LOCKED UP IN THE LOCKDOWN BLUES
a conversation between Steve Bewick & Norman Warwick
Norm: ´As the song says, ´Morning Has Broken´. You can´t beat Cat Stevens even if that isn´t his name anymore. He used to write some fantastic songs, but he didn´t write that song, I know. It just said ´traditional´ on the label, I think, so maybe nobody knows who wrote it.´
STEVE: ´Morning has broken; the day has begun, anew. But with Captain Virus and his lock down cloak of repeatability in control it’s all a bit like groundhog day.´
So, mate, here´s a challenge; let’s be optimistic, let’s be bold let’s start the day on a high note of ´something’s coming, something good.´ I reckon the best starter for a high five, virus day lockdown of blues/jazz hits might be Stan Kenton’s’ Orchestral arrangement of the prologue to West Side Story.
I could tap into, https://youtube/MCFVgqOqvVQ
and play you some of the legendary Stan Kenton Jazz Orchestra between 1960 & 1963. He knew what life was all about I reckon, He played for the fans not for the critics. He used to say that ´Some of the wise boys who say my music is loud, blatant and that’s all should see the faces of the kids who have driven a hundred miles through the snow to see the band… to stand in front of the bandstand in an ecstasy all their own.´ The critics these days, though, seem to be able to see and hear what the critics then couldn´t, and now they all rave over the longevity of Kenton´s orchestra and the quality of musicians who played in from the nineteen forties until he died in the nineteen seventies. He was a big influence on progressive jazz, and this is a great performance.
Kenton’s West Side Story, it was called, and it was recorded by him and his orchestra recorded in 1961 and released by Capitol Records. It won the Grammy Award in 1962 for Best Jazz Performance – Large Group. It was recorded and released quickly to take advantage of the movie premiere of the musical West Side Story. and Kenton won his first Grammy Award. He won again the next year in the same category. Kenton’s West Side Story peaked at No. 16 on the Billboard magazine album chart, and that was pretty high – cotton for a jazz album in the mainstream. So, let´s have a listen.´
Norm: ´That´s pretty good. I love the percussion and brass intro, and it´s got that strangely threatening exuberance that the play was all about. Some of our readers might now want something a little more restful, though, so let´s go back to Morning Has Broken. Surely, all our generation know this song because we nearly all bought that Teaser And The Firecat album it was included on.
Dee and I got married at round about that time and so chose Morning Has Broken as a hymn at our wedding. Listening to my dad, who was a bit of a singer, and my god father, Billy Hare belting out a Cat Stevens´ pop song from the pew behind was real fun. It was pretty old to be called a pop song, perhaps and although most people assumed Cat Stevens had written it, and that the lyrics were his, that wasn´t the case.
The truth was that this song was written by Eleanor Farjeon, a prominent author who was actually born in the 19th century (1881-1965). She pretty much set the words to a traditional Scottish folk tune called Bunessan. As such “Morning Has Broken” is actually quite old, having first been published in 1931. In fact as the story goes, Cat Stevens discovered this piece in a hymn book.
Cat’s cover came out on 1 October 1971 as part of his album, “Teaser and the Firecat”. And the following year, Island Records also released it as the third single from that undertaking. Cat Stevens’ version was produced by his regular collaborator, Paul Samwell-Smith.
A musician by the name of Rick Wakeman played the piano, as well as reportedly worked on the song’s composition, although the song was released attributed to Eleanor Farjeon and Yusuf Islam which is Cat´s real name and the one he works under these days.
In fact in the year 2000 Wakeman released his own instrumental version of “Morning Has Broken” (as well as naming one of his entire albums after it). And apparently one of the reasons he did so is that he was under the impression that Cat never properly credited from for his contributions to the original. However, all was peacefully resolved on that matter shortly thereafter.
Cat’s “Morning Has Broken” charted in nine countries, including peaking at number nine on the UK Singles Chart. So come on, let´s play this gentle old hymn, that actually became much more associated with funerals than with weddings, so quite why we thought it was appropriate for our wedding, I can´t quite remember really. We probably thought we were being groovy. I still think it’s a really happy and celebratory lyric, though, and I seem to remember that we had been to the weddings of so many of our friends at which people didn´t sing the often antiquated hymns that had been chosen. So we picked this and Amazing Grace, thinking they were contemporary pop songs ! Mind you, we got married in a monastery, and dad and uncle Billy nearly lifted the roof of.
So, Good old Eleanor Farjeon was ahead of her time. So, come on, let´s play it our readers and listeners.´
STEVE: ´It´s eleven o´clock. What could be a better mid-morning accompaniment to my fix of coffee than the cool silky voice of Peggy Lee with her totally sultry, sexy, and seductive voice? Peggy had amazing vocals. Back then they had to be able to sing. No pitch correction.
“She’s talkin’ to the shadow, one o’clock ’til four
and Lord, how slow the moments go and all she can do is pour
Since the blues caught her eye
she’s hangin’ out on Monday her Sunday dreams to dry.”
Peggy Lee was Born Norma Dolores Egstrom in Jamestown, North Dakota, on May 26, 1920 and had a tough childhood. Mum died when Peggy was only four and her father, a railroad station agent, remarried but later left home, leaving Peggy’s care entrusted to a stepmother who physically abused her. Peggy later memorialized this in the calypso number One Beating A Day, one of 22 songs she co-wrote for the autobiographical musical “Peg”, in which she made her Broadway debut in 1983 at the age of 62 !
She had started singing for money in her teens, and it was while singing on a local radio station that the program director there suggested she change her name to Peggy Lee. She did that, and her big break came when Benny Goodman hired her to sing with his band after hearing her perform.
A lot of Hot Biscuit listeners and, I´m sure lots of Sidetracks and Detours readers will remember she and Goodman cut the hit record Why Don’t You Do Right? and went out on her own to record the iconic Fever, as well as Lover, Golden Earrings, Big Spender and Is That All There Is? – which won her a Grammy Award in 1969. Peggy’s vocal style provided a distinctive imprint to countless swing tunes, ballads and big band numbers.
To me, she was as capable of interpreting a song as uniquely as Billie Holiday, Ella Fitzgerald and Bessie Smith. She was actually a pretty prolific songwriter and arranger and wrote for real jazz greats like Duke Ellington, who called her “The Queen”, and Johnny Mercer, and composer Quincy Jones.
So, she had a great voice, was a great interpreter, and a great writer and a fairly shrewd business woman, but you know what, she was an actress too. She even made her mark in Hollywood, winning an Academy Award nomination for her role as the hard-drinking singer in the jazz saga, Pete Kelly’s Blues in 1955 and also composed songs for that year´s Walt Disney animated classic Lady and the Tramp. If you remember, this cartoon film featured a character named Peg, a broken-down old showgirl of a dog, whose provocative walk was based on the stage-prowl of Peggy Lee.
It was, perhaps, only later that we first realised what a shrewd businesswoman she had become when she sued Disney and won a landmark legal judgment for a portion of the profits from the videocassette sale of the film.´
Nevertheless, Peggy’s private life was a troubled one and included a near-fatal fall in 1976, diabetes and a stroke in 1998. She was married four times, all ending in divorce. She and first husband, guitarist Dave Barbour, had a daughter, Nicki, her only child. Peggy and Dave were on the verge of a reconciliation in 1965, but he died of a heart attack before the couple got back together.
Nevertheless, Peggy has left a vast legend of music that is constantly finding new generations of fans. So listeners can always tune in to
to hear her sing Black Coffee, which is a perfect song for this time of day.´
Norm: ´Yeh, I like a bit of Peggy Lee. And that is a great song, especially the way she does it. In fact, you´re right, I can hear a bit of Billie Holiday It´s a bit early in the day for all that seductive stuff though.
It´s not so much Black Coffee I need but the Black Caffiene that Emmylou Harris and Rodney Crowell sing about. It’s a great song, folksy, like Emmylou is and with that great country vibe that Crowell has. It´s gritty stuff, which is pretty much how I like my coffee, as it refers to caffeine rather than just coffee. It’s a song for every addiction in a fun way.
I actually once interviewed Emmylou Harris, having followed her career from her days working with Gram Parsons, formerly of The Byrds. She is a very elegant, dignified lady and she keeps good company. Her work with Gram was almost reverential of the songs they delivered, and later her own Hot Band included great country writers like Rodney Crowell and also British guitarist Albert Lee. Now, there´s a country name if ever there was one ! I´ve also enjoyed her collaborations with Mark Knopfler of Dire Straits and of course she recorded two incredible Trio albums with Linda Rondstadt and Dolly Parton. Still you picked Black Coffee, so I´ll go with Black Caffiene by Emmylou and Rodney Crowell and if readers tap into,
they´ll find it there.´
STEVE: ´Food, glorious food, what else do I live for? It´s lunch time and I´m hungry. Remember when we could eat out? Now that we can’t, I bring the experience here to you… eat as much as you like …. Asian style ….. with Jazz/Hip Hop from Lofi to Asian beats. There is plenty for all our readers and listeners.´
This is a collection of different, moods, beats, rhythms and ambience, and it is perfect for a long, slow extended lunch to fill the day,… and the tummy,…..and to satisfy the hunger for great music !´ Just tune in to Jazz Hop Café on Lofi Radio on the details you´ll find at
Norm: ´Yeh, that´s great Steve. A brilliant little film. I´ll definitely try to catch that again. To be honest, though, I usually have Lunch With Gina, or at least I play that track by Steely Dan whilst I have my lunch.
I could go on forever about the genius of Steely Dan, and their fantastic albums like Pretzel Logic, or their couple of great singles like Haitian Divorce and Rickie Don´t Lose That Number, which is a love song to the wrong person in a way, having been written after a farcical mix up of names and phone numbers.
Suffice to say that Steely Dan is an American rock duo founded in 1972 by Walter Becker playing guitars, bass, and lending backing vocals and Donald Fagen on keyboards and lead vocals. They blend rock, jazz, Latin music, reggae, traditional pop, R&B, blues, and sophisticated studio production with cryptic and ironic lyrics, so there should be something there to please anyone. Let´s have a listen and tap into
Norm: Right Said Fred,…time for an afternoon tea break! Actually that would be a really good little song to have a cuppa to. Bernard Cribbins lending his name later to a band of bald me who were too sexy for their shirts is a weird thought, isn´t it.
Funnily enough, men and Col in Lendanear, used to play Bernard Cribbins´ other big hit, Digging This Hole, in our stage act and break out into mayhem, with my lazy workman character belting Colin´s bowler hatted boss man character round the head with a garden spade, but we´ll say no more about that.
It is about three men (the narrator, “Fred” and “Charlie”) working as manual labourers who are trying to move an unidentified item of furniture that our listeners and readers will probably identify as a piano in a building without success, eventually giving up after having dismantled the piece of furniture, part-demolished the building – including removing a door, a wall and the ceiling – in between taking numerous tea breaks.
The lyrics do not specify whether ´Fred´ recovers from “half a ton of rubble falling on the top of his dome” prior to the others having a final tea break and going home. Dicks said that he really was inspired to write the song by incidents that took place when he employed men to move a grand piano he had bought.
“Right Said Fred” was famously recorded as a single by Bernard Cribbins and released by Parlophone in 1962and became a top ten hit. Cribbins recorded it at the Abbey Road Studios with musical accompaniment, directed by Johnnie Spence.
It seems incredible to think that the sound effects were added by the producer George Martin, who would later become famous for his work with the Beatles, but I suppose when you consider what he created on Sergeant Pepper, maybe Right Said Fred gave him some ideas. Anyway, let´s have a cup of tea and let people listen while we have a rest. Readers and listeners, just tap into
and have a listen, while we have a brew and we´ll be back in a minute.´
STEVE. ´Actually, folk´s there´s still a drop left in the pot, so why don´t we pour ourselves another one and maybe go up-market for the rest of our afternoon tea break. Here’s an orchestra, Shostakovich and a bit of swing with Tea for Two. This was a popular song in his époque, called Tea For Two, from the musical No, No, Nanette. In 1927 Nilolai Malko challenged Shostakovich to create an orchestral version in just only one hour, but Shostakovich only needed 45 minutes. This orchestration was first performed in 1928 but with the name of Tahití Trot, as part of Shostakovich´s ballet, `The Golden Age`
Insert photo 6 Dmitri was a Russian composer and pianist born in1906 and who died in 1975. He is regarded as one of the major composers of the 20th century, with a unique harmonic language and a historic importance due to his years of work under Stalin.
Shostakovich achieved fame in the Soviet Union, but later had a complex and difficult relationship with the government. Nevertheless, he received accolades and state awards and served in the Soviet in high positions.
I suppose the critics call him a polystylist, Shostakovich developed a sort of everyman voice, dropping different musical techniques into his works. His music is characterized by sharp contrasts, elements of the grotesque, (in the musical sense, Norm) and ambivalent tonality; his influences were easily identified as they were used so openly and liberally, including the neoclassical style pioneered by Igor Stravinsky, and (especially in his symphonies) by the late Romanticism of Gustav Mahler.
Shostakovich was a busy bloke, though, and wrote fifteen symphonies and six concerti. His chamber output includes 15 string quartets, a piano quintet, two piano trios, and two pieces for string octet. His solo piano works include two sonatas, an early set of preludes, and a later set of 24 preludes and fugues. Other works include three operas, several song cycles, ballets, and a substantial quantity of film music; especially well known is The Second Waltz, Op. 99, music to the film The First Echelon (1955–1956), as well as the suites of music composed for The Gadfly.
And we think we´re busy broadcasting a Hot Biscuits show on the radio or sending out of couple of posts on your blog at Sidetracks And Detours all across the arts. Actually, maybe there´s no wonder we´re shattered. So why don´t you all tap into for a bit of Shostakovich at his finest?´
Norm ´That was pretty good Steve, I enjoyed my cuppa, and we won´t mention the Hot Biscuits!´
STEVE: ´How about an evening out at a concert, film, or gig, and a meal after, or before, maybe? What do you mean we can’t go out? We’ve been in all day long! B____y virus, B____y lock down. What’s on TV, repeats, what’s on the Radio, heard it! What’s that Noise Upstairs?!
Norm: ´Noise Upstairs. What noise upstairs? We haven´t even got an upstairs, now I come to think about it. What are you on about?´
STEVE: ´No. No. The Noise Upstairs is a free improvised concert series Tuesdays and Thursdays 4pm-5pm (GMT) artists from across Europe stream live of 15 minute improvised pieces, or perhaps something `Mancunian´ a trio powerhouse of sound?
The Noise Upstairs is a free improvised concert series Tuesdays and Thursdays 4pm-5pm (GMT) artists from across Europe stream live of 15 minute improvised pieces, or something Mancunian´ or a trio powerhouse of sound?
On September 14th 2018, Colin Marshall, during his setting up of GoGo Penguin, Penguin pianist Chris Illingworth asked if he could remove our piano cover to “access the inside” and, after a few rotations of a screwdriver, he soon handed me a long plank of black painted maple, which has no convenient place to rest in the NPR Music office. If you look closely at the piano innards during “Bardo,” you can see a strip of black tape stretched over a few strings, opposite Illingworth’s bobbing head. It mutes a group of strings, turning them into percussive jabs and dividing the instrument into more explicit rhythmic and melodic sections. What you can’t see: GoGo Penguin’s audio engineer a few feet to the left of frame, dialing-in reverb effects on the piano, which we heard in the room. These two elements, in tandem with bassist Nick Blacka’s precise canvasing and drummer Rob Turner’s charged and delicate pulse, have heavily contributed to the sonic identity of this trio – a signal to jazz jukebox listeners that, “Ah yes, that’s a GoGo Penguin tune.”
Norm: ´What are you on about mate? In fact, forget the about and let me ask instead, what are you on? You´re a Rambling Boy, and I don´t mean in the Tom Paxton sense !´
STEVE. No. It all makes perfect sense if you have a look at for a great example of a live recording.
Norm ´I must admit, that´s fantastic I really like a lot of what I´ve heard on there. I think dinner is the most important meal of the day, though, and I like mine to be refined and relaxed in the company of an attractive and intelligent woman, like my wife and I have had the odd dream about dinner Anna and Katie McGarrigle. (see below and front cover of post. They are kind of earth mothers, maybe, but it is their harmonies I am interested in.
The fact that they are matriarchal figures in a folk-family that also includes Louden Wainwright and Rufus Wainwright would keep the conversation going through a seven or eight course meal, and past the brandy and port I´d guess. They have been responsible for amazing songs like the gorgeously heart-breaking Talk To Me Of Mendecino. However, given that its now very late in the day we´ll play the track called I Eat Dinner. Readers and listeners, listeners and readers,.. tap into
to hear one of my favourite pieces of music.´
STEVE: ´Cheered me up no end that did ! Crikey Norm, we´re supposed to be in isolation and you´re inviting misery, and you know how misery loves company, as they say. It´s been fun, though. Still, now we´re back home its as if we never left really. What else is there to do after a good meal and music? The dim light from the candles still plays across the room, the sultry atmosphere lingers ….. you glance across to your partner, her mouth pouted, soft, rich, red, her black curls adorn her soft snowy smooth brow, and you listen to
Jo Stafford’s early fame came as a vocalist with the big band of Tommy Dorsey, for which she sang both on her own and with her group, The Pied Pipers. After leaving Dorsey in 1944, Stafford went solo, eventually racking up no less than 93 hits over the next 13 years.
The day is done. The night is through. What’s left but to contemplate tomorrow’s day? Her song, Make Love To Me nearly got me going there for a minute….´
Norm ´Don´t forget the flip side to that single was called Adios Amigo. I think its time for me to say that now,….´
STEVE: ´Hang on,…….don´t touch that dial. I´ve got one last link, at
This was recorded on January 26-27,1984 at the Record Plant Studio, New York City, New York, Time after Time (C. Lauper-R. Hyman) was recorded by Miles Davis (trumpet); John Scofield (guitar); Robert Irving III (synth); Darryl Jones; Al Foster and Steve Thornton
I hope you sleep well, though I, as poet Robert Frost might have said when he stopped by woods on a snowy evening´ ´and I have Miles to go before I sleep, and miles to go before I sleep´ I will be listening to a bit more of Miles Davis before I sleep. Care to do it again tomorrow?
Norm Ýou see, now you´ve reminded me of my favourite short video clip ever ! Robert Frost is my favourite poet, and what he wrote for John F Kennedy´s inauguration speech is the mantra of our generation,…. but he would have been a fabulous lyricist, had he ever teamed up with a great musician. So, here´s one last link, well almost
STEVE: What do you mean almost? Surely we´re done now?
Norm: ´Well, for me, over here on Lanzarote it has certainly brought back some Rochdale memories of our times presenting all across the arts on Crescent Community Radio. However, even as we speak of Rochdale memories, I´m just running down my tray of stuff that has come in since we started building this programme. There´s a facebook message here on our all across the arts page that Steve Cooke opened in the UK last year, I´m not sure who has posted it, but it is a beautifully and very professionally shot video of a country music band called Between The Vines performing to their song called Driftwood, and the blurb tells me it was recorded at Gracieland studio. I´ve actually recorded there myself and its a very good state of the art studio, with excellent in house producers and engineers, as you´d expect I guess, being owned by an artist of the calibre of Lisa Stansfield. I´ve got to say, I think this is excellent, so if you don´t mind, let´s just stick this last song and link here to close the show.´
STEVE: ´Whatever you say. I´m shattered, I don´t know about Lisa Stansfield, but I feel like we´ve just been All Around The World, in a few hours. We´ve played all kinds of music, from America to Asia and from Spain to the UK and we´ve covered about 150 years with the music we´ve selected. So, go on, give us the link….´
Norm: ´It´s been posted, I can see now, by Tenzin Dasel and Julie Kelly.´
I´m afraid I can´t tell you much more about the people making this great sound, but researching them gives me something to do tomorrow, and I´ll try to get information to my readers in a post on my blog in the next couple of weeks. So that´s it. Goodnight from me.´
STEVE: ´And its goodnight from him. I´ve been Steve Bewick, broadcaster and the part of world famous journalist Norman Warwick was played by a delusional guy who writes a blog !´
Editor´s Note: Today´s pretend radio programme was scripted and presented by Steve Bewick and Norman Warwick and was built via e mails and the internet. Look out more exclusive interviews and reviews from our jazz houses and ´country´ dust trails in future issues. Meanwhile, the list below is a reminder of today´s play-list
Intro to West Side Story by Stan Kenton Orchestra
Morning Has Broken by Cat Stevens
Black Coffee by Peggy Lee
Black Caffiene by Emmylou & Rodney Crowell
Jazz Hop Café on radio
Lunch With Gina by Steely Dan
Right Said Fred by Bernard Cribbins
Tea For Two by Shostakovich
The Noise Upstairs by various musicians on You Tube
Tiny desk concert NPR music by Go Go Penguin
I Eat Dinner by Kate & Anna McGarrigle
Time After Time by Miles Davis
Driftwood by Between the Vines