Tuesday, January 2, 2018

My "The Little Old Log Cabin In The Lane " Record Turns 100 in 2018


Several discs in my 78 r.p.m. collection turn 100 years old in 2018, including "The Little Old Log Cabin In The Lane," recorded by the Metropolitan Quartet. It is listed as 80484-L on the Edison Records label.

"The Little Old Log Cabin In The Lane" was a popular style song written by Will S. Hays in 1871, demonstrating that popular music was well known to southern musicians and performed by them in the early years. The lyric is typical minstrel fare, sung by a blackface character, and is nostalgic and sentimental.

The song tells the story of an elderly man, presumably a slave, or former slave, who is getting old and feeble, and can't work any more. Everyone is gone except his old dog. In earlier days, people would gather around his door and he'd play the banjo while they danced, but now his house is falling down and the footpath to it is overgrown.

"The chimney's falling down
And the roof is caving in
I ain't got long 'round here to remain
The angels watches over me
When I lay down to sleep
In the little old log cabin in the lane"

Performers modified the lyric over the years, eliminating some dialect, including the original reference to slavery. The song's melody has been widely used down through the years in songs set in the cowboy West, like "Little Joe, The Wrangler," railroad songs like "Little Red Caboose Behind The Train" and in one very popular hymn, "The Lily of the Valley."

It seems like everyone wanted to record this popular song and there are many variatons in different tempos that you might want to check out. Fiddlin' John Carson's version was one of the first commercial recordings by a rural white musician. Its popularity ensured that the industry would continue recording rural folk songs. There is a great version recorded by blind guitarist Riley Puckett in New York City that became one of the biggest country releases of 1924 and made him a star at Columbia Records.

"The Little Old Log Cabin In The Lane" was so popular that it was still being recording a century later. There were more than 20 recordings of it from 1903 to 1940. The Metropolitan Quartet's harmonized sentimental minstrel version was recorded in 1918.

Here is their version from my collection, presented in this video on an Edison Blue Amberol cylinder:


The song's writer, William S. Hays, was born in Louisville, Ky on July 19, 1837. He published his first poetry in 1856 while attending school at Georgetown College. The S stands for his nickname, "Shakespeare," so dubbed because of his writings. He eventually made it an official part of his name.

Hays finished school and returned to Louisville in 1857. He found employment at D. P. Fauld's music store, where he continued to write music and poetry. Over his career, Hays is credited with over 350 songs, and he may have sold as many as 20 million copies of his works, making him more prolific than most of his 19th century peers. In his later years, Hays claimed to have written "Dixie" but no evidence could be produced to back up his pretensions. Hays died on July 23, 1907.

Sunday, December 24, 2017

Peace On Earth...May Christmas Hasten That Day


The first months of World War I had seen an initial German attack through Belgium into France, which had been repulsed outside Paris by French and British troops at the Battle of the Marne in early September 1914. The Germans fell back to the Aisne Valley and in the subsequent Battle of the Aisne, the Allied forces were unable to push through the German line, and the fighting quickly degenerated into a static stalemate with neither side willing to give ground. To the north, on the right of the German army, there had been no defined front line and both sides quickly began to try to use this gap to outflank one another. In the ensuing "race to the sea", the two sides repeatedly clashed, each trying to push forward and threaten the end of the other's line. By November, there was a continuous front line running from the North Sea to the Swiss frontier. The action was swift and both sides were determined.

But, in December something unexpected happened: An unofficial truce involving about 100,000 British and German troops along the length of that front. The reason?  Christmas.  It began on Christmas Eve when German troops began decorating the area around their trenches in the region of Ypres, Belgium. The Germans began by placing candles on their trenches and on Christmas trees, then continued the celebration by singing Christmas carols. The British responded by singing carols of their own. The two sides continued by shouting Christmas greetings to each other. Soon thereafter, there were excursions across the 'No Man's Land, where small gifts were exchanged, such as food, tobacco and alcohol, and souvenirs such as buttons and hats. The artillery in the region fell silent that night. The truce also allowed a breathing spell where recently-fallen soldiers could be brought back behind their lines by burial parties. Joint services were held. In many sectors, the truce lasted through Christmas night, but it continued until New Year's Day in others.

Ironically, just days before Christmas a group of 101 British women suffragists wrote a letter to the women of Germany and Austria. Under the heading "On Earth Peace, Goodwill towards Men, the letter said, "The Christmas message sounds like mockery to a world at war. Is it not our mission to preserve life? 

The next Christmas, the two sides again observed an unofficial cease fire at the front but it was not as successful, thanks to strongly-worded orders from the high commands of both sides prohibiting such fraternization.

My prayer is that one day we will have peace on earth...may Christmas hasten that day. 

God bless you all and may each of you have a blessed Christmas!

"It Could Happen Again"

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!

Period.

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!

My "The Little Old Log Cabin In The Lane " Record Turns 100 in 2018

Several discs in my 78 r.p.m. collection turn 100 years old in 2018, including "The Little Old Log Cabin In The Lane," recorded...