Monday, January 31, 2005


gun crazy

Vaughn Monroe, (Ghost) Riders in the Sky

Monroe's sonorous ode to a crew of damned cowboys in the sky chasing what appears to be Satan's own breed of cattle (Black Angus, one wonders) was a huge pop hit in the summer of '49, quickly spawning competing versions from Peggy Lee (!), Bing Crosby and Burl Ives.

The original rendition of the song, sung by Gene Autry for the film of the same name, is a standard Western uptempo number, but Monroe's version is bizarre cowboy Camp, featuring the leaden wonder that is Monroe's baritone. How low could the man's voice get? You could bore a hole through a wall with the thing if you amplified it enough. It's as if Monroe is competing with the ghost of Frank C. Stanley, the killer bass who recorded "A Hundred Fathoms Deep" at the turn of the century.

Although Monroe did turn up on "Bonanza" in the 1960s, he wasn't much of a cowboy singer but rather was the sort of genial, unthreatening presence who embalmed the mainstream pop charts in the 1945-55 period.

You can find "Ghost Riders" on Stampede!, a collection of the latter days of the classic Western, here.

Friday, January 28, 2005


"bring along my rockin' shoes"

Wynonie Harris, Good Rockin' Tonight.
Wild Bill Moore, We're Gonna Rock, We're Gonna Roll.

Rock and roll is officially only 50 years old, according to professional nostalgists, but that claim seems a bit ludicrous the more you listen to black musicians of the late '40s. Everything you connote with "rock" is here already in these 1948 "R&B" songs--riffs, a big beat, a simple, repeated chorus. All that's missing, really, is the electric guitar and a slight increase in tempo.

"Good Rockin' Tonight" was written and first recorded by Roy Brown in 1947, but Wynonie Harris' version was the smash a year later. Later recorded by Elvis Presley as the second of his five legendary Sun singles. "Good Rockin'"s lyrics are crammed with a Who's Who of jazz and R&B characters, including Sweet Georgia Brown, Caldonia, and even our old friend Deacon Jones.

Wild Bill Moore's honking "We're Gonna Rock" was a number one R&B hit for a week in the summer of 1948, and then soon faded away--some suggest because his record company had forgotten to make payola payments, or that the primitive sound of the recording turned off listeners. More than 20 years later, Moore would play sax on Marvin Gaye's What's Going On.

And so shuffles off 1948. Hope you enjoyed it.

"Now, unready to die
But already at the stage
When one starts to dislike the young,
I am glad those points in the sky
May also be counted among
The creatures of middle age

W.H. Auden, "A Walk After Dark." 8/48.

fave films of '48

Unfaithfully Yours
. Rex Harrison dreams elaborate murder/suicide scenarios while conducting Rossini and Wagner. The last great effort from Preston Sturges, a comedy black as death.
The Treasure of the Sierra Madre. "Can you help a fellow American down on his luck?" A screenplay that could have been written by Joseph Conrad.
Ladri di Biciclette. (Bicycle Thieves)
Blood on the Moon
. Weird noir-Western, in which most of the killing and scheming occurs in such deep shadow that at times you are watching darkness punctuated by gunshots. Bonus: Barbara bel Geddes' and Robt. Mitchum's first meeting, in which they shoot at each other for five minutes.
Letter from an Unknown Woman.
He Walked By Night. It all starts here--Dragnet, Law and Order, Homicide, CSI. A half-century's worth of cop procedurals springs from 90 minutes of B-movie.
Force of Evil.
Four Faces West/3 Godfathers. Variations on home.
The Lady from Shanghai. A colossal mess, with bad dubbing, a baffling plot made worse by sloppy editing, Orson Welles' awful Irish brogue, Harry Cohn's insistence on wedging in a Rita Hayworth musical number and a gonzo trial sequence that rivals the one in Woody Allen's Bananas. But throughout it has the pace and fever of a wild dream, in a way even avant-garde film rarely captured. And then there's the "hall of mirrors" sequence at the end. And Hayworth.

See you in '49.

Wednesday, January 26, 2005


"the smart boys say we can't win"

Lonnie Johnson, Tomorrow Night.

"Tomorrow Night" is one of the most passionately sung ballads ever recorded, and an inspiration to the 13-year-old Elvis Presley, who was enrolling at L.C. Humes High School in his new hometown of Memphis in September '48. The lyric's sentiments turn up in various incarnations throughout modern pop music, from "Will You Still Love Me Tomorrow" to "The Night Before", but never quite conveyed with the power Johnson brings to this version.

Johnson's musical life seems like the 20th Century in microcosm--born in 1899, he started out playing a host of instruments (including piano, harmonium and kazoo) until at last settling on guitar. He guested on some of Louis Armstrong's legendary Hot Five recordings in the 1920s, as well dueting with guitarist Eddie Lang; played with Duke Ellington on and off through the '20s and '30s; made some legendary blues recordings with the likes of Roosevelt Sykes and Blind John Davis.

And in 1948, he made "Tomorrow Night", which also features John Hughes on piano and Roy Coulter on bass. It became a huge R&B hit, selling three million copies. Ten years later, Johnson was working as a janitor in a Philadelphia hotel.

You can find "Tomorrow" today in this huge pile of R&B.

In the 1948 presidential election, which featured four major candidates, Truman defeats Dewey.Truman still managed a win despite losing reds to Henry Wallace and racists to Strom Thurmond. Perhaps the one lesson learned: no candidate for the presidency in the years to come would have facial hair.

"The Republican platform is for extending and increasing social security benefits. Think of that! Increasing social security benefits! Yet when they had the opportunity, they took 750,000 off the social security rolls! I wonder if they think they can fool the people of the United States with such poppycock as that!" Harry S. Truman, July 15, 1948.

Monday, January 24, 2005


the music with that gone groove

Fats Navarro and Tadd Dameron, Lady Bird.
Benny Goodman Sextet (w/Fats Navarro), Stealin' Apples

One of the postwar legends of the trumpet, Theodore "Fats" Navarro's relative obscurity today is owed to his appallingly early death at 26 in 1950. (Heroin use fatally worsened his tuberculosis--the toll heroin took on lives and careers in the '40s and '50s made it a sort of Battle of the Somme for that generation of players.) Born in 1923, Navarro was playing in Snookum Russell's Midwestern-based big band by the start of WWII, and then filled Dizzy Gillespie's seat in Billy Eckstine's band.

By 1947, Navarro had become a trumpeter of the first rank, and here are two tracks from his brief peak. Pianist and composer Tadd Dameron in 1948 had a residency at the Royal Roost, a chicken restaurant on Broadway and 47th Street that had recently added live jazz to draw in tourists, and Damero put together a house band that included some of the finest young tenor saxophonists, Wardell Gray and Allen Eager, as well as Navarro.

Dameron's "Lady Bird", for which Navarro crafts a sinuous solo, was recorded for Blue Note in New York on September 13, 1948, with Navarro on trumpet, Gray and Eager on tenor sax, Dameron (p), Curly Russell (b) and Kenny Clarke (d).

Four days before, Navarro and Gray were part of an odd one-off session with Benny Goodman, from which only "Stealin' Apples" has surfaced. In the late '40s Goodman was tinkering with a type of bebop-esque chamber music, which he abandoned in the 1950s to return to traditional swing. "Apples"' three main solos are almost allegorical--Goodman's soaring clarinet as jazz's past, Gray's tenor as its confident present and Navarro's quiet, spacious trumpet as its lost future. The group also included Mundell Lowe (g), Gene DiNovi (p), Clyde Lombardi (b) and Mel Zelnick (d).

You can get both tracks, along with the other 1948-49 work from Dameron and Navarro on this good 2-CD compilation. This disc is from Europe, where all these recordings are now in the public domain.

Friday, January 21, 2005


bachelor bait?

Bull Moose Jackson, Fare Thee Well, Deacon Jones, Fare Thee Well.
Bull Moose Jackson, I Want a Bowlegged Woman.

It's one of the strangest lyrics in R&B. The song's narrator goes into an empty church one rainy morning, and by the pulpit, lying in a red-draped coffin, is the corpse of Deacon Jones, a notorious figure in the community. Suddenly, an old woman moaning in a pew starts to testify about how the Deacon could "sure could shift his gears." As if summoned, the Deacon's corpse rises from the rain-flooded coffin and starts to talk. After first condemning the living, the Deacon (who may not be dead after all, just dead drunk) starts to boast:

Cause I'm the greatest deacon
The best you've ever seen
Y'all all hate old Deacon Jones
Cause all my chicks are in their teens

Deacon Jones is a minor figure in the great pantheon of African-American folkloric characters, like Shine, the only black man on the Titanic, and Stagger Lee. The Deacon's heyday was in the '40s and early '50s, beginning with Louis Jordan's 1943 "Deacon Jones" and continuing for a decade, including songs by Wynonie Harris ("The Deacon Don't Like It"), Little Esther Phillips ("The Deacon Moves In") and several versions of "Fare Thee Well", in which the dead Deacon, in a profane take on the Resurrection, rises again by the end of the song. The Deacon vanishes, however, by the late 1950s (not too coincidentally, around the time black ministers had begun gaining widespread attention in the civil rights movement).

More on the Jones character and his predecessor Elder Eatmore in this amazing article by Teresa Reed, which includes great old jokes involving the Deacon. I have to share one:

"One Sunday the Preacher got up in the pulpit and he started to preachin'. He said, "You can take all the whiskey and throw it in the river." A old Deacon in the front said, "Amen!" The Preacher say, "You can take all the wine and throw it in the river." The Deacon said, "Amen!" again. The Preacher said, "For my part, you can take all of the alcohol and throw it in the river!" The Deacon say, "Amen!" So the Preacher ended his sermon. The Deacon jumped up and said "Let us sing page 392, "Shall We Gather at the River."

Bull Moose Jackson was one of the finest blues shouters of the 1940s. Born in 1919, Jackson was playing saxophone in Lucky Millinder's big band (Jackson's nickname came from his teasing bandmates) in 1943 when one night the band's singer, Wynonie Harris, didn't show. Millinder pulled Jackson off the bandstand to sing, and a career was born.

In addition to "Deacon Jones," enjoy another '48 hit for Jackson, "I Want a Bowlegged Woman." Both can be found on this massive compilation. See you next week, in which we bring the curtain down on 1948.

Wednesday, January 19, 2005



Pee Wee King and his Golden West Cowboys, Tennessee Waltz.

"Tennessee Waltz" is more modern than it seems--the first time I heard a version of the song, I assumed it hailed from the Depression or earlier, but its first appearance is this 1948 rendition from the song's composers. It's also a postwar musical rarity in that "Tennessee Waltz" is not linked to any one performer--Patti Page did perhaps the best-known take, but the "Waltz" ultimately remains partnerless, open for anyone from Leonard Cohen to Sally Timms to take a turn with it.

For the song's narrator, the Tennessee Waltz is the moment when the world cracked open, and he is left only to ponder what might have been, writing new lyrics for the music he associates with disaster. What tortures him is the music that played while he was devastated was so wonderful--he can't help replaying it in his head until it seems as though the waltz has never ended, forever pacing him through his humiliation. "Only you know how much I have lost," he sings--to who? Not his ex-lover. The listener? The waltz itself? There is so much unspoken--what did his friend say to his lover as they danced? Did they just leave the dance together, leaving the singer alone? Otis Redding in 1966 offers a little more--Otis already knew his friend posed trouble before the fateful dance. "I didn't know I was gonna see him," he pleads.

Pee Wee King and Redd Stewart wrote the song in 1946 after they heard Bill Monroe's "Kentucky Waltz" and figured there'd be some money in writing a similar waltz for Tennessee. They put lyrics to an instrumental piece they had been playing for a time, "No Name Waltz," and recorded it in Chicago with King on accordion, Stewart on vocal and fiddle, and Roy Jewell Ayres on steel guitar.

Released on April 3, 1948, "Tennessee Waltz" was a #3 country hit for both King (whose version can be purchased here) and Cowboy Copas that year, Roy Acuff scored with it the following year, Patti Page brought it to the pop mainstream in 1951 and it became the Tennessee state song 15 years later. But Redding's soul-wracked version, in which he curses the music while forever swearing to its beauty, remains my favorite.

Monday, January 17, 2005


in den sterbenden Gartentraum

Richard Strauss, Vier Letzte Lieder: September.

A squad of American soldiers, driving through Bavaria in 1945, days after Hitler's death, are looking for a place to commandeer, and come upon a stately villa in Garmisch-Partenkirchen. An ancient man strides from the front door and announces he is Richard Strauss, the composer of Der Rosenkavalier and Salome, and tells them to leave. Fate would have it that one of the soldiers is a classical musician, who gives Strauss his required deference, and soon troops are spilling into the Strauss villa, asking "Hey Maestro! Who's this guy?" upon seeing a bust of Beethoven. And thus Classical Germany fell to gum-chewing Americans.

By this point, the 20th Century must have seemed like an enormous perverse joke to Strauss. Born in beery, Catholic Bavaria with its mad emperor, Strauss endured Bavaria's absorption into grey Prussia to form greater Germany; the whirling spree of Kaiser Wilhelm's lost empire; four years of murderous global war; Germany's decline into fascism, genocide and thuggery (which Strauss, to his great discredit, partly condoned); another appalling war and utter defeat. Strauss would even live to see the partioning of Germany into Western and Communist halves--"I have outlived even myself," he would say in 1949, the year of his death.

The Four Last Songs are just that, the final compositions of Strauss' life, adaptations of poems by Hermann Hesse and Joseph Eichendorff. Here is Hesse's "September," which Strauss completed on Sept. 20, 1948, performed by Elizabeth Schwarzkopf and the Radio-Symphonie-Orchester Berlin. Lyrics here, buy CD here.

Along with Metamorphosen, another postwar Strauss work, the Songs "were so potent as to render the idea of relevance irrelevant," Alex Ross wrote in 1999. "They destroyed, single-handedly, the modernist imperative of progress—the notion that music must always be made new. Strauss, in fact, had gone neither forward nor backward...A progressive had become a reactionary by standing absolutely still."

Friday, January 14, 2005



Muddy Waters, I Can't Be Satisfied.
John Lee Hooker, Boogie Chillen.

If anything purely incarnates the postwar city blues, the electric blues, it is Don Cheadle's Mouse in the film Devil In a Blue Dress (which captures what 1948 looked and sounded like, at least for black Angelenos). Mouse is the boyhood friend of Denzel Washington's Easy Rawlins, the murderer who Rawlins needs to get him out of a mess. Mouse is from Texas, a chawbacon dressed in a new store-bought suit but illiterate in the city's cultural language, not that he cares. Brutal, uncouth, a bit oblivious, Mouse is terrifying and new, seemingly without history, possessed with an electric charisma that makes it impossible to watch any other character sharing the frame with him. He's a black man with absolutely no fear of white authority--deferring to such authority has never occurred to him--and his theme could be Muddy Waters' "I Can't Be Satisified."

Well I feel like snappin'
Pistol in your face
I'm gonna let some graveyard
Lord, be your resting place

"I Can't Be Satisfied" is Waters' reworking of two songs from his earliest recordings on the Stovall Plantation, "I Be's Troubled" and "I Be Bound to Write to You". Waters was born McKinley Morganfield in Rolling Fork, Mississippi, in 1915, and grew up in the Delta, imbibing the classic country blues of Son House, Robert Johnson, Blind Lemon Jefferson. After a while playing harmonica, he switched to guitar and ultimately mastered it.

When he was 28, he moved to Chicago, intent on becoming a professional musician at last, and after a few fallow years, he began to craft a new sound for his adopted city. "I Can't Be Satisfied" was recorded in April 1948 and issued on the Aristocrat label, an independent happy to violate the recording ban, and which would soon change its name to Chess.

The blues is a chair, not a design for a chair, or a better chair…it is the first chair,” John Lennon, 1970.

A boy who's been up to no good hears his parents talking in their room late at night. They moved up to Detroit to make some money, to get their kids out of the South, but now his mother's worried about the boy, what he's been doing. He's been at that Henry's Swing Club on Hastings Street all the time lately, his clothes smell like reefer, a cop was at the house yesterday asking about him. But his father just resigns himself. "Let that boy boogie woogie. 'Cos it's in him, and it's got to come out."

John Lee Hooker also came from Mississippi, first heading up to Chicago like Waters, finding work at a Chrysler plant, and then moving to Detroit. In September '48 he signed with Modern Records, and in Detroit's United Sound Studios he laid down "Boogie Chillen," his first single and a song so potent it could be played in London discotheques 15 years later and dancers would think it was a new release. Hooker's guitar is nothing like the sinuous playing of Django Reinhardt, the sound of an evening ebbing at a cafe, nor does it have the brilliant precision of Charlie Christian--this is raw, nasty guitar, insistent, a bit crazy, devoted purely to rhythm, a switchblade of sound.

If you don't own any Waters or Hooker albums, you've been remiss. Start here with Muddy and here with John.

PS--Fans of beautiful French actress/singers of the 1960s, please check out Bedazzled, for clips of Serge Gainsbourg dueting with Anna Karina and sort-of dueting with France Gall. If only all music videos were like this.

Wednesday, January 12, 2005


did you see more glass?

Stan Getz, Diaper Pin.

There is a moment upon going through an artist’s early works when you suddenly find, like a seam of sunlight in a cloud, the sound of his mature voice. Like the occasional jeweled line buried in Shakespeare’s dull Henry VI plays, or Jimi Hendrix’s guitar in the wings of Isley Brothers records.

“Diaper Pin,” recorded when Stan Getz was 21, is one of the first times you can hear his classic sound, the strange combination of airiness and ballast in his tone. “Diaper Pin” is Getz’s reworking of Harold Arlen and Johnny Mercer’s “That Old Black Magic,” in which Getz overhauls the song completely with a host of choice phrases. He seems to think in melody, to play the sax as though he was talking, memorably, at a party somewhere.

The ever-lessening time constrictions on recorded music can alter musical language. Getz, for example, comes from the last generation of jazz musicians who grew up bound to the three-minute impositions of the 78 RPM record. Because time was so tight, arrangers of big band recordings strictly rationed the soloists. If you were Coleman Hawkins, you could get the heart of the song; if you were a greenhorn in Woody Herman’s Herd, you were lucky to get four bars. So the most ambitious young players crammed whatever they could into their fifteen allotted seconds–Getz’s endless melodic resources, for example, are owed in part because he had to come up with a new hook, a startling phrase, in every measure to catch the listener's ear.

By contrast, in our post-78 RPM, post-33 RPM, post-vinyl, even post-CD age, musicians are free to meander for as long as they would like. I’m reminded of an endless performance that I endured years ago in which one tenor saxophonist was vying to see which would go first--his lungs or his audience.

“Pin” was recorded in New York City on October 25-26, 1948, with Getz on tenor sax, Al Haig (p), Jimmy Raney (g), Clyde Lombardi (b) and Charlie Perry (d). It is on this good early collection.

On the last day of January, 1948, you might have been running through Grand Central Station to catch a train in the late afternoon, stopping for a beat to grab the latest New Yorker off the newsstand. Sinking into your seat, catching your breath, you glance at the cover. Kids sledding in snow. You thumb the pages, and as you stifle a yawn, your eyes fall on what looks like a short story.

She was a girl who for a ringing phone dropped exactly nothing. She looked as if her phone had been ringing continually ever since she had reached puberty.”

You look up at the top margin to see the story’s title. A Perfect Day for Bananafish.

Monday, January 10, 2005


a long road to Dallas

The Orioles, It's Too Soon To Know.

You could say rock and roll starts here, or doo-wop--"Too Soon" seems like the zero point of something, the omphalos of postwar pop music.

In 1993, Greil Marcus untangled the story behind "Too Soon," how a salesclerk/amateur songwriter named Deborah Chessler became involved with a black vocal group from Baltimore, then known as the Vibranaires; how Chessler, struck by inspiration at a hotel one night, wrote the first verse of "Too Soon" down on a piece of toilet paper; how she came to manage the Vibranaires (soon to be the Orioles) after hearing them sing on the telephone to her. On August 21, 1948, the song was released--it became a smash, and Chessler recalled walking down Broadway one evening and hearing her song coming from every store she passed.

Other vocal groups of the '40s, like the Ink Spots or the Mills Brothers, sound composed, so arranged compared with the Orioles. On "Too Soon," Sonny Til's lead tenor seems filled with fear and doom, forcing out each word--the others, Alexander Sharp, Johnny Reed and George Nelson, hum and moan behind him. Nelson briefly takes the lead, and then the song is Til's to haunt again.

You can find "Too Soon" here. Marcus' detailed history of it is in this collection.

Friday, January 07, 2005


Enough to last to 1992

Nellie Lutcher, Fine Brown Frame.
Julia Lee, King Size Papa.

Both Nellie and Julia have a thing for large men, but while Nellie just likes a well-proportioned guy, Julia likes them big. Let her tell you about it.

Nellie Lutcher came from Lake Charles, Louisiana and, soon after she moved to Los Angeles, she exploded into R&B, having hits with her own material like "Hurry on Down" and "He's a Real Gone Guy." By the end of 1947, she was the second biggest-selling R&B star in the country, dwarfed only by Louis Jordan. People were taken by Lutcher’s wild, brilliant phrasing and scatting, which you can hear in the second half of "Fine Brown Frame" as she grows increasingly delirious with lust.

“Fine Brown Frame” comes from a marathon session at year-end ‘47, in which Lutcher and her band cut two dozen tracks in preparation for what would be a bizarre year in the recording industry. This stockpiling happened in studios across the country, as the head of the Musicians’ Union, James Petrillo, had called a recording strike to begin on January 1, 1948. The strike would last until Christmas – it would be the second in six years. The first strike, in 1942-1944, had had catastrophic historical damage, as we lost much of what would have been the transitional records between swing and bebop.

The '48 strike, which was widely violated by many independent labels and which helped create doo-wop (a cappella groups still were allowed to record), marked the end of Petrillo’s quixotic battle against a host of enemies, including films, radio, television and the general concept of prerecorded musical performances. As cruel fate would have it, Petrillo lived long enough to see MTV.

“King Size Papa” is a marvelously dirty song. Julia Lee was a generation older than Lutcher, but she hadn’t lost her salt. Born in Boonsville, Missouri in 1902, Lee grew up in Kansas City and came of musical age at the height of Kansas City’s renaissance, the era of Count Basie and the young Charlie Parker, and gained a reputation for singing the bluest of blue songs, ones that would make "King Size Papa" look meek.

Both songs can be found on this excessive but valuable 4-disc set.

Wednesday, January 05, 2005


"the girls would turn the color of an avocado"

Coleman Hawkins, Picasso.

"Picasso" is one of the first unaccompanied saxophone pieces ever recorded, perfection in solitude, and a challenge for succeeding generations of sax players to take up, from Sonny Rollins, who recorded a number of solo performances in the '50s, to Anthony Braxton's For Alto and Julius Hemphill's Blue Boye, massive solo double-LPs that took the concept about as far as humanly possible.

Coleman Hawkins turned the tenor saxophone from a jokey horn fit for marching bands and circuses into the defining instrument of postwar jazz, a role it has never relinquished*. He did it with precision and with genius; he created the basic grammar of the tenor sax, establishing how the sax ought to sound. He started playing professionally before "The Charleston" was released, and died just before Abbey Road was.

"Picasso" was recorded for a Norman Granz jazz compilation and can be found on this good general Hawkins collection.

What was Picasso himself doing in 1948? An uneventful year--medals from Poland, medals from France, exhibitions, Francoise Gilot. The above lithograph is Woman in an Armchair.

* (by contrast, consider the yo-yoing prominence of the saxophone in modern pop music--from rivaling the electric guitar as the essential ingredient of '50s rock and roll, to its banishment in the Beatles-soaked years (while hanging on in soul and funk), to its slight return as a cheap signifier of "mood" or "class" in the '70s (think "Baker Street", or "Year of the Cat", or Phil Woods on those interminable Billy Joel songs), to its brief, gaudy resurgence in the '80s, with the likes of Springsteen and Glen Frey hauling the sax solo back into the top 40 and Rob Lowe playing a sax-wielding stud in St. Elmo's Fire. And then suddenly, around the time the Berlin Wall fell, the saxophone essentially vanishes from pop and rock, never to return?, existing only as a ghost in samples.)

Monday, January 03, 2005


Ready to go native

Red Foley (with the Cumberland Valley Boys), Tennessee Saturday Night.

Neil Young once said that rock and roll should have come before country music, as rock is Saturday night to country's Sunday morning. But in that scenario, country comes off way too starched. Red Foley's "Tennessee Saturday Night" was a #1 country hit, for example, but it's as nasty as any rock and roll song tries to be.

It is a bit strange to hear Foley singing lewdly about couples going off in the woods and drunks packing guns, as he is best known for his 1951 gospel smash "Peace in the Valley," in which he sounds like the Old Testament God in a blissful mood. He also would become Pat Boone's father-in-law.

But falling from grace and getting saved again is a common two-step in country music--after all, the Rev. Thomas A. Dorsey, who wrote "Peace in the Valley," started his professional life as Georgia Tom in the '20s, writing dirty blues like "Tight Like That." And Roy Acuff, who was running for governor in Tennessee in '48 and pledging his allegiance to the Ten Commandments, made his start in country with a truly filthy song, "When Lulu's Gone," which features the couplet: "I wish I was a diamond ring upon my Lulu's hand/Every time she'd take her bath, I'd be a lucky man." (Much more on this theme in Nick Tosches' brilliant Country.)

After all, late Saturday night and early Sunday morning are the same span of time.

"Tennessee" was released in July 1948 and featured Zeb and Zeke Turner on electric guitars and Jerry Byrd on steel. It was recorded in Nashville, which was just starting to become the locus of country, and can be found on this great compilation.