paul also explained, “John and I were always looking for titles. Once you’ve got a good title if someone says, ‘What’s your new song?’ and you have a title that interests people, you are halfway there.”

Verse 2

The Beatles – Paul McCartney, John Lennon, George Harrison & Ringo Starr – began recording “Eight Days A Week” on Tuesday, October 6, 1964 in Studio Two of Abbey Road Studios in London, England. Producer George Martin, recording engineer Norman Smith and second engineers Ken Scott and Mike Stone also participated in the proceedings.

Mark Lewisohn wrote in The Beatles: Recording Sessions

“‘Eight Days A Week’ was a landmark recording in that it was the first time The Beatles took an unfinished idea into the studio and experimented with different ways of recording it.”

By all accounts, the “Eight Days A Week” idea that John and Paul brought to the late afternoon (3:00-6:45 pm) session consisted of two verses…

1) “Ooo, I need your love, babe/Guess you know it’s true. Hope you need my love, babe/Just like I need you.”

2) “Love you ev’ry day, girl/Always on my mind. One thing I can say, girl/Love you all the time.”

…and a chorus – “Hold me, love me/Hold me, love me/Ain’t got nothin’ but love, babe, eight days a week.”

The song needed an intro, an outro and a “middle eight” – a third part (sometimes known as a “bridge”) different from the verse and chorus and usually eight measures long.

They came up with a middle eight: “Eight days a week/I luh–uh–uh–uh–uh-ve you. Eight days a week/Is not enough to show I care.”

The intro and outro, however, proved to be more of a problem.

John and Paul tried multiple vocal arrangements going from a cappella vocals through various melodic sequences of harmonized “Ooohs” over acoustic guitar. By take six, the band had turned to an instrumental intro that they carried into the 7:00-10:00 pm recording session.

During the evening, over the course of seven more takes, vocals and handclaps were overdubbed and the recording – though still without an outro – was perfected. Take 13 was declared “best.”

Back in Studio Two on Sunday, October 18, The Beatles started an epic nine hour recording session by finally recording the outro piece for “Eight Days A Week.” It features a shimmering electric 12-string guitar part from George Harrison.

George Martin, Norman Smith and Ken Scott did the editing, mixing and mastering of “Eight Days A Week” on Tuesday, October 27 in Studio Two. It was here that Mr. Smith suggested the idea of having the intro “fade in”: start soft and gradually increase in volume; very much the reverse of the “fade out” commonly used at the end of Pop/Rock records.

“Eight Days A Week” would be the first Pop/Rock recording to start this way.

Listen for yourself!

 

On that recording…

  • John Lennon sang the lead vocal and played acoustic rhythm guitar.
  • Paul McCartney sang harmony vocals and played bass guitar.
  • George Harrison played 6-string and 12-string electric lead guitar.
  • Ringo Starr played drums.
  • They all joined in for the handclaps.

Verse 3

“Eight Days A Week” soon made its way into the world.

    • December 4, 1964: Beatles For Sale – the band’s fourth LP – was released in the United Kingdom by Parlophone Records. “Eight Days A Week” was the first track on Side 2.

    • February 15, 1965: “Eight Days A Week” b/w “I Don’t Want To Spoil The Party” – a 7-inch, 45-rpm single – was released in the United States by Capitol Records.

    • April 6, 1965: Beatles For Sale – a four-song EP – was released in the UK by Parlophone Records. “Eight Days A Week” was the second song on Side 2.

    • June 14, 1965: Beatles VI – the band’s eighth US album – was released by Capitol Records. “Eight Days A Week” was the second track on Side 1.

 

Verse 4

The Beatles For Sale LP entered the top-20 on the “Official Albums Chart” in the UK on December 12, 1964. During the 46 weeks that it spent in the top-20, the LP held the #1 position for 11 weeks.

The Capitol Records US single of “Eight Days A Week” held the #1 position on the Billboard Hot 100 chart for the two weeks of March 13 & March 20, 1965.

The Beatles VI LP sat in the #1 spot on the Billboard Top LPs album chart in the US for six weeks, starting on July 10, 1965.

“Eight Days A Week” b/w “I Don’t Want To Spoil The Party” was certified as a Gold Record by the Recording Industry Association of America on September 16, 1965. In the US, a Gold Record is earned for sales of 500,000 copies.

Verse 5

The Beatles never played “Eight Days A Week” in a live performance.

The only solo Beatle to play “Eight Days A Week” live was Paul McCartney. He did so for the first time on May 4, 2013 in a concert in Brazil.

In September of 1980, John Lennon was interviewed for Playboy magazine by David Sheff. Part of that extensive interview consisted of Lennon offering a song-by-song analysis of his music, both from his solo career and with The Beatles.

When Mr. Sheff asked him about “Eight Days A Week,” Lennon replied: “Eight Days A Week” was never a good song. We struggled to record it and struggled to make it into a song. It was (Paul’s) initial effort, but I think we both worked on it. I’m not sure. But it was lousy anyway.”

Ian MacDonald wrote about “Eight Days A Week” in his wonderful 1994 book Revolution in the Head: The Beatles’ Records and the Sixties.

I agree with Mr. MacDonald’s assessment: “On any list of Pop records that capture the soaring sunshine optimism of the mid-Sixties, “Eight Days A Week” would be near the top. It holds its place with its sheer verve and the embracing warmth of its sound, whose texture of carillon electric lead and chiming acoustics was so influential on the nascent American Folk-Rock scene.”

Verse 6

“Eight Days A Week” was the first Beatles’ song that I learned how to play.

More accurately, “Eight Days A Week” was the first Beatles’ song that I was able to figure out a way in which I could play it.

My thick Beatles Complete piano/vocals/guitar songbook…

…presented “Eight Days A Week” – for some still unknown reason – in the key of B flat.

My novice guitar player fingers could not begin to penetrate the tangle of barre chords that one needed to play anything in the key of B flat.

But (somehow), I knew about transposing.

Confidently armed with a blue ballpoint pen, I crossed out that first nasty B flat major barre chord and wrote “G” above it. “A7” replaced the following C7 chord.

When I was done, the complete chord progression of “Eight Days A Week” lay before me in six, open-position chords that I could actually play: G, A7, C, E minor, D and D7!

And, as an added bonus, I soon discovered that I could sing “Eight Days A Week” while strumming those chords with my guitar capoed at the third fret. (The Beatles play “Eight Days A Week” in the much-higher key of D.)

Woohoo!

Years later, being unable to find a published transcription of “Eight Days A Week” in the key of G, I wrote out a lead sheet of my own.

To this day, I use that hand-written piece of music to teach my novice guitar playing students how to play their first Beatles’ song.

The End

 

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This Historic Day In Music: “Deep Minor Rhythm Stomp,” “Midnight Call Blues,” “Hot Fingers” & “Blue Room Blues”

On October 9, 1929, Blues guitarist Lonnie Johnson…

…and Jazz guitarist Eddie Lang…

…got together again in the New York City recording studios of OKeh Records to record what would prove to be the final four of their groundbreaking and still-dazzling collection of guitar duets.

The duo had previously recorded and released six duets:

  • “Two Tone Stomp” & “Have To Change Keys (To Play These Blues)” – recorded on November 17, 1928.
  • “Guitar Blues” – recorded on May 7, 1929.
  • “A Handful Of Riffs” & “Blue Guitars” – recorded on May 8, 1929.
  • “Bull Frog Moan” – recorded on May 15, 1929.

(You can read about Lonnie Johnson and Eddie Lang and listen to those wonderful recordings in my This Historic Day In Music posts in the Archives from November 2017 and May 2018.)

On that October Wednesday in 1929, Lonnie and Eddie got to “jiving” – as Lonnie Johnson later described just what he and Eddie did in these sessions – with an original number called “Deep Minor Rhythm Stomp.”

JTLYK: According to The Harvard Dictionary of Music, “stomp” is “A term found in Jazz titles of the 1920s and 1930s connoting fast dance music with a strong beat.”

“Deep Minor Rhythm Stomp” might not be “fast,” but Eddie Lang’s rhythm guitar accompaniment definitely drives its 16-bar chord progression with a strong and very danceable beat. What a perfect backdrop for Lonnie Johnson to spin eight choruses of magical 12-string guitar solos over!

Listen for yourself.

 

“Midnight Call Blues” features a not-too-fast, not-too-slow tempo and a smooth and swinging rhythm. The duo plays an eight-bar intro before settling into a 12-bar blues progression at the .18 mark. Lonnie takes the first solo and then (at .46) Eddie takes the role of lead guitarist and solos over two, 12-bar choruses! Lonnie takes the lead again (at 1.47) and solos soulfully through to the end.

Check it out!

 

“Hot Fingers” is hotter than hot. As great as “Deep Minor Rhythm Stomp” and “Midnight Call Blues” are, it seems that Lonnie and Eddie might have just been warming up for this number. These two totally tear the cover off the ball with this out-of-the-park home run blast: a 16-bar “stomp”-style intro followed by 14 blazing choruses of 12-bar Blues in the key of D. Lonnie’s solos and Eddie’s accompaniment are equally brilliant throughout.

Give a listen.

 

Last but certainly not least, “Blue Room Blues” is appropriately different from its nine siblings. First of all, it is not a Blues! (It is built on a 16-bar chord progression like “Deep Minor Rhythm Stomp.”) It is also the slowest of the ten duets (Did “Hot Fingers” tire them out?) and the only one in which Eddie Lang takes the opening solo! Then, like any good closing number, it leaves the listener wanting, wishing, for more.

Here you go.

 

“Hot Fingers” b/w “Deep Minor Rhythm Stomp” was released on OKeh Records, #8743.

“Midnight Call Blues” b/w “Blue Room Blues” was released on OKeh Records, #8818.

The artist’s credit line on both recordings reads: Lonnie Johnson & Blind Willie Dunn.

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This Historic Day In Music: Bruce Springsteen

Today is Bruce Springsteen’s 69th birthday.

He was born on September 23, 1949, in Freehold, New Jersey; the first child and only son of Douglas and Adele (Zirilli) Springsteen.

In commemorating this day, I extend to Bruce my best wishes and a word or two of thanks for all of the joy – the uncountable-and-still-accumulating moments of toe-tapping, head-bobbing, butt-kicking, ear-to-ear-smile-inducing, inhibition-tossing, dad-dancing, fist-pumping, singing-along-at-the-top-of-my-lungs-voice-shredding, heart-throbbing, soul-soaring, mind-melting, deeply-inspiring and absolutely-without-a-doubt-life-affirming joy – that his music, on record and in concert, has brought to my life.

Thanks, as well, for a great story.

On April 20, 2006, Bruce sat for a long talk with Dave Marsh, his biographer and old friend, on the mezzanine of the Paramount Theater in Asbury Park, New Jersey. Bruce was in town conducting rehearsals with his new group, The Seeger Sessions Band, who were scheduled to give their debut performance that evening at Convention Hall.

That conversation resulted in an eleven page article entitled “Will It Go Round In Circles?” in the Spring/Summer 2006 issue (#85) of Backstreets: The Boss Magazine.

Among the many topics they discussed was Bruce’s new album, We Shall Overcome: The Seeger Sessions, to be released by Columbia Records on April 24.

Bruce also told Dave the story of when his cousin Frank gave him his first guitar lesson.

I cobbled together a condensed version of Bruce’s story; something I could print in a medium size font on one side of a piece of 8 1/2 x 11 paper and hang on the wall in my teaching studio.

Here it is.

 

Now, I’ve been teaching teenagers how to play the guitar for a very long time. Since as far back as I can remember, well before I read Bruce’s story in 2006, the first chord I’ve taught to every hopeful beginner has been the E minor chord.

Thanks again, Bruce, and Happy Birthday!

P.S.: Good job, Frank.

And now for some of that joy, or what Bruce called, “the sound of surprise and the pure joy of playing.”

 

The personnel on “Pay Me My Money Down” was:

  • Bruce Springsteen – Acoustic Guitar & Lead Vocals
  • Sam Bardfeld – Violin & Backing Vocals
  • Frank Bruno – Acoustic Guitar & Backing Vocals
  • Jeremy Chatzky – Upright Bass & Backing Vocals
  • Mark Clifford – Banjo & Backing Vocals
  • Larry Eagle – Drums & Backing Vocals
  • Charles Giordano – Accordion
  • Ed Manion – Saxophone & Backing Vocals
  • Mark Pender – Trumpet & Backing Vocals
  • Richie “La Bamba” Rosenberg – Trombone & Backing Vocals
  • Patti Scialfa – Backing Vocals
  • Soozie Tyrell – Violin & Backing Vocals

We Shall Overcome: The Seeger SessionsAmerican Land Edition was released on October 3, 2006.

We Shall Overcome: The Seeger Sessions won the Grammy Award for Best Traditional Folk Album at the 49th Grammy Awards on February 11, 2007.

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Rewriting The Record For The Electric Guitar Again

One sentence.

“On September 23-25, 1935, Leon McAuliffe, a brilliant player from Tulsa, Oklahoma, whose phrasing could have well influenced Charlie Christian, featured both electric steel and electrically amplified Spanish guitar on the first recordings of Bob Wills’s Texas Playboys.”

That sentence is from pg.15 of Talking Guitar: Conversations With Musicians Who Shaped Twentieth-Century American Music by Jas Obrecht. Pg. 15 is in the chapter titled “Guitarchaeology.”

I don’t know why that sentence didn’t register the first time I read that chapter back in March, but it sure caught my attention this last time.

September 23-25, 1935.

Those sessions started four days before Roy Newman and His Boys recorded “Rhythm Is Our Business” with Jim Boyd playing an electric Spanish guitar. (See my post of August 6, 2018.)

So, Leon McAuliffe…

…is the first guitarist to play the electric Spanish guitar on record?

Not Jim Boyd?

Seems to be.

The complete listings for the September 23-25, 1935, Dallas, Texas recording sessions by Bob Wills and His Texas Playboys are on pages 176-178 in Discography Of Western Swing And Hot String Bands, 1928-1942. (by Cary Ginell and Kevin Coffey)

 

The line-up of Bob Wills and His Texas Playboys for those sessions was:

  • Bob Wills, fiddle & vocals
  • Herman Arnspiger, guitar
  • Jesse Ashlock, fiddle
  • Smokey Dacus, drums
  • Tommy Duncan, vocals
  • Art Haines, trombone & fiddle
  • Sleepy Johnson, guitar & vocals
  • Son Lansford, bass
  • Leon McAuliffe, electric steel (Hawaiian) guitar, electric Spanish guitar & vocals
  • Ruth McMaster, fiddle
  • Zeb McNally, alto saxophone
  • Al Stricklin, piano
  • Jonnie Lee Wills, tenor banjo

The sessions operated under the direction of Art Satherley, A & R man for the American Recording Corporation, parent company of Vocalion Records.

JTLYK: In 1935, the art and science of recording was about capturing a live performance. The recordings contained in this post capture the performances of a band of as many as thirteen musicians playing together in one room, carefully positioned around a single microphone.

In Dallas, Texas, circa 1935, that “recording studio” could be a hotel room, a church, an office, a banquet hall or a radio station.

Wherever the session took place, the musicians in those days knew full well that it was the expectation of the record company that they would give a good, releasable, approximately three minutes in length performance of each piece they played the first time they played it.

On September 23rd, Bob Wills and His Texas Playboys kicked things off with an up-tempo instrumental called “Osage Stomp.” Leon McAuliffe played “steel guitar” on this number.

The second piece they recorded was the song “Get With It.” On this track, Leon McAuliffe played “electric guitar.”

In his liner notes for the 2006 Sony Legacy 4-CD box set Legends Of Country Music: Bob Wills and His Texas Playboys, Rich Kienzle writes that Texas Playboy vocalist Tommy Duncan wrote “Get With It,” by “adding original lyrics to the melody of the Mississippi Sheiks’ 1930 recording ‘The Jazz Fiddler.'”

Mr. Kienzle goes on to say: “While Bob Dunn played amplified steel guitar on records by the Musical Brownies, no country record had ever featured amplified lead guitar – until Leon’s solo here.”

Leon’s solo starts at the 1:49 mark, behind Bob Wills’ encouraging words: “Take it away, Mr. Leon! Play that guitar now.”

Listen for yourself.

 

So there it is!

“Get With It” by Bob Wills and His Texas Playboys with Leon McAuliffe henceforth holds the title of “The First Recording To Feature An Electric Spanish Guitar.”

Ta Da, Again!

“Get With It” b/w “Osage Stomp” was released in December, 1935, by Vocalion Records on a 10-inch, 78-rpm disc, #03096.

However…

Before the September 23rd session was over, Bob Wills and His Texas Playboys made finished recordings of thirteen pieces. (Twelve of them only needed one take!) Leon McAuliffe contributed electric Spanish guitar solos to two of them: “St. Louis Blues” by W.C. Handy and “Good Old Oklahoma.”

Leon McAuliffe also played his electric Spanish guitar on five of the seven recordings the band made on September 24. Those five were: “Who Walks In When I Walk Out,” “Oklahoma Rag,” “Sittin’ On Top Of The World,” “Four Or Five Times” and “I Can’t Be Satisfied.”

In the recording session on September 25, Bob Wills recorded four fiddle solos accompanied only by Sleepy Johnson on acoustic guitar.

Out of those twenty-four recordings, the two that Vocalion Records chose to be on the first release by Bob Wills and His Texas Playboys were: “St. Louis Blues” and “Four Or Five Times.”

“St. Louis Blues” b/w “Four Or Five Times” was released in October, 1935 by Vocalion Records on a 10-inch, 78 rpm disc, #03076.

Therefore…

The first record anyone heard that featured an electric Spanish guitar was “St. Louis Blues” b/w “Four Or Five Times” by Bob Wills and His Texas Playboys.

Listen for yourself.

 

 

 

William Leon McAuliffe was born on January 3, 1917 in Houston, Texas. He began playing both Spanish and Hawaiian (or steel) guitar at the age of fourteen and soon joined his first band, The Waikiki Strummers. After a short stint with The Light Crust Doughboys, Leon became a member of the Texas Playboys in 1935.

Leon McAuliffe recorded what would become his signature number – “Steel Guitar Rag” – with Bob Wills and His Texas Playboys on September 29, 1936, in Chicago, Illinois.

After serving as a flight instructor during World War II, Leon formed his own band called The Cimarron Boys. He recorded and performed extensively under his own name throughout the 1950’s and 1960’s, even reuniting with Bob Wills in 1973.

Leon McAuliffe passed away on September 20, 1988 in Tulsa, Oklahoma.

“Good music doesn’t get old.”

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Sparklers: “Autumn Leaves” by Kenny Burrell

This is a new category here at sixstr stories.

It will feature recordings of outstanding performances by noteworthy guitarists – or outstanding guitarists giving noteworthy performances –  for your listening pleasure.

It was inspired by whatever god oversees the shuffle mode of my iPod classic during my morning walks.

Here’s the first of many.

“Autumn Leaves” by Kenny Burrell.

Listen.

 

That recording is from Mr. Burrell’s 1991 album Sunup To Sundown on Contemporary Records.

Accompanying Mr. Burrell:

  • Cedar Walton, piano
  • Rufus Reid, bass
  • Lewis Nash, drums
  • Ray Mantilla, percussion

“Autumn Leaves” was written as “Les feullies mortes” in 1945 by Joseph Kosma with lyrics by Jacques Prévert. It was originally featured in the 1946 film. Les portes de la nuit. Lyricist Johnny Mercer wrote the English lyrics in 1951.

Kenneth Earl Burrell was born on July 31, 1931 in Detroit, Michigan. He recorded his first album as band leader for Blue Note Records in 1956.

Mr. Burrell’s instrument of choice throughout most of his career has been a Gibson Super 400CES hollow-body archtop electric guitar.

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Rewriting The Record For The Electric Guitar

The book was called: Discography Of Western Swing And Hot String Bands, 1928-1942 by Cary Ginell and Kevin Coffey. It had been published in 2001.

I found it one afternoon a few months ago in the Performing Arts Reading Room, located in the James Madison Memorial Building of the Library of Congress in Washington, D.C.

The original subject of my research that day was Muryel “Zeke” Campbell. Mr. Campbell was an electric guitarist who had played and recorded in the 1930’s with the Texas-based Western Swing band known as The Light Crust Doughboys. (More on Zeke Campbell in a future post!)

Having found the information I was looking for about a 1937 Doughboys’ session featuring Mr. Campbell, I decided to look up a recording session by Roy Newman & His Boys that had been held on September 28, 1935.

Longtime readers of sixstr stories might remember that on September 28, 1935, Roy Newman and His Boys recorded “Hot Dog Stomp”: the first recording to feature a Spanish (not Hawaiian) electric guitar! Jim Boyd was the electric guitarist on “Hot Dog Stomp.”

Well, I found the entry for the September 28th session in the discography.

But I also found something else!

The discography showed that Roy Newman and His Boys had also done a recording session on September 27, 1935. And, during that session, the band recorded two songs – “Rhythm Is Our Business” and “Slow And Easy” – that featured Jim Boyd on electric guitar!

What?!?!?

Moving into the Reading Room’s Recorded Sound Reference Center, I sat down at a computer station, slipped on a set of headphones and went online.

YouTube.

Search: “Rhythm Is Our Business” by Roy Newman and His Boys.

Bingo!

I eagerly pushed “play.”

First, Roy Newman on piano, then His Boys. Vocalist Ray Lackland sings: “Rhythm is our business, rhythm is what we sell…” Next verse: “He’s the guitar man in the band…” and, sure enough, right at the 0:48 mark, there’s Jim Boyd letting loose on his electric guitar!

Listen for yourself!

 

Ok. Stop the presses! Time to rewrite the history books! (Or at least, my blog.)

“Hot Dog Stomp” by Roy Newman and His Boys is no longer to be known as “The First Recording To Feature A Spanish Electric Guitar.”

Henceforth, the holder of that title is… (drum roll, please)…

“Rhythm Is Our Business” by Roy Newman and His Boys.

Ta Da!

“Rhythm Is Our Business” b/w “Slow And Easy” was released in December, 1935 by Vocalion Records, on a 78-rpm disc, #03103.

“Rhythm Is Our Business” was written by Saul Chaplin, Jimmie Lunceford and Sammy Cahn. It was first recorded and released by Jimmie Lunceford and His Orchestra in 1935.

The line-up of Roy Newman and His Boys for the September 27 & 28, 1935 recording sessions in Dallas, Texas was: (Standing, left to right, in the photo below)

  • Walter Kirkes, tenor banjo
  • Buddy Neal, guitar
  • Thurman Neal, fiddle
  • Ish Erwin, upright bass
  • Jim Boyd, electric guitar
  • Ray Lackland, vocals
  • Earl Brown, guitar
  • Jesse Ashlock, fiddle
  • Holly Horton, clarinet
  • Roy Newman, band leader and pianist, seated in the front.

 

If you would like to learn more about other early recordings featuring the electric guitar, see my blog post of June 15, 2010 called Recent Discoveries.

If you would like to learn more about – and listen to – “Hot Dog Stomp” and Roy Newman and His Boys, see my blog post of June 23, 2013 called Hot Dog!

If you would like to learn more about Jim Boyd, see my blog post of June 27, 2013 called Hot Dog! P.S.: Jim Boyd.

If you’re reading this on your phone, enter “Jim Boyd” into the search function and you’ll get all three of those posts!

P.S.: Help! I have been completely unable to find and/or listen to “Slow And Easy” by Roy Newman and His Boys online. If you can find this recording and would be kind enough to send me a link to it, I would be eternally grateful.

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A Photo a Week Challenge: Music

This is my first time entering a photo challenge. But when I found the nancy merrill photography blog and the topic of her weekly photo challenge, one image immediately came to mind.

I took this photograph on Father’s Day in 2005 at The Press Room in Portsmouth, NH.

I call it: “Jazz On A Summer Sunday Evening.”

Here’s the link to nancy’s blog.

https://nadiamerrillphotography.wordpress.com/2018/08/02/a-photo-a-week-challenge-live-music/

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This Historic Day In Music: Sara Carter

Sara Carter was born Sara Elizabeth Dougherty on this day, July 21, in 1898, just north of Copper Creek, Wise County, Virginia. She was one of five children born to William Sevier and Nancy Elizabeth (Kilgore) Dougherty.

One day when Sara was sixteen, she was standing in the front room of her Aunt Susie Nickels’ house in Copper Creek. She was playing her autoharp and singing “Engine 143,” an old song she’d learned as a little girl. A knock came at the door, which Aunt Susie answered.

It was 21 year old Alvin Pleasant Delaney Carter from Clinch Mountain. He had been walking towards the house, looking to see if Mrs. Nickels (the mother of Alvin’s mother’s cousin) would be interested in buying a fruit tree or two from the nursery that he worked for. The singing A.P. had heard coming from inside the house had quickened his step.

Aunt Susie welcomed A.P. in. He entered the front room and stood, listening. When Sara finished her song, he said to her: “Ma’am, that was might pretty playing and singing, and I sure would like you to play that over again for me.” So Sara did.

A.P. would later often say that although it was Sara’s voice that first attracted him, “It was the way her dark eyes held a constant play of sparkling light that transfixed him.”

A.P. Carter and Sara Dougherty were married on June 18, 1915.

Starting around December of 1925, Sara and A.P. put together a trio with Sara’s young cousin and sister-in-law, Maybelle Addington Carter. Maybelle played guitar and sang, A.P. “bassed in” and played a little bit of guitar. Sara played autoharp, second guitar and was the lead vocalist. They called themselves “The Carter Family.”

That’s Sara on the right, A.P. in the middle and Maybelle on the left.

On July 31, 1927, The Carter Family drove the 26 miles from Maces Springs, VA to Bristol, TN. They had an audition on August 1st for Ralph Peer, the traveling talent scout for Victor Records. Peer had set up a “recording station” on “the second floor of the building formerly occupied by the Taylor-Christian Hat company” at 408 State Street in downtown Bristol.

In his later years, Peer would say: “As soon as I heard Sara’s voice, that was it. I knew it was going to be wonderful.”

The Carters recorded four songs at the August 1st session: “Bury Me Under The Weeping Willow,” “Little Old Log Cabin By The Sea,” “Poor Orphan Child” and “The Storms Are On The Ocean” Peer was so impressed that he invited them to come back the next day. Sara and Maybelle did and recorded two more songs: “Wandering Boy” and “Single Girl, Married Girl.” All of these performances featured Sara’s vocals.

On November 4, 1927, Victor Records released the first record by The Carter Family from those Bristol sessions. The song on one side was “Poor Orphan Child,” with vocals by Sara and A.P. The song on the other side was “Wandering Boy,” with Maybelle on guitar and  Sara singing and playing autoharp.

Listen.

 

By the 1930’s, The Carter Family had become “the most bankable Country music group in America, with total sales of more than a million records.”

Even though Sara and A.P. separated in 1933 and ultimately divorced in 1936, The Carter Family performed and recorded together into the next decade. They did their last recording session for RCA Victor in October, 1941 and finally disbanded in March of 1943.

The Carter Family was inducted into the Country Music Hall of Fame in 1970.

Sara Dougherty Carter passed away on January 8, 1979 in California.

The information and quotes in this post came from the wonderful book: Will You Miss Me When I’m Gone? by Mark Zwonitzer with Charles Hirshberg, 2002.

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A Day In Boston, Highlights & Traditions – a no-str story

Boston, Massachusetts. Friday, June 22, 2018.

Morning: looking up from the deck of the U.S.S. Constitution.

Afternoon: looking down through a window at the top of the Bunker Hill Monument.

Snacking under a tree on the Rose Kennedy Greenway in the North End.

Listening from a bench in the Public Garden.

Evening: dining al fresco on Boylston Street.

“Catching” first pitch at Fenway Park, 7:11 pm.

And… three hours and thirty-four minutes of sitting, watching, groaning, believing, applauding, cheering, mooing, chanting, standing, waving, singing, dancing, whooping, laughing, high-fiving and reveling later…

14-10!!!

What a day!

(Thanks for that last picture, Jack.)

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“There Are (Songs To Be Sung)”

5/9/93

That’s the date in the top right hand corner of page 273 of the first volume of my songwriting notebooks.

Page 273 also contains the finished lyrics – four verses and a chorus – of the song I eventually titled “There Are (Songs To Be Sung).”

Page 264 in the large, black notebook contains the first mention of this new song; the original idea for what would become the chorus:

“There are songs to be sung, stories to be told,

There are hearts to be won and smiles to unfold.

There are bridges to be built, lessons to be taught,

There’s a torch to be passed and a dream to carry on.”

I remember deciding to write verses that would sequentially build upon the individual phrases of the chorus; making a sort of “list song” that would expand on each statement. For instance, “Stories to be told”  grew into “There are stories from the past, stories from the heart; it’s the stories we tell that tell us apart.”

I made pretty good progress with the songs/stories and hearts/smiles verses, but (according to pages 270 and 271) I seem to have gotten bogged down in the “lessons” half of the third verse. I also couldn’t come up with a convincing “torch” half of the fourth verse.

Somewhere in the now-forgotten ether between pages 272 and 273 – including multiple pages in each of two travel notebooks, the smallest of which I still keep in my briefcase at work – “lessons to be taught” became “roads to be walked down.” “There’s a torch to be passed and a dream to carry on” was upgraded to “There are dreams to be shared and secrets still to be found.” The corresponding parts of the bridges/roads and dreams/secrets verses somehow manifested themselves in that gap as well.

Since that long ago day in 1993, I have sung that song… well, I really cannot begin to tell you how many times. I’ve sung it in bars, restaurants, coffee shops, concert halls (including The Music Hall in Portsmouth, NH), assembly halls, churches, chapels, meeting rooms, libraries, parks, parking lots, backyards, front yards, courtyards and porches.

I recorded “There Are (Songs To Be Sung)” at Fishtraks Recording Studios in Portsmouth, NH, in late-Fall, 1994. Joining me on the chorus were my friends, The Amity Singers, a gone-but-not-forgotten vocal group from Dover, NH, that I used to play guitar for.

“There Are (Songs To Be Sung)” became the opening track and title song of my first CD album, released in May, 1995.

I have embedded a link to that recording of “There Are (Songs To Be Sung)” twice here on sixstr stories: first in a piece entitled Many Thanks, Again posted on August 14, 2010 and then in the Theme Music & About section.

It’s time to give this song a post of its own.

“There are songs to be sung, stories to be told,

There are hearts to be won and smiles to unfold.

There are bridges to be built, roads to be walked down,

There are dreams to be shared and secrets still to be found.”

Give a listen and sing along!

JTLYK: There Are (Songs To Be Sung) was recorded and mixed by Jim Tierney and mastered by Jeff Landrock. The cover photo was taken by Frank Clarkson and the graphic design done by Kathryn deA. Klem.

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