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Tired of bein' lonely, tired of bein' blue, I wisht I had some good man to tell my troubles to - Bessie Smith, I Need a Little Sugar in My Bowl

Author Topic: Blues Singers Singing Pop and Country Songs  (Read 6935 times)

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Offline Johnm

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Blues Singers Singing Pop and Country Songs
« on: February 03, 2007, 12:25:12 AM »
Hi all,
I recently picked up the JSP set "Memphis Shakedown--More Jug Band Classics" and was listening to the disc devoted primarily to Charlie Burse and his Memphis Mudcats, a sophisticated band with alto sax, piano, bass and drums that recorded relatively late, in 1939.  After hearing a bunch of fairly frenetic raggy up-tempo circle of fifths type of tunes and blues, all of a sudden, at track fourteen, I hear the band take a more relaxed dance tempo and launch into a beautiful version of the Country song, "It Makes No Difference Now", with the singer, Robert Hunter, doing a really lovely job.  Hearing this performance after so many tunes sounding so much alike I was reminded how much I like to hear Blues singers sing Pop and country material occasionally.
I was struck by this over thirty years ago when I heard Leroy Carr's renditions of "Think Of Me Thinking Of You" and Irving Berlin's "How About Me".  They just knocked me out, though in fairness I'd be perfectly happy to hear Leroy Carr sing the phone book.  In more recent years, though, I've had occasion to hear Blues singers sing Pop, or more often Country material, and almost always particularly like it.  Probably a number of you heard John Jackson sing "Just Because" with hot Swing back-up chording, but perhaps fewer have heard John Cephas sing the old Louvin Brothers tune, "When I Stop Dreaming".  It is really terrific, right up there with Ray Charles' recordings of Country songs.  A couple of years ago at Port Townsend, a number of you may have heard the Maryland songster Warner Williams sing one Country song after another.  I know he considers that music just as much his as are the Blues.  And the Delaware musician Frank Hovington had a really nice recording of "Nobody's Darling But Mine".
I'm curious if any of the rest of you share my liking of blues singers singing Pop and Country material, and if you have any favorite performances on record that you would care to recommend.
All best,
Johnm 

Offline Stefan Wirz

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Re: Blues Singers Singing Pop and Country Songs
« Reply #1 on: February 03, 2007, 02:09:56 AM »
those that came to my mind immediately (in sequence of their appearance - to my mind, that is ;-):
- Long Way From Tipperary by Mance Lipscomb
- Brother Can You Spare A Dime by Steve Mann
- Up A Lazy River by Bill Williams
- I Know What It Means To Be Lonesome by Bill Williams

mississippijohnhurt1928

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Re: Blues Singers Singing Pop and Country Songs
« Reply #2 on: February 03, 2007, 05:07:21 AM »
I think that Charlie Patton's "Some These Days I'll Be Gone" was a pop song, I don't quite remember though.

Offline Richard

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Re: Blues Singers Singing Pop and Country Songs
« Reply #3 on: February 03, 2007, 05:57:19 AM »
I think an awful lot of stuff could be classed as pop songs of the period, but it's what you do with the material that counts and sticks in the mind.

I was in sort of late mainstreamy jazz thing once and we used to a boppy version of "When the red, red robbin goes boppin' along" and it did too  :P
(That's enough of that. Ed)

Offline Rivers

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Re: Blues Singers Singing Pop and Country Songs
« Reply #4 on: February 03, 2007, 06:14:27 AM »
I'm quite partial to Big Bill Broonzy's dead thumb version of "Glory of Love". It's one of those songs that are not too hard to play but hard to get sounding right.

Offline MTJ3

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Re: Blues Singers Singing Pop and Country Songs
« Reply #5 on: February 03, 2007, 10:13:37 AM »
Johnm, I don't know that I share your liking for such to a great extent, but I listen to it, and--if I can get up on the pulpit for a minute--I think that it's important that we do listen to it or we risk losing sight of the entire context into which you have to fit "The Blues" and what "The Bluesmen" were. For example, it's almost a revelation to hear Tampa Red crooning with The Chicago Five in some of his 1936-38 sides and to know that, e.g., "Delta Woman Blues" and "Seminole Blues" were chronologically right in the middle of those.  Wald's selection is a pretty good start, but it's important to remember that those represent merely the tip of the iceberg.  Down off the pulpit now, a song that I think fits in this category somehow that has always interested and really puzzled me is Lonnie Johnson's "Nile of Genago."

Offline Bunker Hill

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Re: Blues Singers Singing Pop and Country Songs
« Reply #6 on: February 03, 2007, 11:56:10 AM »
...a song that I think fits in this category somehow that has always interested and really puzzled me is Lonnie Johnson's "Nile of Genago."
On October 28, 2005 a member of Mary Katherine Aldin's prewar blues group asked what the significance of the title was. The silence was deafening - not one response, or even an educated guess. Any ideas?

Offline Rivers

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Re: Blues Singers Singing Pop and Country Songs
« Reply #7 on: February 03, 2007, 12:34:55 PM »
It looks like an anagram. http://wordsmith.org/anagram/anagram.cgi?anagram=Nile+of+Genago

I like "A FLEEING GOON" myself.

Offline banjochris

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Re: Blues Singers Singing Pop and Country Songs
« Reply #8 on: February 03, 2007, 04:56:46 PM »
A would imagine "Nile of Genago" to be a misheard or corrupted foreign title, a tune from the land of Mondegreen, like "Croquet Habits" or "Hammer Blues." Maybe it was originally "Isle of" something.
Chris

Offline dj

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Re: Blues Singers Singing Pop and Country Songs
« Reply #9 on: February 05, 2007, 04:40:03 AM »
Good topic, John.  Just from the CDs I had in the car this weekend, here's an unscientific survey: 

On the hillbilly side of things, there's Stovepipe No. 1 singing the square dance tunes "Lonesome John", "Cripple Creek and Sourwood Mountain", and "Turkey In The Straw" in 1924, accompanying himself on guitar, harmonica, and stovepipe.

And on the pop side, there's Ollie Shepard in 1939 singing "Oh Maria" in a very Louis Jordan vein, accompanied by piano, bass, drums and a vocal group.

And don't forget country blues players Joe and Charlie McCoy who moved to Chicago and as part of the Harlem Hamfats recorded a wide variety of styles besides blues.  Just from the first volume of their complete works on Document there's pop ("Little Girl"), novelty  ("Weed Smoker's Dream") and swing instrumentals ("Hamfat Swing", with some fine mandolin by Charlie McCoy).
 

Offline dj

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Re: Blues Singers Singing Pop and Country Songs
« Reply #10 on: March 31, 2007, 01:02:08 PM »
I just heard a really good example of a couple of "blues" singers singing a pop song:  Walter Roland and Sonny Scott, recording as "The Jolly Two" doing a romping, infectiously good humored version of "Come On Down".  It's pretty much two-part vocal harmony throughout, with both men playing guitar and one of them taking a nifty single-string solo. 

Offline dj

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Re: Blues Singers Singing Pop and Country Songs
« Reply #11 on: April 10, 2007, 10:29:07 AM »
A nice example of a "blues" singer singing a pop song just played on the Juke:  Joe Pullum singing "Dixie My Home" accompanied by the pianist Andy Boy.  A bit of internet searching turned up the fact that Tony Russell called this song "Fosteresque" in a January 1971 Jazz Monthly article.  An apt description.

Joe Pullum is a singer who's worth a closer look and listen.  Here's a link to the entire Russell article, in case anyone's interested:  http://www.blues.co.nz/dig-this/documents/pullJM71.pdf   

Edited to add:  Oops!  I should have checked the Weenie Tabs first.  I see Bunker Hill posted this same article in the Forum a scant four months ago.    :o   
« Last Edit: April 10, 2007, 11:46:44 AM by dj »

tommersl

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Re: Blues Singers Singing Pop and Country Songs
« Reply #12 on: April 11, 2007, 02:19:59 PM »
Luke Jordan's Tom Brown reminds me the style of country ballads.

Offline dj

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Re: Blues Singers Singing Pop and Country Songs
« Reply #13 on: May 09, 2007, 03:28:42 AM »
Herve Duerson singing "You'll Be Sorry Some Day".

Offline dj

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Re: Blues Singers Singing Pop and Country Songs
« Reply #14 on: May 09, 2007, 03:35:54 PM »
Joe Evans and Arthur McClain, a duo from eastern Tennessee who recorded as the Two Poor Boys, did the pop songs "Little Son Of A Gun (Look What You've Done)", "Take A Look At That Baby", "Oh, You Son Of A Gun", "Georgia Rose", and "So Sorry Dear", the country tune "New Huntsville Jail", and the dance tunes "Old Hen Cackle" and "Sourwood Mountain" in addition to their blues numbers.     
« Last Edit: May 09, 2007, 03:42:44 PM by dj »

Offline dj

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Re: Blues Singers Singing Pop and Country Songs
« Reply #15 on: May 23, 2007, 04:01:00 AM »
Bumble Bee Slim (Amos Easton) recorded a nice version of "I Need Someone (Exactly Like You)".

mmpresti

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Re: Blues Singers Singing Pop and Country Songs
« Reply #16 on: May 23, 2007, 01:32:23 PM »
Doctor Clayton's "Love is Gone"

Offline Pan

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Re: Blues Singers Singing Pop and Country Songs
« Reply #17 on: May 23, 2007, 04:10:28 PM »
Big Bill Broonzy:
- I Get(s) The Blues When It Rains, composed by Marcy Klauber and Harry Stoddard in 1929
- Bill Bailey, composed by Hughie Cannon in 1902
- Sixteen Tons, written by Merle Travis in 1947

If you have the patience to go through 13 minutes of this Robert Jr. Lockwood interview, you'll hear his very nice version of the old standard "Exactly Like You" in the end:

http://www.dailymotion.com/relevance/search/Exactly%2BLike%2BYou/video/x18we1_robert-jr-lockwood-interview-excerp

Cheers

Pan
« Last Edit: May 23, 2007, 04:11:36 PM by Pan »

Offline Pan

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Re: Blues Singers Singing Pop and Country Songs
« Reply #18 on: May 24, 2007, 02:02:54 AM »
Hi all

I think that most of the titles listed on the "waltz" thread would fit in this thread too. I won't go into re-listing them here, so here's just the link to the other thread: http://weeniecampbell.com/yabbse/index.php?amp;Itemid=83&topic=3475.0

Cheers

Pan

Offline dj

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Re: Blues Singers Singing Pop and Country Songs
« Reply #19 on: May 25, 2007, 10:58:54 AM »
Leroy Carr's "I Know That I'll Be Blue" is an interesting hybrid.  Carr sings a straight 12 bar blues for the first four verses, on the theme of his girlfriend/wife/lover saying she doesn't love him anymore and is going to leave.  Then, after singing a line that concludes "listen to what I say", he puts on his crooning voice and sings a verse (or maybe it's a chorus, I'm not familiar with the song) of a pop song on the same theme.  The performance by both Leroy and Scrapper is just sensational.       

Offline uncle bud

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Re: Blues Singers Singing Pop and Country Songs
« Reply #20 on: October 13, 2009, 09:42:59 AM »
I just heard a really good example of a couple of "blues" singers singing a pop song:  Walter Roland and Sonny Scott, recording as "The Jolly Two" doing a romping, infectiously good humored version of "Come On Down".  It's pretty much two-part vocal harmony throughout, with both men playing guitar and one of them taking a nifty single-string solo. 

Reviving an oldie.

DJ, I agree about how infectious this song is in Walter Roland and Sonny Scott's hands, and while it sounds vaguely familiar, I can't place it. Is this a cover of a pop song?

Offline dj

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Re: Blues Singers Singing Pop and Country Songs
« Reply #21 on: October 13, 2009, 10:00:12 AM »
Quote
Is this a cover of a pop song?

It was copyrighted, with Walter Roland listed as the composer, by Steve LaVere/Delta Haze in 1998.  I don't think I would take that as a necessarily accurate indication of authorship.

I couldn't find a label shot online, but both Bob MacLeod's composer list and the Online Discographical Project indicate that there is no composer credit on the label.

 

Offline Mr.OMuck

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Re: Blues Singers Singing Pop and Country Songs
« Reply #22 on: October 13, 2009, 12:39:22 PM »
Gary Davis did quite a few turn of the century popular tunes, usually as instrumentals. He insisted on teaching me one that I'd never heard before and still don't know the words to called "Got that Old Fashioned Love in My Heart"
Usually he let me call the tune so to speak in terms of what I wanted to learn but in this case he was rather insistent that I learn this piece, I still don't know why, maybe there was some structural thing he was trying to impress on me. He also did "Long way to Tipperary" and of course his United States March, a composite of various Sousa bits. He seemed to have a lot of fun with those tunes, often cracking up a he played them, so of course they were quite enjoyable for the listener as well.
This could be a whole thread unto itself but I'd have to place Billie Holiday in the category of Blues singers who sang pop and Jazz tunes. It has always seemed to me that her approach and ethos was that of a Blues singer. Ella Fitzgerald, on the other hand is clearly on the other side of the fence a pop- Jazz singer. You can admire her perfect, gem like phrasing and enunciation all you want, it ultimately doesn't grab me, BH on the other hand can sing complete drivel (Mandy is Two, for example) and make it sound like something's goin' on inside.
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Offline uncle bud

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Re: Blues Singers Singing Pop and Country Songs
« Reply #23 on: October 13, 2009, 02:36:20 PM »
Quote
Is this a cover of a pop song?

It was copyrighted, with Walter Roland listed as the composer, by Steve LaVere/Delta Haze in 1998.  I don't think I would take that as a necessarily accurate indication of authorship.

I couldn't find a label shot online, but both Bob MacLeod's composer list and the Online Discographical Project indicate that there is no composer credit on the label.

Thanks, dj. I agree, not sure I'd take that 1998 copyright as proof of authorship. Roland certainly had some variety to his material, but I can't help but feel like this is from another source, both because of its pop structure and its dissimilarity from his other material. Or I guess it's Roland writing in a certain style. Whatever, it's a wonderful performance.

M. O'Muck, a couple other RGD pop tunes that come to mind: "I'm So Tired of Being All Alone" and "Bill Bailey". I've always wondered whether "Save Up Your Money, John D. Rockefeller Put the Panic On" had a old pop source.
« Last Edit: October 13, 2009, 02:39:02 PM by uncle bud »

Offline jtbrown

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Re: Blues Singers Singing Pop and Country Songs
« Reply #24 on: October 15, 2009, 05:33:38 PM »
In addition to "Just Because," John Jackson recorded "Nine Pound Hammer," "Muleskinner Blues," and "Waiting for a Train."  A version of the latter song is also included among Mississippi John Hurt's Library of Congress recordings.
« Last Edit: October 15, 2009, 05:38:15 PM by jtbrown »

Offline pkeane

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Re: Blues Singers Singing Pop and Country Songs
« Reply #25 on: October 15, 2009, 07:35:34 PM »
Well, I'm not sure if it really counts, but listening to Robert Johnson sing "They're Red Hot" I feel like I get some sense of his "pop" sensibilities.  It's quite unlike his blues style, and well-developed enough that I assumed he had plenty of other material for which he used it.

--peter keane

Offline oddenda

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Re: Blues Singers Singing Pop and Country Songs
« Reply #26 on: October 15, 2009, 09:28:32 PM »
I think one of these is posted somewhere hereabouts:

     John Cephas                 When I grow Too Old to Dream
     McKinley Ellis                The Sheik of Araby

are two that come to mind off the top of my pointy little head.

Peter B.

Offline dj

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Re: Blues Singers Singing Pop and Country Songs
« Reply #27 on: October 16, 2009, 11:07:21 AM »
Both Casey Bill Weldon and Washboard Sam recorded the pop song "Has My Gal Been Here".  Weldon recorded it first, in 1936.  Sam's version came three years later.  According to Bob MacLeod's list, composer credit on the Weldon recording is to William Weldon.  The Washboard Sam record apparently has no composer credited.

Offline dj

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Re: Blues Singers Singing Pop and Country Songs
« Reply #28 on: October 22, 2009, 07:41:56 AM »
Casey Bill Weldon recorded "Can't You Remember" at a September 6, 1936 session with Black Bob on Piano, Charlie McCoy on mandolin, and Big Bill Broonzy on guitar.  The song is a standard 16 bar with bridge form.  There's some really nice interplay between the steel guitar and mandolin on the opening instrumental verses.  Casey Bill puts on a real crooner's voice, and the whole effect of the song is reminiscent of a night club in Waikiki.   

Offline Bunker Hill

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Re: Blues Singers Singing Pop and Country Songs
« Reply #29 on: October 22, 2009, 12:07:09 PM »
I haven't listened to them for years but I seem to recall Tampa Red and the Mississippi Sheiks respectively reworking a couple of Hoagy Carmichael numbers - Georgia, Georgia Blues and Lazy River. Yes? No?

Offline Colin Brooks

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Re: Blues Singers Singing Pop and Country Songs
« Reply #30 on: October 23, 2009, 11:34:50 AM »
Lonnie Johnson made a recording of 'Old Fashioned Love', and should anyone want the words

OLD FASHIONED LOVE
(James P. Johnson / Cecil Mack)

I?ve got that old-fashioned love in my heart
And there, it shall always remain
You?re like that old ivy vine
Cling a little closer all the time
Through the years, joy and tears, just the same

I?ve got that old-fashioned dream in my heart
And there it shall always be
Although the land may change to sea
It will never make any change in me
I?ve got that old-fashioned love in my heart

(Rep once more)

Offline Mr.OMuck

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Re: Blues Singers Singing Pop and Country Songs
« Reply #31 on: October 23, 2009, 12:12:14 PM »
Great. Thanks!
My loathings are simple: stupidity, oppression, crime, cruelty, soft music.
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Offline Pan

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Re: Blues Singers Singing Pop and Country Songs
« Reply #32 on: September 04, 2012, 05:45:11 AM »
In his live concert from 1972 in Harvard Dining Hall, Cambridge, Massachusetts, Mance Lipscomb performs a very personalized version of the old pop tune "I Ain't Got Nobody". I wouldn't probably even had recognized the tune, if it weren't for the lyrics that were clearly lifted from the original, after what seems to be Mance's own (?) verse, before the chorus. You can hear the song around at 17:10 in this video:



For comparison, here's Marion Harris' version from 1916 (which might be the oldest recorded version):



Note that since the 1950's hit version by Louis Prima, this tune is often coupled with another pop song, "Just a Gigolo".

http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/I_Ain%27t_Got_Nobody

Cheers

Pan
« Last Edit: September 04, 2012, 05:47:30 AM by Pan »

Offline Johnm

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Re: Blues Singers Singing Pop and Country Songs
« Reply #33 on: June 18, 2015, 01:12:31 PM »
Hi all,
Here's Charlie McCoy singing and playing "Too Long".  This sure has a pretty melody.  Does it seem like the bridge is missing its second half to any of you?



All best,
Johnm

Offline Slack

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Re: Blues Singers Singing Pop and Country Songs
« Reply #34 on: June 18, 2015, 01:35:26 PM »
Quote
Does it seem like the bridge is missing its second half to any of you?

Yes, it seems very quick vocal bridge, and on the break, it sounds like they (or charlie) loses track... they sound off at about 1:25

Offline Johnm

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Re: Blues Singers Singing Pop and Country Songs
« Reply #35 on: June 18, 2015, 01:44:26 PM »
I agree with you, John, and it would make more sense musically, too.  Where the bridge ends, it's only half of the way back to the A part.  It kind of jumps there in a way that seems really abrupt.

Offline banjochris

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Re: Blues Singers Singing Pop and Country Songs
« Reply #36 on: June 18, 2015, 03:18:22 PM »
Sounds like they were trying to make the song a little more swing-like, and Charlie starts playing the old bridge then remembers the new version.

This is IMHO the best version, better than the above or the Sheiks' versions:

!Too Long

Offline Johnm

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Re: Blues Singers Singing Pop and Country Songs
« Reply #37 on: June 18, 2015, 03:23:43 PM »
Thanks, Chris.  That's how the bridge should go!
All best,
Johnm

Offline Slack

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Re: Blues Singers Singing Pop and Country Songs
« Reply #38 on: June 18, 2015, 03:28:23 PM »
Thanks for posting Chris - much better!

Offline banjochris

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Re: Blues Singers Singing Pop and Country Songs
« Reply #39 on: June 18, 2015, 04:31:08 PM »
Such a great song -- should be much better known than it is. The Sheiks' version has a little "verse" intro before the chorus starts. It's interesting McCoy kept reworking it.

I also think it's kind of funny that in the "swing" version with more modern-sounding chords and runs, Charlie still has his mando strung in octaves on the G and D courses so it still has an old-timey sound.

Offline Slack

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Re: Blues Singers Singing Pop and Country Songs
« Reply #40 on: June 18, 2015, 04:54:15 PM »
It is a such great song... it would be a good candidate for frankie's SOTW thread...

I thought the mando sounded "odd" against the swing chords, your ear is epic Chris, I'll have to go back and listen again... I wrote it off to the recording engineer... ha!

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