Saturday, December 2, 2017

The Invention of the LP

The long-playing microgroove 33-1/3 rpm phonograph disc, the standard for incorporating multiple or lengthy recorded works on a single disc for two generations, was developed in 1945 by German-Hungarian engineer Dr. Peter Carl Goldmark. The LP was introduced by Columbia's future president, Goddard Lieberson, in 1948. Goldmark's vinyl long-playing records remained the standard in the music industry until the compact disc replaced vinyl in the late 1980s.

For the compact disc-age person, the LP was an analog sound storage medium, a vinyl record format, characterized by a speed of  33 1/3 rpm, a 12 or 10-inch diameter, and use of the "microgroove" groove specification.

At the time the LP was introduced, nearly all phonograph records for home use were made of an abrasive shellac compound, employed a much larger groove, and played at approximately 78 rpm, limiting the playing time of a 12-inch diameter record to less than five minutes per side. The new product was a fine-grooved disc made of vinyl. Originally 23 minutes per side, it was later increased by several minutes.

Although the LP was suited to classical music because of its extended continuous playing time, it also allowed a collection of ten or more pop music recordings to be put on a single disc. Previously, such collections, as well as longer classical music broken up into several parts, had been sold as sets of 78 rpm records in a specially imprinted "record album" consisting of individual record sleeves bound together in book form. The use of the word "album" persisted for the one-disc LP equivalent.

Today, technology is at an all-time high. In so many ways, sound technology is great and the way we listen to music is great. Now, there is digital audio tape (DAT), digital audio broadcasting, HD Radio tuners, which can be connected together with fibre optic TOSLINK cables, universal serial bus (USB) ports (including one to play digital audio files), or the awesome technology known as Wi-Fi, Blu-Ray and Bluetooth. Another modern component is the music server consisting of one or more computer hard drives that hold music in the form of computer files where the music is stored in an audio file. The computer playback of recorded audio can serve as an audiophile-quality source for a hi-fi system.

Some people who were around during the vinyl era appreciate where sound technology has gone. Some of us also moss the vinyl days.

Dr. Peter Carl Goldmark was born in Budapest on December 2, 1906. He died on December 7, 1977 at Port Chester, New York.

Disc Jockey Fired For Playing Elvis Presley's White Christmas

Disc Jockey Al Priddy of radio station KEX in Portland was fired on this day in 1957 after playing Elvis Presley's version of 'White Christmas.' The station management said, 'it's not in the spirit we associate with Christmas.'

The Bing Crosby holiday perennial song, which had appeared every year on the Billboard charts since 1942, became the center of controversy upon "Elvis' Christmas Album's" release, with calls by the song's composer Irving Berlin to have the song, and the entire album, banned from radio airplay. After hearing Presley's version of his song, which Berlin saw as a "profane parody of his cherished yuletide standard," he ordered his staff in New York to telephone radio stations across the United States, demanding the song be discontinued from radio play. Most stations ignored Berlin's request.

The controversy was fueled by Elvis' performance of the song in a style mirroring the version by Clyde McPhatter's group, The Drifters, which had been a Top 10 hit on the R&B singles chart in 1954 and 1955. Unlike Elvis' recording, however, their version attracted virtually no adverse reaction, and certainly no reported opposition from Irving Berlin. Part of the reason that The Drifters' version of "White Christmas" was less controversial was because that version was played only on black radio stations.

In reality though, Berlin looked at Elvis' version of his song as a kind of sacrilege, a reaction born out of a personal tragedy that was the heart and soul of the song. In Berlin's eyes, there was good reason "White Christmas" was meant to be performed very melancholy, bluesy if you will, the way Crosby sang it, and not in the typical festive Christmas tune formula.

Irving Berlin’s 3-week-old son, Irving Berlin Jr., died on Christmas Day in 1928, and every Christmas after, he and his wife would visit their baby boy’s grave. Perhaps, Berlin's writing of the song, which in all honesty echoes many peoples' feelings over the holiday season, was his deep response to his feelings about the death of his son.

As Jody Rosen, author of White Christmas: The Story of an American Song, said, "it’s pretty poignant and special that a song born out of such grief and loss would become one of the world’s all-time best-selling and most widely recorded songs ever– of all genres, not just holiday songs."

At the end of the day, you have to imagine that Berlin was comforted in some measure by the royalty payments Elvis' version sent his way. According to the most recent record album certifications, the holiday album title that has shipped the most copies in the United States is "Elvis' Christmas Album," which is certified by the RIAA for shipment of 16 million copies in the U.S. (3 million copies of the original 1957 release on RCA Victor Records, plus 10 million copies of a "budget" edition first released by RCA Camden in 1970 and then by Pickwick Records in 1975, and 3 million of a RCA reissue titled "It's Christmas Time," released in 1985.

For the record, Elvis Presley did reach out and extend an olive branch to Irving Berlin, which was rejected. Elvis sent an autographed photo to Berlin as a sort of peace offering– “To Mr. Irving Berlin with respect and admiration, Sincerely Elvis Presley.” 

Friday, November 17, 2017

My Trials Are God's Mercies

We each have periods in our lives where we wonder, "Where are you God?" But, it is during these times that, if we seek Him, we can allow our spiritual roots to grow deeper and closer to Him.

During the struggles and trials which I have endured in my life, I found myself clinging to His garment. I realized later that my trials were disguised as His mercies. What if that's really what trials and tribulations are all about?

God loves me!


And, that helps me endure.

His strength is perfect and it is all that I need.

"Sing, O heavens; and be joyful, O earth; and break forth into singing, O mountains: for the LORD hath comforted his people, and will have mercy upon his afflicted." Isaiah 49:13

Tuesday, November 14, 2017

Police Officer Who Had Arrested Bootleggers Murdered in 1914

Police officer Robert T. Thurman was murdered just after midnight on September 18, 1914 on West Main street in Glasgow, Kentucky, about a half block from the Courthouse Square. Parties were reportedly drunk and disorderly and Thurman had received a telephone message to go to North Glasgow and make an arrest. He was returning with two prisoners when he fell to the ground after being shot just below his heart. Before making their escape, the two prisoners were seen kicking and cursing Thurman as he lay on the ground. The shots aroused citizens, who found the officer and carried him to the Murrell Hotel, where he died a few minutes later.

Nothing in the history of Glasgow had so aroused the people as the murder of Robert Thurman. The 37-year-old former marshall of Burkesville and Edmonton, Kentucky had killed two or three men, but was always acquitted on the grounds of self-defense. He had shot and killed Bud McCandless in Edmonton, who had killed Judge George H. Pierce, one of the prominent men of Metcalfe county.

More than one year earlier, bootlegging had. become so open in Glasgow that something drastic had to be done. The City Council hired Thurman with the understanding that he would try to arrest every violator of the law. Within a few weeks he had arrested 25 bootleggers, which naturally made him many enemies. He was offered large sums of money to leave, but had refused to. Threats of killing him were frequently heard, but Thurman, described as a man without fear, had paid no attention them. A few months prior to his murder, an attempt to assassinate him had failed because Thurman did not fall for a trap that had been set.

During the inquiry, there was sufficient evidence to suppory the arrest of Milton Mansfield, a young man well-known around town, and Louie Pace, a printer in the Glasgow Times office. According to the online "Officer Down Memorial Page," both men were convicted and sentenced to life in prison.

Thurman, a widower and father two children, was to have been re-married in a few days. Two thousand people attended the viewing at Jewell’s undertaking establishment. As a matter of fact, the crowd became so great that it became necessary to close the doors. There was equally as large a crowd at the funeral the next day. The most tragic affair ever to occur in Glasgow up to that point had profoundly moved the community.

Thurman, who was born in Clinton County, Kentucky on April 4, 1879, was buried on September 22, 1914 at Thurman Cemetery on Malone Ridge in Clinton County. He was the son of Turner and Elizabeth "Betsy" Riddle Thurman.

Monday, November 13, 2017

Let's Work Together

Songwriter Wilbert Harrison said it best when he wrote "Let's Work Together," which was a hit for him as a singer in 1969, and an even bigger hit the following year for the group Canned Heat.

"Together we stand, divided we fall
Come on now people, let's get on the ball
And work together
Come on, come on let's work together
Now, now people
Because together we will stand
Every boy every girl and a man"

During his commencement address at American University on June 10, 1963, President John F. Kennedy said,
"Let us not be blind to our differences, but let us also direct attention to our common interests and to the means by which those differences can be resolved. And if we cannot end now our differences, at least we can help make the world safe for diversity. For, in the final analysis, our most basic common link is that we all inhabit this small planet. We all breathe the same air. We all cherish our children's future. And we are all mortal."
There is so much strife and indifference in the world right now. Why can't we all just get along?

Come on now people, let's get on the ball and work together!

Wednesday, November 8, 2017

Dick Burnett and Leonard Rutherford

Richard "Dick" Burnett was born near the end of the nineteenth century, on October 8, 1883, in the area around the head of Elk Springs, about seven miles north of Monticello. His father died when he was only four and his mother died when he was twelve.

In his youth, he worked as a logger and wheat thrasher, then a driller and tool dresser in the oil fields. His grandparents were of German and English descent and that ancestral influence was instrumental in forming a musical career for him. By age seven, Burnett was playing the dulcimer; at nine he was playing the banjo and at thirteen he had learned to play the fiddle.

One evening in 1907, Burnett was walking home from his job at a barbershop at Stearns, Kentucky when he was robbed at gunpoint by a railroad tramp. Rather than lose his money, he rushed the robber and was struck in the face by a shotgun blast, leaving him blind. Unable to work at the barbershop, he decided to become a musician to earn money for his wife and small child. He began traveling from town to town playing on the street for nickels and dimes with a tin cup tied to his leg. When he could afford it, he took the train, sometimes he’d walk.

By 1909, he was traveling all over South, entertaining at fairs and schoolhouses, and became known as Blind Dick Burnett and the “Blind Minstrel of Monticello." By 1913, he had earned enough money to publish a book of ballets, a collection of song lyrics written on paper. It included “The Lost Ship” about the Titanic sinking of 1912, “The C & O Railroad,” “The Reckless Hobo,” The Jolly Butchers,” which he claimed sold 4,000 copies, an autobiographical, "Song of the Orphan Boy," which was later recorded but not released, and the semi-autobiographical "Farewell Song," with its opening line "I am a man of constant sorrow." Burnett is credited with writing the song, but never recorded it. The melody was based on an old Baptist hymn, “The Wandering Boy.”

By 1914, Burnett had found a 14 year old boy, Leonard Rutherford, to accompany him on his travels. Rutherford was born in Somerset, Kentucky but lived most of his life in Monticello. When the two first met, Rutherford was learning to play the fiddle. Burnett was willing to teach him if Rutherford would help him get around. It was the start of a 35-year partnership.

As Rutherford improved, it became profitable for the two men to branch out and thus, they began to travel by horse, bus and railroad. Eventually, Burnett bought a car, which Rutherford learned to drive. It allowed them to travel, in Burnett's words, "from Cincinnati to Chattanooga, playing every town this side of Nashville."

In 1926, Columbia's A&R manager Frank Walker was prepared to record more southern musicians, and invited Burnett and Rutherford to a "field recording" session in November at a temporary studio in Atlanta.

At this first session Burnett and Rutherford recorded six sides, which were issued in 1927 as three 78 rpm records and sold very well. The best seller of the three, "Lost John," sold 37,600 copies in three years, an astonishing figure for that market at the time. Profitable as the records were for Columbia, Dick and Leonard received only sixty dollars per side and their expenses. But, Dick Burnett did find a way to profit from their records. He bought many copies wholesale from Columbia and sold them at his performances, just as he had previously sold his ballets and songbooks.

Burnett and Rutherford were invited to the Columbia's next Atlanta sessions in April and November 1927. The ten numbers included Dicks' autobiographical, "Song Of The Orphan Boy," which was not issued, and a version of "Hesitation Blues," "Danville Girl," "All Night Long" and "Wilie Moore."

The next year, dissatisfied with their payment they broke from Columbia and recorded with Gennett Records. This involved travel to the Northern recording studio, but Gennett's base in Richmond, Indiana was more accessible from Kentucky than those of other Northern record companies. Newly partnered with guitarist Byrd Moore, they recorded five sides in October 1928, including "Cumberland Gap" and "Under The Pale Moonlight."

In 1973, Burnett, who was still working as a chair maker at the age of 90, claimed that he and Rutherford initially recorded because a furniture store owner at the Bonnie Blue Coal Camp in Virginia wanted to sell records made by them. They recorded some of the classic sides in old-time music, and their popularity on records kept them recording steadily throughout the 1920's. Their appeal on radio allowed them to broadcast from places like WLW in Cincinnati and the Renfro Valley Barn Dance. They traveled by bus, Model A, and on foot to any place they could and sing. From about 1914 until 1950, the pair became so popular that they found themselves in the company of most all the popular mountain musicians of the time. They were "at home" in the presence of greats like the Carter Family, Charlie Oaks, Arthur Smith and many others.

Burnett and Rutherford's Recording Catalog
1926/11 Lost John, Columbia 15122-D
1926/11 Little Streams Of Whiskey, Columbia 15133-D
1926/11 Weeping Willow Tree, Columbia 15113-D
1926/11 I'll Be With You When The Roses Bloom Again, Columbia 15122-D
1926/11 A Short Life Of Trouble, Columbia 15133-D
1926/11 Pearl Bryan, Columbia 15113-D
1927/04 My Sweetheart In Tennessee, Columbia 15187-D
1927/04 Are You Happy Or Lonesome, Columbia 15187-D
1927/04 Assassination Of J.B. Marcum, Columbia unissued
1927/04 Song Of The Orphan Girl, Columbia unissued
1927/11 Curley Headed Woman, Columbia 15240-D (Hesitation Blues)
1927/11 Ramblin' Reckless Hobo, Columbia 15240-D
1927/11 Willie Moore, Columbia 15314-D
1927/11 All Night Long Blues, Columbia 15314-D
1927/11 Ladies On The Steamboat, Columbia 15209-D
1927/11 Billy In The Low Ground, Columbia 15209-D
1928/10 She Is A Flower From The Fields Of Alabama, Gennett 6688
1928/10 Under The Pale Moonlight, Gennett 6688
1928/10 The Spring Roses, Gennett rejected
1928/10 Cumberland Gap, Gennett 6706
1928/10 Sleeping Lula, Gennett rejected
1928/10 Grandma's Rag, Gennett 6706

In 2003, “Man of Constant Sorrow” was voted the 20th greatest song of all-time in CMT’s 100 Greatest Songs in Country Music. The song appeared in the 2000 film O Brother, Where Art Thou?, under the title "I Am a Man of Constant Sorrow." Performed by the fictitious Soggy Bottom Boys in the movie, it was recorded by Dan Tyminski, Harley Allen, and Pat Enright. It was a hit in the movie for the Soggy Bottom Boys and later became a hit single in real life. It received a CMA  award for "Single of the Year" and a Grammy Award for "Best Country Collaboration with Vocals" and it peaked at #35 on Billboard's Hot Country Songs chart.

When asked about “Man of Constant Sorrow,” a song he called “The Farewell Song” that appeared in his 1913 songbook, Dick Burnett replied, “It might be my song, I dunno.”

Rutherford died in 1954 from complications related to epilepsy. Burnett died in 1977.

In "Country Music Originals: The Legends and the Lost" by Tony Russell (2007), country music historian Charles Wolfe had a number of opportunities to interview Burnett during his field trips to Kentucky in the 1970's. During once such interview in 1971, Burnett said "There was a man down here in Clinton County where I used to drill for my wife's brothers in the oil fields. I was raised in the mountains a mile and a half from where they was raised and they knowed what a hard time I had had all my life, that I had worked hard all my life. Now i'd go down to Albany to play and there was an old man, Old John Upchurch, lived on the road there, said he wondered what that Dick Burnett was doing ridin' up and down that road so much fur. And, this Mrs. Bennett, friend of mine, said "Why, he's going down there to put on an entertainment. He's a blind man, can't see to work now, he's trying to make a living." And he said, "He never worked when he could see. He never was no 'count, wouldn't give a nickel for the lot." So, she told me about it and I said, "Well, I bet he ain't gonna get away with it none. I'm gonna have it anyhow." He claimed to be religious and he had a barrel of wine in his cellar, and he's go down in there and get so drunk that he couldn't get back upstairs. He'd go to the David Chapel (Church) up there and he'd shout and his wife would shout and pray. And, I made a song about it and sung it."

Come all you rounders if you want to hear
Story all about a revival held here
Rounder Windy was the speaker's name
Up in Davis Chapel where he won his game

"I made a long song about it and I sold three hundred of them on song cards, all around him down there, and they'd sing 'em going to milk and goin' to feed and everywhere." In 1975, Rounder Records issued the first album devoted to the work of Burnett and several of his associates, including Leonard Rutherford, entitled "A Ramblin' Reckless Hobo." Acknowledged as a fine poet and songwriter, as well as player, the music of Burnett and Rutherford perfectly captures traditional American music at a point when it began to evolve into what would become commercial country & western music through the advent of phonograph records and radio stations.

Tuesday, November 7, 2017

John Tuttle's Diary: The Civil War Comes To Clinton County, Kentucky

Monday, June 17, 1861:
"Went with 15 or 20 to Parmleysville, where I was gladdened by sight of the Star Spangled Banner floating on the breeze. Hon. S. Williams, Secessionist, and Hon. E. L. Van Winkle, Unionist, spoke. I could not rid myself of the idea that those whose views do not coincide with mine on the great question are either fools or traitors.

Saturday, July 27, 1861:
"We arrived at Albany about 10. The first thing we saw upon arriving at the top of the hill overlooking the town were the Stars and Stripes gaily fluttering to the breeze above the tops of the houses. On entering town we met a procession with 34 ladies in front on horseback, one of whom carried a National Banner followed by about 60 cavalry and 500 infantry. They presented quite an imposing appearance. About two thousand persons were in town. After dinner a procession was formed which marched out about a half a mile from town where they were addressed by the Hon. Thos. E. Bramlette in a speech of something more than three hours duration. He made a most thrilling appeal in behalf of the Union and called upon the loyal citizens of Clinton County to join a regiment he is raising for the purpose of aiding the Union men of East Tennessee.

About 30 enlisted in the service under him and 87 cavalry, to compose a part of a regiment destined for the same service, now being raised by Frank Woolford of Casey County. The feeling for the Union here is very strong and the most intense enthusiasm prevails. A Secessionist is not allowed to open his mouth. The people of this county are apprehensive of an invasion by Tennesseans. They have picket guards stationed out at every pass. The alarm was spread about an hour by sun yesterday evening, and from three to five hundred armed men gathered from various parts of the county and stayed in town last night."

Captain John W. Tuttle's diary is on file at the University of Kentucky. It spans Captain Tuttle's social and family life before the Civil War, his time serving in Company H of the 3rd Kentucky Volunteer Infantry, where he saw action at the battles of Shiloh, Lookout Mountain and Atlanta, and the post-war when he returned home to his legal practice in Monticello, where he presided over the bankruptcy court for almost 50 years. Tuttle (1837-1927) and his wife, Mollie, had several children. He is buried at Elk Spring Cemetery in Monticello.

The Invention of the LP

The long-playing microgroove 33-1/3 rpm phonograph disc, the standard for incorporating multiple or lengthy recorded works on a single dis...