Category Archives: Music

Headline of the day II: Angry old white man rants

A screencap of the London Daily Mail teaser for this story [and we too are an old white man, though only angry some of the time, and usually at people like Giuliani]:


Headline of the day: And a melodic bonus too

From the Guardian:

Super Bowl protests flare up over plight of San Francisco’s homeless residents

Protest against efforts to oust homeless people from ‘Super Bowl City’ highlights tensions days before city hosts one of the largest sporting events in the world

And that melodic bonus, via Subtitleman:

San Francisco – Scott McKenzie

Program notes:

“San Francisco (Be Sure to Wear Flowers in Your Hair)” is a song, written by John Phillips of The Mamas & the Papas, and sung by Scott McKenzie. It was written and released in June 1967 to promote the Monterey Pop Festival.

McKenzie’s song became an instant hit. The lyrics tell the listeners, “If you’re going to San Francisco, be sure to wear some flowers in your hair”. Due to the difference between the lyrics and the actual title, the title is often quoted as “San Francisco (Be Sure to Wear Some Flowers in Your Hair)”. “San Francisco” reached number four on the Billboard Hot 100 in the United States, and was number one in the United Kingdom and most of Europe. The single is purported to have sold over 5 million copies worldwide. The song is credited with bringing thousands of young people to San Francisco, California during the late 1960s.

And now for something completely different. . .

Readers are all familiar with the melody “Arkansas Traveler,” right?


Well, how about the tune that, back when you were in grade school or even earlier, you sung these words to:

I’m bringin’ home a baby bumblebee
Won’t my mommy be so proud of me

What brought the tune to mind was an Associated Press headline, “The Latest: Zika case detected in Arkansas traveler.”

And once we saw those last two words, we were promptly infected by an earworm.

So we figured the only way to exorcise the affliction was a post, so that even if the cure fails we can live with the sympathetic understanding that at least one of you, gentle readers, will share our travail.

We begin with one of the earliest flat disk recordings of the tune, a 1923 rendition by the first fiddler to record Country Music commercially, via Ranch Radio:

Eck Robertson – Arkansas Traveler

Program notes:

Eck Robertson – Arkansas Traveler Eck Robertson is famous as the first person to record a commercial country music record. This he did, in company with fellow fiddler Henry C. Gilliland, on June 30 and July 1,1922, for the Victor Talking Machine Company in their New York studios. Eck and Gilliland, a Civil War veteran from Altus, Oklahoma, after entertaining veterans at the 1922 Old Confederate Soldiers’ Reunion in Richmond, Virginia, decided to go to New York for the express purpose of making records. Gilliland, a former justice of the peace, knew an influential lawyer there named Martin W. Littleton. After their first night in New York, the two men stayed with Littleton who provided them with grand tours of the city, including a visit to the Steinway piano factory, a visit Eck remembered fondly forty years later. The image of Gilliland and Eck touring New York, attired respectively in full dress Confederate uniform and flashy western “regalia” (satin fuchsia shirt with pearl studs, wide-brimmed black hat, leather cuffs and pants tucked into high-topped boots) and undoubtedly carrying fiddle cases, would be striking even today. Eck and Gilliland recorded “Arkansas Traveler”and “Turkey in the Straw’‘on June 30th,with Gilliland playing the melody and Eck a high harmony. The next day Eck returned alone, this time recording “Sallie Gooden” and “Ragtime Annie” solo, and two additional tunes accompanied by a studio piano player. Two tunes from these sessions, “Sallie Gooden” and “Arkansas Traveler,” were released in April, 1923, thus becoming the first commercial record ever released by a country musician. Eck stayed in New York ten days, finally returning home to Vernon, Texas, full of memories and stories

Next up, a rendition by one of the greatest guitarists of all time recirded during a Grand Old Opry broadcast, via Arnescountry:

Chet Atkins Arkansas Traveler

Next, a rendition played on the instrument esnl most associates with the tune, performed with humorous commentary by the late, great Pete Seeger, via thewhitestripes93:

Arkansas Traveler by Pete Seeger

Program notes:

Pete Seeger’s version of “Arkansas Traveler”, with lyrics so you can sing along! The purpose of this video is to share the wealth of music Pete Seeger gave the world. It is to be preserved and that’s my goal. I do not own any part of this song. The song, among others, are at

For our next version, we turn to a traditional Southern setting, the string band, via Duelingbanjos123:

2nd South Carolina String Band – The Arkansas Traveler

Program notes:

2nd South Carolina String Band – The Arkansas Traveler

Album, Southern Soldier

Our next selection features a collection of the greatest fiddlers of Country music, including the late, great Johnny Gimble [in the blue shirt], who played with them all, from Bob Wills to Johnny Cash. Via Mark O’Connor:

“Arkansas Traveler” by O’Connor, Daniels, Kershaw, Gimble, Clements, Spicher, Texas Short

Program notes:

“Arkansas Traveler” by Mark O’Connor, Charlie Daniels, Doug Kershaw, Johnny Gimble, Vassar Clements, Buddy Spicher and James Chancellor “Texas Shorty”

Celebrating the release of the Mark O’Connor Warner Bros. album, “Heroes.”

Music Director: Mark O’Connor – TNN

American Music Shop Band Mark O’Connor; violin, bandleader and music director Jerry Douglas; Dobro, Lap Steel Brent Mason/Brent Rowan; Guitars John Jarvis/Matt Rollings; Keyboards; Glen Worf; Bass Harry Stinson; Drums, Background Vocals

Producer; Rusty Wilcoxen
Director; Dennis Globe
Sound Mixer; Kim Raymer
Executive Producer, Show Creator; Brian O’Neill
American Music Shop on TNN in Nashville featured Mark O’Connor as bandleader accompanying various musical guests each week. (1990-1993)

Next, a rendition on an instrument never associated with the song, via dbherring:

Arkansas Traveler Doug Yeo England

Program notes:

Here is one of Doug Yeo’s (Bass Trombonist Boston Symphony) performances of my piece for Bass Trombone and brass band “Theme and Variations on Arkansas Traveler” He is playing with the Natural State Brass Band on their European tour summer 2010

And another rendition on another instrument never associated with the venerable melody, the Japanese shamisen, via shamikami:

Bluegrass Shamisen -Arkansas Traveler!

Program notes:

Monsters of SHAMISEN. on tour on hokkaido japan. A bluegrass tune called Arkansas Traveler. Special thanks to Kyle and the Abbots for teaching us this tune!

Finally, given that the tune has appeared in countless films, here’s a performance by Marvin Hatley [not a player piano] as a setting for two of the greatest comedians of the last century, Stan Laurel and Oliver Hardy, in their 1932 short film The Music Box, via Kanaal van westfriesland:

Marvin Hatley featuring Laurel & Hardy – The Arkansas traveler-I wish I was in Dixie (US, 1932)

And now for something completely different. . .

esnl’s had three weddings.

The first was Jewish, and there was considerable dancing, including the Hora.

The second was Hindu, with no dancing — though we did walk around a fire.

The third wedding was Unitarian, and there was an orchestra and lots of dancing.

But if we ever have another go [dubious at best], after watching this video shot by Westone Productions in Auckland, New Zealand, we’ve decided Maori’s the only way to go:

Emotional Wedding Haka

As BBCNews explains:

Video of the Maori dance at the wedding of Aaliyah and Benjamin Armstrong is being widely shared on social media.

Ms Armstrong, 21, told the BBC she was “blown away” by the performance.

She said the haka was a sign of respect from her husband’s best man and family not, as some have commented online, an attempt to intimidate him.

“They are quite strong, the men in their family,” she said.

A haka – with its shouting, body-slapping and exaggerated facial expressions – is used in traditional Maori culture as a war cry to intimidate the enemy, but also to welcome special guests and at celebrations.

Farewell To Glenn Frey, an Eagle soars no more

First, from today’s Washington Post:

Glenn Frey, who co-founded the Eagles and with Don Henley became one of history’s most successful songwriting teams with such hits as “Hotel California” and “Life in the Fast Lane,” has died.

Frey, who was 67, died of complications from rheumatoid arthritis, acute ulcerative colitis and pneumonia, the band said on its website. He died on Monday in New York. He had fought the ailments for the past several weeks, the band said.


Guitarist Frey and drummer Henley formed the Eagles in Los Angeles in the early 1970s, along with guitarist Bernie Leadon and bassist Randy Meisner. They would become a top act over the next decade, embodying the melodic California sound.

There’s one Eagles song that will never leave us so long as we draw breath. Ever since we first heard it back in 1972, we were haunted by “Take it Easy,” one of the first hits of that then-new band, the Eagles, formed as backup for evocative vocal stylings of Linda Ronstadt.

It’s one segment that stirred something deep within, a reminder of our very first job in journalism, working in early 1966 for the Winslow Daily Mail in a dying railroad town in Northern Arizona.

I have memories of standing on a corner, wondering what to do with my teenage self. It’s the same corner that now boasts a park, inspired by that same song.

The Daily Mail is now long gone, one of the countless casualties of the Internet [Gored as it were], but the song by Jackson Browne and Glenn Frey still sends shivers down our spine, especially this section:

Well, I’m a standing on a corner
in Winslow, Arizona
and such a fine sight to see
It’s a girl, my Lord, in a flatbed
Ford slowin’ down to take a look at me
Come on, baby, don’t say maybe
I gotta know if your sweet love is
gonna save me
We may lose and we may win though
we will never be here again
so open up, I’m climbin’ in,
so take it easy

Here’s a 1977 performance in Germany via fritz51357:

Eagles – Take it easy 1977

No Eagles song is more famous than “Hotel California,” the lead track on a 1976 album that went on to sell an amazing 16 million copies and embodying a guitar riff ranked number one on by readers on Guitar Magazine’s Top 100 Guitar Solos of All Time. The magazine also ranked is as the number one 12-string guitar single.

And here it is, with music by Don Felder and lyrics by Frey and Don Henley:

Eagles – Hotel California Live. At The Capital Centre, 1977

Finally, here’s the band performing with Ronstadt, singing a haunting tune by Frey and Henley:

Eagles & Linda Ronstadt – Desperado – Live 1974

And now for something completely different. . .

That would be Siberian Hip Hop.

From the Siberian Times:

Local comedian and Monty Python fan Ayal Adamov (nickname Urui Ayalaa) and his team Suus Bies Suus decided on some gentle mockery of videos eulogising money and luxurious life beyond the reach of most people.

In particular they poked fun at Timati and the song GQ by visiting the village of Namtsy, 83 km from regional capital Yakutsk, and made this epic video.

“Six months ago, I heard the song ‘GQ’ for the first time, and thought, why not make a parody,” he said.

“Now all the popular videos are about money, a sumptuous life. Everything is so pathetic and I thought – why not to tell about simple things like the khoton (a cowshed in Yakutia, the largest region in the Russian Federation, also known as the Sakha republic) – and manure. Why not?

“To sing about it, I thought it would be fun. I did not expect that our video would be watched by people all across Russia.”

We couldn’t find a full translation of the lyrics, but the excerpt in the program notes gives the gist quite eloquently. And that kumys refers to the Siberian variant of kefir.

From the Siberian Times:

My cowshed is fresh!

Program notes:

Funny video from ΖLΟΙ ΜΔΜΒΕΤ shows how glamorous could be the life in Yakut village.

He sings:
My cowshed is always fresh!
The dung is everywhere
It attracts money and dirt
It fascinates girls with flavor
Hey, baby, let’s drink kumys
Oh, it’s very tasty

H/T to Metafilter.

And now for something completely different. . .

Yet another delightful animation from the National Film Board of Canada, this time a 1974 creation from Evelyn Lambert giving vivid life to a colorful song once learned by most children in the English-speaking world.

And do ramp it up to full 1080p resolution and turn the “annotations” slider off:

Mr. Frog Went A-Courting

Program notes:

In this short film by animator Evelyn Lambart, a handsome frog courts and wins a mouse for his bride. The colourful animation does full justice to the events that take place during and after the wedding breakfast. Sung by Derek Lamb to lute accompaniment.

Directed by Evelyn Lambart – 1974