Wednesday, 25 March 2009
Considering the wealth of music that's been made about chickens I'm a little surprised that Bob Dylan hasn't yet devoted a Theme Time Radio Hour to them. I've now emailed XM Radio with my suggested playlist so maybe we'll hear a rockin' rooster show in the next series. All of these songs would be perfect for the programme.
MP3: Big Joe Turner - The Chicken and the Hawk
Theme Time Radio Hour introduced me to the wonders of Big Joe Turner and Dylan did actually play this on the More Birds edition of his show. This is a love story that highlights the dangers of the food chain.
More Big Joe Turner: Wikipedia | Amazon | 7digital
MP3: The Hill Billies - Cluck Old Hen
I found this gem on an incredible compilation I bought recently called Music from the Lost Provinces: Old-Time Stringbands from Ashe County, North Carolina & Vicinity 1927-1931. Two fiddles, a banjo and a ukulele. What more could you want?
More Hill Billies: Wikipedia | Amazon
MP3: Dr Alimantado - The Best Dressed Chicken in Town
No Theme Time is complete without some reggae and this is probably the biggest chicken related hit to come out of Jamaica. Alimantado is apparently the "doctor who was born for a purpose" in the Clash classic Rudie Can't Fail.
More Dr Alimantado: MySpace | Amazon
MP3: Cab Calloway - A Chicken Ain't Nothin' But a Bird
A recent discovery for me but it's evidently a classic of the genre and takes in celebrity chicken enthusiasts (Caesar, Henry III) as well as cooking advice ("you can boil it, roast it, broil it" etc). Calloway fans and fellow 'hepsters' are advised to investigate the great man's Jive Dictionary.
More Cab Calloway: official site | Amazon | 7digital
I hope you enjoyed those as much as me. As I said in my previous chicken song post this has become an obsession so I'm sure I'll be sharing even more tracks about hens and roosters in the future.
More Chicken Song Posts
Chicken Songs For The Soul - Joe Ely, Hayes Carll, Hellwood, McGee Bros, Bill Thomas
Chicken: Anyone For Seconds? - Sean Hayes, Charles Mingus, The Magnetic Fields, Howlin' Wolf
Clucking Brilliant - The Meters, Rufus Thomas, Uncle Dave Macon, Link Wray
Wednesday, 11 March 2009
Since writing two chicken song posts on a whim in January I've been surprised to discover just how much music has been devoted to the farmyard fowl.
Following my last chicken post a colleague told me I'd omitted his favorites by Uncle Dave Macon, The Meters and Link Wray. Another co-worker suggested I listen to King Crimson's "classic improv piece" Mother Hold the Candle Steady While I Shave the Chicken's Lip (which I did but won't be sharing in case it has the same effect on you that it had on me). I've also recently bought the diverting music list book Hang the DJ and found that it contained a 10-song rundown of chicken songs.
These are the three suggestions I welcomed as well as the Rufus Thomas track I was unable to find first time around. I fear this is becoming an obsession and there'll be a further post shortly with another quartet of cluckers.
MP3: The Meters - Chicken Strut
This was a minor hit for the New Orleans funk band in 1970 and demonstrates one of the great appeal of chicken songs to musicians: it allows them to make comical bird noises (see also The Funky Chicken).
More Meters: official site | Amazon | 7digital
MP3: Rufus Thomas - Fried Chicken
The Funky Chicken may be Rufus Thomas's most famous birdy song but this is certainly the greasiest and greatest. I wanted to include it on my first chicken song post but couldn't track it down. I finally found it a compilation called Pulp Fusion - Bustin' Loose.
More Rufus Thomas: Wikipedia | Amazon | 7digital
MP3: Uncle Dave Macon - Bake That Chicken Pie
Macon was one of the first Grand Ole Opry stars and if you saw episode one of BBC Four's brilliant Folk America series you'll know what an amazing character and self publicist the "Dixie Dewdrop" was. This song was recorded in 1927 but had been popular for decades as a minstrel number.
More Uncle Dave: Wikipedia |Amazon
MP3: Link Wray and his Ray Men - Run Chicken Run
I saw Bob Dylan at Brixton Academy the month Link Wray died in 2005 and was delighted to hear Bob start the show with a rendition of the classic Rumble (Dylan also paid tribute to his surroundings with a Clash cover). No vocal chicken impression required here - the guitar does all the work.
More Link Wray: Wikipedia | Amazon | 7digital
As I said, stay tuned for even more chicken songs very shortly and please suggest any more I might enjoy.
Chicken Songs For The Soul
Chicken: Anyone For Seconds?
Sunday, 8 March 2009
Photo © Grufnik @ Flickr
Yes, I know that the District of Columbia is not a state but these songs are so great that omitting Washington, DC from our musical tour around America would be unforgivable. Unsurprisingly the majority of tracks have a political edge but don't let that put you off.
MP3: Magnetic Fields - Washington, DC
"It's the only place to be" sings Claudia Gonson on the Magnetic Fields' humorous tribute to the Nation's Capital. According to the excellent 69 Love Songs wiki Stephin Merritt has claimed the Bay City Rollers' Saturday Night as the influence on the song's brilliant cheerleader opening.
More Magnetic Fields: official site | Amazon| 7digital
MP3: The Staple Singers - Long Walk to DC
I love the Staples and their 1968 Stax debut, Soul Folk in Action, is a classic. This song has added resonance when you think that it was recorded just a few months after the assassinations of Martin Luther King and Robert Kennedy.
More Staple Singers: Wikipedia | Amazon | 7digital
MP3: Leadbelly - Bourgeois Blues
Leadbelly recorded this in 1938 after Alan Lomax invited him to Washington to make recordings for the Library of Congress. It's inspired by an evening that Leadbelly and his wife spent with the Lomaxes out on the town when they were kicked out of various establishments for being an interracial group. Billy Bragg laster used the song as the basis for his Bush War Blues.
More Leadbelly: Wikipedia | Amazon | 7digital
MP3: Parliament - Chocolate City
This is George Clinton relishing the fact that America's capital city has a majority black population and looking forward to when Aretha Franklin is First Lady and Richard Pryor's the Secretary for Education. Wikipedia has a good entry about the album that explores other "cultural references" to the idea of the chocolate city.
More Parliament: official site | Amazon | 7digital
By the way, if you're ever in Washingon, DC and don't know which Smithsonian museum to visit my favourite is the National Museum of American History - home to the M*A*S*H signpost, Einstein's brier pipe and Dizzy Gillespie's trumpet.
Next time we'll be slapping on the Copppertone and heading straight down I-95 to the Sunshine State - Florida.
State Songs - links to every post on this musical road trip
Friday, 6 March 2009
At one point I thought the Perry Como song would be my only contribution to Delaware's State Song inventory.
Luckily I re-discovered the Duhks track posted below and my encyclopedic colleague Pete Marsh recommended Dolly Parton's Down From Dover. Martin Anderson from WNCW also emailed me with a tip about a bluegrass band called Front Line who apparently have a great song called Delaware but sadly I couldn't find any trace of that group.
So, a fairly meager selection I'm afraid. If you do have other suggestions please leave a comment and I'll make further investigations.
MP3: Perry Como - Delaware
My first cheat of the journey. Perry Como's 1960 hit isn't really about Delaware and mentions 14 other States. Anyone who's compared the cover of the Sun with the New York Post will know that us Brits love a pun much more than our American cousins so it's unsurprising that this reached #3 in the UK charts but only #22 in the US.
More Perry Como: fan site | Amazon | 7digital
MP3: Dolly Parton - Down From Dover
When Dolly originally recorded this mini tragedy for her 1970 album The Fairest of Them All Porter Wagoner told her that songs about unfortunate unwed mothers would be radio suicide. This version is from her 2001 acoustic album Little Sparrow and adds an extra verse.
More Dolly: official site | Amazon | 7digital
MP3: The Duhks - Dover, Delaware
I discovered the Canadian band The Duhks at the Cambridge Folk Festival a few years ago. They're an impressive and diverse group and this track doesn't really sell their range or energy. Still, it's a beautiful song.
More Duhks: official site | Amazon | 7digital
I hope you enjoyed this somewhat lean posting. Next time we'll be taking a detour to the Nation's Capital, Washington, DC.
State Songs - links to every post in my musical road trip