Paul Bryant's Reviews > I Don't Sound Like Nobody: Remaking Music in 1950s America

I Don't Sound Like Nobody by Albin J. Zak III
Rate this book
Clear rating

's review
Oct 05, 2014

liked it
bookshelves: popular-and-unpopular-music
Read in May, 2011

THE 1950s

What a mad whirligig farrago of ghastly ballads, piano medleys, novelties, Italian supper club, trad jazz, skiffle, rockabilly, music hall, swing, standards, comedy sketches, incidental music, moody instrumentals, revolting children, slurpy strings, very high ladies' voices, polite intonation, voices you never ever hear the like of today, expressing sentiments no one has actually felt, ever, a huge trawl through memories I myself never had but yes, it still sounds like nostalgia to me, it's all part of our weird reverberating echoing fantasy lives, twangling and twingling in our unconscious mind until Freud himself jumps from his chair and tangos fiercely about the consulting room, singing loudly, in a German accent :

Just like a torch you set my soul within me burning
I must go on along the road, no returning
And though it burns me, it turns me into ashes
My whole world crashes, without your kiss of fire!

Having listened to a lot of this stuff recently, here's an original observation :

Those 1950s musicians and composers were all a pack of thieves!

But wait, I can refine that further :

All musicians are a pack of thieves!

No, let's get it right :

All musicians are a pack of thieves but it’s okay!

When I was listening to all this 50s stuff I started by noticing that there were a great number of Elvis clones. I also noticed that there were also a fair number of Bing Crosby clones, and later on, Buddy Holly clones (Bobby Vee and Adam Faith to name but two). So someone comes along with an original sound and oh boy, they get ripped off mercilessly. Then – of course – there were cover records by the ton, which is where a British artist (usually) makes an identical copy of an American record to steal as many sales as possible before the (always superior) original gets released. In America there were famously white covers of black hits, like Sh-Boom and anything by Little Richard. Then – there were artists and composers who stole from themselves. This is where the follow up record is as similar as possible to the previous hit without actually being the previous hit. Elvis himself copied All Shook Up, he wasn’t immune to this disease. Then – there were a multitude of arrangers and musicians who stole blatantly riffs and string parts and backup singer parts and drum sounds, anything stealable, for their own records. Then, of course, the composers stole from classical music, but that’s more like a noble tradition. So you get an Elvis clone singing a close copy of a Ricky Nelson song with an arrangement copped from a Fats Domino record.
Then I thought – hold on. What about a) sampling, and b) folk music. Sampling is now its own noble tradition, and given that Dub Be Good To me by Beats International is one of my all time favourite records, I can’t complain. Also Portishead’s first album – which probably wouldn’t exist without samples. And then, before all this Thomas Edison malarkey, when music was passed on from gob to ear, what you got was that bright bold patchwork thing called folk music – in which we find a set of words here given three different melodies there and variations by the hundred, and misrememberings, and making up bits that you’d forgotten, and copying this bit from that song and that bit from the other one, and so on. And that’s all good. It’s the oral tradition. There’s no copyright in the 18th century.

So, the moral, as I say, is that all musicians steal, but that’s okay! Of course they don’t steal all the time, they chuck in glittering lumps of major originality all the time, and they mix the original stuff and the stolen stuff up into a delicious gumbo.
Stealing is good. That is the text for this evening. Thank you. Goodnight.

THREE REVOLUTIONS (and a dog with a waggly tail)

I think there have been three pop revolutions in the last century. The first was when jazz emerged in the 1910s, madly deliriously deliciously steamrollered everything before it in the 1920s and was turned into swing in the 1930s. Swing died in the mid 40s and there was general confusion until the second revolution which was of course rock & roll in the mid 50s. That lasted with many modifications until around the late 80s when hip hop, the third revolution, smashed it to bits and took over. These are generalisations, everything you say about popular culture has to be as there are always a trillion cross-currents and paradoxes and exceptions to the rule happening.

This book is about the delirious period between the death of swing and the takeover of rock, which is, roughly, the 50s, that Janus-faced trembling fearful conforming and yet musically wild & crazy decade. It took only ten years for American to get from The Yellow Rose of Texas by Mitch Miller and his God-fearing chorus and little drummer boys in 1955

She's the sweetest little rosebud that Texas ever knew
Her eyes are bright as diamonds, they sparkle like the dew,
You may talk about your Clementine and sing of Rosalee,
But The Yellow Rose of Texas is the only girl for me!

To Dylan’s amphetamine sneers in 1965

Well, the sword swallower, he comes up to you and then he kneels
He crosses himself and then he clicks his high heels
And without further notice he asks you how it feels
And he says, “Here is your throat back, thanks for the loan

Both very American, but clearly, something changed.

RECORDS (better than most sex)

This book is about records, and how it was only in the 50s when it gradually became clear that records were a thing in themselves, and not merely an advert for a song or a singer. To begin with, the music biz wasn’t really convinced records were a good thing. Because well, if you play a record on the radio, the people hear it for free, so why should they buy it? This reminds me of Spotify and Last FM and all those. So radio was the Spotify of the 40s and 50s. Hah!! However radio stations were often owned by the same companies which made the records so they got themselves in a real tiswas, they didn't know whether they were coming or going.

And the music biz has been paranoid ever since then – Home Taping is Killing Music! Napster is Killing Music! Phil Collins is Killing Music! (Only one of those statements is true.)


We can imagine easily enough that there were popular song purists with pictures of Gershwin, Kern and Cole Porter in their wallets instead of their children who would swoon over lines like

Thanks for the memory
Of Schubert serenades, little things of jade
And traffic jams and anagrams and bills you never paid
How lovely it was

(Tres tres sophisticated, no?) These people might become homicidal and/or weepy when hearing stuff in the 50s like

I’m so young and you’re so old
This my darling I’ve been told


Well I got a girl who's six feet tall
Sleeps in the kitchen with her feet in the hall


How much is that doggy in the window
The one with the waggly tail?

If these purists worked in the biz they were permanently trying to push the flood waters back down the drain where they were seeping up from. The flood was coming from the ghetto and from those hillbillys in those places between New York and Los Angeles. R&B and C&W – awful stuff. It was banal beyone belief, it was crude, it was shouty and just so so lowbrow. Dropped g’s, blatant innuendo and a complete lack of irony! Those guys lost the argument in the 50s. You couldn’t keep the streams of music from spilling out of their designated riverbeds. Everything began to flow together into a rainbow whirlpool of dreams… one of which was named Elvis Presley.

As the 50s dawned it was standard for an R&B hit to be covered by a pop act and a country act, and a country hit to be covered by an R&B act and a pop act, and so forth. But eventually the damned kids began buying the original record whether it was black or white or city or country – there was no stopping them! Nightmare!


New word I learned from this book : HETEROGLOT


Musical snobbery was also rampant amongs the singers. There’s a very amusing essay to be written about all the artists who were forced to record songs they absolutely detested,sometimes as straightforwardly as “If I you don’t get your ass back in that studio and sing Come On A My House right now your ass is fired!” You can see why Rosemary (aunt of George) Clooney hated that one though – it’s horrible! (Number One for umpteen weeks though.) Tony Bennett also hated being handed a damn country song to song but he was really wrong – it was Cold Cold Heart and it was another number one. How country was condescended to by those who knew what real music was! Here’s Goddard Lieberson, prez of Colombia Records, telling us that sometimes the country singer’s

vowels are incomprehensibly attenuated, his roulades piercingly nasal, sometimes he strays off pitch, but always his singing is intense and pervaded with compelling emotion

I could imagine Hank Snow barely knew what a roulade was.


Before the 50s, the song was the star, followed by the singer, who may or may not be the star. During the 50s, the record became the star, and who cared who was on it. For instance - The Weavers sang Goodnight Irene, an old folk song with orchestral accompaniment and intrusive background chorus, it was an outre blend, okay it was complete kitsch, but it was the biggest hit of 1950. Novelty was the thing – the people wanted something new. And although part of the biz was turning out these weird rampantly eclectic novelties the other half couldn’t understand what was happening. Records were supplanting songs.

Copyright law reflected the primacy of written texts, which, for music, accorded with the established principle that a work’s enduring identity was preserved in its written form…. But as records formed a newly independent category of musical culture, they stipulated an obvious truth that was slow to be acknowledged. In preserving song, arrangement and performance in a web of fixed relationships, they represented a new kind of work.

So the record had become the irreplaceable thing and the song was the canvas over which the various artists involved painted the grooves. The record was no longer the transparent window through which you aurally received the untransubstantiated song and the singer. But as Patti Page and Les Paul worked their doubletracked magic and as doowop low-fi madness began to overtake the airwaves, transubstantiation was the thing that was happening, every evening. So records were like that other American phenomenon of the 50s, Abstract Expressionism, which insisted that it was not a depiction of anything else, not a window onto anything, it was the thing iself, it was a painting, not a painting OF something.


Zak could have, but doesn’t, refer to the extraordinary case of You’ve Lost that Lovin’ Feelin’. When Cilla Black covered Dionne warwick’s original Anyone who had a Heart, she got the No 1 hit in the UK in Feb 64. No one batted an eyelid about it. Well done Cilla, former Cavern cloakroom attendant. When one year later she covered You’ve Lost That Lovin’ Feelin’, thinking nothing of it, none other than Andrew Loog Oldham, manager of the Stones, took out full page ads in the UK music press telling pop fans not to buy her version but only the ORIGINAL by the Righteous Brothers. His words:

This advert is not for commercial gain, it is taken as something that must be said about the great new PHIL SPECTOR record, THE RIGHTEOUS BROTHERS singing 'YOU'VE LOST THAT LOVIN' FEELIN''. Already in the American top ten, this is Spector's greatest production, the last word in tomorrow's sound, today, exposing the overall mediocrity of the music industry.


Was of course the thing which eventually took over from swing as the dominant form of pop; but as it is a hydraheaded beast and always had a male and female and a mod and rocker side, rock & roll just stirred the cauldron of confusion with a larger ladle. Zak puts it excellently like this:

The confusion over just what rock & roll was stemmed from something no one could know at the time : throughout the early years, rock & roll was more a process transforming the pop mainstream than a musical type. It was part crossover, part appropriation, part revision, part accident and part market dynamics.


Those that erected the myth of the Death of Rock & Roll, 1959, with Buddy and Eddie dead, Elvis in the army, Little Richard a preacher, Jerry lee shut down and Chuck in jail, were crudely reducing the beautiful surging complexity of American and British music into an endless guerilla war between the indies and the corporations, the rebels and the suits, the visionaries and the accountants, the rockapsychobillies and the teen idols, Sun records and RCA, Memphis and NYC, Little Richard and Pat Boone, grass roots and head office, electric guitar and string section, with good on one side and bad on the other. In perfectly symmetrical fashion this gets focussed down to the 50s-bestriding Elvis. We see him enter the army with A Mess of Blues and One Night in the charts – two authentic rock & blues tracks. When he comes out in 1960, what’s the first thing he records? A version of O Solo Mio. Elvis goes mainstream, rock is co-opted, and dies until kissed back into life by the Beatles 4 years later.
It’s an oft-repeated myth that Zak in his sturdy, unflamboyant and it has to be said rather repetitive manner attempts to demolish in the last chapter of this book.

I would love to dive in and grapple with the stuff that was going in in the period 1960 to 1963, one of my all time favourite periods, but I’m conscious of having rambled on quite a bit already. Anyone who isn’t a diehard fan of popular music will have long since fled this review. If anyone is still reading, then I think this book is for you. It’s pretty good.

6 likes · flag

Sign into Goodreads to see if any of your friends have read I Don't Sound Like Nobody.
Sign In »

Comments (showing 1-30 of 30) (30 new)

dateDown arrow    newest »

message 1: by East Bay J (new)

East Bay J He was paraphrasing someone but Pete Townshend said something about all musicians being thieves and magpies. He's correct and, once you accept it, it's not only okay, it's like a great weight lifting from your shoulders. Then the next time you steal a riff, lyric, arrangement, etc., you actually feel pretty good about it! I would say the older cats were better thieves than the kids these days. They were better at disguising what they'd stolen, anyway. Plus kids these days always have their pants falling down. How do they run from the cops?

Paul Bryant Answer : They shuffle past a doughnut shop and the cops lose interest in chasing them.

Yes, this stealing thing should be more widely known. All musicians would be dancing in the streets.

message 3: by Ian (new)

Ian Not His Real Name Paul wrote: "There’s no copyright in the 18th century."

I initially read this as there was no copyright around in the 18th century, but I later realised that you probably meant, "there's no copyright in any creative works from the 18th century".
If this is what you meant, then it's because the copyright period has expired, but it has also run out for the whole of the 19th century, as well as a large part of the 20th century, as well.

I find copyright over music harder to understand than words.
Music, in the sense of patterns of notes that can be made by a musical instrument, is a reasonably finite mathematical area of permutations and combinations, even if there are an enormous number of them.
Why should someone who first recorded one combination or melody have a monopoly on that combination?
Words are a bit different.
The bigger the work, the easier it is to say that it is unique and that someone has copied it.
The smaller the work, the harder.
For example, if I said "stealing is good", have I breached Paul's copyright?
Has Paul breached someone else's copyright?

One of the original justifications of copyright was the desire to protect the capital investment in a printing machine.
If someone down the road or in the next village could print your work, they would undermine your ability to repay your loan or investment and make a profit.
So creatives only got protected as a side effect of protecting capital.
This is part of the reason why the ease of digital reproduction has undermined the argument for copyright.

I don't think making a cover version is seen as a breach of copyright, if you sing and play your own version.
The important thing is to have the permission of the publisher of the music and the lyrics.
I've forgotten how this multiple-covers thing started, but I think part of it was the publishers trying to make as much money in each geographical territory as possible as quickly as possible.
So Cliff Richard might sing one version in the UK, Johnny Farnham would do another one in Australia.
The local artist had a better opportunity to capitalise in the local market, because they could probably tour in support of the song or album.
As you say, another purpose was the white sanitisation of a black hit.

It's difficult to know where the copyright of music will go.
OK, you can't play my exact performance or recording without my permission.
But you might be able to "re-contextualise" parts of it and claim it as something new.
This has always happened and is the origin behind the question: "how much have I got to change it, in order to avoid breaching copyright?"

Paul Bryant The whole thing is a minefield. I think I first thought about musical copyright it terms of Stones and Led Zep ripping off old blues songs & crediting themselves (a trend started by A P Carter in the 20s). It looked bad. But gradually I had to accept that if Howlin' Wolf or Muddy waters first recorded a particular song, didn't mean they themselves wrote it, and more likely it was an old song which they happened to record first. Leadbelly's songs are credited to him but are all trad folk reworkings. At least 75% of all of Dylan's vast ouevre is his adaptations of other older songs & lyrics.

Now early in the morning
Or late at night
I got a poison headache
But I feel all right

message 5: by Ian (last edited Jun 07, 2011 01:52AM) (new)

Ian Not His Real Name Paul wrote: "The whole thing is a minefield. I think I first thought about musical copyright it terms of Stones and Led Zep ripping off old blues songs & crediting themselves (a trend started by A P Carter in the 20s)."

I think you're right.
It would be interesting to see how much of it (the claim to have copyright) was a result of publishing companies trying to make money out of sheet music and lyrics, right back to the days of AP Carter (who I don't know).

message 6: by Velvetink (new)

Velvetink One of the problems now is that copyright makes a lot of people money incl lawyers and none of them are about to give that up. The laws too are financed not only by publishing companies but supported by others such as pharmaceutical and chemical companies now (Monsanto for instance) and each time they win it shores up other copyright law incl the arts.

message 7: by Paul (last edited Jun 07, 2011 10:07AM) (new) - rated it 3 stars

Paul Bryant AP Carter was the daddy of the Carter Family (review - he took folk songs and he also took songs blatantly from songbooks of the 19th century and he claimed the copyright. But he was requested to produce "original songs" by one Ralph Peer who was the early music biz genius who saw the value in copywriting songs.

message 8: by Ian (new)

Ian Not His Real Name Enjoyed that.

message 9: by East Bay J (new)

East Bay J Some thoughts because I'm at work and this series of posts is infinity times more interesting than what I ought to be doing right now...

Before recorded music, the "music industry" centered around the publication of sheet music. At that time, it was not unheard of for one person to purchase the rights to a song (for a quarter or some beer or whatever) from the "author" of said work, publish it as sheet music without credit to the author and make a killing. By the time Ralph Peer and H. C. Speir started recording the Carters and Charlie Patton, the industry was well rehearsed at making a profit. Just as the process of A.P. Carter archiving all those ancient songs was an effort to make money, the very process that lead to the discovery of the Carter family was an effort to make money.

In a way, thanks are in order to the demon ogre music industry for preserving and documenting music that otherwise would not have been heard. There, I've said it. If it weren't for the music industry of the 30's, Robert Johnson would still have been pretty badass, probably, but he wouldn't have been able to learn all those songs off all those records and turn them into his songs, nor is it likely his songs would have been recorded.

The other side of that coin is the censorship that goes hand in hand with industry involvement. When H.C. Speir ran his recording service out of his furniture store, the deal was that you had to have four songs to make a recording. What if there were a handful of guitarists who only really knew one song but played it for two hours at their local juke joint, throwing random verses over the top as they went along? "What if," nothing; it happened. Maybe the absolute greatest virtuoso guitarist of the early recording era went unrecorded.

But, back on topic, Ian has a very good point about authorship of music. If you look at the Child ballads (305 English and Scottish and their derivative U.S. mutations collected by Francis James Child in the late 1800's), you're about three quarters of the way to accounting for every song recorded in the first four decades of the 20th century. Seriously. I was joking with a friend the other day that, until about 1940, there were only twelve songs and their variants. Twelve notes, twelve bar blues, twelve songs. That's all they had!

Maybe not, but it's true that, as you listen to early recordings, you run into the same melodies and chord progressions over and over again. Like a broken record, even. "Worried Man Blues" is the same song as "Cannonball Blues", another Carter Family staple. To the modern copyright lawyer, this is just not on. But, back then, if you learned to play a little somethin' on the beat up ol' mando your grandaddy left you, nobody was gonna' tell you what you could or couldn't sing over it. It was nothing to alter words to make them more topical or more meaningful to the singer, or change them altogether.

Yazoo Records put out this brilliant collection, Roots Of Robert Johnson, which contained the "original" versions of every song Johnson recorded, albeit Johnson's may have been better performed or realized. He was also more gifted than a lot of his influences in turning out a snappy set of lyrics. But he never really wrote much of anything. His gift was in the editing. From a pop perspective, maybe that's a more important skill than originality? Seems almost safe to say.

As Velvetink said, copyright has a strong foundation in making rich folks richer, or at least more well off, or at least very, very, very much more comfortable. The labels, publishing companies, lawyers, politicians and Metallica are not going to give up their cash cow without a serious fight.

In closing, did anyone notice Metallica ("Hero Of The Day") "being influenced by" Fleetwood Mac ("Hold Me")?

message 10: by Paul (last edited Jun 15, 2011 10:49AM) (new) - rated it 3 stars

Paul Bryant Thanks Justin - my reviews of various Dylan books make the same point as you've just done with Robert Johnson, that for large parts of his career Dylan was a rewriter & adapter - for the first few years and then for the last ten or so years; he's taken this to some lengths too - I don't know if you know Tweedledee & Tweedledum, first track on Love & Theft, but it's a recreation of this obscure rockabilly non-hit

anyway, I am not so reductive as yourself, I think there are a few more than twelve original songs; I think that as you say the English & Scottish folk tradition has its set of tunes; but so does Jewish folk music - different ones ! - and they flowed into popular music through the great Jewish composers like Gershwin, Richard Rodgers, Jerome Kern, etc; then there's African American folk which flowed in to the mix from all the singers and players who as you say were tracked down by white guys who wanted to make money.
I do think that the recorded music of the last 90 years is one good reason not to despair of the human race. And we do need a few of those.

message 11: by East Bay J (new)

East Bay J Alright, you got me. I'm being obstinately reductive. Harry Smith's behemoth Anthology is a wonderful way to hear the myriad influences that existed in early American music. It's not complete but it's a hell of a start. I think sometimes it's easy to forget that the music we hear on the earliest recordings took a few hundred years to become what it was and drew influence from literally everybody who showed up to the party.

I do know that Dylan song and album but had no idea he got it from an obscure tribute to bongo fury. Thanks for that link! There was a time when I wrote Dylan off as a Guthrie clone, which was very close minded of me and rather in ignorance of the depth and breadth of Dylan's borrowing, not to mention his skill at reinterpretation and reinvention. It's certainly not giving Dylan the credit he deserves. On the other hand, I'm still a card carrying member of the Don't Give Dylan More Credit Than He Deserves club. In fact, I think my dues are due.

I agree wholeheartedly that music is one of the few redeeming qualities our species has. An excellent point and one for which I salute you.

message 12: by Ian (last edited Jun 15, 2011 12:19PM) (new)

Ian Not His Real Name Thanks, Justin/Paul.
I'm really enjoying this, even if I'm not at work and have just woken up in the middle of the night.

One thing that fascinates me about the sheet music times is that copyright was exploited back then by selling something that people could learn to play on their own instrument (e.g., the home piano).
The enjoyment of the work, pre-recorded music times, was by playing your own version or performing your own "cover".
Whatever, it was an active or dynamic consumption.
Come recorded music, we all managed to convert ourselves into passive listeners.
I don't know what happened in the meantime.
Was it the cost of a piano?
Was it something about how they taught music in school?
I resented the fact that my music teacher in secondary school wouldn't teach us David Bowie.
As a result, my express aim was to give him a nervous breakdown, and IIRC I won.
He is now one of Australia's greatest composers (Richard Mills), who if Brian is lurking wrote an opera "Batavia".
I still can't read sheet music or play an instrument.

I find the "reductive" approach appealing, even if I don't necessarily agree (though I remain open to persuasion).
I'm always fascinated by theories that there are only 12 dramatic or literary plots or film screenplays or whatever.
It's a bit like the appeal of lists.
You don't really care whether they're "correct" - how can they be?
You just want to see someone put up a good argument.
And if they do, you want to know why they included this and not that from your own list.

Just a point of detail about V's argument.
Intellectual Property laws include both copyright and "patents".
The pharmaceutical companies are primarily concerned with the latter, which is different from copyright.
Otherwise, her basic argument is still correct.
It's interesting to watch how they're trying to "privatise" genetic research and the results of the genome project.

Copyright is a conflict between two public benefits:
* the desire to financially reward (and therefore promote) creativity; and
* the belief that "information wants to be free" (The Electronic Frontier Foundation).
The EFF argument wants free access to everything, so that people can build on the shoulders of giants.
The copyright advocates want copyright owners to be able to profit from their own (or someone else's) creativity, just as we get paid a wage for our work.
They can do this by prohibiting access or use, without a paid licence.
I have a sympathy for both arguments, though I think the EFF has to recognise that creative works are not just "information" or packages of data.
Yet, in a way, they might be right, music is just a package of notes, writing might be just a package of words.
The only difference might be the nature of the "bit" or the "byte".
So, does the way I have assembled the bits mean anything?
Should I have a copyright in my assemblage?
When I toss the coin, I still come down on the "yes" side.

message 13: by East Bay J (new)

East Bay J One quick comment then I really have to get some work done around here...

Excellent point about sheet music consumers being active participants! I don't think it was any one thing. Somewhere along the way, everyone became convinced it takes some special talent to be a musician. It's very sound logic business wise but it's not true! Anyone can play music! And there was a time when anyone did. But the idea that recording "artists" were special, that they were celebrities, seems to me to have been part of taking the power from the people. Also, the recording was a new, fabulous technology that could be argued to have been more or less completely unecessary (like smart phones) and people like that sort of thing. And, y'know, pianos are expensive! I think there were a lot of factors.

Have you guys seen those old adverts about how recorded music was killing the music industry? It was a picture of a gramophone and the text was something about how recordings were taking money away from live performers. I can't find a copy online (all I get is home recording stuff) but it was a brilliant ad.

Congrats on your win against your secondary school music teacher!

message 14: by Paul (new) - rated it 3 stars

Paul Bryant Well, I have to very strongly disagree with the drift your argument here! I think, any way. What - the gramophone unnecessary? Hell no! And anyone can play music, yes - badly! I know you do not wish to be complete Luddites but it sounds like you think that people should have been left in the folk singing and basket weaving anarchosyndicalist commune they were in before Thomas Edison and Henry Ford beat down the door... but every day I bask in the very voices of the singers and players of 50, 60 and even 70 and 80 years ago, rejoicing that they were all recorded even if the current result of Edison's invention is Lady Gaga. We have to take the rough with the smooth!

The oldest recording in my collection is The Unique Quartette singing Mama's Black Baby Boy in 1893! Imagine that!

message 15: by Ian (last edited Jun 15, 2011 01:44PM) (new)

Ian Not His Real Name Justin wrote: "Congrats on your win against your secondary school music teacher!"

I won then, but I lost in the end.
I still can't read sheet music or play an instrument.
Not even badly.

message 16: by Ian (last edited Jun 15, 2011 02:42PM) (new)

Ian Not His Real Name Paul, have you changed the body of your review since June 7?
I don't remember reading about the Three Revolutions, etc before.

I used to have a "decade ending in seven" theory.
Elvis, more or less, 1957.
Beatles, more or less, 1967.
Punk, more or less, 1977.
Hip hop, more or less, 1987.
I can't remember what happened in 1997.
Not much, probably.
2007? Lady Gaga?

BTW, I never met a roulade I didn't eat.

BTW2, strictly entre nous, I have never heard of "Thanks for the Memory" or Leo Robin before, but I have now. Thanks.

Amazed by your coinage of the term "amphetamine sneers", I found this sole prior online use (which you might be interested in (are you into Ryan Adams?):

I agree with ALO that you have to have balls to sing "You’ve Lost that Lovin’ Feelin’", preferably three.

message 17: by Paul (last edited Jun 15, 2011 02:42PM) (new) - rated it 3 stars

Paul Bryant yes, Ian, the previous review was just preliminary comments, this is the full monty!

What a curious pre-echo of my review that you spotted there! I don't have any Black Flag, nearest thing I have is Big Black which is not especially close but I think you might like this


message 18: by Ian (new)

Ian Not His Real Name I've never explored Big Black before.
I love "Kerosene" now.
There's a Gang of Four feel to it, but I also hear Remain in Light-era Talking Heads.

message 19: by Ian (new)

Ian Not His Real Name I can't seem to find a definitive lyric for "Thanks for the Memory".
Is there a version on youtube you would recommend?
I've already listened to Bob Hope and Rod Stewart ones.
Are you saying that Leo Robin was a different generation from Gershwin, Kern and Cole Porter? Or he just appealed to a different generation?
I love this song that I didn't know before today.
(I assume that the plural "memories" is a different song.)

message 20: by Ian (new)

Ian Not His Real Name Ella:

I'll settle for this one.

message 22: by Ian (last edited Jun 15, 2011 03:27PM) (new)

Ian Not His Real Name Now that's what Academy Awards are for.

message 23: by Paul (last edited Jun 15, 2011 03:30PM) (new) - rated it 3 stars

Paul Bryant You're going to think me eccentric now, I know, but I don't actually care too much for Ella Fitzgerald, I feel she flattens every song with her blandness, she's too stately, too much like someone you have to be on your best behaviour with, I know I'm at variance with every music fan on the planet, but that's how it goes sometimes. The Bob Hope original is the best.

message 24: by Ian (new)

Ian Not His Real Name I've worked out the lyrics.
Leo Robin seems to have done some totally new lyrics for Frank Sinatra's performance on youtube (well, you know what I'm trying to say).
Interestingly, they're much more in the downbeat feel of "In the Wee Small Hours".
He also refers to him as Leo Robins with an "s", which is weird.
There's some amusing lyrics about books and Freud and brains.

Make sure you look at the vid in message 21.
I could watch that forever.
I'm going to have to review something about nostalgia.

I care too much for Ella.
But I can live with that.
There must be a few things we both like.

message 26: by Paul (new) - rated it 3 stars

Paul Bryant last comment this evening!

THANKS FOR THE MEMORY : Bob Hope & Shirley Ross

Version One

Thanks for the memory
Of sentimental verse, nothing in my purse
And chuckles when the preacher said "For better or for worse"
How lovely it was

Thanks for the memory
Of Schubert serenades, little things of jade
And traffic jams and anagrams and bills you never paid
How lovely it was

We who could laugh at big things
Were parted by only a slight thing
I wonder if we did the right thing?
Oh well, that’s life, I guess
I love your dress (Do you?) It’s pretty

Thanks for the memory
Of faults that you forgave
Rainbows on a wave
And stockings in the basin when a fellow needs a shave
Thank you so much

Thanks for the memory
Of tinkling temple bells
Alma mater yells
And Cuban rum and towels from the very best hotels
How lovely it was

Thanks for the memory
Of cushions on the floor
Hash with Vivi Moore
That pair of gay pyjamas that you bought and never wore

We said goodbye with a highball
Then I got as high as a steeple
But we were intelligent people
No tears, no fuss, hooray for us

So, thanks for the memory
And strictly entre-nous, darling how are you?
And how are all those little dreams that never did come true?
Awfully glad I met you, cheerio, and toodle-oo
And thank you so much

Version 2

Thanks for the memory
Of candlelight and wine, castles on the Rhine
The Parthenon and moments on the Hudson River Line
How lovely it was!

Thanks for the memory
Of rainy afternoons, swingy Harlem tunes
And motor trips and burning lips and burning toast and prunes
How lovely it was!

Many's the time that we feasted
And many's the time that we fasted
Oh, well, it was swell while it lasted
We did have fun and no harm done

And thanks for the memory
Of sunburns at the shore, nights in Singapore
You might have been a headache but you never were a bore
So thank you so much.

Thanks for the memory
Of lingerie with lace, Pilsner by the case
And how I jumped the day you trumped my one-and-only ace
How lovely it was!

Thanks for the memory
Of things I can’t forget
Journeys on a jet
Our wonderous week in Martinique
And Vegas and roulette
How lucky I was

And thanks for the memory
Of summers by the sea
Dawn in Waikiki
We had a pad in London
But we didn’t stop for tea
How cozy it was

Now since our breakup I wake up
Alone on a gray morning-after
I long for the sound of your laughter
And then I see the laugh’s on me

But thanks for the memory
Of every touch a thrill
I’ve been through the mill
I’ve lived a lot and learned a lot
You loved me not and still
I miss you so much

Thanks for the memory
Of how we used to jog
Even in a fog
That barbecue in Malibu
Away from all the smog
How rainy it was

Thanks for the memory
Of letters I destroyed
Books that we enjoyed
Tonight the way things look
I need a book by Sigmund Freud
How brainy he was

Gone are those evenings on broadway
Together we’d go to a great show
But now I begin with the late show
And wish that you
Were watching, too

I know it’s a fallacy
That grown men never cry
Baby, that’s a lie
We had our bed of roses
But forgot that roses die
And thank you so much]

message 27: by Ian (last edited Jun 15, 2011 06:19PM) (new)

Ian Not His Real Name Paul wrote:

Love it, possibly my first Hank.

This is brilliant. Look what that Mrs Simpson done.
Harry Belafonte's version is pretty good too.

Dis I like, mon.
I don't know who da riddim section is, but I love Sly and Robbie.

message 28: by Howard (new)

Howard Paul, 3 stars is not a bad rating, but with your love and knowledge of music I would be interested in why you did not give the book 4 or 5 stars. Where did it come up short?

On the subject of stealing: One of my younger brothers once said he didn't see what was so great about Buddy Holly, that he sounded much like a number of other singers -- Bobby Vee and Tommy Roe, for example.

Great review, btw. I stayed with you to the very end.

message 29: by Paul (new) - rated it 3 stars

Paul Bryant Thanks Howard - I'd say that the ideas are interesting but this guy Albin Zak is no prose stylist, and I had to press onward with this book, rather than exult in every page like I did with Yeah Yeah Yeah by Bob Stanley. So, three solid stars.

message 30: by Howard (new)

Howard Thank you, Paul. I thought that might be the case. I'm going to take a look at "Yeah Yeah Yeah."

back to top