Saturday, July 17, 2010

Answers to Unaswerable Questions

Waaaay back on March 5, Patrick, Friend of This is Our Music, dropped the following question in the comment box:

some of this stuff has been on my mind recently due to my friend jay asking for our favourite song of the 1950's. yes, one fave song from the 50's. i had to do a top 20 - 5 of those tunes were jazz numbers. what would be on your list?

Impossible!, I replied. So of course, I had to try my hand. The results:

Gerry Mulligan/Chet Baker, “Bernie's Tune” (1952)
Hank Williams, “I'll Never Get Out of This World Alive” (1952)
Horace Silver, “Room 608” (1953)
George Jones, “Why Baby Why?” (1955)
Johnny Cash, “I Walk the Line” (1956)
Sam Cooke, “Touch the Hem of His Garment” (1956)
Bo Diddley, “Who Do You Love?” (1956)
Charlie Feathers, “Can't Hardly Stand It” (1956)
Ella Fitzgerald, “Too Darn Hot” (1956)
Sonny Rollins, “You Don't Know What Love Is” (1956)
Carl Perkins, “Put Your Cat Clothes On” (1957)
Art Blakey, “Moanin'” (1958)
Eddie Cochran, “Summertime Blues” (1958)
Elvis Presley, “Mystery Train” (1958)
Dave Brubeck, “Take Five” (1959)
Ornette Coleman, “Lonely Woman” (1959)
John Coltrane, “Giant Steps” (1959)
Miles Davis, “So What” (1959)
Charles Mingus, “Better Git It In Your Soul” (1959)
Marty Robbins, “El Paso” (1959)

This list is attended by a truckload of caveats, of course, most glaringly the lack of women (lonely, Ella?) If it were a list of 25, there'd have been room for Patsy Cline and Wanda Jackson, but what can you do? The parameters were handed to me and I operated within them. Also, one of my favourite records of all time, Kenny Burrell's At the Five Spot (1959), is woefully absent, but sacrifices had to be made in the interest of a full representation of the decade in question. And god, '56 and '59: hell of a couple of years, huh?

Next, I understand, we're to move to 1960-64. Problematic: the 15 or so requisite Coltrane recordings won't leave much room for all that other stuff.


Patrick said...

fantastic picks! i just listened to ALL of them via youtube. fun!

Patrick said...

i'm also loving the presly/perkins/cochrane/feathers early rock coverage. you did a much better job of capturing that early sound than i did (ronnie hawkins' "rockin' bones" was the last song cut from my list - ah, such painful cuts!).

AGF said...

I can't help it, PF -- when I think of the '50s, I think of ducktailed greaseballs in still stiff Levi's whose intentions are both automotive and libidinous. They want under your Chevy's hood, and your daughter's poodle skirt. These boys discovered that the guitar (pron: GIH-taaahr) can prove a virtual key to both those sacred domains.

AGF said...

And yeah, I get your hatred for "Take Five," but I wonder if you're confusing the song for the products it has been used to sell. As a vehicle for drummer Joe Morello (the original purpose of the composition) it's a sleek, minimal package. Modern, what? And for my money, Paul Desmond's sax is always tasteful on the cut, never saccharine nor cheesy (though he verges close at times). And Brubeck? He plays a loop! Like he sampled himself, then took an early lunch. Forward thinking.

Patrick said...

as we discussed, i think it sucks for a pick if it's going to be the ONLY jazz number for a comp surveying the 50's. the drumming is indeed rock solid, but i always feel like the sax is somehow shallow and frivolous (maybe lacking in soul power, esp. when compared to coltrane or rollins or hawkins or gordon from that same period, which is probably not fair). but what do i know? i like a lot of things that are not good and have not taken the time with things worthwhile.