Thursday, October 29, 2015

Mystery Solved...and Stashed

That tune. That tune! That tune has been knocking around in my head for so many years. I blogged about it back in 2011. I thought it was from a really old movie, or a novelty riff from Camper Van Beethoven, or something vaguely Eastern European. People close to me have heard me whistle it spontaneously now and again for the better part of two decades, and any time I've inquired with anyone about that sequence of notes, I've gotten nothing but shrugs and blank stares.

I once thought I was hot on the trail, when I came across
this 1932 composition by Jerzy Petersburski. There are some segments in this Polish tango reminiscent of the tune, but I knew when I found it, I was still shooting in the dark. Bonus: a fragment of this tango also reminds me of the “When the dog bites, when the bee stings” portion of My Favorite Things from the Sound of Music.

So, after years of this nagging sensation as to the origins of this melody, last weekend, it happened. I ended up in a somewhat random conversation about the band Phish with my niece, niece-in-law, and my two nephews. My nephew Jon,* was recommending a podcast called Analyze Phish. In it, comedian Harris Wittels, Phish Phan, tries to convince comedian Scott Aukerman, Phish naysayer, why he should love Phish. In a parallel, I went through a Phish phase (college in Santa Cruz in the '90s, natch), while Jon is the non-fan.

So I decided to jump on Spotify and put together some Phish songs that I thought might appeal to Jon, just for the hell of it. I played snippets of songs from albums I used to own, to refamiliarize myself with the music. While scrolling through the tracks on the 1992 album A Picture of Nectar, I made a totally unexpected discovery at two minutes and two seconds into the song "Stash:"



And the motif repeats itself at the end of the song, at minute 6:49, accompanying the lyrics "Maybe so, and maybe not."

Oh my fucking god!! The thrill of finding the source of this tune was visceral. It was like unwrapping my new Darth Vader Collector’s Case on Chanukah, 1982.** Or the satisfaction of writing one’s thousandth tweet. It was gleeful! I still can’t explain the very definite six-note intro to the song snippet that I always whistle, which is clearly not anywhere to be found in the Phish song. I don't know if I composed it unconsciously, or if it's an amalgam of some other melody. It’s no matter. I can rest on this one.

Artist: Phish
Year: 1992
Rating: Luke Hot

* Jon guest blogged for us at The Songs in My Head a few years ago. You can read those posts right here.
** I just learned that Google only returns 1.5 million results for “Chanukah,” my preferred transliteration for the Jewish Festival of Lights, and returns 15.7 million for “Hanukkah.” Am I spelling it wrong? Maybe so, and maybe not.

Thursday, May 28, 2015

Handy Man



It's been a year and a half since I last posted an entry here. I've been sucked into other social networking, and also trying to focus on, y'know, life and stuff. Maybe I'll pick up the pace here at The Songs in My Head, and maybe not. I tweet on music and culture at soozzip with a hair more frequency, so follow me there!

For now, the lilting mellowness of a tune from my youth, with Mr. James Taylor's "Handy Man." The "comma, comma, comma, comma, come, come," refrain was ubiquitous on 70s radio, a song not to be confused with Sammy Davis Jr's "The Candyman" and the weirdness that is Neil Sedaka also spelling out that useful bit of punctuation. But I actually didn't realize that the song is much older. It's easy to attribute to JT, since he was mainly known for singing songs he'd also written, but the song was originally penned by roots rock and R&B singer Jimmy Jones and songwriter Otis Blackwell (who also wrote "Don't Be Cruel," "Great Balls of Fire," and many other very influential rock tunes). It's a case of the long, vague memory thread of a song that's been part of the culture for a very long time, arriving in my head one random day in 2015, in the form I'm most familiar with. Likely you've heard a couple of these versions of the tune yourself:

The 1959 original, by Jimmy Jones:



The chart-topper, later that same year, by Dell Shannon and his distinctive clavioline:



And who knew that Frank Black and Teenage Fanclub even banged out an indie cover of the song for a John Peel session record?



Artist: James Taylor
Year: 1977
Rating: Warm

Artist: Jimmy Jones
Year: 1959
Rating: Luke Hot

Artist: Del Shannon
Year: 1959
Rating: Luke Hot

Artist: Frank Black & Teenage Fanclub
Year: 1997
Rating: Warm

Sunday, October 12, 2014

Rockin' Robin



I slept soundly last night and woke around 5:00 am to use the loo. This song emerged distinct in my mental landscape. No idea why.

Artist: Bobby Day
Year: 1958
Rating: Warm

Saturday, July 5, 2014

Wild Sage - Original Cover!

I've got a little time on my hands lately, so I'm noodling around with more songs. Here is my faithful rendition of "Wild Sage" by the Mountain Goats, from their album Get Lonely.

Last blogged on November 23, 2011.



Artist: Sooze
Written by: John Darnielle
Year: 2014, (2006, original)
Rating: Hot!

Friday, July 4, 2014

Downtown Train - Original Cover!

Tom Waits's "Downtown Train" has been in my head for a few days, so I decided to figure it out on guitar. Then I sang it at karaoke last night, and it wasn't too shabby. I'm using something closer to the key Rod Stewart sang it in, 'cause Tom's range is a might too low, as you can imagine. Hope you enjoy it!



Artist: Sooze
Written by: Tom Waits
Notable covers: Rod Stewart (1989); Everything But the Girl (1992)
Year: 2014; original 1985
Rating: Hot!

Wednesday, July 2, 2014

Join Together



Inspired to post again, 'cause this odd one hit me out of nowhere today. It's not one of my most tapped Who songs, but it's got a good groove. It's also 42 years old, as of this summer. Much like me.

Artist: The Who
Year: 1972
Rating: Warm

Tuesday, July 1, 2014

Tuesday, May 6, 2014

Billy Boy



I haven't been focused on the song blog in quite some time, but this tune arrived so out of the blue, I had to post it. I'm sure I haven't heard any version of it in more than 30 years. The internets date its origins in the 18th Century, but it looks like the most popular versions weren't published in England til about WWI era and not in the States til 1930.

Thanks to YouTube user LDsongscreen for posting this sweet rendition of the song.

Artist: Unknown
Year: c. 1790s; 1910s; 1930s
Rating: Warm

Sunday, March 16, 2014

In The Mood



This is one of those songs so ubiquitous in the popular culture, it feels like it's been in my head my whole life. This afternoon, I found myself spontaneously "meowing" aloud to the melody.

Artist: The Glenn Miller Orchestra
Year: 1939
Rating: Warm

Thursday, January 23, 2014

The Waiting, Redux x2

Perhaps in anticipation of my leave of absence from Facebook for a few weeks, this trusty tune popped into my head this morning, again. And, really, it's kind of a treat to listen to all the selections on my Tom Petty tag. Go ahead, enjoy yourself.

Last posted April 19, 2012.

Artist: Tom Petty & the Heartbreakers
Year: 1981
Rating: Luke Hot

Monday, December 2, 2013

Summer Breeze, Redux



Hard to believe this song was last in my head in 2009 but, then, I haven't been attending to the blog very well. Hoping to remedy that.

Artist: Seals & Crofts
Year: 1972
Rating: Hot!
Last in my head: February 13, 2009.

Thursday, September 19, 2013

Every Day Is Like Sunday



And a strange dust lands on your hands
And on your face...


Artist: Morrissey
Year: 1988
Rating: Hot!