I really love this one.

Wildwood Flower is a timeless, classic, immortal, indispensable tune. I first heard Maybelle Carter, of the great Carter Family, do a version of it on The Johnny Cash Show sometime in the 70s. This is a solo guitar take on it, masterfully and playfully performed by one of the geniuses of the instrument: Chet Atkins.

Also, this a vinyl 78, which came about in the later years of the 78rpm era. Virtually all 78s, until about the early 1950s, were made of a combination material consisting of pitch and shellac ; shellac being the secretion of the female lac bug, which live in the forests of Thailand and India. During the WWII effort, shellac was recalled and collected by the government to be used for military materials, and vinyl became the standard. Vinyl, in fact, sounds fuller and is much quieter than shellac. Plus, you could fit many more grooves (micro grooves actually) on to the side of a vinyl than a shellac ; hence, the birth of long playing 33 and 45 rpm records.

This is also a rare, DJ only copy that RCA would send out to radio stations for promotional purposes. The melody will get stuck in your head.

Chet Atkins – Wildwood Flower << PLAY

Cliff Edwards (Ukulele Ike) was a hugely popular American singer and voice actor during the 1920s and 30s. His musical output was almost completely as a renditionist, scoring many hits on the pop and novelty charts of the day.

In 1929, Mr. Edwards landed a #1 with his version of “Singing in the Rain.” He also had a career in voice-overs, most famously as Jiminy Cricket in Disney’s Pinocchio (1940). I have chosen “After My Laughter Came Tears” – one of my favorite Ukulele Ike performances, because his feeling and sentiment goes so well with the lyric, which is itself a thing of beautiful economy and honesty.

The song itself has lived on for a long time and has been covered repeatedly and prominently. I will also eventually post another, much different, jump-spirited take of the tune which was performed by the Arnold Johnson Orchestra; and probably soon enough to have a timely comparison.

Ukulele Ike – After My Laughter Came Tears << PLAY

This is the other side of that rare, red, French Polydor that I posted so long ago. It is Brailowsky (solo piano) playing Robert Schumann’s “Songes Troubles”; “Traumes Wirren” in the composer’s native German, or: “Dream Disorders” in English. I also really like how the piano was recorded.

Quick notes on Schumann: his parents were not musical but they encouraged his interest in music with piano lessons from the age of 10. However, his family was later to be beset by tragedy. When Schumann was in his teens, his father died and his sister committed suicide in quick succession, events that were to have a deep impact on the young musician. Initially music was to take a back seat in his life. For his main subject he studied law at Leipzig while simultaneously continuing his music studies. One of his music teachers was Friedrich Wieck whose daughter Clara showed a great talent at the piano while she was only 9 years old. A further tragedy was to hit Schumann when a mishap damaged one of his hands and spoiled his chances as a pianist. Some accounts blame a device he used to strengthen his fingers, but other theories suggest mercury poisoning as a side effect of his syphilis treatment. After the accident, Schumann was to concentrate more on composing.

Alexandre Brailowsky – Songes Troubles, Op. 12, No 7, Schumann < < PLAY

“Eddie My Love” was a huge song in 1956. RPM records released it all the way to #14

on the American Billboard charts. It was recorded by the sister-duo group

The Teen Queens, Betty and Rosie Collins. They sang the song which was written by their

brother, Aaron Collins. It was their only hit, which was great for a debut single! They

would try for additional success over a few years’ time, but it couldn’t be repeated, and

the sisters hung it up, quietly, in 1961. It is interesting, too, that the Chordettes (of “Mr.

Sandman” fame) also recorded “Eddie My Love” in 1956, and also had a chart hit with it in

the same year. Anyway, this tune is so catchy, and the harmonies are so tight, that I will

sometimes be humming it for days.

The Teen Queens – Eddie My Love < < PLAY

I ran into a pile of Brazilian 78s at a house-sale in Ravenswood Manor last summer. This one is Narcisos, a ritmo de samba side, by Waldir Calmon, on the Star label out of Rio de Janeiro, 1952. He made many recordings in his long career as a musician and innovator.

Mr. Calmon (1919-1982) was the first performer in Brazil to use the solovox, a small keyboard instrument that was the forerunner to the synthesizer. His plaintive single note runs were widely imitated by the next generation of Bossa Nova and Samba: and particularly by the iconic Antonio Carlos Jobim.

Nerd note: this take is doubly-so great because the shellac is in pristine condition and there is the most minimal of hiss/surface noise.

Waldir Calmon – Narcisos <<<PLAY

A lucky cheap find on the Internet. From the obscure Dum Dum, India label The Twin. The legendary and revered female singer Ascharyamoyee Dasi singing a traditional Urdu ghazal: Ham jaayenge kasade dile divaannaa jahaan ho. This is devotional music: in praise of the Most High: with a backing band of harmonium, hand drums, hand claps, and voices: this music seems to be related to the later art of Nusrat Fateh Ali Khan (1948 – 1997), master singer (genius) of Pakistani quawwali music.

Super rare in any format: a document as much as a song about a different time in India.

I cannot determine the year of this recording. No idea. Maybe between 1935 and 1955?

Ascharyamoyee Dasi – Ham jaayenge kasade dile divaanaa jahaan ho <<PLAY

One of my all-time favorite Satchmo sides: both with the singing & trumpet beauty. Just a fine lyric, too. Recorded on October 16,1947, right here in Chicago, with his All Stars:

Jack Teagarden , trombone

Barney Bigard , clarinet

Dick Cary , piano

Arvell Shaw , bass

Big Sid Catlett , drums

Louis Armstrong – Before Long <<<PLAY